National Gaming Day a Success!

We’re still going through all of the data from National Gaming Day (November 15), but we’ve already got some pretty amazing numbers and stories. Here’s what we know so far.

  • 617 libraries registered to participate
  • 597 libraries reported results back to us
  • 14,184 people participated in NGD at those 597 libraries
  • 5,548 people played Pictureka! on Gaming Day
  • 1,137 people played Dungeons & Dragons or Magic: The Gathering

That’s pretty amazing, given how little lead time most libraries had. Most were public libraries (95%), although we did have a few academics, schools, and even a park library and a military library participate. The anecdotes they gave us show an overwhelmingly positive response from the public. Here are just a few of my favorites (honestly – I really did pare down this list!).

  • “I was beaten – twice – at Pictureka by a 3-year old!”
  • “Our library has a tough time, as do many, with attracting tweens and teens to programs and getting them to be ‘excited about the library’. Gaming day at our library was great because kids/teens came, they were excited and enthusiastic, and had a great time. It was really great to have many of them who see me everyday asking me my name (they never really cared before) and kept asking if we would be doing more events like this and if we would definitely be doing this next year.”
  • “It was great to see the YA Room filled with teenage boys. We have one 8th grade patron who has been a very shy and quiet teen, but with video games he is a champ, friendly and out-going; he totally came out of his shell. Never thought a library could do that.”
  • “We have a library orphan that is here all the time. He uses up his computer time (2 hours) then usually gets in trouble for boredom related disturbances. On Saturday, he actually sat and played Pictureka and Scrabble with another child (and came up with several 5-7 letter words, a miracle for this non reader) Later on the boys were ‘caught’ playing Risk with 4 other children and one of our library substitutes was giving them a lesson on strategy. The best part is that this child was able to stay at the library most of the day, before he was asked to leave for playing with the big screen in the meeting room!”
  • “One of our teen patrons who has recently moved to our small town came to tell me that one of the video games we purchased for the programs was not compatible with the system we purchased. He asked to ride with me when I took it back and helped me pick out another game to take its place. He asked me if I owned the library. I replied that I was the director but that I didn’t own the library, I only managed it. He asked me who did own it and I replied, ‘Well, you do.’ I explained that public libraries were owned by the citizens that used them and/or lived in the community, that their taxes went to pay for the services. He thought about it for a minute and said ‘That’s really cool! I guess I’ll have to hang out here more since it’s mine.’ It made my day.”
  • “At least two different parents were shocked to learn that we were not charging admission for our event, and continually thanked us for hosting it. At least one parent got their first library card – we kept the entire library open, unlike at our first event where we were only open for the gaming event. This was a major plus.”
  • “The Pictureka! game was great for intergenerational groups. I also witnessed a non-English speaker pick up the card pieces of the game after their children had left; perhaps trying to match the word ‘hair’ with finding hair on the board, etc.”
  • “At one point there were eight people playing [Pictureka!] at once. The race to win was between a ten-year old and an eighty-five year old.”
  • “I had advertised that you could duel the librarian at Guitar Hero and cut your fine in half, or beat her and and have it erased. I had a 12 year old show up that I had never seen in the library before carrying his own guitar. His mom told me that he had been up since 6:30 waiting to come to the library. He didn’t have any fines, but I told him I would duel him for some copies of Thrasher magazines that we were selling. He stayed most of the day and thanked me over and over again for having a game day.”
  • “Also, one of our patrons (a crotchity old man if ever there was one) would play chess on the computer if we would let him. When he got bumped off, he came downstairs to our National Gaming Day room and played Pictureka for 3 hours straight – with patrons of all ages!”
  • “Two sisters who had been playing backgammon via online connection for years showed up to meet at the library for gaming day and loved it. They never thought about meeting at the library to play before. They had such a good time actually meeting face-to-face they asked if they could continue to come to the library and play. We were happy to oblige them.”
  • “We had a 6 year old come in with a mohawk hairdo ready to rock the library on Rock Band. He was ready to take on the high schoolers.”
  • “At the end time, I had to ask a group of teenagers to leave. They responded quickly and started moving toward the door and then one of them said, ‘Do you want some help with these chairs?’ At the time I was too tired to turn down help and enthusiastically said, ‘YES!’ They helped me put the room back in order very quickly, moving a dozen tables and about 50 chairs. But my favorite part of the day had to be hearing the teens cheer for each other during the Brawl contests and clap at the end of the battles. They all got along so well even though we had quite a range of ‘teenagers’ — 18 to 8!”
  • “The Smash Bros. Tournament drew a large, cheering crowd as the battles were very intense. I also had the joy of [seeing] a 12 year old girl defeating a grown man, patting him on the back and telling him maybe next year.”
  • “There are a group of kids in our small town who tend to be unsupervised and are seen often ‘hanging out’ downtown. They came into the library, saw the brand new magic sets and it was like Christmas to them. They offered to open the sets, sort them into decks and get the game organized. They then stayed for hours playing and invited other friends to come join them. It was so nice to see these kids off the streets enjoying our library and they were so surprised to hear that the cards would be available to them anytime the library is open. I’m sure we will see a lot of them in the near future.”
  • “A young mom came in with her two elementary aged sons. Upon seeing all the games out and hearing about the program, she said, ‘Wow! I didn’t know there were fun things to do at the library! I thought it was all about being quiet! Guess it’s okay for me to bring my kids in here after all!’ “
  • “An 11-year-old girl played games with her 9-year-old brother for 4 hours, and told me, ‘I haven’t been on the computer the whole time I was here!’ “
  • “Not so much an anecdote, but the fact that people came and stayed most all day. That was a great thing for us.”
  • “To win the door prizes, everyone was given tickets to enter into the various drawings. The kids got one ticket for coming in, one ticket for playing their first game, and an additional ticket for each person to whom they taught a game. This caused many of the kids to go out of their way to introduce new games to kids. Many even really enjoyed teaching.”
  • “It was like bringing them into a new world that they didn’t know would be available to them locally. They connected with the library staff and just kept thanking me and expressing their amazement at our library collection. One ordered sci fi books, one picked up Sci Fi books, one requested Civil War materials, 1 requested a tour of our Virtual services. Basically it opened eyes and created interest for people and gave the library great exposure. We will be adding a monthly gaming day to our program.”

