Category Archives: Gaming

Nintendo 3DS & Libraries

On Friday the always amazing Carl Cross of Derbyshire Libraries sent an e-mail to the Lib Gaming UK mailing list. You can join the list here – go on you know you want to!

It was a great post and naturally I wanted to share it, and since Carl gave permisison to have it rebroadcast on Teen Librarian, here it is in its entirety! Enjoy:

Last week Nintendo launched its glasses free 3D handheld the 3DS.

There are at least two other librarians on this list with one /waves/ and probably a few more.

For those of you who don’t have one it has an inbuilt social gaming feature called Street Pass. The idea is that your 3DSes send information to each other as you pass unknowingly in the street. Hence the name.

At the moment the information is your Mii (avatar) and a few game specific features such as downloading your best laps in racing game Ridge Racer as a ‘ghost’ for the other player to beat. Streetfighter takes a similar approach by having your team of trophies battle each other for fun, profit and prizes.

There’s loads of fun stuff built into the 3DS that encourages social interaction from early JRPG-alike StreetPass Quest to the utterly mad face shooting ARG Face Raiders.

All cool stuff but what has it got to do with libraries?

Not everywhere is as population dense as Tokyo or London or Manchester and your chances of meeting another 3DS owner in the wild are sometimes slim.

Some enterprising folk are using the power of social media to hook up with others in real life to swap data and to game. All you need is a location and a bit of advertising, preferably in an online space like the Meet Mii Facebook page.

See what it’s got to do with libraries now?

It needn’t stop at that of course. While only one of the launch lineup of games offers online multiplayer (Streetfighter IV for the curious) others have local multiplayer as long as both players have a copy of the game. We’d be offering ourselves up as a venue to find other players.

Of course there are problems with this idea. As far as I can see two biggies and the usual ones about noise:

Biggie 1: It’s potentially a shop window for potential muggers – the 3DS is an expensive piece of kit and if they know there’s a whole load of people with one in their pocket they may well take advantage.

Biggie 2: It’s no good trying to limit this to a given age group. If you’re going to do it at all it must be for all comers which means parents need to be warned. It’s a good opportunity to talk about online security in general of course.

I’m considering trying this in a couple of our libraries and see what happens. I will also be starting a regular Wii club in the near future so I expect that to form part of that too.

Anyone else tempted? Can anyone else see any major problems with it that I’ve missed at this stage of a Friday?

Simplified Dungeons & Dragons

Over the past few years I have spoken to a number of D&D and gaming fans that work in Libraries, without exception they have stated that they would love to set up gaming sessions in Libraries, the only problem they have encountered is the timescales involved in setting up and running campaigns.

Now thanks to BoingBoing I have found a website that has provided a ‘how to’ guide on running a D&D introductory campaign for eight year olds. The campaign can be tweaked for older players in libraries but overall the simplified rules and character creation makes it easier to start with beginners.

2) Kids chose which color dice they want and which miniature will be their hero, both of which they got to keep as “goodie bags” from the party. We didn’t have them do any further character creation (all heroes had the same stats behind the screen) except for name. Lots of the kids who hadn’t played before had problems coming up with a name, so I asked if they wanted to roll for one. I didn’t actually have a table, I just used the time they were rolling the dice to think them up.

3) The scenario was that the heroes set forth from their stronghold to explore the surrounding wilderness in search of magical items to claim and Pokemon to capture. We had the kids construct the wilderness using Heroscape hexes, and the stronghold using wooden Kapla blocks

The campaign was played over two and a half hours. For full details go here:

What Made for a Successful D&D Birthday Party


Games are an important and interactive way for young people to learn, they can also be used to initiate a constructive discussion. No matter what the subject is, games are designed to be fun, so there is no reason why games and activities based around books can not be equally as enjoyable.

Introduction games

When working with a new group of young people the easiest way to break the ice is by playing a name game such as:

The ball game: using a ball around a circle, the person with the ball says their name first and then the name of the person the ball is going to before they throw it to them.

