November Playstation Plus PS4 Roundup

If you do console gaming in your schools or libraries then Playstation Plus and Xbox Gold can be an amazing way of adding new games to your collection each month. However, not every free game may be appropriate for your space. We’ll be going over all the PS4 titles this month so that you can decide what works for your space.

 
This is a stick up.

This is a stick up.

Worms Battlegrounds is a 2D Strategy game where players take on the roles of worms battling one another. Turns go back and forth between the different players as they choose weapons then use them on each other. The game features a campaign mode and versus modes for players to fight each other.

Worms Battlegrounds is a great addition to any collection. While appropriate for all ages, younger players may have trouble with learning the controls.

 

BOUND

Single Player
E for Fantasy Violence

And to our left you'll find more crumbling abstract landscape.

And to our left you'll find more crumbling abstract landscape.

BOUND is a platformer where players switch between two roles, a woman revisiting the place of her childhood memories and a princess ordered to rid the land of the monster destroying it. The game’s setting has a dreamlike feel about it. In a lot of ways it feels more art piece than game.

The world and designs are gorgeous making this a beautiful game to watch, but gameplay can feel a bit stiff. If you’re looking for an interesting single player experience to add to your collection give it a download.

 

Dungeon Punks

1 - 3 players
E for Fantasy Violence, Mild Language

Really, this was a lovely village before the zombie attack.

Really, this was a lovely village before the zombie attack.

Dungeon Punks is a side scroller beat em up that plays up to three players. Players choose a character, each with unique skills. Players will always have a party of three with NPCs filling any of the other unused slots. Gameplay consists of fighting off hordes of creatures with your teammates.

Dungeons Punks would be a good fit for any collection that caters to tweens and up. The skills and gameplay might be a bit much for younger gamers.

 

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood

Single Player
M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

Nope. Just nope.

Nope. Just nope.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is VR only. If you don’t have a VR setup you’re not going to be able to play this title at all. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is a Rail Shooter. Players ride through a roller coaster of horrors and shoot at what they see; ranging from things with bullseyes on them, terrifying killer clowns, apparitions, and all other sorts of spooky creatures.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood would no doubt draw people in being a spooky VR game, but if don’t have a VR set, you’ve got gamers that scare easily, or you're not comfortable with all the gore and violence then you’re going to want to pass.

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on November 20, 2017 .

Fiasco Playsets: Dewey Decimation

fiasco_cover_220_330.jpg

One of the great pleasures of RPGs in general, and Fiasco in particular, is telling stories. Sometimes players tell tales of terror, heroics, power fantasies, or even great tragedy.  

Fiasco in particular likes to poke fun at elements from some of our favorite genres, themes, or even the pettiness of everyday day life. We thought it'd be great if we shared some of our everyday life with our patrons, and the world at large, by creating a Fiasco Playset that highlights the comically absurd of our experience working in the library.   

That doesn't mean you'll find our personal stories within this slim volume, or that the deepest darkest secrets of our patrons will be revealed, but if are in the know you may very well see the fingerprints of a librarian who is also a Welcome to Night Vale fan. In other words, imagine the strangest aspects of librarianship writ-large, with the delightful melange of smells, startlingly unorthodox patron interactions, and that one book with the red cover, all with the ability to react how you want because this is a game about bad decisions. 

We didn't get too much into the the more explicit adventures we've been subjected to as librarians, mostly because this is a YA Fiasco Playset. Though if I had to guess there is certainly room for an Adults Services version; that's a different blog entirely. 

Please enjoy Dewey Decimation, and let us know what adventures you have using the play set. 

Dewey Decimation cover large.jpg

Libraries are weird, and this one is no exception. The staff is quirky, the books are many, and something is always just the slightest bit off.

The staff manages to keep the place afloat, but with a ghost roaming the stacks, aliens abducting patrons, and the local PTA’s monthly meetings always going awry things can get... messy.

But the books are free, right?

Get it here.

Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on November 15, 2017 .

November Games with Gold Xbox One Roundup

 

If you do console gaming in your schools or libraries then Playstation Plus and Xbox’s Games with Gold can be an amazing way of adding new games to your collection each month. However, not every free game may be appropriate for your space. We’ll be going over all the Xbox One titles this month so that you can decide what works for your space.

 

Trackmania Turbo

1 - 4 players
E

So, 5th place then.

So, 5th place then.

Trackmania Turbo is a racing game that allows up to four players to go head to head. It features modes such as Double Driver, where two players control a single vehicle, or a variety of party modes; split screen or hot seat where players take turns trying to get the best time.

Trackmania Turbo is a lot of fun to play and has already seen a lot of play with our own patrons. It’s a great multiplayer racing game for any collection because it appeals to such a broad audience and it’s easy to play.

 
Full steam ahead!

Full steam ahead!

Tales from the Borderlands is an episodic adventure game. It’s more like a story that players interact with and make choice, and those choices affect the way the rest of the game goes; such as helping certain characters might make them pay back the favor later in the story, or creating a vendetta with someone may see them make more trouble for the  player later. This game follows Fiona, a con artist, and Rhys, a tech worker whose promotion has been swiped out from under him, as their worlds hilariously collide in an insane hostile post apocalyptic setting.

 

While this game is a blast, it’s much better for older audiences due to just how rough this entire setting is. Anything Borderlands pulls no punches, gorey things like someone being decapitated by a grenade happens and characters curse often. Unless you have an older teen/ adult gaming club or carry M rated content games then you may want to pass.

 

Nights into Dreams

Single Player
E for Comic Mischief

Gotta fly through all those rings.

Gotta fly through all those rings.

Nights into Dreams is part side scroller part 3D action. Players take on the role of a Dreamer and with the help of Nights they try to thwart the evil Wizeman and bring peace to Nightopia. Gameplay switches between side scrolling flying and 3D running around, both of which you collect spheres and battle creatures.

