Video Gaming

Length of Program

60-90 minutes

Program Description

Video games won their place alongside traditional sports when Guitar Hero was featured on an hour-long special televised by CBS on the Louisville World Series of Video Games competition on Sunday, July 28, 2007.

  • Teens enjoy gaming in large groups and the library is a friendly place for them to play together. Provide games and equipment and/or teens can bring their own laptops and gaming systems at your library Video Gaming program. Libraries may offer open play, host a tournament, or both. This program describes both options and provides suggestions for games teens will enjoy. Four types of games are included in this program and librarians may choose which work best in their communities.
  • Video games such as Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, and Super Smash Bros. Melee
  • Computer-based games on CD-Rom which can be single or multiplayer, such as the Age of Empire, Civilization, and StarCraft series
  • Free online games at Pogo Games, Shockwave, and Yahoo! Games
  • Free Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) such as RuneScape, Star Wars Combine, Teen Second Life, and Gaia Online that are graphics-based and may feature social avatar worlds

A library Video Gaming program can be as simple or as big and extravagant as space, time, staff, and funds allow. For a sure-fire success, offer Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution, two games that are very popular with teens.

Many teens have been gaming since they were young and will be familiar with the games played at your program. Others will pick them up quickly with a little coaching, especially the console and PC games. Teens, volunteers, and staff members who are familiar with the games can assist new players. They’ll all have fun playing and watching each other play.

This program offers some basic understanding and direction for librarians who don’t know much about games, equipment, or how to get started. For more information, see the September/October 2006 issue of Library Technology Reports entitled “Gaming and Libraries: Intersection of Services” which is devoted to the topic. It consists of chapters rather than articles, and each chapter deals with a different aspect of computer gaming and libraries. Chapter 1 helps explain why libraries should be involved in computer games. It also deals with complaints against violence and explains how games can be used to encourage literacy. Chapter 2 discusses “The Gaming Generation”. Chapter 3 explains equipment and setups for video game consoles, and lists games. Chapter 4 consists of case studies of libraries with gaming programs. The issue is available through TexShare’s EBSCO Host database.

To learn about the gaming programs, see the Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki section on gaming at This page lists libraries that host gaming programs and the games offered:

Developmental Needs and Assets

Library gaming programs give teens opportunities to socialize and make new friends who share their interests, to improve and advance in their games, and to discuss strategy and approaches to solving problems with their peers. Video and virtual games open new interactive worlds to teens. Some games require cooperation and teamwork and others are strictly competitive.

The Video Gaming program meets developmental needs of teens by encouraging positive social interactions, creating interesting ways of learning, and generating opportunities for growth through creative activities. Developmental assets supported by this program include constructive use of time, commitment to learning, and social competencies. This program helps build assets as library staff develop relationships with teens and create supportive environments.


Ask your Teen Advisory Board or informal groups of teens which games they want to play. This will increase their ownership of the program and ensure that it includes games that teens enjoy playing.

When choosing games for your programs, determine in advance whether a site license must be purchased to allow multiple players at a single IP address. Ask your library's IT department if the games will work with the library's computer security system in place, or if security will need to be disabled for the event.

Next, decide whether you will have free play or a tournament. Don't worry about buying everything. If you have a TV, then it is possible to borrow the rest. If funding doesn't allow for the purchase of various games and consoles, ask coworkers, your teen advisory board, and/or teens registered for the program to bring their own consoles and favorite games.

Always set up the games in advance and try them out to ensure that all the necessary equipment is on hand and that everything works. Look for things that don't work and how to fix them. Some games come with accessories that only work a certain distance from the console. For example the Wii optical sensor remote controls operates at up to about 16 feet from the console. Marking a line on the floor at this distance may be useful to participants, although most will stand closer.

Discuss the program with your technology staff if you plan to play online games or games on CD-Roms. Free downloadable games, including MMORPGs, can be very large files and may take a long time to download, so install them in advance. Games on CD-Rom will need to be installed in advance. Ask your tech department staff for assistance in downloading programs. Games and even free trials may take a considerable length of time to download.

Plan to have plenty of teen volunteers at the program. They're familiar with the games and can get a competition going if it starts to drag. They can also help other teens who are not familiar with the games. Consider inviting a local high school or community college technology club to facilitate the games. Invite staff at your library who are gamers and invite the tech staff to participate in the program. If you are uncomfortable working with video games or don't know anything about them, arrange to have someone at the program who knows the games and the technology involved. Ask them to be available to troubleshoot any unforeseeable event that may arise.

