April 2024: Brian Brings Board Games - Gaming In The Library

Column Description: In this column, we will explore the benefits of gaming in the library and how it can be an asset to both staff and patrons. We will explore the various types of games that are out there, as well as some ideas to adapt them for people who aren't familiar with the world of hobby board gaming. Other topics that will be covered will include how to build a board game collection for your patrons and creating gaming-related activities to help boost staff morale.

I had the pleasure of attending GENCON, a gaming convention for gamers of all types held annually in Indianapolis. The convention began in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and was started by Gary Gygax, a familiar name for those who play Dungeons and Dragons (he was the creator!). The convention moved cities several times before eventually settling in Indianapolis, where it has been hosted for 20 years.

GENCON is known for being a four-day convention where gamers can gather to play, shop, and meet others. One of its most remarkable features is a giant trade hall where dozens of game publishers showcase their latest games for sale or demo. There are also many opportunities to play games, whether through paid events where you learn and play for a set time or free play where you can sit down with friends or strangers and enjoy one of your favorite games. I was sent by my library to attend Trade Day, which takes place the day before the convention starts.

Trade Day is for retailers, librarians, and educators and features various workshops and presentations focused on gaming. In my first three years, I was an attendee, spending full days in workshops and bringing back expertise to use in my library. One skill I learned at the convention, which I've used many times at my library, is building escape rooms. The first year, I attended a session by a game designer who walked participants through the steps of designing an escape room and then had us try it ourselves. I took what I learned back to my library and have created over a dozen escape rooms since then.

One of my favorite parts about GENCON’s Trade Day is not only the opportunity to meet people who share my hobby, but also those in the same field. After attending for three years, I decided to try being a presenter. In my next column, I will talk about what it was like to present at a large convention and some of the lessons I learned after doing it for two years.

Brian Schwartz is currently the head of Teen Services at the Patchogue-Medford Library. He grew up on Long Island, spending the first 10 years of his life in Elmont and the rest in the town of Holbrook. He attended Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's degree focused on English Literature before going on to LIU: CW Post for his Masters. He has worked in libraries for over 25 years, having started as a page at the age of 15. Through various part-time jobs, he has worked in Children's Services and Reference as well. His favorite part of his job is interacting with the teens as well as his coworkers.

His hobbies include aspiring to read 100 books a year, walking 8 miles a day, and gaming. His favorite board game is a game called Suburbia, in which you build your own neighborhood. His favorite video game genre is JRPGS (Japanese Role Playing Games). His favorite color is yellow and he enjoys the music of Tori Amos, Aimee Mann, the Beatles, and almost any artist from the 80's or 90's.

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