 

Nights into Dreams is a gorgeous game to look at and while it takes a bit of figuring out it’s a lot of fun. It’s E rating makes it a good addition if you need another single player title. It’s also great if you’re looking for something retro, because this is a port from Sega Saturn.

 

Deadfall Adventure

Single Player
M for Blood, Language, Violence

Map, check. Gun, check. Pendulum of death, check.

Map, check. Gun, check. Pendulum of death, check.

Deadfall Adventures is an action adventure first person shooter. Players take on the role of James Quatermain as he escorts a US Agent to retrieve an ancient artifact, but there are Nazis and Russians also looking for it and as they delve deeper the supernatural becomes involved as well. Gameplay features frantic gun battles and puzzles.

 

This game has blood spatters as enemies are shot and dialogue has cursing. It’s a good addition if your collection already features M rated games.

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on November 13, 2017 .

Word Games for NaNoWriMo

Almost any kind of social or hobby gathering can be boosted by having a bank of activities that relate to the theme or which can act as a launching point for discussion and introspection. If you are hosting NaNoWriMo meetup, a book club, or any game night in the library, then word games may be just what you need to spur interaction among the participants.

Posted on November 8, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

Hearthstone 101

Hearthstone

Are your gamers interested in Hearthstone? Do they already like games like Magic the Gathering and Yugioh? Do you want to try something new to attract a new group of the gamer curious to your library or school club? Here is everything you need to get started.

Hearthstone is a FREE Online Collectible Card Game. It is played over PC, Android, or Apple devices and an online connection is required. This is a game where gamers construct decks from cards they collect either from leveling up their characters by playing matches or from buying booster packs with points earned or cash. While it is free to play, each gamer can have their own account or the moderator can make guest accounts available, players can earn in-game currency to purchase additional booster packs and game modes or do the same by spending real  money. We are getting a lot of play without spending a penny. 

Our Teen Room gamers have a lot of fun with Hearthstone. They enjoy building decks and battling against each other. We love it, not only is it fun to play but it reinforces a number of skills; literacy, probability assessment, critical thinking, sportsmanship, math, resource management, and executive decision making. Compared to many CCGs there isn't a steep learning curve and the built-in tutorial means you can get up and running in Hearthstone with minimal confusion or stress. If you have a computer lab or spare tablets in your space, Hearthstone could be an excellent addition to the games you already offer.

 

Fireside Gatherings

Hearthstone has events moderators can host called Fireside Gatherings. These are gatherings where players can play against anyone in the gathering and there’s a special mode available called a Fireside Brawl. It says 3 vs 3 Brawl on it, but that doesn’t mean you need 6 people. We made that mistake during our first gathering. It means that each player will have 3 heroes available to them, the first one to defeat all their opponent’s heroes wins. The fantastic thing about this mode is that decks are pre-built, so this mode is about skill and reacting to what you are handed, not who owns the most cards or builds the best deck.

Moderators with at least 3 unique gamers logging in during their Fireside Gathering can apply to become a Tavern. The big advantage of being a Tavern is the ability to have 5 upcoming events at a time, while anyone else can only have one upcoming event at a time. There’s also now a special hero costume for players who attend a Tavern and play a Fireside Brawl so that’s a big draw for Hearthstone players right now.

Warning: Fireside Gatherings require Wifi. Ethernet only Computers will be unable to connect to the Fireside Gathering.

 

Setting up a Fireside Gathering

Step 1: Make a Blizzard account. https://www.blizzard.com/en-us/

Step 2: Download the Blizzard App and Hearthstone on a device. https://playhearthstone.com/en-us/

Step 3: Head over on over to https://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/fireside-gatherings log in to your account then click Host a Gathering.

Step 4: Fill in those details and then hit Create Event.

Step 5: Make your flyers or use their available ones. Color or Black and White. Now just wait till the day of. Maybe play some matches in the meanwhile.

Step 6: On the day of the event, activate your Fireside. It will pop up when you log into your Hearthstone account.

Step 7: Make sure the Wifi listed is yours.

Step 8: Make sure to click add more. Chances are that your event venue has a number of access points and you want to include them all.

Step 9: Collect access points by wandering around your location with your hearthstone device (if possible).

Step 10: Now have your gamers click on the fireside and join in, if they aren't added automatically.

fireside.png

Step 11: Now that you've joined the Fireside, play some matches!

Hearthstone Screenshot 10-30-17 13.33.14.png

Good luck with your Fireside Gathering and have a blast!

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on November 6, 2017 and filed under Video Games.

Fiasco Playsets: Natural Disaster

fiasco_cover_220_330.jpg

As I mentioned previously, we love Fiasco, but many of the the playsets aren't suitable for our Teen Room audience.  Creating your own is easy once you are familiar with the system.  We have created several playsets at our branch, and our Natural Disaster playset was created as part of an LSTA Eco-literacy grant. 

This playset has allowed us to engage in ecological topics with our patrons where otherwise they might have been more inclined to other activities. Putting the environment or endangered animals at risk in a very immediate and engaging fashion grabbed their imagination and led to discussions after play sessions about other potential threats or issues. This theme is so rich it would be possible to completely re-write it without covering the same ground.

Let us know what you think, or if you make your own variation! 

 

When people and nature interact there’s a lot that can go wrong: pollution, invasive species, poaching, people littering and vandalizing everything…

And that’s just the little stuff.

Here with greedy business tycoons, insane locals, and corrupt government interests, it’s not a question of if something will go wrong but when and how bad. 

When all these different interests collide there’s bound to be conflict, whether it’s park rangers chasing down vandals, or protesters trying to keep their favorite nature preserve from being plowed flat by the local tycoon. And all that’s not even taking into account the local wolf population.

Whether this fiasco is all green, or all on fire, is up to you!

Get the Natural Disaster playset.

