Gaming in the Library: My Wii Experiment

Super Mario by Jeff Ryan

This is a guest blog post by our teen volunteer Alexis C.

Before volunteering at Northwest One, I never knew libraries had video games.  My idea of a library was just a place with endless resources. When I found out that the library hosted a weekly game night, I thought "Man, that sounds cool, maybe I'll participate!"

Game Night is a fun way of connecting the library with its community. I think that it is also a pretty cool way to catch people's attention. Plus, people that don't have games at home get the opportunity to have fun in a library and interact with all sorts of different people in an action-packed environment! Even toddlers at the library can enjoy the simple pleasures of gaming.

I'm a volunteer at the library and each week I participate in and help run Game Night. I noticed that the first Game Night I hosted didn't have a lot of older youth participating. I had a theory that the games the library owned were not very enticing to older youth. At the time, the most popular games at Game Night were Michael Jackson and Family Game Night. Sadly, those titles are not very interesting to high school kids. 

I asked around Dunbar High School, where I attend, to see what games older kids would want to play at the library. Some of the most popular responses and frequently requested gaming titles were: the unforgettable Super Mario Bros., Sonic The Hedgehog, Zelda and Super Smash Bros. franchises. I determined that these are the games that will most likely attract people of all ages into any gaming library programs.

As proof, I tested to see whether or not more kids would still participate in Game Night if I used my games from home instead of the library's regular games. I started Game Night by putting in Family Game Night. There was only one child in the area, and they did not want to play it. So I decided it was time to bring out my games! 

I thought that since Super Mario is a widely known video game that older youth would find it a bit interesting. I inserted Mario Kart Wii, and in an instant I noticed five people come over to the area to see what was happening. Of course since they were really young, they didn't really know how to play. Still, I noticed that they were still enjoying themselves. After we were finished playing Mario Kart, I inserted Super Smash Bros. Brawl and then ten more people came over but they weren't toddlers this time -- they were all between the ages of 12 and 15. I was very pleased with the results as I had figured out a way for older youth to have more fun at the library!

Read about video games through resources you can find at the library:

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell 

Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan 

Game Over by James Patterson

The Rough Guide to Video Games by Kate Berens

Wii for Dummies by Kyle Orland 

Find out more about gaming in libraries through the American Library Association's National Gaming Day