I’m all about video games in libraries. ‘ I have a Wii and a Playstation 2 at my library, and have been having gaming programs a few times a month since I started last summer. ‘ It is certainly fun and brings in the teens, but recently I decided to try something new: board games and card games. ‘ I called it Low Tech Gaming. ‘ The program had a good turnout and was so much fun, that I’ve decided to add it to the Friday afternoon rotation.

The games I used: ‘ Apples to Apples, Jenga, Chicopoly and chess. ‘ ‘ Several board game titles are available from Demco, which is where I purchased some of these. The others my library had. ‘ Click through for details of our gaming session.

I borrowed a chess set’  from our Children’s room. ‘ I was impressed by how many of the teens in attendance knew how to play and gravitated toward it on their own. ‘ It had more boy appeal than girl appeal in this group, but I also had more boys than girls at the program.

Chicopoly is a Monopoly game based on our town, Chicopee.’  Instead of real estate squares like Boardwalk and Park Place, it is populated with local businesses. ‘ The object is to get customers rather than houses and hotels. ‘ I’ve seen games like this for other towns. ‘ Maybe one exists for yours. ‘ It surprised me that this was so appealing to my teens, but, aside from a bit of complaining about the money, ‘ they knew how to play. ‘ Monopoly is a long game, so they didn’t end up finishing in our hour and a half program session, but they still enjoyed the game.

It was a little tough to get a game of Apples to Apples started because I was having trouble explaining it. ‘ Each player gets seven red card with nouns on them. For each turn there is a green card with an adjective on it. Players must use one of the cards in their hand to be described by that adjective. ‘ Each player takes a turn being the judge, who decides which noun fits the adjective best, usually based on humor. ‘ You end up with statements like: Godzilla is delicate. One boy summed it up nicely saying it was comparing stupid things to other stupid things, which worked for the group and got the game going.

The hit of the day was Jenga. You make a tower of groups of three blocks in alternating directions, the object is to pull blocks out of the tower without knocking it down. ‘ Two boys were calling it epic Jenga and creating the highest, most precarious towers they could. ‘ Their deep concentration over the pulling of each block was impressive and amusing. It drew an audience of some of the other teens in the room.

This was just a small sample of games. There are so many others that would work for this kind of program. There was a request for card games, so next time I’ll bring regular playing cards, Uno, and Phase Ten. ‘ I would also like to try out some of the more involved board games that I have played, like Settlers of Catan or Power Grid (or maybe even Arkham Horror, one of my favorites, but it’s quite time consuming). ‘ I often hear about new games from my friends, or from browsing the gaming sections in comic book stores. ‘ Another good resource is this blog:’  Library Gamer.

Something I particularly enjoyed about this program, which was different from our high tech gaming days, was all of the eye contact being made, between teens and with me. ‘ It was a new kind of connection.’  I felt like I got to know the participants better than I do when we’re playing video games.

Have you tried low tech gaming with teens?

2 Thoughts on “Low Tech Gaming

  1. Thanks for the post. Board games are such a good way to help teens feel comfortable with one another and with the library. We do a lot of low tech gaming at the Keene Public Library. Tabletop games are available at our weekly gaming programs along with the Wii and the PlayStation. But, in my library board and card games are played mostly after school informally in the library. We have about 25 different games for kids and teens to play. I agree; it was hard to get kids to play Apples to Apples. Once we encouraged staff members to sit down and play games with kids after school it quickly got on. One of the most popular games at the library is Mao. It uses a regular deck of cards. Although my teens tell me you aren’t suppose to tell anyone the rules, I’ll share them with you. You can find them here http://www.georges.nu/blog/the-game-of-mao/.

  2. Maria Vega on December 5, 2010 at 7:31 pm said:

    Thanks for the great ideas for board games. We have used them alongside our video games when teens have to wait for their turn. We discovered having several board games out and available gave them something to do. Like at your library, we found that they were very popular with our teens. We started shopping for them at yard sales and thrift stores and now we keep them behind the staff desk. If they want to use them in the teen room, they just come up and ask to borrow them. Uno, Connect Four, and Guess Who are really popular with the kids who just want to hang out. But we have dedicated groups who have set up tournaments for chess, checkers, card games like Magic or role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. We want to start offering a multicultural gaming day once a month in our community so we can introduce our teens to games from around the world, like Loteria (a form of bingo in Mexico) or Japan’s Go.

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