 

Posted on November 1, 2017 .

4 Player Video Games - Swords & Sorcery

22790291_10155727399688446_1735966518_o.png

Sword & Sorcery

Sword and Sorcery games are generally fantasy settings with fast paced action. Heroes are heroic but frequently morally ambiguous, such as the hero that saves the kingdom because they're being paid. They're also loaded with archetypes; things like Knights, Wizards, Archers, and Assassins. These are some of our favorite games that play around with the themes of Sword & Sorcery.

 

Castle Crashers

1 - 4 Players PS3, XB1, & XB360
T for Blood and Gore, Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor

Can't blame the bat for hiding.

Can't blame the bat for hiding.

If you’re down for your gamers fighting bosses like a toxic pooping bat or a hairball spewing catfish beast, then you’ve come to the right place. Castle Crashers is a cooperative hack slash brawler infused with crude humor, which is all part of its charm. Gameplay consists of hacking your way through hordes of enemies as you try to rescue the princesses that have been captured. Once players rescue a princess they duke it out for the privilege of a kiss. What makes this game neat is all of the different things it tries out; there's a pet system, levels where players are escaping, and a bajillion characters to unlock.

Castle Crashers is a game that's not afraid to try out weird things. It’s a lot of fun, especially if you’re looking for knights and monsters with a different spin on them.

 

Magicka 2

1 - 4 Players PS4
T for Blood and Gore, Violence

As they always say, where there's smoke there's explosions.

As they always say, where there's smoke there's explosions.

Magicka 2 is a top down cooperative game where you fight monsters with magic to make your way through the various levels. The way that you can mix together different types of magic makes this game super neat. Gameplay consists of casting spells in different ways and combining elements to get unique spells.  You may need to throw together lightning and life elements for a revive spell, or throw water and fire together to make steam. There are even different ways of casting the elements, such as in rays, all around you, or even on yourself. If it’s not a healing spell of some kind chances are you’ll take damage. Faulty casting is just as likely to take out the entire party as the enemies themselves are.

Magicka 2 is a game where players can cast just about anything, with the possibility of accidentally killing each other in the process. It is a great game, and finding new interesting spell combinations is a blast, sometimes literally.

 

Knight Squad

1 - 8 players XB1
T for Violence

This wasn't what I had in mind when I said I wanted to do a garden maze.

This wasn't what I had in mind when I said I wanted to do a garden maze.

Knight Squad is a frantic arena game. Gamers either work as teams or fight in various free-for-all matches. Game modes may be destroying crystals, escaping with the grail, capturing the flag, or all manner of other game modes. It’s easy to drop in and out between games. There are even secret characters to unlock, like the Salmon Knight. It's easy to play with so many ways to play.

This one has long been a favorite of our Teen Room patrons because of the fast play and ease of switching between game modes.

 

Towerfall Ascension

1 - 4 Players PS4, XB1, & NS
E for Fantasy Violence

Am I desperate enough for arrows to yank them out of the corpse yet?

Am I desperate enough for arrows to yank them out of the corpse yet?

Towerfall Ascension is another arena style game where players control archers with a limited supply of arrows. Much like in doge-ball players can pick up arrows from the battlefield that have been previously fired, so if you fire off all your arrows chances are your opponent will gather them up and fire them right back. There’s also a cooperative survival mode where one or two players can fight off waves after waves of enemies. 

It’s an excellent party game, meaning if you need a game with quick rounds or your gamers love hosting impromptu tournaments.

 

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

1 - 4 Players PS4 & XB1
T for Mild Blood, Mild Language, Violence

Doing this just like we learned in Archaeology school.

Doing this just like we learned in Archaeology school.

 

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is a top down cooperative dungeon crawler. Players use their abilities to kill monsters and solve puzzles, such as using their staff to raise platforms to get onto higher platforms. It’s very reminiscent of games like Gauntlet or Diablo, but without the Mature content and much more puzzley. It’s so interesting to see what is normally a Sword and Sorcery dungeon crawler, but with treasure hunter and ancient Egyptian trappings. The story is that Lara Croft is trying to find the fragments of Osiris to stop Set, with a rival treasure hunter and two imprisoned  ancient Egyptian deities to help. This game is great if you’re looking for cooperative games with problem solving, though the controls take a bit of getting used to.

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on October 30, 2017 .

Inktober Games

Every October artists from around the world pull out their pens and inkpots to draw a daily picture and share them on social media, tagging  #inktober or #inktober2017. The staff at the library in Pawleys Island love both art and games, so this year we are taking full advantage of Inktober to expose our patrons to the joy of art games.

The problem with art games is that for years there wasn’t much depth of catalog for that type of game. Pictionary, since release in 1985, was the omnipresence art game. It reigned supreme both because of it’s familiar charade like game play and its ubiquity on the shelves of mass market game and bookstore shelves alike. Much like Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary was everywhere; when you said drawing game in the ‘90s people thought Pictionary. Now that we are in the back half of the 2010s there is a great variety in both form and function.

Fake Artist Box.png

A Fake Artist Goes to New York

Designer Jun Sasaki
Publisher Oink Games
Players 5-10
Time 20 minutes

A Fake Artist is both a social deduction game and the most colorful one-vs-many art game on the market. One “fake artist” is trying to blend in and convince all of the “real artists” that they are not the fake.

The patron player decides on a category that everyone knows, and then hands out notes to all the players with something from that category - a category might be sports, but the thing from the category could be any known sport, or even something more specific like a star athlete, stadium, or something like a football helmet. Then everyone but the patron takes turns drawing one line on the canvas tile, each player using a different color, until everyone has made two lines. Then players examine the created piece of art and then vote, trying to suss out the fake artist. If the artists don't guess who the fake is then the patron and the fake artist win the round. 

A Fake Artist is a party game that plays quickly without actually requiring any real artistic skill. It is easy, fast and fun. 

