The Golden Gamers: A 65+ Library Gaming Group


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"The Golden Gamers" Equitable and Inclusive Gaming Events for the Elderly presented by John Pappas

Tabletop board gaming is a creative, multi-generational, social and fun activity. While there is a broad swatch of recreational activities for the 65+ crowd, generally gaming is left out. Conversations with the Senior Activities Board of the Upper Darby Libraries confirmed this with traditional video games providing an engaging experience but accessibility tends to be a challenge due to physical determinants (carpal tunnel, poor eyesight, arthritis) and experiential (with a large learning curve required for many video games). Tabletop board games provide an experience that is interactive, social, cognitive and engaging. With concerns over Alzheimer's and social isolation, this is an important subject for many seniors. The Primos Library instituted a series of programs "Tabletop Gaming at the Library" (intergenerational, weekly), The Game Designer's Guild (monthly, intergenerational) and the "Golden Gamers" (65+, Monthly-Weekly dependant upon interest) each providing a gaming experience for burgeoning and experienced gamers of any age.

In this talk, Pappas will discuss the initial planning, marketing, collection development and community engagement elements of the series as well as successes and challenges. A large portion of the talk will be on game selection for this age group including issues such as the level of social interaction inherent in the game, types of games, levels of complexity and iconography.

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The Golden Gamers: A 65+ Library Gaming Group

