Library and School Gaming Events
Scott Nicholson
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Brantford
Ontario
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Since early 2007, I've been doing research about games in libraries. I've created a portable Game Lab that replicates what many libraries are doing in gaming programs. This lab has video games, like a Wii, DDR, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band and also board games. I take this lab to library conferences to expose librarians (and schools through their school libraries) to a variety of games.

Since I've been doing this, I've realized that what we, as boardgame enthusiasts think of "gateway games" don't always work in this environment. I started by bringing games like Ticket to Ride, Settlers, and Ingenious. What I quickly learned is that these games take too long. Many library gaming programs only run 2 hours, so it is difficult to get someone to sit down for a 45-minute game when there are all of these other great things to try.

I've also learned that the rules need to be easy to teach. These environments can be noisy and it can be difficult to keep someone's attention for a long time.

If it is eye-catching that can help get someone's attention away from the blinkenlights of the video games.

It helps if there are short rounds that players can join or drop between rounds of the game. For this reason, it is also good if the game can play various numbers of players.

The games need to be available now and relatively inexpensive. Hamster Rolle, for example, is always interesting to people, but it is an expensive game. A $50 game is a hard sell to a library with a budget of $500 for an entire gaming program. Ubongo (with a simplified scoring system) also goes over well, but it is also expensive.

Finally, the games need to be interesting on some level, but not complex. One of my goals is to introduce the librarians to games they might not have heard of.

So, I'm seeking ideas for games that are:
- Easy to teach
- Scale well
- Fast to play (under 30 minutes, preferably less)
- Inexpensive
- Readily available
- Eye-Catching
- Interesting
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1. Board Game: RattleSnake [Average Rating:5.87 Overall Rank:5619]
Board Game: RattleSnake
Scott Nicholson
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The first few items are from the recent "Let Me Try" geekist. (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/35264). Many of those games, however, are out of print or expensive.

Rattlesnake is good as the noise draws people over, and it seems very simple.
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2. Board Game: Blokus [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:654]
Board Game: Blokus
Scott Nicholson
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This one, while not scalable, certainly keeps people playing. I got GIANT Blokus for the lab, and that really brings them over, but I've seen Blokus work just as well.
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3. Board Game: Sorry! Sliders [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2062]
Board Game: Sorry! Sliders
Scott Nicholson
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I recently got this one, and it also engages people in the same way that Tumblin Dice or Crokinole engages them, but it's a lot cheaper.
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4. Board Game: Tsuro [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:945]
Board Game: Tsuro
Scott Nicholson
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This is one that I hadn't thought about, but saw on the Let Me Try geeklist, and it's a good idea for this setting. I'll be trying it out at the next event.
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5. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:725]
Board Game: Diamant
Scott Nicholson
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This has been one of my go-to games for the lab, as it scales well, looks interesting, and plays quickly.
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6. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:631]
Board Game: Wits & Wagers
Scott Nicholson
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This one is great in that it scales well and people can add/drop between rounds. It also has a good educational tie-in.
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7. Board Game: TransAmerica [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:1123]
Board Game: TransAmerica
Scott Nicholson
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I lead people through just one round of this, explain scoring, and then let them decide if they want to continue or try a different game. I also mention Ticket to Ride as a game like this, but more complex.
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8. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:357] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie
Scott Nicholson
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Heroscape is good when you will have 8-12 year old boys. Played with the simple rules, it's easily taught, and I watched a group of boys play this for hours, leaving the video games blinking and vacant. Make a small board so they get right into the action.
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9. Board Game: Get Bit! [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:2454]
Board Game: Get Bit!
Scott Nicholson
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I've played this one, and I can see the potential. It's got an interesting decision to make each turn, but is easy to explain. The theme might not fit in some school settings.
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10. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:745]
Board Game: Can't Stop
Scott Nicholson
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This one is on the edge of too long, but it draws people over and gets them involved. It's also a little tricky to explain, but if you show an example turn, that helps.

Edit - I recently tried this out at an event, and I think it is over the edge of being too long. I'll try Monopoly Express at the next one and see how that goes, as I do want a dice-based Press Your Luck game.
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11. Board Game: 10 Days in the USA [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:2244]
Board Game: 10 Days in the USA
Scott Nicholson
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These work well as they also have the "learning game" look, which can make them attractive for school libraries.
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12. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:864]
Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish!
Scott Nicholson
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This is another great one, as it's easy to explain, but interesting. Don't worry about a nice tile setup - just make rows and columns in some blob-like figure and go.
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13. Board Game: Zitternix [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:6658]
Board Game: Zitternix
JessA
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I have used this as a classroom gift for my kids' teachers with good success.

I like this because you can figure out how to play just by looking at it. If you lose a piece or two, it shouldn't affect the gameplay. It's fairly inexpensive: $15.
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14. Board Game: Say Anything [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1113]
Board Game: Say Anything
Ben Lott
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Quick, fun, not expensive, and readily available even at some Target stores.
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15. Board Game: Slide 5 [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:2891]
Board Game: Slide 5
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This one should work. Perhaps it's a little off on the eye-catching part, but still.
 
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16. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:251]
Board Game: Hive
Ben Lott
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If you could order some of the wooden edition from Mindware it is very cheap. The rules aren't that extensive and it tends to attract some attention.
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17. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:455]
Board Game: No Thanks!
Ben Lott
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Again this is pretty weak in the looks department, but it makes up for it with the price point and the ease of rules explanation.
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18. Board Game: Snorta! [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:4096]
Board Game: Snorta!
Don Weed
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Clemmons
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This would certainly draw attention and the bits are eye-catching. Would play in your imposed time-frame also. This has popped up at Target recently in a bigger box format.
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19. Board Game: Monopoly Express [Average Rating:5.68 Overall Rank:9158]
Board Game: Monopoly Express
Don Weed
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Clemmons
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Fast version of a recognizable game. Plays quickly and is cheap right now.
 
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20. Board Game: Battleship Express [Average Rating:5.46 Overall Rank:18032]
Board Game: Battleship Express
Don Weed
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Clemmons
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Another in the Express line, all built around dice and ease of play.
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21. Board Game: Clue Express [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:12329]
Board Game: Clue Express
Don Weed
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Clemmons
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A third entrant from the express line. There are also versions of Sorry, Scrabble and Risk (the latter is only available as an import and is expensive right now, the others are on sale at Target if you can get them fast).

The other advantage to these games is that they're portable and durable.
 
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22. Board Game: 6 nimmt! [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:597]
Board Game: 6 nimmt!
Don Weed
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Clemmons
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A card game but eye-catching when in play with several columns of cards which people are trying to avoid.
 
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23. Board Game: Unspeakable Words [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:3377]
Board Game: Unspeakable Words
Don Weed
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Clemmons
North Carolina
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This would be an eyecatcher with the little Cthulhu figures and the oddball 'Alphabet' style (A is for Azathoth!) cards. Simple short and fun.
 
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24. Board Game: Apples to Apples [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:4871] [Average Rating:5.81 Unranked]
Board Game: Apples to Apples
Don Weed
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Clemmons
North Carolina
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This always attracts attention with lots of laughs. Good especially if you have people floating in and out of the game.
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25. Board Game: Cloud 9 [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:2191]
Board Game: Cloud 9
Don Weed
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Clemmons
North Carolina
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This is always fun and has attractive components (the balloon gondola and the various people pieces).
 
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