 
Tellestrations cover.jpg

Telestrations/Telestrations After Dark

No designer credited
Players 4-12
Best played with 5+ players
Time 30 minutes

Telestrations, also known as Eat Poop You Cat, is essentially the Telephone Game where players alternate drawing a picture of the word that was passed to them or guessing the word that the picture represents. Each player starts with a notebook, a dry erase pen, and a randomly selected word; after drawing the word they pass the notebook on and this repeats until the notebooks return to their starting players. Players then reveal their original words and show how things changed from the initial page to the last one.

Telestrations is lots of fun, and has been popular at our library with patrons and library staff alike. In theory there is a scoring system but you should ignore it, the game is much more enjoyable without it.

pic2514250_md.jpg

USAOpoly has created an adult version which is probably not appropriate for most schools or libraries due to mature or vulgar content, but you may find it an interesting addition to your home collection.

 
Pictomania.png

Pictomania

Designer Vlaada Chvátil
Publisher Czech Games Edition / Stronghold Games
Players 3-6
Time 30 minutes

Pictomania is one of the most direct inheritors of the Pictionary style of art game. Over five rounds players are dividing their attention between drawing their own pictures and guessing what the other players are drawing; players claim more points for being skilled and speedy artists or insightful guessers with the worst guesser each round being penalized. Yup, that’s right, players race each other in a real-time-simultaneous-drawing-and-guessing-activity to get points for early correct guesses and get a bonus for being done early. After five rounds the game is over.

The only problem with Pictomania is how the cards with the answers that players have to guess from may be tough to see with a full table. If the cards were double sided, duplicating the information on the back, then the clever use of card stands would do much more to facilitate the game. Other than that Pictomania is a drawing game that is as much about drawing as it is guessing and really feels like it’s a game for people who are enthusiastic about both art and games. 

 

Mangaka.jpg

Mangaka: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics

Designer Jason Thompson
Publisher Japanime Games, Mock Man Press
Players 1-8
Time 30-90 minutes

At the beginning of Mangaka each player draws three theme cards which provides the themes they will need to include in all four rounds of play. Players then draw two panels of a cartoon utilizing their themes. As the rounds progress, the challenge becomes more difficult by the inclusion of more panels they must fill and and trend cards.

In the first round players must fill two panels in five minutes, with two more added for each of the subsequent rounds but the time they have to draw does not increase! When you add the trend cards to the mix later rounds can be chaotic and out of control, just like real manga. After each round players show off their creations and get points for how well they’ve included their themes and met the trends.

The scoring, like in many art games, is the least interesting part of the game. However Mangaka is a great game for artists and manga fans of all stripes. The cards play off of many familiar anime tropes and provide a great inspiration for other art activities including as inspiration for Inktober art ideas.   

Here is a link to an album of pics from some of our previous runs of Mangaka. 
https://photos.app.goo.gl/jeggiylcKvFp9YKk2

That’s our top four art games, let us know what your favorite art games are in the comments!

The Games in Schools and Libraries podcasts and blogs are produced by Inverse Genius in association with the Georgetown County Library System
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on October 25, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

4 Player Video Games - Platformers

22790291_10155727399688446_1735966518_o.png

Platformers

Are your gamers looking for challenging environments? Do they want to run and jump their way through obstacles? Then your gamers are probably looking for a platformers. Platformers are games where the challenges come from navigating the environments themselves. Platforms may be surrounded by lava on all sides, or players may need to slide under spikes to advance. These are spacial challenges that require the right kinds of jumping and reacting to the situation as it develops. Mario and Sonic are some of the most iconic platforming heroes, but there are so many games in this genre to choose from. These are some of our favorite 4 player platformer games.

 

Rayman Legends

1 - 4 Players PS4 & XB1
ESRB: E for Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief

Death from above!

Death from above!

Rayman Legends is a cooperative platformer where you try to collect as many lums, fairies, as you can on your way to the end of the level as well as finding trapped teensies along the way. Some of the challenges are more puzzle oriented and others are more about reacting to the environment as it changes. There are also bosses and enemies that you kick, punch, and slam your way through. Collecting Teensies and Lums will unlock characters and levels. My favorite unlocks being the music based levels. There’s something thrilling about running through a level timed to Black Betty or a mariachi version of Eye of the Tiger. And you can even play levels of the previous Rayman Orgins in this game. If you want more cooperative platformers in your collection, this game is for you.

 

Little Big Planet 3

1 - 4 Players PS4
ESRB: E for Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief

Just please don't drop it Swoop!

Just please don't drop it Swoop!

Little Big Planet 3 is another cooperative platformer. It leans more towards puzzle challenges. Players use items such as stickers they’ve found to activate switches, tools like a air gun to move objects closer or blow them away, and character abilities. All the while they’re collecting bubbles with new goodies like stickers or clothes to dress their avatar in. Little Big Planet 3 introduces a handful of new characters to the mix, each with unique abilities, such as one that can fly, can fit in small spaces, and another who runs faster. It’s all about using what you have available to get through obstacles. It’s an adorable game and great for young gamers.

 

Runbow

1 - 8 Players XB1 & Wii U
ESRB: E for Mild Fantasy Violence

What green bridge?

What green bridge?

Runbow can be cooperative or competitive. It has a fascinating premise in that if you can’t see it then it doesn’t exist. The environments have colored platforms and the background color of the levels rotate. If the background and platforms match, then those platforms cease to be until the color changes again. There are arena modes where characters can duke it out, or you can work together to try to capture trophies and unlock new goodies. It’s very much a reaction based platformer, but it’s a lot of fun. If you’re looking for something that caters to a lot of players, this one can go all the way up to 8 players.

 

Speedrunners

1 - 4 Players PS4 & XB1
ESRB: E for Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language

That boulder though.

That boulder though.