If you didn’t get to join in this year, be sure to start planning now for next year’s event on November 14, 2009. We also want to thank everyone who participated this year to help make it such a success. It will be a tough bar to clear next year, but I have every confidence we will!

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6 Responses to “National Gaming Day a Success!”

  1. W.J. Walton says:

    Thanks for this report! I was wondering if it would be possible to get a number for just Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games, without the Magic: The Gathering number included. I maintain a roleplaying advocacy site called The Escapist (www.theescapist.com), and one of the site’s projects, Terra Libris, is aimed at promoting RPGs in libraries.

    I’d like to help promote NGD to roleplayers next year, and I think one good way to do that would be to have a goal that we can try to beat next year.

    Thanks!

  2. Beth says:

    These are great stories, Jenny, thanks for compiling!

    Im struck by a mom saying, “I guess it’s ok for me to bring my kids here in here after all!” Do we have such a reputation for non-tolerance of noise that families stay away, worried their children will be too loud and disruptive?

  3. Patti says:

    We had a great National Gaming Day at the Antlers Public Library, Antlers, OK. We had 20 attend – 11 children and 9 adults. Everyone enjoyed the Pictureka! game and many got to try the Wii for the first time. Everyone wanted to know when our next gaming day would be!

  4. Thanks for posting the results. I was wondering if we broke the Guinness Record?

  5. Jenny Levine says:

    @WJ – Sorry, but we don’t have numbers for D&D vs. Magic, as we just asked for an aggregate number.

    @Patti – Thanks for sharing about your Library’s NGD experience! We’re glad it went so well, and we hope to work with you again for next year’s event on November 14, 2009.

    @ Margaret – Unfortunately, Guinness refused to recognize this as a record because we didn’t declare a winner, so we changed it to count how many people played throughout the day so that we can try to beat our own record next year. We’re thrilled about the 5,500+ number, but we think even more people will participate next year, so here’s hoping! 🙂

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