The picture at the top of this post is from the game night at the Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium. These librarians are playing Wii Tennis and being coached by Giz Womack. The gaming night, which happened the first night of the conference, helped define the atmosphere that made this conference different.
This was a symposium about games. Games mean play and there was an atmosphere of play to everything. There were three keynotes on Sunday and every speaker talked about the transformative power of games. We spent all afternoon soaking up knowledge from people thinking big things about games and then we were set loose on the games themselves.
There were two areas on the sides of the ballroom set up for games. Scott Nicholson ran tables of different card and board games on one side of the room. It was great that more traditional type games were included in the mix with the more flashy video games. I paused in this room long enough to watch a table running a Dungeons and Dragons game.
On the other side of the room, there was organized chaos and Eli Neiburger was the ring leader. Occurring simultaneously in this small space was DDR on a huge video screen, Mario Kart, Guitar Hero, Wii Tennis, and Pokemon. After the tournament part of the evening ended, the consoles and games were open for anyone to try. It was an easy and accepting atmosphere for some very bad kart driving, guitar strumming, and dancing.
I have never seen this many librarians have this much fun with no more stimulants then a few TVs and some games. It was wonderful. The air of experimentation and play made it easy to talk to people. Librarians, who at normal ALA conferences would never meet, mingled and chatted about the possibilities. I hope that soon we will be able to highlight some libraries that have taken some of the ideas here and created something unique and amazing at their library.