It is a good idea to place various board games/card games in the program area for teens who aren't as technologically adept or for those waiting for their turn to play the video games. However, in this gaming generation, most teens learn electronic games quickly.

Music is a must at a program like this and a DJ will add to teens’ enjoyment. Ask a Teen Advisory Board member to serve as the DJ for your event. Also ask teen participants to contribute their favorite music to the song line-up. Remember that you must have a public performance license to play music at library programs. Chances are good that your city or county already has a license if it offers dance classes at the recreation center, provides musical sing-alongs at the senior activity building, or holds regular outdoor parades or concerts. Check with your public information office, parks and recreation department, purchasing department, or the city or county legal department to see if a license exists and for which licensing organization. For more information, see the copyright section of the introduction to this manual.

Entertainment Software Ratings

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates interactive entertainment software. All games listed in this program are rated as “E” for Everyone, “E10+” for Everyone 10+, and “T” for Teen, provided that an ESRB rating is available. It is recommended that librarians check ratings on the ESRB web site at and offer only games that are rated as “E”, “E10+”, and “T”.

Parents may not be aware that ESRB ratings exist and may not know the ratings for games their preteens and teens play at home or in the library. Many preteens and teens play games at home that are rated “M” for “Mature”, sometimes without their parents’ knowledge. For example, Halo is a very popular role-playing game that is rated “M” due to violent content. Controversy has arisen in some communities when parents discovered that their preteens and teens played Halo at the library.

To avoid controversy in your community, include the names of the games that teens will play and the ESRB ratings on your flyers and publicity. In this way, teens and parents will know in advance if games they enjoy and/or games to which they object will be offered. Require signed parental permission slips if teens will play any game that is rated “M”.

Books to Display

  • Arcade Fever: The Fan's Guide to the Golden Age of Video Games by John Sellers.
  • Game Art: The Graphic Art of Computer Games by Leo Hartas.
  • Game Design for Teens by Les Pardew.
  • Joystick Nation: How Videogames Ate Our Quarters, Won Our Hearts, and Rewired Our Minds by J. C. Herz.
  • The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon-The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World by Steven L. Kent.

Books to Booktalk

  • The Amulet of Komondor by Adam Osterweil.
  • Brainboy and the Deathmaster by Tor Seidler.
  • Crusader by Edward Bloor.
  • Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz.
  • Gemini Game by Michael Scott.
  • Head Games by Mariah Fredericks.
  • Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde.
  • by Arne Tangherlini.
  • Locked Inside by Nancy Werlin.
  • New World by Gillian Cross.
  • The Night Room by E. M. Goldman.
  • Reality Check! by Rikki Simons.
  • Rodomonte’s Revenge by Gary Paulsen.
  • User Unfriendly by Vivian Vande Velde.
  • Virtual World by Chris Westwood.


Display boxes for games that will be played at your program along with accessories such as a DDR mat, a Wii remote, Nintendo and Xbox consoles, Guitar Hero controller, etc. Or display classic boxes for games such as Pac-man, Pong, Tetris, and Donkey Kong along with platforms such as Atari, Sega Genesis, and early Nintendo consoles. Include a poster for Game On! TTR.08 and a flyer for your program.

Bulletin Board

Display copies of boxes of games that will be played during the program along with screen shots from the actual games. Or display an historical timeline of video games including major milestones in video game history. These might include the initial release dates for Atari, Pac-man, Nintendo’s first console, and SimCity, etc. The History of Gaming Interactive Timeline of Game History on The Video Game Revolution site at may be used to identify historical events to include on the bulletin board. Add a poster for Game On! TTR.08 and a flyer for your program.


Create an edgy, engaging flyer with an emphasis on technology to advertise the Video Gaming program. Include a catchy title or slogan, such as "Now Playing", "Playing with Power", or for a Wii tournament, "Wii Play". For an eye-catching, teen friendly flyer, create a flyer that is reminiscent of CD artwork. Order single CD slim jewel cases and insert your flyer into the leaflet or booklet area. Many places sell the jewel cases in bulk, such as Merit Line at, and you can order a 100 pack of the jewel cases for approximately $20.00. Withdrawn CD cases may be used if they are in good shape and if the property stickers and barcodes can be removed. The teens will love it and use it!