  1. 1. EQUITY AND EQUALITY IN GAMING Board Game Events for the Elderly
  2. 2. Any question anytime…
  3. 3. Perfunctory Inspirational Quote… We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. ~ George Benard Shaw
  4. 4. Board games are multigenerational
  5. 5. A little background Board Games at the Primos Branch Library  Tabletop Gaming at the Library   Game Designer’s Guild   Weekly, intergenerational, mostly gateway games Monthly, intergenerational, design, learn, create, play-test. Pick and Play  Monthly, teens,
  6. 6. Demographics Tabletop Gaming at the Library The “Over the Hill” Gamers of Newtown, PA. [meetup] 50% of attendees were 55+.  50% of attendees were female.  The rest were mostly 30[ish] male.   Led me to think that a gaming event targeted for seniors was both warranted and needed. Motto: We're old but we still game.
  7. 7. “Modern” board game event basics         Teach. Encourage help. Start simple and work up [or not]. Make connections to past or well-known games. Just like storytelling, be confident even if you’re falling apart. Answer questions and guide throughout the game. Avoid jargon. Don’t touch a persons’ bits, cards or pieces
  8. 8. A few words on teaching games.  Moderate, don’t play.   Allow for half the playing time for instruction.      Read the rules and have at least one play-through Teach in the following order   If the game lasts 30 minutes then allow for 15 extra minutes. Know the game before you play.   Unless you need to, don’t play. What is the game about? What do I do? How do I win? Use scaffolding for complex games. Debrief afterwards with a post-mortem.
  9. 9. Preconceptions A guide with pictures.
  10. 10. When we think of gaming, does this pop into your head? Source: Rapid City Public Library North, Gaming Afternoons, Rapid City, SD.
  11. 11. When you think of adult programs do you think of this… Source: A Knit Wits session at the Active Senior Network Room in the Berea (Ohio) Recreation Center.
  12. 12. Source: Bowling in the Library, Danbury Public Library, Danbury Connecticut. Source: Wii Bowling for Adults at the Library Lester Public Library, Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Some of us even think of this…
  13. 13. I think of this…older ladies with guns.
  14. 14. “Video game training enhances cognitive control in older adults” Increases in multitasking, cognitive abilities, working memory, and attention sustainment over time while playing specially designed video games. [source] Potential “application to other brain-related disorders such as attention-
  15. 15. Obligatory Survey Data    Seniors tend to play games more frequently than young adults. Over one-third of gamers 65+ say they play games everyday or almost everyday. Almost half of all adult gamers reported playing games at least a few times a week. Adults and Video Games Dec 7, 2008 by Amanda Lenhart, Sydney Jones, Alexandra Macgill
  16. 16. Before we dive in… Let’s talk about a few things: Game Weight Player Interactivity Game Mechanics and Theme
  17. 17. Game Weight  Light  Medium Heavy   Game Weight will depend on:  Decision Space  Length of Rules  Play time  Strategy vs. Luck  Atmosphere  Accessibility of theme
  18. 18. Player Interaction  Solitary Games   Friendly Competition   Encourage interaction through a shared board and personal objectives. Direct Competition   Minimal interaction Main mechanic is confrontation with other players. Cooperative  Players work together towards a goal. 1. How much noise is appropriate in the library? 2. What space am I considering – an open, accessible space or closed, exclusive space. 3. Am I encouraging new players?
  19. 19. Mechanics and Theme Mechanics   The "moving parts" of the game, the rules, how the games is played. A game with a focus on mechanisms focus on what you are doing rather than the story surrounding those actions. Theme   The story, setting, premise and character of a game. With a heavily thematic game, game play will be immersive.
  20. 20. Development Birth of the Golden Gamers •Evaluation of need •Goals •Collection Development
  21. 21. Evaluation of need Upper Darby Library Senior Activities Board  Issues with Video Games:     Benefits of tabletop board games      Accessibility tends to be a challenge due to physical determinants (carpal tunnel, poor eyesight, arthritis) Large learning curve Lack of a social experience. Interactive, social experience. Cognitively challenging. Wide range of decision space. Familiar themes. Difficulties of tabletop board games    Large rule-set. Lots of fine print (on cards, boards). Crazy mechanics (what is a worker placement?)
  22. 22. Goal Number 1 Lower the barrier of entry of gaming for seniors.  Choose games with    No rule books. Quick to learn. Easy to teach. small, simple rule-sets. familiar mechanics used in interesting ways. Find games which     focus on singular mechanics. have familiar themes. are social. Play quickly with minimal set-up time. Board games are the only hobby that you need to pass a written and speaking exam before you start. ( Rob Daviau, designer)
  23. 23. Goal Number 2 Community outreach centered around a positive and emerging cultural building medium.   85% of the attendees of regular board gaming group are not card holders. Next step: Journey to senior centers, retirement homes, schools. Go places! Meet people!
  24. 24. Goal Number 3: Encourage constructive play, social learning and friendly competition.  Recognize the culture of your library/group and build around it.     Experimentation and Interaction. (Modern Board/Card Games, Design) Comfort and Familiarity. (Classic Games/Mass Market) Competition and Interaction. (Chess, Bridge, Scrabble) Interaction. (Party/Social Games)
  25. 25. Goal 4: Support learning and explore a diversity of board games.
  26. 26. Collection development hints:        Start with a small, diverse collection. Keep initial games inexpensive ($8-$35 each). Be sure they are in print from reliable publishers. Purchase online for good deals. Purchase from brick & mortar stores for goodwill. Encourage sharing of games. Build the collection as group aligns toward
  27. 27. Find help and support!      A staff person who may be a hobby board gamer. Contact local game shops. Peruse for any board game groups. Contact board game publishers. Ask for educational discounts or demo copies. [hint: request “dinged” copies] Start with what you have or what people can provide.
  28. 28. 10 Board Games that aren’t Scary!
  29. 29. 1) Sushi Go! Collect sushi. Score points. Pass cards.      Card Drafting Set Collection Plays in 15-20 minutes 2-5 players Next Step? 7 Wonders  Seasons
  30. 30. 2) Augustus   Plays like, but doesn’t feel like, Bingo. Completes objective by pulling symbols from a sack and placing on cards.
  31. 31. 3) Las Vegas Roll dice. Dominate casinoes.      Introduces area control/influence. Players roll and place dice on casinos to for payouts. 2-5 players (can expand to 7 with extra dice). Plays in 30 minutes. Next Step?    Small World Kingdom Builder Tammany Hall
  32. 32. 4) Incan Gold! With great risks come great rewards!     Press Your Luck game. Players decide whether to go deeper into a temple for treasure or play it safe and head back to camp. 3-8 players. Plays in 20 minutes.
  33. 33. 5) Bohnanza Collect Beans/Harvest for Cash.      Negotiation/Trading Collect sets of beans to “harvest” for money. 2-7 players. Plays in 45 minutes. Next Step?  Settlers of Catan
  34. 34. 6) Citadels Take a role, build a city.       Variable player roles. Each round players draft a new role. 2-8 players. Plays in 45-60 minutes. Can play a shortened version of the game. Next Steps?  Flash Point: Fire Rescue  Pandemic
  35. 35. 7) Hanabi Look at everyone’s cards but your own!      Card game where you can’t look at your cards! Players can play a card, discard a card or give a hint. Everyone works together to create a fireworks display. 2-5 players, 30 minutes. Next Steps?    Pandemic Flash Point: Fire Rescue Forbidden Island
  36. 36. 8) For Sale    Auction/Bidding players bid for buildings then sell the buildings for the greatest profit possible. Next Steps?     Alhambra Going, Going, Gone Power Grid Ra
  37. 37. 9) Skull     A game of bidding/bluffing. Minimal components. Simple game play. Lots of player interaction. 3-6 players, 30-45 minutes.
  38. 38. 10) SOS Titanic    Cooperative solitaire themed to the Titanic. Moving cards around the board similar to a game of Solitaire. Plays 1-5, 30-45 minutes.
  39. 39. These open the gates for so many more….             Alhambra ~ markets Carcassonne ~ tile-placement Dixit ~ storytelling Dominion ~ deck-building Kingdom Builder ~ area influence/control King of Tokyo ~ press your luck Mascarade ~ social games, bluffing Stone Age ~ worker-placement Letters from Whitechapel ~ hidden movement Ticket to Ride ~ route-building Ra ~ bidding Takenoko ~ action point allowance
  40. 40. Post Mortem       What about the game was frustrating? Did you have fun with this game? Would you want to play similar games? Would you play a similar game if it were more difficult? Did you enjoy the interactions with other players? Would you play it again?
  41. 41. Questions? John Pappas Board Game Reviews: Board in the Library Series: ebjunction/board-in-the-library-partone.html Blog: Email: Shoot me an email if you are interested in a suggested list of gateway games for libraries and