Webby's Challenge: Breadboard Puzzle

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Webby’s Challenge premiered at ShushCon 2018 and we made a couple modifications from the Print and Play Model to spiff it up. The biggest modification was the Breadboard puzzle. We used some Breadboard and wires that we had laying around to give participants a more tangible experience in place of the default circuitry puzzle. The following puzzle replaces the Circuit Puzzle in Webby's Challenge, but can be used as a standalone puzzle or incorporated in a different Escape Room all together.

Setup

Breadboard
8x Wires
3x Green LEDs
2x Yellow LEDs
2x Blue LEDs
2x AA Battery Pack
2xAA Batteries
Printer
Scissors

  • Print the Breadboard Puzzle Kit.
  • Set out the 3x Very Important sheets, Instructional sheet, Breadboard, Battery Pack sans batteries, all the wires, and LEDs.
  • Set the 2x AA batteries with one of the sets of clues that players need to unlock. Make sure it isn't the stack that unlocks from solving this puzzle (Answer:3220).
 Fun Fact: The reason there are no Red LEDs in the room is due to technical difficulties we had with them burning out and smoking. Make sure to try out various setups ahead of time to make sure all of your LEDs are in working order, and be sure to keep spares on hand.

Fun Fact: The reason there are no Red LEDs in the room is due to technical difficulties we had with them burning out and smoking. Make sure to try out various setups ahead of time to make sure all of your LEDs are in working order, and be sure to keep spares on hand.

In this puzzle, participants find the LEDs, wires, Breadboard, instructional papers, and battery pack scattered in the room but not the 2x AA Batteries. This keeps participants from immediately burning out the batteries by touching the positive and negative charges together. It also gives them time to read the various instructional warnings laid out on the table before they truly get started on the puzzle.

The batteries will be unlocked with which ever answer they correctly solve first. If using lock boxes with Webby’s Challenge, then put the batteries in either the Robot Path or the Colored Shapes lockboxes.

Participants will use the parts list to make sure they have all of the pieces they need. They’ll then use the list with the various numbers and letters to place the wires and LEDs in the correct sections of the breadboard’s grid. They’ll also have to make sure to put the batteries into the battery pack. Once everything is assembled the LEDs will light up and participants will be able to see what colors the LEDs are. They’ll use this information with the colored boxes page to get a 4 digit combination either to give to the moderator or for a 4 digit lock, or if you’re feeling extra spiffy, a 4 digit color lock.

 

Access Webby's Challenge for free on Google Drive

 

Article by Stephanie Frey
Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Group on Facebook 
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on May 8, 2018 and filed under Libraries / Ready to Code, Tabletop, Escape Rooms.

Webby’s Challenge: A Coding Escape Room

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Webby’s Challenge is an Escape Room designed by Stephanie Frey of the Georgetown County Library System for the Ready to Code Toolkit. It is an experience meant to be used as either an introduction or supplementary material to Computational Thinking and Coding Activities. It starts with a variety of framework puzzles to get participants in the right mindset and as they unlock new clues they delving into coding shapes through Khan Academy.

Webby’s Challenge requires a computer and internet access. The experience can be embellished with the use of lock boxes, like from a Breakout EDU kit, but they are not required. If not using lockboxes participants will give their answers to the Moderator who will then give them their newly unlocked clues. It works best with ages 10+ youths and can be played by 3 - 6 players.

Access Webby's Challenge for free on Google Drive

Setup

 We laminated our Colors and Shapes page and used dry erase markers instead of covering the squares.

We laminated our Colors and Shapes page and used dry erase markers instead of covering the squares.

Materials

Printer
Computer with Internet Access
Scissors
Paper bits to cover squares
Figurine to serve as a robot token
Webby’s Challenge Kit
 

  • First, print out the kit. It has all of the physical puzzles you’ll need. All the items on pages 1-9 will be available to players upfront, as well as all the numbers only coordinate slips.

  • Cut out everything with a dotted line; scatter or hide the pieces as appropriate. Hiding pieces works better with younger age groups, while hidden pieces may stump older players. Any left over scraps can be cut up and used by players to cover the squares of the Colors and Shapes page.

