Video Games in Libraries Part 2: Ye ol’ Tourney

gametourneyHolding gaming tournaments in libraries isn’t a new idea by far. Libraries have been a safe haven for Dungeons and Dragons nerds since it came out in ’74. Before then, board gaming tournaments (chess, checkers, Scrabble, etc…) ruled the gaming space in libraries. However, there is a shift in the current trend toward video games. Video game tournaments are a new (and scary) territory for libraries. But because they love us gamers soooo much, they’re willing to venture there.


What do I mean by a VG Tourney in a library… well… It’s fairly simple. Gamers venture into the dreaded library, who has kindly set up video games, competitions, and food for their enjoyment (Watch out!!! It may be a trap!). Then said gamers battle it out for supremacy… all the time being surround by the arch-nemesis of a gamer, the book. The whole idea seems to be that gamers slowly become acclimated to the presence of these evil print monsters and lose their fear of them. They may even pick one up and (Gasp!) read it. I’m just kidding… or am I?

Side Note: A good library won’t pull the old bait and switch on you. What I mean by that is get you in to play a game, but give you a book talk (lecture you about a book). And most book talks are at best a snooze-fest. I know, I’ve had to do them before.

Back to the tournaments. Tournaments can be held for just about any game from Pokemon for the younger crowd to Super Smash Brother Brawl and Guitar Hero/Rock Band for the older crowd. I’m sorry to say that most libraries will not offer gaming tournaments with games that have an M rating. It’s not necessarily because they don’t want to, in fact many of the librarians who push for these tournaments play those kinds of games at home. But there’s this whole issue with kids and violence. Really, it’s not worth fighting with parents over what games they offer and then getting sued. Lawsuits are never fun and that means less money gaming events at the library. The tournament style really depends on the library that’s hosting it. Let’s take a look at an awesome library at the forefront of library gaming tournaments.

AADL-GT, the Apex of Library Gaming Tourneys

The Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) tends to be the leader in VG tournaments in libraries. Thanks to Eli Neiburger and a dedicated children’s and teen staff, the gaming tournaments there have taken off. Take a look at their page (AADL-GT) just to get a glimpse at how extensive (and supported) their gaming tournaments are. When I was writing this part of the series, the site hadn’t been updated in a while. Tends to happen in Michigan during the winter because people don’t venture out much. They normally have gaming tournaments all freakin’ weekend long. There are different tournaments for different age groups, such as Pokemon for the kiddies at a branch library, LittleBigPlanet for everyone (on their specially-designed race course), Rock Band, Brawl, and even some open play. But the real jewel in their tourney crown, the GT System.

GT System

The GT System is the brain child of the AADL Developer Network, who takes care of all the programming needs of branches that make up AADL. The GT System’s wiki gives a much better explanation of the GT System then I could ever think of.

GT System is a framework and a set of web tools for producing videogame tournaments of any size for players of any age or experience level. It gives you everything you need to promote and run a videogame tournament at your institution, and it allows all GT system players to see where how they stack up on local, regional and national leaderboards!

So in lay-man’s terms, it’s a tool that takes care of most of the important (and complex) aspects of doing a library tournament, mainly the registration and scoring. A library can then post the results of the tournaments on-line, allowing the winners to be recognized. It’s more or less modeled after the gamerscore/trophy idea or if you are to go back even further, the idea of getting to put a dirty word on the high score list of an arcade game.

If you give them recognition, they will come. Not only can you see how much you kick butt on the local scale; libraries can link up events and allow gamers to see how they fit on the national scale. I must say that creating it was a brilliant idea because it encourages other libraries, who may not have the resources of AADL, to jump on the gaming tournament bandwagon. Plus it’s free… And when you’re a library, free is good.


I haven’t had the chance to attend one of these gaming tourney’s at AADL, yet. I try to stay away from Ann Arbor when I don’t have to be in school. I totally applaud all the efforts that they have made in making a normally marginalized population, at least in libraries, feel welcomed there. Yeah, many libraries may have the hidden motive of trying to get you to read a book, but places like AADL are really just trying to create a community.

Let’s face it, most young gamers aren’t the most social of people, unless you count all the friends that they play with on-line. Stereotype, I know… but for some (including me) it is very true. This connects them to other gamers in their local area. Libraries aren’t just places with books., they are a community center and AADL is just one example of how they are using their resources and our addiction to gaming in a positive way. So if your library hosts a tourney, at least check it out. You’ll never know who you’ll find there… and maybe, just maybe, you’ll beat your fear of books.


~ by reluctant_gamer on August 13, 2009.

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