UAH Library LAN Party – Done!

Friday, August 31st 2007

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That went really well! I lost count of the number of positive comments we had from students, including “This is the best campus event I’ve ever been to!” Of course, there are some things that I’d do differently next time, but for first timers I think we did pretty well.

I think the main thing I’d do differently is spread out the console games around the room. We held the whole event in one large open room that usually have reserved for quiet study. For ease of keeping an eye on things, the console team (myself and one other person) had the three 42″ HDTVs lined up in a row. One was Guitar Hero 2, another was Halo 2, and a third was random open play on an Xbox 360 or Wii. Once the tournaments started, a sizeable crowd grew around each one and it was really hard for lots of people to see the screens at once. Putting one TV in each corner of the room, or maybe back to back, might have worked better.

I also learned that laying out specific rules for every possible eventuality is a necessity. I thought the rules I drew up based on other examples of tournaments were very clear, but the participants found many holes to poke in them and I had to make a lot up on the fly :) Thankfully everybody was very good natured about it and I heard almost no complaints at all. Above all, be consistent with the rules. Don’t start making exceptions, and it’ll all work out.

IMG_1900I also learned a little bit about game selection. While we had it available for free play, we did not have an organized Smash Brothers tournament. But people were asking for one constantly. Two different groups of students even brought their own TVs and gamecubes to play it on. So next time, we will definitely schedule that in.

Here’s the full Flickr picture set. At this point we are thinking of doing it again in the spring, or maybe sooner. But the setup was killer – we had to borrow tables and chairs from a church in town, which they very generously offered to us. But hauling them in and out of the U-Haul and the second floor of our building almost killed us. Next time I’d like to do the physical setup a day or more in advance if at all possible. I had a student ask if we could do it again next week, and my muscles instantly started aching.

I’m really, really happy with how successful this event was. Thank you to all our staff who were so willing to help set up, pick up, and stay until midnight.

31. August 2007 by Chad Haefele
Categories: Gaming, Libraries/Info Sci, Tech, UAH | 5 comments

Comments (5)

  1. Congratulations on a successful game night! How awesome to be called “the best campus event I’ve been to!”

    I’ve got a question (apologies if you covered this in a previous post and I didn’t see it). Where did you get your consoles?

    We just held a big freshman welcome event here at UK and surprisingly games ended up being a bust. We’d considered having people (library staff most likely) bring in their consoles, but several were concerned about the potential for damage.

    A local game store offered to set up consoles for us (great free advertising) but unfortunately they didn’t show up to our event. I’m not too happy about that and definitely want to avoid that in the future.

    I’d love for the library to invest in some consoles so that we could have regular game nights, but it would be helpful if I could point to other libraries who have already made the commitment.

    Any suggestions you have about would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Thank you!

    Unfortunately I may not have too much advice for you. Our consoles were all supplied by our staff – myself and about three other people. On the PC side of things, we had students bring their own. We provided table space, power, and network jacks.

    I admit I was a bit concerned about bringing in my own materials – this is why I brought my xbox instead of my xbox 360, for example. We attempted to get sponsorships from local game stores, but none of them were even remotely interested. And after hearing how your sponsorship turned out, I’m sort of glad we didn’t mess with it! That really is horrible, they’ve turned a great PR chance into the exact opposite word of mouth.

    I think it is hard to justify an organization buying their own consoles at this point, at least for academic libraries. Gaming programs are taking off all over the place in public libraries, but the adoption is a bit slower on this side of the fence. Buying our own materials was just not an option the first time out (though we did already have the HDTVs on hand, they’re normally used in conference rooms around the building for presentations). I think now that we’ve had a success, it will be easier to justify a purchase for next time. I plan to push for it. If nothing else, disassembling my home entertainment center to de-tangle and extract the xbox was not fun :)

    My personal concerns for the safety of my consoles were handled by keeping a watch over them myself. I was the only one to switch games in and out, and I or another staff member (who had also brought a console) were always keeping watch at any given moment.

    For a pilot session, you might try to locate students willing to bring their own consoles. I am willing to bet that a lot of them do this kind of thing already, even if it is only lugging the equipment down the hall to a dorm lounge. We had to turn away offers of about a dozen extra consoles from students just due to our space limitations. Some even wanted to lug over their HDTVs! A few students did end up bringing their own smaller TVs, probably up to about 15″. And I am still astonished that people were willing to lug their desktop PCs in! Just an idea.

    Now that I think of it, I’ve heard that the University of North Alabama has a room with tvs and consoles for students to come in and use anytime. I am not sure who you can contact there, but it may be worth a try!
    http://www2.una.edu/library/index.html

  3. Students would have helped with the setup — I’m sure there’s a gaming club or even just random students that would help the cause if it meant a smash tounament.

  4. Chad, thanks for all the great ideas. We’ve got a terrific setup in our library–six projectors permanently affixed to the ceiling for large wall art displays, so we can start gaming in a matter of minutes. I’ve brought in my PS2 in odd hours and had loads of fun rolling a GIANT Katamari Damacy! :-) We’ve got two nice wall-mounted flat panel TVs as well. If I can just get the consoles, we’ll be so good to go…

    Yeah, I would definitely advise against relying on a local gaming store to ever bring equipment. I had printed giant signs with their name and logo and displayed all over our space, so you’re right–it had the exact opposite effect they were initially seeking by agreeing to do this for us. Thank goodness I had lots of other activities going on–pop a shot hoops, palm reading, bellydancing, and some other stuff, so at least it was a little less noticeable that our awesome game plan didn’t work out.

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