 
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Starting Items:

  • Colors and Shapes Page p1
  • Conditional Directions p2
  • Conditionals Info Guide p3
  • Robot Shape Maze p4
  • Robot Instructions p5
  • 4x Directional Arrows p5
  • Webdings Translator p6
  • Webby’s Note p7
  • Circuitry & LED Page p8
  • Colored Squares Input p9
  • Webby Work Station Web Address p9
  • 10x Number Coordinate Paper Slips p13 & 14
  • 2x Hint Cards p9
  • Pages 10 - 14 will mostly be clues that players need to unlock. Gather up all of the other pieces into their proper groups. If using lock boxes, set your locks to each answer and put the assigned materials in each box. If not using locks, make piles of each material. You may want to use a note on top to differentiate when participants receive each pile.

Robot Path Answer:  Up, Right, Down, Left

Get Rect Unlock p10
rect(x,y,w,h); Slip p13
Webding Small Note p11

Colored Squares Conditionals Answer: 509

Epic Ellipse Unlock p10
2x ellipse(x,y,w,h); p12
fill(0, 0, 0); & fill(255, 255, 255); Slip p12

LED Colored Squares Answer: 3220

Draw the Line Unlock p11
line(x1,y1,x2,y2); p14

Fix the Code Puzzle: MOUSE

Webby WIP Webpage p11
FINAL ANSWER: 8241

  • Make sure to have a computer available for players to use.

  • Setup a final item for your players to discover once they’ve solved the final puzzle.

What the players unlock from the final puzzle can vary greatly. The story line I usually run is one where Webby an infamous hacker has stolen government documents and the players are trying to pass her trials to retrieve them. I usually have the players unlock redacted government documents out of a final safe. The story you run can vary depending on what would be interesting for your players and the stakes can be as great or low as you think interests them; Whether it’s Webby has locked them in a room filling with poison and players must solve the puzzles to escape, players must retrieve some candy she stole, or whatever story you want to tell as the Moderator. If you want to run the story I’ve provided you can read the paragraph below for your players and embellish it as you please.

Webby the Document Thief Story

Webby is an infamous hacker. Recently, she’s stolen some important government documents. You’ve been sent in as a team to infiltrate her hideout and recover what she’s stolen before it can get into the wrong hands. Webby however has left a number of puzzles to test your skill, and if you can overcome her trials she’ll let you take the documents.

Good luck!

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Running the Room

  • Make sure to tell your chosen set up story to the players.
  • Explain what parts of the room don’t need to be moved or touched, such as if you have a room with bookshelves or pictures frames that are completely unrelated.
  • Also explain to your players that if they get stuck they can give the Moderator one of the hint cards to help them through the experience. It’s best to give hints that point players in the right direction without giving them the answers; Such as, pointing out what pieces players haven’t used yet, asking what sets of pieces might have in common, and other leading questions.

Puzzles

Conditional Puzzle: 509

Players use conditional statements to cover up or leave them uncovered the square spaces and reveal a number. Example:

If (sun=green){

Space=uncovered;

}else if (sun=other color){

Space=covered;

}

This statement shows that any suns that are green will be uncovered. If the sun however is any other colors then the space is covered.

Robot Shape Maze: Up, Right, Down, Left

Players assign directions they find in the room to specific shapes. When the Robot Token is on a shape then it will follow the command that’s been assigned to that shape. Players needs to get the robot to the end of the maze. The order of the directions is the answer to the puzzle.

Circuit Puzzle: 3220

Players look at what wires are connected to the battery. Players then need to count each color of LED that would light up. The order of the number code is the order that the colors appear on on the color input line. (If you know LEDs and breadboards, you can make this a much more technology oriented puzzle.) 

Fix the Code Puzzle: MOUSE

Players use the KhanAcademy guide to help them determine how to fix the broken code. Once players have fully repaired the code, a picture of a mouse will appear with the word MOUSE under it. MOUSE is the answer to this puzzle.

Code the Answer Puzzle: 8241

Players use the slips of paper that they find throughout the room. They organize them by font. Players then replace the (x,y,h,w) of lines of code with the coordinates they’ve found. Through this they use code to create shapes that form numbers. This gives them the final answer for the room.

 We replaced the circuit puzzle with a breadboard.  It isn't necessary, but it is pretty cool.

We replaced the circuit puzzle with a breadboard.  It isn't necessary, but it is pretty cool.