Another advertising method is to set up a web log (or blog) about gaming. There are many free blog-hosting sites, like Blogger ( and WordPress ( that are very easy to use and quick to set up. The library can use the blog to advertise upcoming gaming events and allow teens to discuss, review, and learn about new games from staff and other teens. Also check with the local schools or Parks and Recreation centers to see if they offer any video game clubs, tournaments, or programs, and advertise at those sites. Post an ad in the local high school newspapers or newsletters, or even on their web sites. Finally, get the library's Teen Advisory Board involved in the planning. This group will help spread the word for your program.


If games such as Dance Dance Revolution, Karaoke, or Guitar Hero will be played, hang withdrawn CDs from the ceiling and add a tabletop disco ball. The lights shining off of the CDs create a club-like ambience. If you are hosting a tournament or using other games, the disco ball may be distracting. During a tournament, turn down the lights if games are projected onto a screen or the wall.

Decorate with an ‘80’s theme if teens are playing retro games. The first video game created, Pong, premiered in the 1980’s.


Nothing goes better with video games and teens than pizza and candy, or other finger snack foods. Serve food at the beginning or at the end after teens finish gaming to prevent greasy hands touching the controllers or smudging the games and provide plenty of napkins.


If you host a tournament, give prizes such as candy and coupons to winners of each round. Award small trophies, computer generated certificates, personalized ribbons, or a gift certificate to the overall winner. Contact stores that sell video games and request giveaways such as posters, promotional items, gift certificates, and/or coupons. Bragging rights and a place to play these games with friends will be enough incentive for many teens.

Games and Activities

Video Gaming - Free Play

To host an open play Video Gaming program, set up consoles loaded with a variety of games and invite teens to play. Limit each game to one round if the number of consoles is limited. An LCD projector is optional for video game programs. It adds a lot of "wow" factor if teens can view their games on a large projector screen or the wall, but it is not necessary. Invite teens to bring their own laptops or gaming systems to supplement those available at the library. Teens will typically pair off and play together.

You may also host free play with computer-based multiplayer games such as Age of Empire, Rise of Legends, or Civilization and online game sites such as Pogo Games, Shockwave, and Yahoo! Games.

Video Gaming Tournament

Host Super Smash Bros. Melee for a fun video game tournament. Set up an LCD projector with game consoles that will allow two, four, or eight teens to compete at a time. Add lots of chairs for friends and families who come to watch the tournament. To add excitement, ask a teen or a library staff member to provide play by play and color commentary. They’ll need a microphone to be heard over the talking and cheers!

If the teens attending have a wide range of age and skill levels, or if there are a large number of competitors, divide them into multiple groups of two or four players. If you begin the program with 30 minutes of free play, this will allow time for teens to sign up for the tournaments and for you to divide the teens into groups. Or, you may register teens in advance for tournaments. Advance registration allows you to schedule entrants for particular games at particular times and makes it easy to divide the teens into groups. Allow for alternate positions when planning tournaments so that latecomers who have not registered may participate.

If your room is large enough, set up free play games such as Dance Dance Revolution and Super Mario Brothers in half of the room for teens who are not in the tournament. Add LCD projectors to make it more fun. You can also invite teens to bring their own laptops or gaming systems.

Console Types and Selected Games

Nintendo 64 (1996)
Selected Games: StarCraft, Donkey Kong 64, Mario Kart 64, Mario Party 3, Pro Skater Game 3, Super Mario 64, Tony Hawk's Super Smash Brothers
Sega Dreamcast (Released in 1998, Discontinued in 2002. Sega began selling refurbished Dreamcast consoles through its online store in 2006.)
Selected Games: Sonic Adventure, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series. Sega Dreamcast had more than 730 official games in 2006.
Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2001)
Selected Games: Mario Kart Super Circuit, Need for Speed, Pokeman Ruby/Sapphire,
The Sims, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!, WarioWare: Twisted!
Note: Nintendo Game Boy Advance is a portable, handheld console that can be linked. Graphics are not as powerful as Wii and PlayStation.
Nintendo GameCube (2001)
Games: Dance Dance Revolution; Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Need for Speed, Super Monkey Ball; Super Smash Brothers, Super Mario SunshineSuper Smash Brothers Series, The Sims, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$!
Nintendo DS (2004)
Selected Games: Mario Kart, Retro Atari Classics, The Sims, Wario Ware: Touched!
Microsoft Xbox (2001) and Xbox 360 (2005)
Selected Games: Dance Dance Revolution Universe, Need for Speed, Tony Hawk's Proving Ground
Nintendo Wii (2007)
Selected Games: Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party, Need for Speed, Pokemon Battle Revolution, Rayman Raving Rabbids, Spiderman 3, Super Paper Mario, Super Smash Brothers, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Wii Sports
Sony PlayStation (1994), PlayStation 2 (2000), PlayStation 3 (2005)
Selected Games: Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Karaoke Revolution (including American Idol Karaoke); Need for Speed, The Sims, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series

