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All the Players are Belong to Us: Multiplayer Games in Libraries

A lot of gaming has become about community. Many games are built to be an experience. The boom of rhythm games, family gaming on the Wii, and the Kinect, all facilitate a multi-player experience. Really, some of my best experiences are hanging out at the arcade, with my quarter on the glass, waiting for my turn on Mortal Kombat.

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In teen spaces, multiplayer gaming is vital. Why have a single player game when you can have four … or eight … or sixteen? It is most cost-effective and efficient to offer games where the greatest number of players can get in on the action.

While many multiplayer games are competitive, thus creating winners and losers (and sometimes sore feelings), they still tend to create a great sense of community. Lesser players will team up. Good sports will congratulate others. And win, lose, or draw, a great play still elicits excited shouts of joy from all players.

Games (for consoles, don’t worry, I will get to PC games in the future)

Super Smash Bros – In any iteration this is a must own title. Sure, it is just mindless button mashing, although seasoned players will disagree. However, this beloved Nintendo fighting game lets players fight with their favorite characters (from Link to Luigi). They get crazy weapons and special moves. SSB tournaments still bring in the numbers.

MarioKart The Wii version sucks, so spring for a Gamecube and Double Dash. This zany racing title requires precision, along with some button mashing. Everything moves so fast, this one hardly ever creates bad blood. Pick your characters, pick your cars, and off you go.

Injustice: Gods Among UsNow, some may be a bit queasy about offering fighting games, especially depending on the age makeup of your area. This DC Universe title is a bit more brutal than Smash Bros. However, teens seem to glom on to being able to fight their favorite characters against each other. While the action in this rivals an action movie, there is little blood, and much like the comic universe, no one ever really dies.

*sidenote* Make sure you have a way to deal with waiting players. “Loser walks” is often a suggestion of the teens but can lead to hurt feelings. We tend to switch it up based on who has been playing the longest. If you are doing competitive play, there is no way to get around hurt feelings. Well, besides, you know, not calling teenagers “Losers.” *end sidenote*

Any Football Game (Madden, NCAA)Chances are, there are some sports-obsessed teens in your area. The Madden football franchise (and most titles like it), give these teens a great experience. Football games seem to go over best, since the controls make sense. Games can go a bit long, and having more than 2 players rarely works. However, teens not playing will still gather to watch thanks to ever improving graphics. While not generally as popular, for multiplayer anyway, other sports games like FIFA and NBA Live also get played.

Rhythm games (DDR, Guitar Hero)The boom has gone bust. Most people, generally, aren’t clamoring to play Rhythm games anymore. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still fun and there isn’t still an audience. Nostalgia, even for teens, can be a powerful draw. Don’t go out of your way to buy new Rhythm games. However, if you already own them, have a tournament or a special day.

Mario Party – This might be the Monopoly of videogames. It takes forever. Friendships are ruined. Teens always want to play it. While it works best for a small group (like when noone else is waiting), this game has its fans. There is plenty of replay value with the variety of mini-games, and the luck aspect makes sure everyone has a chance. But … it does take for-ev-er to play.

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It sure seems that way Andre.

There are also plenty of old school games that have multi-player options. While newer systems are shinier with better graphics, teens are not averse to playing good games with their friends, even in 8-bit. There are plug-and-play games that are affordable (those aren’t really multi-player, but you can set up head-to-head competitions pretty easily.) You can also create a STEAM activity and refurbish an old arcade machine and get 520 games in one (please note some of the titles on these gameboards are a bit racy).

Plenty of the above titles are pretty standard, so what multi-player console games have you had luck with?

— Scott Rader, currently playing New Super Mario Bros

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Scott Rader

Young Adult Librarian at Hays Public Library
Scott Rader is the Young Adult Librarian for the Hays Public Library. He is a fan of both top 40 radio and punk rock music. He can be found on Twitter as @scottyrader

2 Comments

  1. Hannah E. Hannah E.

    I have a teen gaming program twice a month, and currently I setup a PS4 with Injustice and an Xbox 360 with either Rock Band or Minecraft on it. When in doubt about basically anything ever, always offer Minecraft (at least here in my library). I desperately want to switch it up since it’s been just these three games for ages, but to be honest no one seems sick of them yet. I’d love to have more options though.

    Our Wii is on the fritz but Super Smash Bros would go over really well, so I’ll make more of an effort to get that fixed soon. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • “Always offer Minecraft” should be the mantra!

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