Article by Stephanie Frey
Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Group on Facebook 
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on May 2, 2018 and filed under Escape Rooms, Libraries / Ready to Code.

Exit

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Publisher: KOSMOS
MSRP: $14.95
Recommended ages: 12+
Time: 60 - 120 minutes
Reset: Not without Printing
Players:  1 - 6
Recommended Players: 2 - 4
App Required: No


The Kosmos EXIT series is a destructible escape experience where participants are expected to fold, spindle, and even mutilate, the various provided elements in order to find clues and solve puzzles. As of this writing, the authors have played the first three; EXIT: The Secret Lab, EXIT: The Abandoned Cabin, and EXIT: The Pharaoh’s Tomb.  

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One of the best things about the EXIT games is how they do clues, at least when the system works.  Puzzles are marked with symbols such as an hourglass or crescent. When players are stuck they pull a card from the clue deck with the matching symbol. The first card instructs what pages or cards will be needed to solve the puzzle, which is an excellent function of a hint system, while further hints detail the process of solving those puzzles. Unfortunately the signalling is poor at times, meaning players frequently can’t tell when they have all the right pieces for a puzzle, or even which puzzle they should be working on next without actually burning a clue. Add this to the fact that the clue cards sometimes leave out which other game elements are part of a puzzle, both of which mean the EXIT series has some critical flaws.

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The mechanic for checking answers is fairly ingenious; players check their answers with a wheel, inputting the correct combination beneath the puzzle’s symbol. This reveals a number, players check that card number in the answer deck to find out if they’re correct or need to give it a bit more thought. This keeps players from brute forcing combinations on the wheel like may sometimes happen in Escape Room the Game.

As far as puzzle quality is concerned, the puzzles in the EXIT series are a bit of a mixed bag. There are some fantastically creative ones, but they’re mixed in with others that are a bit repetitive or aren’t exceptionally intuitive and cause intense frustration.

Fortunately the EXIT games are quite reasonably priced, even for one-use items. Making them great giveaways or for use in programs, like game nights or escape-camps.  However there are several reasons they are not ideal for a library game or puzzle collection. They aren’t terribly suitable for groups above three or four. Too many pieces have to be repaired or replaced for each play through so it isn’t  a viable addition to a standing collection.

 

Article by Donald Dennis & Stephanie Frey
Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Group on Facebook 
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on April 23, 2018 and filed under Escape Rooms.

Gravity Warfare

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The table top and jumbo versions of Gravity Warfare were featured at ShushCon2018 earlier this year, and was a huge success. The game entertained and amazed gamers and attendees of all ages at the convention

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"ShushCon offers a lot of entertainment like board gaming, RPGs, tournaments, and Escape room events. They even had “Play to win” for the duration of the convention, offering awesome new games for attendees to take home.

We were there demoing our Gravity Warfare™ but being the avid gamers that we are, we couldn’t help but try other games after our shifts. We played a few different games and had so much fun! The group that we played with was very friendly and the GM had unbelievable skill, offering a truly immersive experience."     -Dan M

The game that’s been keeping everyone on the edge of their seats, Gravity Warfare – Gaming on a Whole New Level™ is NOW LIVE on Kickstarter. A dexterity and strategy game like no other, you compete with your opponents to play your pieces and be the first to place them on the self-balancing board.

What sets this game apart is that you can challenge your opponents with cards from your hand, and make their turns much more difficult to complete to keep them from winning. If they make a mistake, they lose their turn; but if they make the pieces fall, they lose the match!

Gravity warfare teaches physics in a very tactile way. The unique balancing board is an excellent lesson in torque as players place pieces and the board reacts. Players see first hand how far from the pivot base they can set their pieces and how it affects the board. This game is also a lesson in friction as pieces remain on the board well beyond what players would expect. Players learn strategy and resource management as they save their cards for the perfect moment for maximum benefit.

 

 
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Gravity Warfare is a family project, created by a father of six, and developed by the whole family. Eight lives and sets of skills bring this game to life; from an artistic background, to mechanical engineering and business management everyone had an important role that fit perfectly to create this game.

Help make Gravity Warfare a reality by clicking the link below and support the project today! Every little bit goes a long way.

 

 
 
 
Posted on April 20, 2018 and filed under Tabletop.