Video Game Descriptions

Dance Dance Revolution series (DDR)(ESRB Ratings: E, E10+)
Consoles: PCs, Sony PlayStation 1 & 2, Nintendo GameCube, Wii, Xbox, and Xbox 360
This game combines music and dancing. Players follow the directions of colored arrows projected on a screen and step on corresponding areas of the DDR mat. Players’ scores are based on how accurately their steps match the arrows. Dance Dance Revolution includes more than 50 game choices, various levels of expertise, and allows for multiple players. For more information, see Game at;review.
Guitar Hero (ESRB Rating: T)
Console: Sony PlayStation 2
Guitar Hero II
Consoles: Sony PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360
Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s
Consoles: Sony PlayStation 2
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
Consoles: Sony PlayStations 2 & 3, Xbox 360, and Wii.
Players follow onscreen color-coded clues shown on a guitar neck to correctly strum a guitar-shaped controller in rhythm with rock music in this award-winning game. Playing the wrong notes causes the rock meter to indicate failure. Guitar Hero II includes more than 50 new tunes. Note: The games can be played on a regular controller but are much more lifelike when played on a separate guitar peripheral.
Karaoke Revolution series, including American Idol Karaoke (ESRB Ratings: E and E10+)
Console: Sony PlayStation 2
This series judges players on their ability to sing. The newest addition to this series is American Idol Karaoke in which players sing along karaoke-style while being judged by the dreaded Simon Cowell. Players vie against each other for a spot at the top. For more information, see Game at
Mario Kart (ESRB Rating: E)
Consoles: Nintendo 64, Nintendo DS, Nintendo GameCube, and Game Boy Advance
This game and the others in this series are basic racing games with a Mario World spin. Mario Kart includes various track options and choices of character. Players may compete against each other or the computer. With Wi-Fi access, the Nintendo DS version includes the option of playing against others worldwide. For more information, visit Mario at
Need for Speed series(ESRB Ratings: E and E10+)
Consoles: PC, Sony PlayStations 1, 2 & 3, Sony PlayStation Portable, Nintendo GameCube, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360, and Game Boy Advance
This series is another basic racing game with multiple car and track choices. Some versions include police chases. Concerns about the game encouraging reckless road behavior may make this choice a bit controversial for the library.
Retro Atari Classics (ESRB Rating: E)
Consoles: Nintendo DS
This collection of Atari classic games includes Warlords, Missile Command, Centipede, Tempest, Pong, Breakout, Sprint, Gravitar, Asteroids, and Lunar Lander. They are not that well reviewed on most review sites, but may be interesting to include as a history of video games. For more information, see Game at
The Sims series (ESRB Rating: T)
Consoles: PC, PlayStation2, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo DS, and Game Boy Advance.
The Sims is the best-selling PC game in history. It is loosely based on Sim City in which the player must manage a city and its citizenry, called "Sims." The Sims simulates day-to-day activities of one or more Sims living in a suburban household near SimCity. The objective of the game is to organize the Sims' time to help them reach personal goals. Sims must work, pay bills, exercise, eat, sleep, etc., or face consequences. Since its initial release in 2000, seven expansion packs and a sequel, The Sims 2 have been released and The Sims 3 is currently in development. For more information, see The Sims at
Super Smash Bros. (ESRB Rating: E) and Super Smash Bros. Melee (ESRB Rating: T)
Consoles: Nintendo 64, Wii
A single player, or up to four people, can play the fighting games this series which features characters such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Princess Zelda, or Pikachu from established Nintendo games. Super Smash Brothers was originally released in 1999 for Nintendo 64. Super Smash Bros. Melee was released in 2001 for Nintendo GameCube. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, players can choose between 25 characters and can select one of 29 stages for each round of play. The third installment, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, is scheduled for release for Wii in December 2007. For more information, see Smash at
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series(ESRB Ratings: E, E10+, and T)
Consoles: PCs, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Xbox, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, and Dreamcast
This immensely popular skateboarding game features the legendary skateboarder, Tony Hawk, and other well-known professional skateboarders. For more information, see Game at
WarioWare: Smooth Moves (ESRB Rating: E10+)
Consoles: Wii
This game combines over 200 micro-games. The micro-games typically consist of a single quick, decisive action, such as sawing through a log or jumping to collect coins. The trick of the game is that players don't know in what order the micro-games will be thrown at them, and the speed of the game increases as the player progresses through the game. Perfect to show off how fun the Wii can be. For more information, see Wario at
Wii Sports(ESRB Rating: E)
Consoles: Wii
These simulations of tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing are free with the Wii system. They are a great way to learn how to use the Wii Remote, also called Wiimote. Most games are fairly short and allow for multi-player or group play. For more information, see at
Video Game Accessories
Dance Dance Revolution
DDR can be played with regular controllers but the fun of the game is actually performing the steps. For this a DDR mat is needed. Two mats will enable players to compete each other simultaneously. For information on the various mats available, see
Guitar Hero
Information and prices for the guitar shaped controller that is used with Guitar Hero games may be found at the Guitar Hero II Specialty Store at
The Wii Remote (Wiimote) for the Wii consoles includes motion-sensing technology allowing players to actually move as if they are in the game. It can become the player's tennis racket in one game or the players bowling arm in another game. For group events, additional Wiimotes may need to be purchased. Wiimotes may be purchased at an electronic store with Wii products in stock. For more information, see at

