Books are easily the predominant symbol that comes to mind when you hear the word library. But games have long played an important role in the library world. Chess Clubs found their way into library space as early as the 19th century, and toys and board games of many varieties were offered as a relief to stress and anxiety during the trying times of the Great Depression. Well, we here in the academic universe know our fair share about stress and anxiety, especially now with final exams looming around the corner (sorry, it’s true). To acknowledge this, and to honor ALA’s International Games Day, Stony Brook University Libraries hosted its first Games Day event, exciting the crowds and attracting local celebrities, such as world famous speed cubers Rowe Hessler and Bobby D’Angelo. Oh, and Wolfie, of course!
The event began with an unusually colorful and suspiciously out of the ordinary display of fun happening in the Library Gallery. At the Information Desk, where employees can usually be seen waiting with a laptop or ipad to offer directional assistance, visually appealing board games were now set up for show, accompanied by the video game themed props used in this year’s Roth Regatta. Students who dared to come closer for an inspection of these items learned that they were our new Library board games, created by Library Staff (boards created by our own Arielle Hessler). Where’s Wolfie? our first attempt at game creation, is based on the timeless classic Clue. Our newest addition to the collection, Not So Trivial Pursuit, was literally hot off the presses in time to make its event debut. It cleverly combined our favorite aspects from Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly. Both games are regularly available for checkout at the Reference Desk in the Central Reading Room.
Also in honor of this special event, we opened the Library’s Game Lab up to all users, not just those registered for Game Studies courses. For the span of three hours, students could play classic favorites on the Atari, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis. Some old school Mario Kart happened during this time. It was great fun.
The Library offered free Games Day key chains during this event, with pictures taken of participants with Princess Peach, Yoshi, and even Wolfie. Free cookies and donuts were also provided as our way of thanking those who supported the event.
As the clock struck one, our two guest cubers arrived to show off their insane Rubik’s Cube skills. Rowe Hessler solved the cube in less time than it took me to type Rubik’s Cube, and Bobby D’Angelo wowed some onlookers by taking a stab at solving his cube while wearing a blindfold. This made the rest of us feel a little less cool, but we had loads of fun watching and continued eating free cookies and high-fiving Wolfie.
Another Hessler, Celeste of the Music Library, kindly donated a series of beautifully crafted wooden puzzles and games for display at the Reference Desk. Others brought in a multitude of board games and cards for checkout throughout the day. It was a great way to unwind, even if not all of us enjoyed the game Battleship as much as we remembered.
We hope a few hours spent gaming was enough to alleviate some of the daily stress of those who happened to be in the Library during this International Games Day celebration. We hope to continue this new tradition next year on a grander scale with more library games to contribute. Keep an eye on our games site to learn more about future products in the works. Until then, study hard and don’t forget to Get Your Read On!