ALA Midwinter Reflections

This week we present Stephanie Frey's reflections on her ALA Midwinter attendance as part of the Libraries / Ready to Code Phase III Cohort.

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ALA Midwinter was overwhelming. I’d never been out to the midwest or a library convention and was unsure of what to expect besides massive amounts of people. After much consideration, I found that each of these elements led to me having a fantastic time at ALA Midwinter, helped me deal with how huge and overwhelming an experience it can be, and enabled  me to get the most out of the experience.

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Sit in the Front

I cannot stress this enough, sit up front in panels you attend.

Normally I tend to sit in the back at events. ALA Midwinter already had me so far out of my comfort zone that I decided to give sitting up front a shot and I got so much more out of it.

Sitting upfront put me in contact with the most excited and energized people; their energy and sheer glee was contagious. Everyone had so many ideas and was eager to get right into solving whatever problem was thrown our way. At the beginning of each session we were handed sticky notes to keep track of our ideas, and everytime it was the groups in the front rows who had forty or more sticky notes crammed full of ideas. With so many ideas flowing, I had so many different epiphanies on my own programming.

Each panel I found the same and some new eager faces sitting up front ready take away everything they could learn from the experience. It was so much easier to make friends, get to know my cohorts, and get so many ideas going.

 

Exchange Ideas

ALA Midwinter puts you in the proximity of other librarians, so many other librarians. Not only were these people eager to present ideas, they were extremely friendly too. It made it so easy for me to share my own ideas, experiences, challenges, and contribute to theirs.

The strength and best benefit of being around other librarians is how the format encouraged everyone to share how they handled a variety of problems common to all library branches; such as pulling older teens into coding activities, attracting  students to return, and finding online resources for the right age groups. Finding that everyone else was facing the same challenges and finding their own ways of powering through them was empowering. Discovering that some of them used grant money as paid internships to incentivize teens to run their own programs, parent involvement to get students to return, or Google’s Applied Digital Skills courses and a wealth of other resources.

The convention environment was very welcoming to just throwing ideas out there. We bounced so many unpolished ideas at each other which made it the perfect place to collaborate. I had run into one librarian in every panel I attended and by the end we determined we needed to do a collaborative project together using Google Docs.

Set Goals

ALA Midwinter is huge; there are hundreds of people to see and the list of panels go on for pages. The RtC Cohort was kind enough to supply a list of panel recommendations and it helped immensely. Using their suggestions as a guide I was able to plan out my weekend by those panel times which gave a lot of direction to my time at ALA Midwinter. I was also able to glean plenty of fantastic information, and even more fantastic contacts, by interacting with other librarians interested in the same kinds of programming. I discovered things like Citizen Science Projects, HOMAGO (Hang Out Mess Around Geek Out), and a much simpler way of getting data by having patrons mark a single statement that they feel most applies to them. Having my schedule pre planned ahead of time made it that much easier to focus on collecting data instead of focusing on where to get the data.

The Exhibitor Hall was a completely different challenge. On arriving I skimmed the entire convention book that detailed all the stuff going on and found the ALAR Maze happening inside the Exhibitor Hall. The ALAR Maze gamified the whole experience for me and made it much easier for me to peruse all the vendors and exhibits while looking for hidden displays strewn throughout the hall. It even gave me a second wind when I thought I could walk no more.

Through interacting with technology easily put to practical use for our own programming that also gave me extra incentive to check every nook and cranny of the Exhibit Hall the whole experience became more approachable and by the end I managed to win a copy of Ready Player One out of it. I also discovered Vuforia, software, which would work well with resources we already have.

ALA Midwinter is an amazing event. Seeing what people are doing in their own libraries and sharing ideas with others was such an empowering experience. I came back to my own library eager to share everything I learned with my fellow staff and ready to leap into action.

 
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Article by Stephanie Frey
Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Group on Facebook 
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

The ideas expressed by libraries included in the podcast are not expressly endorsed by the Ready to Code project or the Georgetown County Library System. 

 
Posted on March 28, 2018 .

Power Up: Exploring Gaming in LIS Curricula

Hello!