Computer-Based Multiplayer Games

Age of Empires series (ESRB Ratings: E10+, T)
Media: CD-Rom
This history-based strategy game features online or network play for a single player or up to eight simultaneous players. Players must advance their civilizations from the Stone Age, to the Tool Age, the Bronze Age, and to the Iron Age. They construct civilizations, build armies, and explore new technologies. To win, players must gather resources to pay for new units, buildings, and more advanced technology. For more information, see at For system requirements, see Microsoft’s Age of Empire Technical Notes at
Civilization series (ESRB Ratings: E, E10+)
Media: CD-Rom
Civilization III and others in this series are turn-based strategy games that can be played online with players from all over the world. The object of the game is to build an empire through the ages, beginning in pre-historic times and continuing through the modern day. Available for Windows and Mac OS. For more information, see The Official Civilization III web site at
Rise of Legends (ESRB Rating: T)
Media: CD-Rom
This fantasy game allows players to build their civilizations from the ground up and features online multiple player options. For more information, see at For system requirements, see Microsoft’s Rise of Legends webpage at
StarCraft (ESRB Rating: T)
Consoles: Nintendo 64, PC, MacIntosh
StarCraft was the best-selling computer game of 1998 and is the third best-selling computer game in history. The sequel, StarCraft II, was released in May 2007. StarCraft is a strategy game that follows a war among three galactic species. It can be installed on eight networked computers allowing eight simultaneous players on a single IP network. The sequel, StarCraft II, was released in May 2007. This inexpensive game can be ordered through for less than $20.00. This is an excellent choice for installation on library computers.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs)

If teens in your community enjoy MMORPGs, consider hosting a free play event. You’ll need a library computer lab with a LAN, or laptops and a wireless connection. Provide computers for each player as well as plenty of time for play. StarCraft, the best-selling computer game of 1998 and the third best-selling computer game in history, is an excellent choice for libraries. It can be installed eight networked computers allowing eight simultaneous players on a single IP network. This inexpensive game can be ordered through for less than $20.00.

You may invite teens to bring their own laptops if you have a wireless connection, particularly if they want to play games to which they subscribe.

The development of the players’ characters is a primary goal in most MMORPGs. In many games characters progress and earn experience points for their actions and then reach various character levels. It takes quite a while to advance through the levels so it may be difficult to estimate how much time teens will need to play. Some libraries offer a series of one-hour programs over four or more weeks so that teens can progress through the game. Others offer half-day or all-day programs.

Many multi-player games are available for free over the Internet. A list of free game web sites is included below. When choosing games for your programs, determine in advance whether a site license must be purchased to allow multiple players at a single IP address. Ask the library's IT department if the games will work with the library's computer security system in place, or if security will need to be disabled.

