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Matthew Cassidy (non-member)'s picture


Hi Everyone!


I'm not sure if this is the best place for this post, but as I have a great deal of interest in play and gaming at libraries I thought I would put it here. I am a first year student of the Library & Information Science program at St. John's University. My interests revolve mostly around public librarianship and the use of games and play for teen and adult programming. I currently work at two libraries in Ulster County and have been approached by both directors to develop programming ideas. I have recently instituted a "storytelling game group" (tabletop RPG) program at Kingston Library in New York and I am interested in using Call of Duty: Ghosts for programming as well. I'd be interested in learning more about the programs others might be running that involve video games and tabletop games, and how they went about instituting, marketing, and organizing them. I look forward to conversing with you all!



Brian Mayer's picture

A big and hearty welcome to the group Matthew. We have a wonderful and diverse group of librarians who all share a passion for games the the roles they can play in our profession. I look forward to talking more with you as well.

Matthew Cassidy (non-member)'s picture

Thanks Brian :)

Sandra E. Brown (non-member)'s picture

Hi Matthew!

Small world,  I just became aware of your RPG group a few days ago via the KPL website! I am curious about how you are running the program. I'm very interested in all kinds of game programming in libraries but most of my personal play experience is in the tabletop realm. I'm living in Kingston while commuting to the MSIS program at SUNY Albany right now. Feel free to e-mail me off list, I'd like to hear more about what you're working on around here.



Matthew Cassidy (non-member)'s picture

Email sent!

Mary Ann Venner (non-member)'s picture

Welcome Matthew!

Matthew Cassidy (non-member)'s picture

Thanks Mary Ann!

Patrick Brennan (non-member)'s picture

Hi Mathew,

This all sounds really interesting and I think the rest of us would like more information about the programming you are providing as well. Is there any online literature you can point us towards you might have used for inspiration?


Matthew Cassidy (non-member)'s picture

Hi Patrick, 

The Storytelling Game Group is the only program idea of mine that has been instituted thus far, but I would be happy to share some of my influences and sources of inspiration. After observing that the Kingston Library had little in the way of non-summer programming for teens, I felt compelled to try and address that. At the time I was also reading Of Dice and Men by David M. Ewalt, when I ran across a brief mention of a teen librarian (Steven A. Torres-Roman) who has been running programming in DeKalb, Illinois utilizing tabletop role-playing games (TRPGs) for nearly a decade. I was inspired by this and contacted Mr. Torres-Roman to ask if he'd share more about his programming.

I was delighted when Mr. Torres-Roman replied to my email with what could be called a brief guide to instituting teen TRPG programming. I corresponded with Steve on several occasions, as I was curious what game system he used, and how he went about making the program as inviting as possible. As a long time player/DM/GM/Storyteller I am very familiar with Pathfinder, D&D, World of Darkness, and other systems. Mr. Torres-Roman highly recommended a game I had not previously encountered called Risus. I was skeptical at first, but after trying out the freely available game that consists of a 6-page set of rules, I was convinced. The system is easily adaptable to any genre or setting, and allows players to create anything they can imagine - while also making the job of the Storyteller/GM very simple. Risus is a game system that is perfect for both new players and new storytellers/GMs, lending itself readily to library programming.

My scenario, Guardians of the Library, takes place at the Kingston Library and touches upon elements of library philosophy (fighting censorship) in a way that is fun rather than heavy-handed. The guardians (player characters) have been called forth by a mysterious force from wherever they hail from, to "defend their life and their world." While writing the scenario I consulted some published friends who referred me to Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series as well as FABLES: The Literals for further inspiration. There is so much concerning censorship within fiction and history that I had more than plenty to draw from. Writing game scenarios is a different kind of writing, and shares quite a bit in common with playwriting as the focus is on scenes and the actors within them. I recommend The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding if you'd like to learn more about how giants in the industry go about writing their games.

The benefit to teen patrons is seen as soon as they sit down to play and are invited to create their own character - an activity that they may have never engaged in before. Once they create their character they are then transported to a familiar/unfamiliar place where they must cooperate in order to navigate obstacles and challenges. Playing as the character they've created, they begin to develop a sense of who this imaginary character is and what motivates them, all the while the players are collaboratively constructing a narrative. Players often like to hold on to the character sheets after the game, and some of them decide to write more about their character. In many ways the program is a creative writing class disguised as a game.

I hope I answered your questions at least a little, many of my resources are not online, but Risus is well worth investigating. Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions.



PS - I've attached the rules for Risus to this post (PDF).

Risus manual132.89 KB
Patrick Brennan (non-member)'s picture

I guess I should also introduce myself, and it seems silly to start a new page. I am a paraprofessional studying to become a librarians online at Drexel. I have been working in a public library for two years now and have organized various game activities including a month Adult game night, teen video game parties, and a Yi-Go-Oh tournament. I am really dedicated to making games a fixture at my library and would love to grow our collection. 

Personally I have been playing games my whole life, and recently my passion has even overtaken my love of reading where if I have a couple of hours of free time I will more than likely be found playing a game instead of nose deep in a book. I am excited to talk to you all about games and want to thank everybody that has already posted. 

-Patrick Brennan