We are Aaron J. Elkins, PhD, Assistant Professor at Texas Woman’s University, and Jonathan M. Hollister, PhD, Assistant Professor at Pusan National University. We hope to better understand the current status, use, and discussion of games and gaming within American Library Association (ALA) accredited Library and Information Science (LIS) degree programs in the United States. Ultimately, we hope to provide curricular recommendations for LIS educators and programs as well as best practice guidelines for librarians and other information professionals.

If you are an LIS educator (this includes tenured/tenure-track faculty members, adjunct instructors, teaching faculty members, graduate lead instructors or graduate assistants, etc.) who have taught, are currently teaching, or developed curricular materials addressing gaming for an ALA-accredited degree program, then we’d like to hear from you! You can learn more about the study and participate, if you so choose, at the link here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YNF63ZY

Participants may withdraw from the study at any time and there is no penalty for not participating. If you begin to participate and then choose to withdraw from the study, your partial data will not be analyzed: We will only use completed surveys. There is a potential risk of loss of confidentiality in all email, downloading, electronic meetings and internet transactions. If you have questions or need clarification about the study or your rights as a study participant, please do not hesitate to contact the Institutional Review Board at Texas Woman’s University by phone at 940-898-3378. The Human Subjects Research Committee assurance number is FWA00000178 and the IRB number is 19792. You may also contact Aaron J. Elkins at aelkins3@twu.edu or Jonathan M. Hollister at hollisterjm@pusan.ac.kr directly. You can also use these contacts to enquire about the research results.

Thank you for your time and participation.

Best Regards,

Aaron J. Elkins, PhD
Assistant Professor
School of Library & Information Studies
Texas Woman’s University

Jonathan M. Hollister, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Library, Archives, & Information Studies
Pusan National University

Posted on March 14, 2018 and filed under Surveys.

Deckscape

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Publisher: dv GIOCHI
MSRP: $15 USA

Recommended ages: 12+
Time: 30 - 90 minutes
Reset: Yes, reasonably quickly
Players:  1 - 6
Recommended Players: 3 - 4
App Required: No

Another in our series of tabletop escape room game reviews, and this time we are talking about the Deckscape series. The two sets we’ve played are Deckscape: Test Time and Deckscape: The Fate of London, and this review reflects experiences with those two titles.

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There are several elements making Deckscape appealing additions to both school and library collections, the most important of which is that there is no reason any of the components, all of which are cards, need be destroyed while playing the game.  With an incredibly reasonable price, the included cards are of good size and good quality and all the needed information is clearly visible. With care these boxes should see dozens if not hundreds of plays.

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One great thing about about Deckscape series is the good density of puzzles in such a teeny box and price point. To get so many in the box there seem to be a bunch of easy puzzles which help build momentum, right up until players hit a wall and can’t progress at all. Which leads us to the most egregious issue; most, if not all, of the Deckscape puzzles have binary fail states. There is no “oh, we were wrong, so let’s go back and try again”.

Unlike most other escape experiences, if you get an answer wrong in DeckScape then that puzzle is failed; players then take the penalty, and move on. In other words, players don’t have the satisfaction of working through a puzzle if they get it wrong on their first answer. Unfortunately some of the puzzles seem to be designed to make players fail, the game could have used a bit more testing.

At some point in the game Deckscape has players break the deck up into parts as you go through the adventure. These parts are different puzzle chains that intersect with each other, keeping the experience from being narrow and linear by having players work on entirely different puzzles simultaneously. Splitting the puzzle chains also keeps players engaged and interacting with each other as they each have a unique perspective on the tableau of puzzles before them.

As you can see Deckscape, as a series, is not without some problems. The order of the cards in the box really matters, because both sides of the cards are needed, and it is essential that they are revealed in a certain order. This differs from the Unlock series where, because of the way cards are revealed during play, most of them don’t need to be in order. Unfortunately having any of the Deckscape cards out of order has a good chance of actually breaking the game flow. Fortunately, the numbers indicating card order are clear and easy to see so it is theoretically possible to sort most of the deck without ruining any major surprises.

Hint System

 I've been out of school for more than a decade, and still my blood pressure shoots up when someone says "there will be a test".  -DD

I've been out of school for more than a decade, and still my blood pressure shoots up when someone says "there will be a test".  -DD

As with most puzzle games, there are always a couple puzzles that seem designed to force all but the most non-linear thinkers to use hints.The Deckscape hint system is two cards with a list of card numbers and a hint written backwards next to them. Unless players are careful it’s pretty easy to accidentally discover a hint.  While it’s great to have the ability to play without an app, it would be excellent to have a mobile app allowing players to access clues without the chance of seeing clues they aren’t looking for.

