Resist with Games | Games, Gamers, & Gaming

If games are part of your library’s circulating media, then gamers might be among those looking for some distraction and understanding, and here are some games you could recommend.
Large group of people in the symbol shape of a gaming controller on a white background.

Large group of people in the symbol shape of a gaming controller on a white background.

These are trying times, indeed, and no doubt patrons will come to you seeking aid and comfort, whether in the form of information or entertainment. If games are part of your library’s circulating media, then gamers might be among those looking for some distraction and understanding, and here are some games you could recommend. If they’re not part of your collection in some way—either as circulating titles or on in-house stations—then waste no time in making them so.

Understanding identity

While games are naturally competitive in nature—either pitting players against one another or a single player against his/her own limitations of skill and reflex—they can also serve as a virtual safe space.

BioWare’s role-playing games, such as the “Mass Effect” and “Dragon Age” series, have always given players vast freedom in how they envision their characters, including whom they love. Many of their games present players with multiple possible love interests, and it’s completely up to the gamer to determine whom they pursue (if anyone). Some gamers purposely mirror their own sexual orientation, some role-play as the opposite of themselves, and still others simply see which characters they have the most meaningful relationship with and go from there. While this may seem a token concession, it’s significant for gamers looking for personal representation to see characters of their own identification in an accepting society—or for gamers seeking to understand how others find love.

Of course, role-playing games have existed long before video games. There are any number of tabletop versions out there, with a variety of different systems and rules. Some, such as World of Darkness’s horror- and urban fantasy–themed games (Vampire and Werewolf being the most popular) are heavily focused on character development and relationships, while others, such as the classic Dungeons and Dragons, favor adventures filled with daring deeds. All of them, however, allow the gamer to create any number of characters and imbue them with characteristics of their choosing. This can be extremely helpful to someone who harbors feelings of being unwanted, misunderstood, rejected by society, or anyone who is marginalized or disenfranchised.

The ways of peace

Look for games that demonstrate and promote peace and cooperation. Settlers of Catan is a perfect example of a competitive game that demands civility. As a game rooted in resource management and trading, it demands a certain amount of give-and-take from players. 7 Wonders is another great game that forces players to work together. They strive to build their own society and achieve economic and military strength, but it’s often necessary to conduct commerce with other players to do so. Any one player who tries to grind their opponent to dust will suffer for it, as it’s nearly impossible to win this game through force alone.

The “Civilization” series has always been a critical and fan favorite, and the most recent entry in the series came out late last year. Like its board game cousins, this version features the player or players managing a civilization, building it from its most basic agrarian roots to a sprawling society. There are many ways to achieve victory, including through military might, but building trade relations and alliances—and maintaining them—are necessary no matter what strategy is implemented.

The darkest time line

There’s been a spike in interest of dystopian fiction ever since the presidential inauguration, according to Amazon, most likely because people want to examine how society might fall to ruin so easily. There are games that allow players to do that as well.

Of course, the most popular game series that is dystopian in nature is the “Fallout” series. Set in the wake of an all-out nuclear war, these games have players taking on the role of a survivor who must (for varying reasons) venture into a wasteland on a personal quest. While the older games are available on PC, the fourth installment in the series is readily available on modern consoles.

The “Bioshock” series also explores a society gone horribly wrong and shows the dangers of a community without regulation or ethical enforcement.

Keep calm and carry on

Many gamers demand that politics stay out of games, but the truth is that politics are inescapable. Advocate for games that ask tough questions, and encourage your patrons to seek answers in those activities.

When all else fails, at least you can offer your patrons games that will allow them to detach and forget about the real world for a while. Nintendo is your best friend when it comes to bright, colorful, and cheerful stories and characters.

There’s never been a more important time for a supportive library community, and there’s no better way to build that community than with games.

So until next time, just keep telling yourself: everything’s going to be okay.

M. Brandon Robbins is Media Coordinator, Goldsboro High School, NC, and a member of the 2011 class of the American Library Association’s Emerging Leaders

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