Speedrunners is a platforming racing game where you’re trying to stay in the race, the last one standing wins. As the race progresses the box containing the race gets smaller and smaller. If you end up outside of it then you’re out. This is another reactionary game but with grappling hooks and wall jumping. This is a great game if you want to add something that’s got both racing and last one surviving gameplay.

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on October 23, 2017 .

Fiasco RPG Spotlight

fiasco_cover_220_330.jpg

Fiasco is one of our more popular RPGs at the Waccamaw Neck Branch Library, in Pawleys Island, because of the wide variety of settings, sessions that run in a shorter period of time than many other RPGs, and zero prep is required by Game Masters because there is no Game Master. The entire premise of the game is “people with poor impulse control making bad decisions”, and the game is best when people play it in that vein instead of attempting to beat the scenario or come out on top. Lead your characters down the path of comic misfortune and dire tragedy and you will have fun. 

Gaming tends to be an exercise in power fantasy, wish fulfillment, and overcoming incredible odds to save the world or achieve victory; it isn't always easy for players to come to grasp with the idea that failing can be fun, at least in a narrative sense. A chain of consequences from one bad decision at the beginning can create a much more memorable experience than being the smartest, doing the best, or easily overcoming all obstacles. Few games offer an opportunity to intentionally explore folly and dire repercussions in a way that is also empowering and fulfilling. 

Getting into Fiasco is inexpensive, one book is all you need. If you order directly from Bully Pulpit Games  the rules and PDF run $25, and all you need to get started is the core rules book. The Bully Pulpit website also has a great collection of resources to download including a Fiasco Play Mat and a facilitation sheet, both of which really help when you moderate the game.  

 

Playing the Game

web_fiasco-300x221.jpg

To play Fiasco the players will need to pick out a playset, gather up pencils, note cards, and a collection of standard six sided dice, two each in two colors per player.  You can use the insta-setup at the back of the playset, or roll the dice and create an inter-connected web of character relationships and motivations.

Once the setting and characters are established players take turns creating or resolving scenes where their character is a primary actor, but also involving one or more of the other characters. At the end of each scene one of the dice are distributed; in the first half of the game the active player gives the dice they receive from the other players to someone else but in the last half of the game the active player will keep the dice they receive. In the middle a tilt happens that changes up the actions and levels of frantic bad decision making. 

Once it's all over players roll the dice they have received and refer to the aftermath table. The table describes the ultimate outcome of the scenario for the character, but we enjoy using each of our dice as a seed for a vignette that provide a bit more context. Frequently the best or worst things to happen to a character are described by the players at this time.   

 

Other Resources

fiasco_companion_220_330.jpg

In addition to the Fiasco Rule Book we also recommend the Fiasco Companion which provides less graphic versions of the results that wrap-up a scenario and work better for our teen room. If you choose not to get the Fiasco Companion, then you may need to moderate the final results of the game when revealing the final fate of the characters. 

The base book and companion comes with a variety of playsets, which act as setting, scenario hook, and character generator, but there are also several volumes of playsets in print providing even more scenarios in which to make poor choices and expand the playability of the game. Some sets are problematic for use at libraries teen programs, but that’s to be expected because poor choices frequently include drugs, alcohol, violence, and dubious sexual encounters. And the books themselves are written to match. Most of the book is fine, but the language of the Aftermath Table may be something to watch out for.

 
fiasco10_frontcover-200x300.jpg

The playsets included in the core rules are only a glimpse of the diverse stories players can explore using the Fiasco system. Many more settings are available in the three existing Fiasco Playset Anthologies.

There are also hundreds of playsets, created by the community that loves the game, available at http://www.fiascoplaysets.com/. In these sets players can be anything from cultists in lovecraftian tales of horror to house cats. These are great, and I recommend you flip through the pages and pages of options to find your favorite IP mockingly presented as a playset.

Why bother with the anthologies when so many playsets are available for free? If you are trying to encourage circulation of gaming materials then the Fiasco Playset Anthologies are excellent source-books to have on-hand for people interested in this particular style of role-playing game. They have also been edited by Bully Pulpit, so someone besides the playset designer has reviewed the content. 

We have played several of the playsets from both the anthologies and from downloads in our personal home groups, with strangers at conventions, and of course here at our library. All of them were interesting, but, while often exciting, the playsets from the website tended to have a higher likelihood of content that wasn't appropriate for our core library teen audience.
 

 

Creating Your Own Playset 

Even this vast wealth of source material wasn’t enough; we went one step further and created our own. We needed playsets that are exciting and interesting but unlikely to have teens playing characters engaging in rampant substance abuse or other non-parental approved activities.  Sometimes we edited existing playsets, but occasionally we didn't find any that suited our needs. 

If there is a secret to creating your own playset, and I'm not saying there is, it is deciding what kinds of bad decisions you'd like to facilitate and then stacking suitable tropes into the template. None of this is terribly difficult, but it is significantly easier if you have played through a few sessions with existing sets to get an idea of what helps setup an entertaining story.  But in short, an entertaining story is created by unlikely allies, dynamic or unexpected conflicts, and also making things easily accessible to the audience.  The world you establish in 144 lines of textin a Fiasco Playset don't have to define the whole world, they just need to inspire shenanigans. Fiasco is all about shenanigans.

We have created several playsets at our branch, one set in a library, one as part of an LSTA Eco-literacy grant, and one based on Pokémon, inspired by the wild success of Pokémon Go and the release of Pokémon Sun & Moon. We will release those in upcoming weeks. 

Check out this Fiasco Playset Template, it's an excellent fill-in-the-blank guide to creating your own. We have used it to create all of our playsets.

We will post our play-sets in the future, all of which are teen safe.  

Posted on October 18, 2017 .