Suggestions for Circulation

Include copies of the score sheet (card 6 in London, 7 in Test Time), or make one that multiple patrons can use in sequence to replace the existing one. Another possibility would be to put that card in a card sleeve/ziploc bag, or laminate it; either way include a dry erase pen.  It’s also a great idea to include additional card sleeves for cards that include puzzles more easily solved by writing on the card.

Even though the Deckscape games don’t get our highest marks for puzzles or hint systems when compared with some of the other boxed rooms these quick and affordable escape experiences are great candidates for inclusion in a school or library, if you have have someone to sort them every time they are played.

Join us in the Library Escape Room Enthusiasts group to discuss this review or join in other conversations about using escape rooms in libraries.  
 

Article by Donald Dennis & Stephanie Frey
Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Group on Facebook 
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on March 7, 2018 and filed under Escape Rooms.

Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment

 Look! A real lock!

Look! A real lock!

Publisher: Mattel
MSRP: $29.99
Recommended ages: 7+
Time: 60 minutes
Reset: Not without Printing
Players:  2 - 8
Recommended Players: 3 - 8
App Required: No

If you are looking for the most realistic escape room experience then this is the one. The Werewolf Experiment has locks and other common escape room gizmos that would be a bit too spoilery to discuss. The game has a relatively strong narrative and is a neat twist on the mad scientist room.

The best thing about the Werewolf Experiment is the way they structure the puzzle chains; larger groups can stay engaged in puzzles instead of just one or two players like in many other escape activities. The Werewolf Experiment really works well with a group of up to six or possibly even eight, without feeling like it’s being stretched at the seams. The same puzzle structure makes it really tough to complete in the time allotted with only two players.

Speaking of puzzles, there is a good variety of puzzle form and quality for a tabletop experience. The designers packed some very interesting puzzle props into the box, and the puzzles range from easy and silly to quite challenging. Some will probably need more than one person to examine them before being solved, but that's the nature of escape rooms. 

If they hit a wall and cant proceed, the players have a hint booklet that they can reference a certain number of times during the escape “without failing”. It does a great job of spurring things along when players need help. There is a second hint booklet that appears later to help with the final puzzles, and dividing the hints that way helps to prevent accidental spoilers.

 Image used with permission of Escape Room in a Box

Image used with permission of Escape Room in a Box

The only significant problem with the Werewolf Experiment is the pain of resetting it for the next group. Which is even more of an issue because of some consumable items that, once depleted, will be impossible to replicate without just purchasing more. The box includes several refills, but they are a limited resource. (While the game requests you put a kettle on, or have a source of warm water while playing we managed to complete the session without doing so, but for kids it would be much cooler to have the warm water available.)   *** UPDATE: The puzzle which we were describing was for the original Kickstarter version only and was replaced in the Mattel version of this product. The replacement puzzle componants are not used up during the course of play.***   

While many of the other tabletop escape rooms play out like normal game experiences, it is easy to tell the designers want their escape room to be an something more. Nothing shows that more than the Werewolf Experiment website where they have party tips, printable labels, invitations, a "SUPER RAD SOUNDTRACK", a bonus puzzle, and repacking instructions. 

To sum up, Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment is the closest thing to a real escape room currently available as a tabletop experience. It would be an excellent core to an escape room event, but our recommendation is to buy two copies, play through it once, and laminate the pieces which require writing on the second set. This would provide additional backups for any elements that might go wrong. With a very high percentage of good quality puzzles and the ability to keep more than two or three people engaged at a time, this is recommended for a big event, if not necessarily as a permanent part of a circulating collection.

For additional information about Escape Room in a Box and the people who created it, check out On Board Games #  276: Escape Experiment where Donald Dennis talks with Juliana Patel and Ariel Rubin, designers of Escape Room in a Box.

 Image used with permission of Escape Room in a Box

Image used with permission of Escape Room in a Box

This review is based on the first version of Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment. We have not played or examined the Mattel version.

