“Games you can’t buy at Wal-Mart.”

I moved back into my home town in December 2009. In the spring, I spoke with a very enthusiastic director at our local library about running a games program there. She asked me to write up a proposal for the board.

I am interested in creating a games program for the Athens library and to run it twice a month. I hope to attract a group of 5–12 people from ages 16 and up who are interested in playing games that are not commonly found in stores such as Wal-Mart or K&B Toys stores.  I am not seeking to be compensated for my time and I am willing to provide all of my own materials.

I have always had an interest in gaming.  We play games at most of our family events.  I used to own a comic book and game store in Catskill for two years where I taught people how to play games and ran events based on them for teenagers and adults.  After my store closed, I continued to organize events at a for another local store for a few more years.  Games are the medium through which I have best and most often connected with community.  When I returned to Athens, it seemed natural that I would attempt to create a local club to play together.

Over the years, I have become familiar with many types of gaming: card games, board games,
role-playing games (RPGs), and console games (such as the Wii or Nintendo DS).  I have the
resources to bring a sampling of each to the library.  By focusing on games that may be unfamiliar to the community, I hope to attract the attention of people who might have overlooked similar programs in the past.

Some of the games that I could bring include:

  • Fluxx(by Looney Labs) – This is a fast-paced card game in which the rules or the winning condition could change with each card played.
  • Unexploded Cow(by Cheapass Games) – Mad cows in England? Unexploded bombs from World War 2 buried in the fields of France?  The solution seems obvious!  Players march
    their cows across the fields in an attempt to blow them up for cash… but not without some interference from each other.
  • Robo Rally(by Wizards of the Coast) – Players race their robots across a dangerous factory floor. The trick is that they have to pre-program their movements in advance from a hand of nine cards.  As the robots are damaged, players have fewer instructions to program with and must find more clever ways of reaching their goal.  The game comes with several floor
    tiles, and the goals can be moved so that no two games will play the same.
  • Settlers of Catan by Mayfair Games) – On the small island of Catan, players compete for resources that allow them to settle the land.  The first player to earn ten points wins but,
    with limited resources on the board, you often have to negotiate with your opponents to get what you need to win.
  • Dungeons & Dragons(by Wizards of the Coast) – For more than 35 years, D&D has been the most popular role-playing game around.  The players can take on the roles of heroes that explore lost cities, rescue the princess, or defeat an ancient evil that threatens the kingdom.

(Role-playing games are not limited to Dungeons & Dragons.  Role-play is a medium that can be used to tell many different kinds of stories across different genres.  With a little effort an RPG can be created for any popular setting such as Harry Potter, Star Trek, or Marvel comic books.)

In November, I could assist the library with National Game Day, which is supported by the American Library Association as well as by some game publishers: http://ilovelibraries.org/gaming/ When I first became aware of the event two years ago, some game publishers were giving games to libraries who were registered to host events.  If the game program succeeds, I would be more than happy to register the event with any supporting publishers in order to bring in free games to the library for it’s own use.

To create interest in a games program, I can post announcements in public spaces on and off-line.  I expect to spend extra time at the library with a sample of games on display and a sign so I can be seen and to answer questions .  Once I have a few interested people, I can determine what type of games will be most likely to succeed and coordinate with the library for the appropriate time and space to play.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this program.
-Stephen Chast

The Athens Library didn’t accept my proposal at the time. The official reason was that their rules required that a paid volunteer be on had for all programs run by someone that is not library staff. Unofficially, the board wasn’t going to approve anything like this unless it focused on exactly what I didn’t want to do, generic, bland, ‘safe’, well known games and could act as a drop-off for pre-teens so the ‘rents can get some quiet time.

A few weeks ago I spoke with the program director in Coxsackie, a neighboring town. I send them a copy of the Athens proposal and they are still interested! I just got word of that last night. On Wednesday, I’ll have an hour to discuss what the programs may look like and how to bring in new patrons.

I really hope that we can move forward on this. I don’t think that gaming is just for kids and I hope to broaden a few horizons in this process. Now all I need is an assistant. Any takers?

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~ by Hunter Rose on April 12, 2011.

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