Free Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs)

MMORPGs are online computer role-playing games in which players interact with other players in virtual worlds. Most take place in fantasy worlds and players progress by earning experience points, earning the game currency, uncovering and collecting goods, and combating opponents. These are graphics-based games in social environments where players may create avatars to represent themselves. They may associate and form social groups. Many MMORPGs and social avatar worlds are commercial ventures. Some offer free trials. Some include areas that are free along with others that require subscription. For more information on MMORPGs, see Wikipedia at

Below is a list of MMORPGs that are free, partially free, or have free trials. Be sure to check each game to make sure it allows for multiple users on the same IP address. Confer with your technology or IT department. These programs may be very large and may take extensive time to download. Teens may take a long time to master them, but they will enjoy the graphics along the way.

Darker Realms (No ESRB Rating)
Media: Web interface
Darker Realms is a MUD (multi-user dungeon). This is a free online role-playing game. It does not require the player to download or purchase anything. All that is required is telnet, and if a user does not have that or does not like the version of telnet on his or her computer, there is also a Java applet on the web site that allows the user to connect to the game. For more information, visit Darker Realms at
Gaia Online
Media: Download
Platforms: PC
Founded in 2003, Gaia Online is an online community open to teens ages 13 and up. It includes games, message boards, and a virtual economy. Members can hang out, chat, create avatars, and use "Gaia Gold" to outfit their avatars with clothes and accessories. Gaia Gold is earned by engaging in many activities, including Gaia's selection of games. All areas of the site are free, unless members purchase site merchandise or special collectible items. Giai Online is the largest forum on the Internet with over a million posts daily. For more information, visit Gaia Online at
Lineage 2 (ESRB Rating: T)
Media: CD-Rom, Download
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Players may become knights, wizards, elves, or princes or princesses in this medieval role-playing game. For more information, visit Lineage at
MapleStory series (No ESRB Rating)
Media: Download
Platforms: Microsoft Windows 98/ME/2K/XP, Nintendo DS
This is a free game for which appearances and gameplay enhancements can be purchased. Players in the "Maple World" create characters, defeat monsters and develop their character's skills and abilities, as is typical in role-playing games. Players can interact through chatting, trading, and playing minigames. Groups of players can band together to hunt monsters and share the rewards. They can also form a guild to interact more easily with each other. For more information, visit MapleStory at
Matrix Online (ESRB Rating: T)
Media: CD-Rom
Platform: PC
Built upon the fantasy world in the Matrix movies, this game allows each player's character to work its way through the classes of the Matrix, taking on different missions. Players may join the community for free. For more information, visit The Matrix Online at
Monster and Me (No ESRB Rating)
Media: Download
Platforms: Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Vista
Players must create an account for Monster and Me and then may play for free. Players can fight alone or team up with friends to battle the monsters that roam in this mystical Eastern land. They can catch pets, raise them, and evolve them to create the ultimate fighting machine. Away from the battlefield, players can get married and choose a honeymoon, build a dream house fit for a hero, and more. For more information, visit Monster and Me at
RuneScape (No ESRB Rating)
Media: Web Interface
Platforms: Java, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X
RuneScape players may create an account and play in free worlds without obligation to buy anything. Some parts of the game require subscription. It is one of the most popular online games in the world. The setting is the fantasy realm of Gielinor, which is divided into several kingdoms and regions with different types of monsters, materials, and quests. Players create onscreen avatars that travel by foot, teleportation spells and devices, and mechanical transportation. Players may embark on quests and interact with other players through trading, chatting, or playing combative or cooperative mini-games. For more information, visit RuneScape at
Star Wars Combine (No ESRB Rating)
Media: Download
Platforms: Windows, MacIntosh, Linux/Unix
The Star Wars Combine is a free MMORPG simulation game developed by and for Star Wars fans. Players must set up accounts. They create avatars with various careers and skill levels that explore vast galaxies and interact with other players. For more information, visit the Star Wars Combine web site at
Teen Second Life (No ESRB Rating)
Media: Download
Platforms: Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP SP 2, Windows Vista, Mac OS X (10.3.9 or higher), Linux, I686.
Second Life is an Internet-based virtual world in which Residents develop avatars which meet other Residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, explore, and create and trade items including virtual property and services. Teen Second Life was developed in 2005 for teenagers ages 13-17. Teens may register for free. However, a cell phone with Short Message Service (SMS), a PayPal account, or a credit card are required to register. Teen Grid users and all their content and private islands are transferred to the Main Grid when they turn 18. For more information and to play, visit Teen Second Life at Listen to an MP3 audio file of Libraries Get a Second Life by Lori Bell and Tom Peters, a presentation at the ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium 2007 at