4 Player Video Games - Derpy Good Fun

Games that feature local multiplayer are a gem to any space that offers video gaming, especially with larger screens being more easily affordable and the shift in video games towards one player or online multiplayer only. More players get to share the joy of playing all at once and there is an opportunity for gamers to learn good sportsmanship. These are some of our favorites that we offer and why we love them.

 

Derpy Games

Looking for games that will make your teens giggle with glee? Or even games that play like a slow motion trainwreck that you just can’t look away from? These games are fun to play, watch and feature a lot of silly.

 

Goat Simulator

1 - 4 Players, XB1, PS4, & XB360
ESRB: T for Violence, Blood

Goat stole my bike.

Goat stole my bike.

Goat Simulator is insane in premise and execution. It’s a game where you play as a goat wreaking havoc upon some poor city. There are a multitude of ‘goats’ to choose from and you can create terror in the city’s citizens as a team. Gameplay as you running around and latching onto objects with your tongue. If you want something that’s a fun kind of dumb for your teens to play, this is it.

 

Badland

1 - 4 players, PS3, PS4, XB1, & Wii U
ESRB: E for Mild Fantasy Violence

Just keep flapping.

Just keep flapping.

Badland is a cooperative game where you play as a group of birds trying to survive to the end of the level. You’ll be dodging buzzsaws and spikes with flappy bird style gameplay, where you push a button to fly higher. This game can be a little scary if your space caters to younger gamers, but there’s no gore. Gameplay is frantic and it’s all a matter of at least one player surviving until the end of the level, with players popping in and out and death looming constantly. It’s a blast to play and it’s a great cooperative experience.

 

Trials Fusion

1 - 4 players, PS4, XB1, & XB360
ESRB: E for Mild Violence, Mild Language

May not win me the race, but that wheelie man.

May not win me the race, but that wheelie man.

Trials Fusion is a great multiplayer racing game. Not only are you trying to beat your opponents, but you’re also trying to stay on your bike. The wipeouts are brutal, but hilarious with your racer sometimes flying completely off the bike all together. There are also some really interesting choices of vehicle and driver, such as the bandana’d cat riding a unicorn. If you need a good 4 player racing game for your collection, this one really fill that niche.

 

Starwhal

1 - 4 players, PS3, PS4, XB1, & Wii U
ESRB: E for Fantasy Violence

See the Starwhal in it's natural habitat.

See the Starwhal in it's natural habitat.

Starwhal is an arena game where four narwhals flying through space are dueling to be the last one standing, each trying to pierce the heart of the others with their horn. It is a hilarious game to watch because of just how awkwardly the narwhals fly, but that’s part of the fun. It’s a great game for gamers to hop in and out of if you have an especially large crowd taking turns fighting each other. This game is fantastic if you need something that plays a lot of people and has quick, customizable rounds.

 

Tricky Towers

1 - 4 players, PS4, & XB1
ESRB: E

Sometimes chaos is the best way.

Sometimes chaos is the best way.

Tricky Towers is like 4 player Tetris with a variety of modes to play and power-ups. If you don’t build a stable foundation, blocks will slide and settle in all manners of ways. They can tilt of just completely drop off the map. There are three modes of play, Survival, Race, and Puzzle. Survival is a last one standing sort of mode, Race is the first one to build a tower up to the finish line, and Puzzle is like playing Tetris limbo as you try to pile your blocks tightly beneath a laser. If your gamers are looking for games that are retro or like puzzle games, then this one would be a perfect fit for your collection. 

Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6.

Posted on October 16, 2017 and filed under Video Games.

Welcome Kathleen Mercury

IMG_7527.JPG

We are thrilled to officially announce that Kathleen Mercury is joining us as a host for the Games in Schools and Libraries podcast. As an unrepentant geek of many stripes Kathleen teaches gifted middle school students in St. Louis, Missouri. designs games, engages in cosplay, and is on the planning board for Geekway to the West, Saint Louis Missouri's premier gaming event. 

 
mercury game closet slytherin.jpg

"Kathleen has been teaching for 14 years. For the past 10 years, she's taught game design to her 7th grade students, and teaches RPG design, cosplay, filmmaking, and anything else weird and geeky she can to her 8th grade students. When she started, finding resources for the classroom was nearly impossible, so she decided to share her game design teaching resources for free to help other educators. Now, her resources are used at all grade levels around the world. You can find her online at www.kathleenmercury.com, on boardgamegeek.com as funk donut, and on twitter at @mmmmmmmercury."


She Loves hearing from folks around the world who find and use the resources she provides on her web site. If you're looking for a fun presenter at conferences about teaching game design to kids, design thinking, and/or teaching gifted kids, she's your gal. She's also hilarious.

 

 

 

 
Mercury Game Belt.jpg

Geekway to the West

Kathleen is on the planning board of Geekway to the West, a 2800+ person game convention in Saint Louis, MO, specializing in game design events and Fancy Gaming, which is exactly what it sounds like.

 

 

Game Designer

Kathleen has two games under contract at the moment: Crash Course with IDW Games and a game in development with Kolossal Games. Kathleen enjoys games that are as fun to play as they are to win, so innovative gameplay and high thematic integration are her hallmarks. Eventually.

Podcasting 

Besides having been a featured guest on Cyrils Brettspiele podcast with Nils Herzmann she has previously appeared in episodes 73, 72, 53, and 42 of Games in Schools and Libraries.
If you would like to join Kathleen on the show, or just have questions you'd like her to address with her guests, please drop her a note
 

Posted on October 11, 2017 .

October Games with Gold Xbox One Roundup

If you do console gaming in your schools or libraries then Playstation Plus and Xbox’s Games with Gold can be an amazing way of adding new games to your collection each month. However, not every free game may be appropriate for your space. We’ll be going over all the Xbox One titles this month so that you can decide what works for your space.

 

XB1:Gone Home

Single Player

ESRB: M for Sexual Themes, Drug Reference, Strong Language

A+ on that collage.