Join us in the Library Escape Room Enthusiasts group to discuss this review or join in other conversations about using escape rooms in libraries.  
 

Article by Donald Dennis & Stephanie Frey
Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Group on Facebook 
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on February 28, 2018 and filed under Escape Rooms.

Escape the Room

The Escape the Room series includes:

Mystery at Stargazer’s Manor
Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat

Publisher: Thinkfun
MSRP: $21.99
Recommended ages: 10+/13+
Time: 90 minutes
Reset: Yes
Players:  3 - 8
Recommended Players: 2  - 4
App Required: No, but website is available for hints and atmosphere

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Think Fun's Escape the Room: Mystery at Stargazer's Manor, is the first escape room themed game ever published. For a first take it does so much so well. Even though none of the current generation of escape room games are re-playable by the same person, because of spoilers, this series can be repacked and played by other groups. Players can easily complete all of the puzzles in either Mystery at Stargazer’s Manor or The Secret of Dr Gravely’s Retreat without destroying any of the elements meaning it can be packed up and returned to the box so it is ready for the next play.

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This series set the tabletop escape room standard of “game teaches itself” as you start to play, but it does so without neglecting the narrative element. The starting scene card sets the stage and then over the course of the room players open a series of envelopes by solving puzzles. In each are more puzzle pieces and a card advancing the narrative by explaining what happened in the world they are exploring.

Once players believe they have solved a puzzle they enter symbols they discovered into a solution wheel, which will show if it is actually solved and players can move on. The one potential failure of this clever mechanism is how easy it is to brute force the answers, or even say “hey, look, we succeeded” and move along. Most groups don’t cheat, instead relying on clues from the website (or a friendly teacher or librarian) to get them through any tough spots.

The website supporting the Escape the Room games is only essential during play if players need hints. Besides the a hint system, it also has background music selections to help set the atmosphere, and a map for resetting the game. Unless there is someone present who has already played through the room internet access may be essential for players to complete the rooms, let alone to have an enjoyable time.

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The one unfortunate element of this series is the linear nature of the puzzles that prevents them from being suitable for groups of larger than three or four. Four tweens or three adults who enjoy puzzles can have an interesting time completing these in about 30-45 minutes, but if you have five players someone is going to be bored. Players should also be aware that both of the current Escape the Room sets have one puzzle that is significantly harder than the others included in the box. 

Because most of the puzzles in the series are not extremely difficult Escape the Room gets a Green Light as an amazing “first escape room experience” for small groups, and is a great introduction to what real rooms have to offer, or even what can be expected from other tabletop experiences.  The puzzles in Dr. Gravely's Retreat are a just a bit more difficult, making the the perfect follow-up to the Mystery at Stargazer's Manor.

Join us in the Library Escape Room Enthusiasts group to discuss this review or join in other conversations about using escape rooms in libraries.  

Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Group on Facebook 
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on February 23, 2018 and filed under Escape Rooms.

Escape Room Game Series

 These are some of the games we will be covering in our escape room series. 

These are some of the games we will be covering in our escape room series. 

Games in Schools and Libraries is kicking off a new series on escape room related products for our blog. In our subsequent articles we will cover the breadth and depth of store-bought tabletop escape experiences, print and play activities, and even games that aren’t (strictly speaking) in the escape room genre but still evoke enough aspects to appeal to the same audience.   

Few experiences are more engaging than escape rooms, solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles are made even more enticing by the physical nature of the activity and the race against the clock. There are a variety of pre-packaged escape products that aim to reproduce one or more of the essential elements of the escape room experience, such as cooperative puzzle solving, critical thinking, and doing all of this under the clock.

Many of the tabletop products we will be covering have novel takes on many of the same problems - how to present a series of puzzles in such a way that players can continue to progress in solving interesting problems without getting stuck in such a way that the experience is destroyed by an insurmountable feeling of bafflement. Should players get truly stuck there is no sympathetic Game Master to deliver hints, but all of the games in the escape room genre have had to deal with this issue, frequently finding unique ways to present hints or allow players to progress even if they can’t follow the designer’s sense of logic.

We will be talking about all of these issues over at the Library Escape Room Enthusiasts group, and even discussing some of these games before the reviews are posted. If you have something to say, or are just looking for more opinions after the blog post has dropped, that’ll be the place to go.

