Game Night!

MPOW held its first Family Game Night this past Friday. Around 70 kids and parents came in for a good time with Wii Sports, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Mario Kart. Bear in mind, that’s not all at once. We had a Wii set up on one side of the room and an Xbox 360 on the other side, with plenty of seating pointed in each direction. We switched games halfway through on each system. We started the program off with a brief explanation of the rules of play and our expectations for guest behavior.

And it worked! Contrary to my fears, everyone was too busy having a great time to act up.

A few things that worked really well for us:

Sign-up Sheets. We made a sheet for each game (Mario Kart and Rock Band in the first hour; Guitar Hero and Wii Sports in the second.) Kids put their names on a list, and we called out each game as the previous one finished. Kids were told that they could only sign up for one game at a time, and could sign up for their next game once they finished their first one. Not only did this preserve the order of play, but helped for games that were built around specific tasks. People signing up for Rock Band could choose their instrument, and those playing Wii Sports or Mario Kart could choose baseball/tennis or race/battle mode.

Other Activities. Those who were waiting in line had plenty to do. We set up a handheld area in the corner so kids with a DS or PSP could go head-to-head. Per Aaron Schmidt’s suggestion, we set up a sandbox laptop for kids to leave their own comments. (see the next post for the list of comments.) Our youth librarians made a display of our gaming books, and we made a number of bibliographies available as well. And food, naturally. Single-serving bags of pretzels, cookies, and tiny bottles of water made sure everyone stayed fed and happy.

Supervision. Since we had so many people in attendance, we made sure we had at least 4 staff members in the room at all times. One person monitored each signup sheet, and the other two “floated,” restocking food, helping kids with controls, and taking pictures.

A few things that didn’t work:

Preparation is the Key. Guitar Hero required a firmware installation to the Xbox. It only took a few minutes, but with the number of kids in attendance, every minute lost comes at the expense of that one. last. game.

More Unlockin’ = More Rockin’. We had the out-of-the-box versions of both games running, which limited people’s song choices quite a bit. If I had it to do all over again, I’d have made the effort to unlock more songs by beating specific levels of the game.

More time for instruction. All of us pretty much assumed that everyone knew the controls to the games. Had we taken the time at the beginning of the program to demonstrate how everything worked, it might have saved us some time in the middle.

More data gathering. We’re hoping to start the AADL-GT tournament system soon, and it might have been nice to get some names of people who might be interested in joining up. Purchase suggestions are always welcome, too.

Despite these missteps, it was an incredibly successful program and a great evening at the library.

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