Free Online Game Sites

Pogo Games
Pogo offers hundreds of free online puzzles, word, card, board, casino, arcade, and sport games. Pogo does require players to create a free account. With sign-up, teens can play single player games or chat and play with over 15 million members on the multi-player games. is consistently a top-10 Internet site for U.S. visitors when measured by time spent online. A premium subscription-based service called "Club Pogo" is also available. For more information, see at
The Online Games section of Shockwave offers a wide variety of games from online versions of traditional card and board games to many unfamiliar but enjoyable games. Games can be played online against other teens. For more information, see at
Yahoo! Games
Yahoo! Games offers free online games and free trial downloads. This site includes arcade, board, card, word, puzzle, video, and multi-player games. Many traditional games such as Chess, Dominoes, Scrabble, Monopoly, and Risk are available. Teens can join a tournament with Yahoo! Games and play against others from all over the world. For more information, see Yahoo! at

Guest Speakers

Invite a local video game store representative to bring brand new video games or possibly preview products that aren't available for sale yet. The video store representative could set up a mini-game convention in your library allowing teens to play games on a variety of gaming consoles.

Professional Resources


The Kids are Alright: How the Gamer Generation is Changing the Workplace by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade.

Beck and Wade cite a survey of approximately 2000 business professionals that provides the first data showing a direct, statistically verifiable link between digital games and professional behavior in the workplace. They state that gamers, estimated by the authors to be about 90 million strong, acquire valuable knowledge that will transform the workplace. According to the authors, gamers place value in winning and competence, and want to be experts their fields, which will make them an influential force. The book suggests ways employers can take advantage of gamers’ unique values and skills. A review in Publisher’s Weekly states that “Some readers may find themselves grinding their teeth at many of the authors’ upbeat conclusions about the benefits video game players will bring to the business world, but most will find the pair’s findings fascinating and provocative.”


“Are You Game?” by Aaron Schmidt. School Library Journal. June 2006. (Vol. 52, No. 6, pgs. 52-54)
This article is a thorough introduction to hosting gaming events at a library. It discusses open-play and tournaments options, popular consoles, favorite games of teens, how to get approval to host a gaming event, and how to advertise. Available online at School Library Journal Online at
“Gaming and Libraries: Intersection of Services by Jenny Levine. Library Technology Reports. September/October 2006. (Vol. 42, No. 5)
This issue of Library Technology Reports consists of chapters rather than articles, and each chapter deals with a different aspect of computer gaming and libraries. Chapter 1 explains why libraries should be involved in computer games. It also discusses complaints about violence in video games and explains how games can be used to encourage literacy. Available from ALA Tech Source at and through TexShare’s EBSCO Host database.
Gaming for Librarians: An Introduction by Heather Wilson. VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates). February 2005. (Vol. 27, No. 6, pgs 446-449)
Wilson explores games teens are playing, including computer and video games, role-playing games, miniatures, collectible and trading card games, and board games. She discusses the popularity of games that are derivatives of teen TV shows, comic books, and movies. Wilson briefly discusses the benefits of games and how to incorporate games into the library. Also available at VOYA Online at VO/YA2/VOYA200502YA101.pdf.
“Gaming for Tech-Savvy Teens” by Catherine Delneo. Young Adult Library Services. Spring 2005. (Vol. 3, No. 3. pgs. 34-38.)
Delneo introduces gaming in libraries and has an excellent bibliography of professional resources as well as a teen fiction booklist.
Meet the Gamers: They Research, Teach, Learn, and Collaborate So Far, Without Libraries by Kurt Squire. Library Journal. April 2005. (Vol. 130, No. 7, p 38)
This article describes ways in which libraries can connect to gamers, including offering games for check out, reserving workstations for gaming, and hosting gaming events. Using games as Civilization III and Lineage as examples, the author shows how online multi-player games reinforce some objectives of public libraries: reading, researching, managing multiple resources, accessing and evaluating information. Available at Library Journal Online at cle/CA516033.html.
“Video Games as a Service: Hosting Tournaments at Your Library” by Erin Helmrich. VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates). February 2005. (Vol. 27, No. 6, pgs 450-453)
This article by staff of the Ann Arbor District Library details the success and evolution of their gaming tournaments. It includes a description of their events, suggested ways to enhance game tournament events, and promotion of events of this type. Available at VOYA Online at