A+ on that collage.

Gone Home is more of an interactive story. It’s about Katie returning home after spending a year traveling Europe. She returns to the house her family has moved into. Gameplay is focused on investigating what has happened by searching through the house, picking things up, and looking them over. The empty house sets up a creepy atmosphere, but it’s really about Katie’s sister discovering that she’s in love with one of her classmates, Yolonda, and how her parents aren’t okay with this new discovery. The game is mature, not because there’s any nudity, but because it discusses sexuality openly, such as  a character talking about her self discovery, love, and sex to SexEd assignments you find lying around. There’s also music that plays and has language like b**ch, sh*t, and so on. If you have a collection of M rated games and think your gamers can handle this mature game, go for it. But if you’re in a space where dealing with sexuality isn’t appropriate or you cater to younger gamers then this may not be one for you.

 

XB1: Oxenfree

Single Player

ESRB: T for Violence, Sexual Themes, Drug Reference, Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco

It’s gym class all over again.

It’s gym class all over again.

Oxenfree is another adventure story driven game about teenagers. This game is about choices and how those choices affect the storyline. You play as Alex who brings her friend and step brother to an island where there’s a party going on, which is where the drug and alcohol references are. But the game is mostly about exploring the island, solving puzzles, and discovering it’s dark past. As far as language goes it’s mostly things like crap and hell. If you want an spooky mystery for your teens to unravel, this one’s a good fit.

 

XB1 & XB360: Rayman 3 HD

Single Player

ESRB: E for Fantasy Violence, Crude Humor, Mild Suggestive Themes

Internal screaming.

Internal screaming.

Rayman 3 HD is a platformer. It follows Rayman as he tries to stop an evil lum from taking over the world with his army of sack-like soldiers called Hoodlums. Lums usually being these cute and helpful fairies. Rayman is always a fun, cartoony series. If your gamers like platformers and you’ve got the free space to do it, I’d go for it.

 

The Turing Test

Single Player

ESRB: T for Violence, Mild Language

But is there cake?

But is there cake?

The Turing Test is a puzzle adventure game. You play as Ava, an engineer tasked with discovering what has happened to the crew stationed on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. As you explore you find that the AI have gotten bored and made some logic puzzles.You’ll have to solve their puzzles if you want to figure out what’s happened. It’s a thinky puzzler with some philosophical existential questions. It’s a good fit for your teen games collection. It will be available 10/16.

 

XB1& XB360: Medal of Honor: Airbourne

Single Player

ESRB: T for Blood, Mild Language, Violence

Just going to stay right here.

Just going to stay right here.

Medal of Honor: Airbourne is a first person shooter that takes place during World War II. It follows Boyd Travers, a fictional paratrooper in the US 82nd Airborne Division. You play through a variety of missions taking you through areas like Italy, France, Netherlands, and Germany. Gamplay consists of completing  objectives such as destroying anti-aircraft nests or repelling an enemy attack, while shooting enemy soldiers that come between you and the objective. If you’re looking for a T rated shooter to keep your teens happy without it being super graphic, yes. If you have a space where humans shooting other humans down isn’t appropriate, no. It will be available 10/16.

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6.

Posted on October 9, 2017 .

October Playstation Plus PS4 Roundup

If you do console gaming in your schools or libraries then Playstation Plus and Xbox Gold can be an amazing way of adding new games to your collection each month. However, not every free game may be appropriate for your space. We’ll be going over all the PS4 titles this month so that you can decide what works for your space.

 
But there’s a cute dog.

But there’s a cute dog.

This game is part of the Metal Gear series and follows Snake, a mercenary leader, as he seeks revenge on the people who destroyed his forces. Gameplay focuses on infiltrating enemy bases and taking down enemy soldiers from choking them to gunning them down. Cutscenes include intense violence and gore, things like scenes of torture and exposed intestines. It also has language such as f**k and sh*t. If you cater to older gamers or have an older teen gaming club of some kind you may want to download it.

 
Let’s go through that door. What’s the worst that could happen?

Let’s go through that door. What’s the worst that could happen?

Amnesia: Collection features two games. Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Both are horror games where players have forgotten past events and explore to rediscover what has happened. Gameplay is focused on hiding from monsters rather than slaying them and solving puzzles. The games feature grotesque monsters and gore, such as dismembered bodies strewn around some of which are nude with male genitalia. Sh*t appears in dialogue. If you already have an M Rated games collection you may want to give it a trial run, but if you’re worried about nudity and awkward talks with parents then you may want to pass.

 

PS4: Hue

Single Player

ESRB: E

It’s a dangerous situation. But it’s a pretty dangerous situation.

It’s a dangerous situation. But it’s a pretty dangerous situation.

Hue is a puzzle adventure game following Hue, a boy searching for what happened to his mother discovers a ring enabling him to change the backdrop for the world causing objects to appear and disappear. You use the ability to get around things, make platforms to jump over spike traps, and all manner of creative puzzle solving as you try to find the rest of the ring. So much of the game is color based that it’s fantastic to see they have a colorblind mode available. If you need more games for your younger gamers, or just want more puzzle solving options for your teens Hue is worth the download.

 

PS4 & PS3: Sky Force Anniversary

1 - 2 Players

ESRB: E for Fantasy Violence

Shields, check. Lasers, check. Extra extra lasers, check.

Shields, check. Lasers, check. Extra extra lasers, check.

Sky Anniversary is a shoot-’em-up. You pilot a plane and shoot down enemy planes, while rescuing stranded characters. You collect stars from each stage and use them to upgrade your aircraft so that you can work your way up to fighting and defeating the boss that wipes you out in the introductory level. It’s a lot of fun, anyone can play, and it’s multiplayer. We downloaded it immediately.

 

PS4 & PS3: Hustle Kings

Single Player

ESRB: E

So close.

So close.

