It’s been awhile since I got to say anything new (those reviews keep coming in, and are keeping me busy) but I had the chance to attend Gen Con’s trade day events this year, and what I learned is that there are a lot of librarians and educators out there trying to figure out how to incorporate games into their libraries. While I don’t work in a public library anymore, I knew this was a trend, and one that has gained a lot of ground over the past several years. The question of should libraries have games seems to have settled down (either you think it’s part of your library’s mission to serve gamers or you don’t– at Gen Con I am sure you can guess what side of that issue the professionals are on) and now it comes down to issues of logistics, collection development, and use. While there will always be enthusiastic videogamers, and there is a committed community of roleplayers, what libraries seems to have seen a noticeable uptick in is tabletop gaming (board games and card games, specifically). While there are a lot of specialized and complicated board games and card games, there are also a lot of games with broad appeal for kids and families. Even if a library decides that a game collection should stay on site, and has to choose just a few games, it can be a good way to engage people with each other and get them to spend time at the library, making it a familiar and safe space.
One session I went to suggested pairing games with fiction and nonfiction titles. The presenter was really talking about games for small children, but I think this is a great idea. There are a lot of horror-related games out there, some with great literary connections, and while gamers aren’t necessarily readers, given the number of extremely detailed rulebooks out there, it is clear that they will read for a cause, or if they develop interest in a topic that fuels their knowledge for the game. One example of a clear connection between a and literature was a heavily publicized game from LoneShark Games called Apocrypha. This is a pre-apocalyptic game that seems to have some flexibility built in to how you play it, with a good dose of the supernatural, and cards and scenarios written by some pretty great authors, including Patrick Rothfuss. You could take this so many ways, with its gameplay, content, theme, and writers all offering some pretty interesting pathways to a variety of other authors and media (I did not get to demo or see a demo of this game, so I’m going by what I saw on outward examination). Obviously this isn’t going to be a family fun game like Operation, but there are plenty of opportunities with the variety of games out there to draw connections between games, literature, and other media, that can wake an interest in any of those things for people who might see reading (or gaming) as something “not for them”. The key is that here is a new way to make the library an engaging place for the general public, gamers, and horror lovers who might be feeling disenfranchised, and connect them with a new way to enjoy storytelling and approach literacy.
Being one of those people who falls into the “not a serious gamer” crowd, I’m mostly unfamiliar with some of the new things out now and how they match up to what already exists, what’s fun, and the connection different games might have to literature or other media. I’d love to see suggestions from those of you who are gamers and know your stuff, about games you think are cool that could tie in to books or other media.