Web Sites

AADL-GT: Ann Arbor District Library Game Blog
This popular blog elicits a high volume of responses from teens and members of the community. Bloggers suggest game event options, discuss how to improve programs, talk about new games in the library's collection, and more.
ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium 2007.
On this site, thirty-five presentations, including keynote presentations by James Paul Gee, Henry Jenkins, Liz Lawley, and Gregory Trefry, are available as MP3 audio files.
Developing Collections of Games for Libraries by Beth Gallaway. (ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium 2007.)
Ms. Gallaway discusses how to make the case to include video games and software in your collection, and how to evaluate, select, purchase, store, and market PC and console games. On this web site you may listen to an MP3 audio file of the presentation and view the PowerPoint slide show.
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
ESRB's site is a good resource for choosing appropriate video game titles. The ratings include EC (Early Childhood), E (Everyone), E10+ (Everyone 10 and older), T (Teen), M (Mature), AO (Adult Only), and RP (Rating Pending). The ratings also include content descriptors to clarify the elements a game possesses that may have triggered certain ratings.
GameSpot is a review site for games for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStations 2 & 3, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo DS, and Game Boy Advance. Game news, previews, cheat codes, and more are also included on this site.
Game On! The Official Libgaming Blog rchive.html
Game On! is a web log (blog) created by librarians to keep librarians up-to-date on gaming news. It is a supplemental resource to the LibGaming discussion list.
Game Rankings collects and links to reviews from other websites and magazines. It combines rankings into an average rating for each game. This site may help select games that are popular with teens.
Gaming Target
Gaming Target reviews games for PCs, Xbox 360, PlayStations 2 & 3, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Xbox, Nintendo DC, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and more. The Retro channel of this site features games for retired consoles that are no longer the mainstays of the video gaming world. The site includes news, reviews, previews, cheat codes, blogs, interviews, a community forum, and even articles written by John Scalzo, the Video Game Librarian.
How’d They do That? A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a Gaming Program at Your Library by Kelly Laszczal, Eric Currie, and Alex Tyle. (ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium 2007.)
On this web page you may listen to the MP3 audio file of this presentation to learn how to create a successful gaming program on a limited budget, including Dance Dance Revolution tournaments, online discussion groups for teens, equipment, and games that work well for the library.
LibGaming - Google Group
A library gaming listserv, or forum discussion, set up through Google Groups, LibGaming is a space for librarians to talk about gaming, ask each other questions, talk about successful events, offer suggestions, and much more. It includes topics such as circulating video games for PC and consoles, game collection development, gaming programs including LAN parties and tournaments, role-playing games, card games, online gaming, gaming reviews and resources, and news and research.
Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki: Gaming
Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki is created by and for librarians or library professionals. The gaming section includes information about upcoming library game events, past library game events, success stories, resources, libraries hosting gaming programs, Wii libraries, and libraries circulating games.
Libraries Hosting Gaming Programs
This page on the Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki lists libraries that host gaming programs and games played at the programs.
Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked by Henry Jenkins.
This well-researched essay on the impact of gaming addresses many concerns about video games and supports incorporating video games into YA programs and/or circulating collections. The article is published by PBS and offers supporting statistics. The author, Henry Jenkins, is a professor at MIT.
What IF: Gaming, Intellectual Freedom and the Law by Katherine Fallow. (ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium 2007.)
Several states have passed laws restricting minors' access to violent video games. Courts have invalidated these laws under the First Amendment. Some groups advocate laws to regulate access to games based on their content and laws to ban violent games. These organizations and individuals may turn their attention to libraries that add games to their collections. This presentation discusses intellectual freedom principles and the First Amendment in relation to games and gaming activities, along with recent court decisions addressing minors' access to video games, the legal status of game ratings, and policy developments. Listen to an MP3 audio file of the presentation on this site.
YALSA Gaming Lists and Activities
This YALSA web page includes a list of top 50 games and activities. It also includes the content for a brochure entitled Why Gaming @ your library?
Page last modified: August 15, 2011