As I walked into the quiet Library and Learning Center on the St. Paul campus, I thought it was an odd place for a noisy night of games. I headed to the student lounge on the first floor, where the library offers Game Night the third Tuesday of every month.
When I arrived, I was greeted by library technician Dylan Harris as he hooked up a Super Nintendo — just one of the many systems available to play. Harris and librarian Jennifer DeJonghe are the masterminds that brought this event to the Metro State community.
Joined by librarian Alec Sonsteby this year, the Game Night team has expanded the library’s game collection to include tabletop and board games — all of which can be borrowed by library cardholders.
“We know that not everyone can stick around and we want people to have fun,” Sonsteby told me when I asked how to check out games. “[We want people] to play games and learn new ones and we want people to take them home.”
That raised a question about logistics: How do they keep track of the numerous game pieces in a board game? The library uses the honor system and expects patrons to communicate problems with the librarian on duty. Usually there are no issues as the library can often replace missing pieces.
Game Night has grown since its origins as a once-a-semester event started by librarian DeJonghe. “It was about two years ago and it began as a video game night,” Harris said. Once Sonsteby was on board, they expanded into tabletop games, to appeal to the diverse mix of gaming subcultures.
The library’s video game collection ranges from old-school classics like Tetris on the NES, to Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo and the Wii, to FIFA Soccer for the PlayStation 4. Librarians will expand the game collection as demand increases.
In most instances the tabletop games take 15 to 90 minutes to play so players can try several during a three-hour Game Night. I tried two tabletop games: Carcassonne, a world building tile game, and Splendor, a card game where you work your way to 15 points by acquiring gems and cards.
My fellow players were not only students and staff, but members of the community as well. In fact, the biggest group at Game Night was kids from the surrounding neighborhood. They mingled easily with adults in a university setting.
I felt Game Night represented our school well to the community, and showed a strong campus-community connection. I plan to bring my family to the event in the future
While some gaming systems like the Super Nintendo were donated to the library, the PlayStation 4 and many of the nearly 70 tabletop games were acquired with funding requests. The goal now is to add one board game a month and possibly another video game system