Hustle Kings is a pool game. Players can play against others over the network as well as work their way through the career mode version. There are also trick-shot and tournament modes. If you think pool would be popular with your gamers, go for it. There’s also a Free to Play version for the PS4.

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6.

 

Posted on October 6, 2017 and filed under Video Games.

Cube Puzzle

The cube puzzle. 

The cube puzzle. 

If you've listened to the podcast you know that we love escape rooms and utilize them in our programing in the Georgetown County Library System. I’ll be posting our puzzles here and in our facebook group Library Escape Room Enthusiasts. The first batch of puzzles I’ll be introducing are from The Gray Man, a Local History Escape created for the ALA Escape to the Library Preconference. Today I’m talking about the Cube Puzzle.

According to the fine folks at Monticello Thomas Jefferson created a Wheel Cipher designed to encode and decode messages. Inspired by that, but limited by a modest budget, I created code cubes as a puzzle for our local history escape that would open a word lock.

The cubes waiting to be assembled.

The cubes waiting to be assembled.

The cubes had holes going through two opposite sides, so they could be placed on a rod, then images of period relevant items, opposite each other on two other sides, and then letters on the two other remaining sides. To obtain the answer they would need to stack the cubes on the rod in the correct orientation and then spell out the appropriate word. 

 

Indigo on one side, rice on the other.

Indigo on one side, rice on the other.

For an extra twist I put two words on the cubes to highlight some of South Carolina’s agricultural history. This puzzle was crafted to make the connection about the way indigo and rice were used as complimentary cash crops in SC, because they required work during different seasons. The images were thematic flourishes, which I'd change to be more agriculturally related if I were re building the puzzle.

Because this puzzle was crafted for a 20 minute escape experience the letters for the two relevant words, INDIGO and RICE were each in their own color, with indigo in blue and rice in yellow. Perhaps because of the boldness of the blue, most participants tried putting indigo in the lock first but found it was too long, and then discovered that rice was too short. Further examination of the puzzle revealed that by spelling out indigo on one side, and flipping the cubes over, the cubes would reveal that there was a blank side after the world RICE and a picture of rice before it. (Yellow was especially appropriate because it very closely matched the color of the Carolina Gold strain of rice.) The solution to open the lock was RICE_, with a blank after the word.

Images from other elements of local importance, hand drawn to look as if it were a hand-crafted toy. 

Images from other elements of local importance, hand drawn to look as if it were a hand-crafted toy. 

20170629_173530.jpg

This puzzle was much easier to solve for novice escape room participants just based on how it was presented; all of the cubes were discovered in the same place. The post cubes stack on was glued into the first cube with a little wood chit on the end to hide the hole, while the last cube also had a chit indicating that it had to be the last piece. To create a longer escape room experience the difficulty/time-required could be increased by scattering the cubes through other puzzles, not color coding the words, or adding extra blank/ornamental cubes at the two ends of the post so participants would be unsure about which letter or was first and which was last.

In all I’d consider the cube puzzle reasonably successful. It was tactile, theme relevant, very versatile, and the puzzle pieces felt like they could have been setting appropriate.  The best way to improve this kind of puzzle would probably by having the solution word be of the correct length without any blanks, but as long as you know how to signal that there is a blank on the word lock it is not a deal breaker.

Let me know if you use this crafty little puzzle, and how you improve on the design.

The puzzle as discoverd.

The puzzle as discoverd.

Games in Schools and Libraries is produced by Inverse Genius in association with the Georgetown County Library System
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Facebook group for Library Escape Room Enthusiasts: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1922174474731812/ 
Email us: onboardgames.net@gmail.com
Home: gamesschoolslibraries.com
Inverse Genius: http://www.inversegenius.com/ 
 

Posted on October 2, 2017 .

Welcome to Games in Schools and Libraries - The Blog

A flier for one of our RPG sessions. 

A flier for one of our RPG sessions. 

We do more gaming in our library than we can easily discuss in the Games in Schools and Libraries podcast, and we frequently refer to items we have created at our library that we'd like to share in more detail, with pictures. 

What kind of stuff do we do? I'm glad you asked!

Besides hosting occasional tabletop focused events we offer regular open video gaming time at all of our branches in both our children's and YA areas. At three of the four branches we allow E, T and M rated games, but require explicit guardian permission for patrons to play (or watch) M rated games. In the past we've held tournaments, launch parties, race seasons, and other active participation events. 

Our Waccamaw Neck Branch Library has hosted family game nights that regularly last past 9pm. For about six years they were weekly but with the opening of our new location we have tabletop and video games available every day until 6:30 (half an hour before closing) instead of one day a week. Now each day has a theme, either of form factor like board games or CCGs, but the theme could also be based on activity like cooperative or ecology games, whether they are tabletop or digital. We can't forget Minecraft - we host an all ages Minecraft Day days on Friday, where we only allow E rated games.  

Video Game Studio.jpg

In the summer we offer a wide variety of workshops and classes, including everything from video game design using Scratch and RPG Maker, to how to run or play in tabletop RPGs. This year we hosted two different game designers who hosted game design activities. One of the classes produced a game we will be having printed so we get copies of the game for each participant and for each branch. 

Black.png

Shushcon takes place in March at the Waccamaw Neck Branch Library in Pawleys Island. ShushConn has two facets, gaming for the public over the course of the weekend and on Friday Morning we have a geek related training workshop for librarians. The first event in 2016 our workshop covered a dozen different topics relating to the geek lifestyle, including video games, anime, RPGs, Board Games, Cosplay, and several crafting activities. In 2017 we focused on Escape Rooms, teaching both the basics of what they are and how to make them. 

2018 ShushCon Facebook Banner Purple.png

https://www.facebook.com/groups/shushcon/

If you have questions about what we do, please ask! If you have experience with games in your school or library please contact me about sharing your story in this blog.

Posted on August 24, 2017 .