The sun shines on: in a circle of chairs (1 less than the number of people in the group) someone stands in the middle and makes a statement such as “the Sun shines on any one wearing red”. Everyone wearing red has to get up and change seats, leaving one person left in the middle to make another statement in order to sit down.

The fridge game: tell everyone to choose something they would find in a fridge that starts with the same letter as their first name i. e. ‘Claire, Cake’. Then they go round the circle saying their names, however, each person must say all the previous names before they say their own. (The lead worker should always finish last!)

These three name games can also be changed to include books. In the ball game they can substitute their names for their favourite book or magazine. In the fridge game they can substitute their names for books they would recommend. In “The sun shines on” you change the category to reading anything from novels to street signs i.e. “The sun shines on any one who has read Harry Potter” (everyone moves!)

Library games

Libraries are not commonly associated with playing games with young people, yet they supply CD ROM’s and Playstation games that are targeted at them. These games are rarely educational, involve little reading and no dialogue with staff. But when active games are used in the library there are many opportunities to get young people discussing books with you. It all depends on what you want to discuss and how loudly you want to discuss it.

For games that will utilise the space in libraries you can play Charades, only using books, or Concentration using different genres. For the more ambitious libraries there are word and book hunts where participants are given clues or titles of books and then search for them in the library.

For more stationary games you can play Chinese whispers with different groups in order to make up a story between them. You can also use games such as Pictionary, Taboo and Trivial Pursuit. These all involve an element of reading and could be changed to include more topics around books.

Tip: It is a good idea to look out for the latest book crazes and plan competitions and games around them. Look out for anyone else doing the same, e.g. after the success of the film Lord of the Rings there was a game workshop which uses characters from The Fellowship of the Rings. It is played in small groups and encourages young people to talk about the books as well as read them.

25 words or less

A game to show the importance of brevity and to widen reading. Each young person involved has to write an enticing description of his or her favourite book onto large postcards. No title or author must be mentioned in the description. Each description is placed on the wall/poster board of the library. The participants must then choose one book (not their own) from the postcard descriptions. Once they have chosen they are given the book. They have to read the book before the next meeting when they can compare their own response to the book with the original advocate’s.

Virtual games

Remember games and competitions do not always have to be on paper. There is a steady increase of young people using mobile phones and the internet, so games that use email and text messaging (short messaging system(SMS)) are another accessible way to get young people talking about books.

An idea could be to describe a book or a character and condense it into text form, then using a text messaging facility on the internet, send each message to one phone per group and see which group gets it first.

Ball Game

We did a language game in a circle throwing a ball; the person throwing the ball said a colour (e.g. green) and the person catching had to say an object that was the colour (e.g. frog) . Next round the thrower said any adjective (e.g. amazing) and the catcher had to say a noun (e.g. library! )Then we moved on to alliteration; the thrower (for example) said ‘wild’ and the catcher “wombats”. Then the thrower said a line (e.g. there was a frog) and the catcher has to say a line which rhymed (who ate a dog). This last one has a tendency to go a little off track as you might imagine (there was a duck who had a…. and so on!) All the others worked really well though.

With these ball throwing games it is helpful to establish a throwing order at the beginning, e.g. you always throw it to the right of the person who threw it to you, ensuring that everyone is equally included. This takes a little effort to establish but getting it wrong can be fun and in the end it’s worth it.


Each person was given a piece of paper and then wrote a sentence at the top. They then folded the paper to hide what they had written and passed it to their right, this person also wrote a line hid it and passed it on and so on until the paper was full. Then we all opened the piece of paper we happened to be holding and read out the abstract poem written there. This may sound odd but the result is often hilarious, sometimes beautiful. (Best to state at the beginning that no personal comments about others in the circle are allowed!)

Gary Gygax 1938-2008

Those of us that run role-playing games in Libraries (specifically any editions of Dungeons & Dragons) may be interested (and saddened) to hear that one of the creators of the original D&D boardgame passed away yesterday.

For more information follow this link Trolllord Games.