NGD, ChiTAG, and other gatherings

National Gaming Dayarrives day after tomorrow. Are you participating? I expect so: there are presently 1880 libraries registered from 13 countries, and all 50 states plus Puerto Rico. I’ll be eager to hear about what great programs you came up with, games you and your customers got to play, and all the good things you did. It’s an important program for games in libraries, and I enjoy seeing it come around each year.

Cool things to do with gamingare going on around the country all the time, and I think it’s valuable for librarians to look at the gamer culture in its natural habitat when you get the opportunity.

In October I attended the small RinCon gaming convention here in my hometown, and while they can stand to work on their organizational efforts a bit, it’s the kind of convention you might find in your own town or in a nearby metropolitan area if you look around. You meet others interested in the hobby, you can find an open table and play new games, or browse the dealer’s area to see what’s new.

I just got back from NeonCon a few days ago, another place gamers and professionals gather to play and discuss the hobby. I can’t honestly say either recent convention can compare with the mind-bending Game Developers’ Conference as a place to get serious about the professional aspects of gaming, or PAX for a place to submerge oneself in today’s geek gamer culture. Still, we know every library offers something unique amidst its similarities to other libraries, the small game conventions are too. If you want to see American game culture as it exists today, look for these opportunities to expand your professional development in some unusual directions.

If you prefer not to jump into the deep endof the hardcore hobbyist pool and you can get to Chicago next week, consider going to CHITAG, the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. Everyone will be gathering at Navy Pier November 20-21, 2010. As they say about themselves, these people are serious about play. Family friendly and emphatically librarian-friendly ‚ I understand that admission is free to those of us working in the profession ‚ the show is aimed at mainstream America instead of the demimonde of the gamer hobbyists

Mary Couzin,the Executive Director, launched ChiTag after attending the Essen Toy and Game Fair in Germany in 2001. Gaming in Europe has a different feel than gaming in the States ‚ more open, more casual, and far more widespread throughout the culture. Fresh new games are always given a try-out and even American hobbyists embrace the so-called “Euro games” for their richness and playability. Mary is making strides to bring that kind of sheer enjoyment Stateside, with the event’s emphasis on play: play with friends, with family, among educators in the classroom, and with librarians in libraries.

ChiTAG is particularly well-suited to those of us in this profession.Travel funds are limited and limiting, but Chicago’s central location puts it within reach of many of us. Put it on your calendar for next year if you can’t hop in the car to get there this year. Game on!