Choose Your Own Adventure: Living the Story through Video Games

From the moment that Zork in the 1970s opened with “You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door,” interactive fiction games have continued to evolve, and not just because of the inclusion of increasingly more sophisticated graphics. Story-driven experiences are still at the heart of many of today’s best video games, with as many different styles of gameplay as there are gamers.

The following video games are particularly suited to teens story-wise, though content ratings list most of these games as M for Mature, which are more appropriate for older teens. Consider these if you’re updating and adding to your circulating video game collection, and keep them in mind when talking with teens as “outside the box (or book, in this case)” recommendations.

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Fantasy and Tabletop Gaming Resources for Teen Library Collections

During the last working weekend before I took time off for graduate school, a teen volunteer emailed me.  He had transformed Ms. Chris into a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) character for the club’s next campaign.  This volunteer had initially struggled through his time at the library until he found his purpose: facilitating a middle and high school Dungeons and Dragons club.  Watching him gain a more serious attitude and excited to attend shifts, he helped mentor tweens and teen peers during the club.  The camaraderie and enthusiasm created helped convert the library into a popular Wednesday night hangout spot, ultimately influencing the addition of Dungeons and Dragons as well more fantasy-related resources to the teen collection.

gaming collections

One of the best ways to create an inviting teen library space is by starting a teen-led tabletop gaming club.  Using classics like Monopoly, Uno, Apples to Apples, Chess, Heads Up, and Jenga can initiate a starter club if D&D seems a little advanced.  If space permits, Twister and Giant Jenga are also hits.  These universal games can then become the gateway to other programs and showcasing young adult collections.    

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Gaming Anime

The response to the Sports Anime post was so enthusiastic that I am back again to highlight some gaming anime titles! My apologies to fans of the “stuck in a video game world” trope, you will have to wait your turn. These main characters are all into tabletop games! (If you must have a video game anime recommendation, I wrote about Summer Wars last year in my Anime Titles for Book Lovers to watch this Summer post.  

What we have this month is  a series about a haunted strategy board game, a dramatic show about a group of teens who trying to form a competitive memory card team, a slice of life comedy starring a mischievous student who distracts his classmate, and a series focused on trading card game battles.

Gaming is another broad sub-genre. While I attempted to select a range of games and themes, if you feel like I missed a show that this list cannot survive without, feel free to bring it up in the comments!

Hikaru no Go

Hikaru no GoHundreds of years ago Sai Fujiwara flung himself into a river when he was dismissed from his position as the emperor’s Go instructor. Since his death, he has haunted a Go board hoping to someday achieve his dream of playing one “Divine Move.” Hikaru Shindo, the sixth grade boy he is currently haunting, doesn’t seem to mind his spectral hitchhiker. Will the two be able to work together to make Sai Fujiwara’s dream come true?

Hikaru no Go is the least spooky ghost story in the world, mostly because the show is so focused on the gameplay of Go and the interpersonal relationships of the players. While the 23 volume manga series is still available in the United States, the DVDs of the show are out of print. But do not despair!  both the subtitled and dubbed versions of all 75 episodes the show are available to stream (with commercials) on Viz’s website and Hulu. If you run an anime club or a convention you can contact Viz directly on their website using this form to ask for permission to screen the show to your group.

About the Game: Go

A two player strategy board game that you can pick up and play for little to no cost. The goal of Go is to capture the opposing player’s pieces by surrounding them. Learn more at the American Go Association’s website. Continue reading Gaming Anime