We’re always looking for new ways to help attendees connect with friends, friendsters, colleagues, and future friends at our conferences, and this year we’re experimenting with a new concept that we hope will also expose librarians to the concept of “big games.”
What’s a “big game?”
We’re all familiar with games – usually we play boardgames on tables, and more people than ever are playing videogames on screens. Both can be very social experiences, depending on the game and the players, but “big games” force you to interact with your surroundings and usually with other people. These are games that take place out in the physical world, and the everyday objects we take for granted are the playing pieces.
They use city blocks as grids for the playing field, and the game is usually a variant of capture the flag, tag, a scavenger hunt, or hide and seek. They often involve using cell phones to send or receive information, but not always. Some examples of big games include:
You can learn more about big games here, and especially why they may be a good fit for some libraries, by listening to Greg Trefry’s talk at the 2007 ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium. In his slides, he notes that libraries are ideal venues for this type of activity because we have things like tools (photocopiers, computers), secret codes (think Dewey Decimal System), a building for the game’s headquarters (sometimes multiple buildings if there are branches), and referees (librarians).
What does this have to do with Annual Conference?
Just as some libraries may want to use big games to interact more with their communities, ALA is experimenting with using a big game to help conference attendees interact more with us and with each other during our biggest deal of the year – Annual Conference. We’ll be in California next month, and there’s so much history around the state’s books, authors, and popular culture that it seemed like a natural fit to try a big game around that theme.
The style will be an information scavenger hunt, and the game is called California Dreaming. It’s being designed by Come Out & Play Productions, a company that specializes in these types of events. Anyone attending Annual can play for free, and though you could play on your own, you probably want to sign up for a team because the clues will be spread out across the entire convention center campus. Plus, the game will be played over two days (Saturday and Sunday, June 28-29), and you can’t be everywhere at once. You’ll find clues in conference materials, in sessions, on the exhibit floor, and elsewhere. You’ll be looking for questions about the history of California pop culture, and you can bring your answers to the Game HQ in the new Gaming Pavilion on the exhibit floor or you can text them to us.
If you want to sign up to play, you can join one of six teams:
- Academic librarians
- Library Society of the World
- Public librarians
- School librarians
- Special librarians
There will be some cool prizes (from companies such as The Cartoon Network, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft), so you’ll want to form teams ahead of time in order to hit the ground running when the game begins on Saturday morning (June 28). You can still sign up when things start on Saturday, June 28, but why not get started now? Watch for more information to appear from the California Myth Authority soon!