Link to the group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1922174474731812/  

Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on February 22, 2018 and filed under Escape Rooms.

4 Player Video Games - Sports Edition

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Sports Games

Sports games are always an excellent addition to any video game collection. They see constant play and are nearly always multiplayer. Their appeal to a broad audience brings in a fair number of patrons we wouldn't see otherwise, as well as being accessible to all ages.

 

Madden 18

Console: PS4 & Xbox 1
ESRB:  E  For Comic Mischief, Mild Language, Mild Violence

 Just nine more dudes to shove through!

Just nine more dudes to shove through!

Madden 18 is a competitive/cooperative sports game that has come a long way from the original game John Madden Football. There’s the typical game where you can play against your friends with all the different football teams. There is a new game mode called “Longshot”, where players take on the role of a fictional would-be quarterback character. Eventually new stories for this game mode will be released.

 

NBA 2k18

Console: PC, PS4, Xbox 1, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch
ESRB:  E 10+ For Crude Humor, Mild Lyrics

 I wonder who sponsored this one.

I wonder who sponsored this one.

NBA 2K18 is your average “Break people’s ankles” game with a few new features! The newest game mode called “Run The Neighborhood” is about an average guy who “climbs the ranks” to be the guy who Runs The Neighborhood.

 

Fifa 18

Console: PC, PS4, Xbox 1, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch
ESRB:   E

 The right camera angle makes the difference between epic and awkward.

The right camera angle makes the difference between epic and awkward.

Soccer players will love the new Fifa 18! There are all new features including; new and improved scoring animations, real player motion technology, new team styles, and an immersive atmosphere. Also starting back up this year is is competitive Fifa! Think you can become one of the greats out there?

 

NHL 18

Console: PS4 & Xbox 1
ESRB:    E10+  For Mild Violence

 I swear he just tripped coach.

I swear he just tripped coach.

EA has greatly improved a ton of stuff in this new game including: a brand new defensive skill stick, creative attack dekes, new and improved A.I, hockey training camp, there is even a new expansion draft for the new Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team. Also, there is now create-a-mascot if you create a new hockey team!

 

Joshua Valderrama is one of our Teen Room Volunteers and an avid Broncos fan.
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on January 29, 2018 .

December Playstation Plus PS4 Roundup

If you do console gaming in your schools or libraries then Playstation Plus and Xbox Gold can be an amazing way of adding new games to your collection each month. However, not every free game may be appropriate for your space. We’ll be going over all the PS4 titles this month so that you can decide what works for your space.

 

Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition

Single Player
M for Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Violence

 Because flaming scythes is everything's elemental weakness.

Because flaming scythes is everything's elemental weakness.

Darksiders 2 is a hack and slash game. Players take on the role of Death as he tries to resurrect humanity. Gameplay consists of hacking through enemies with your array of weapons (scythes, hammers, so on) and gaining new abilities to make it easier or cooler looking to do so.  

Darksiders 2 is a neat and action packed game. If you have an M rated games collection go for it, otherwise you’ll want to pass.

 

Kung Fu Panda Showdown of Legendary Legends

1 - 4 Players
E for Cartoon Violence

 When the best move is to not move.

When the best move is to not move.

Kung Fu Panda Showdown of Legendary Legends is a fighting game. Players can take on the roles of a number of characters from the movies and battle it out. Items also drop during the matches, giving an advantage to players that manage to nab them before the others. It’s basically Super Smash Bros, but with Kung Fu Panda characters instead.

It plays up to 4 and is appropriate for any setting. It gets played pretty frequently by our kids.

 
 It's glowing, that means we have to check it out.

It's glowing, that means we have to check it out.

Forma.8 is an action adventure game. Players take on the role of Forma.8 a probe that is exploring the planet it’s stranded on. Players explore the area finding things like lore and power ups that will help them progress further along in their exploration. The visuals of this game are lovely.

Forma.8 is a fascinating little game, but is more of a one player experience. If you are able to cater to single player games then give it a whirl.

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on December 30, 2017 .

December Games with Gold Xbox One Roundup

If you do console gaming in your schools or libraries then Playstation Plus and Xbox’s Games with Gold can be an amazing way of adding new games to your collection each month. However, not every free game may be appropriate for your space. We’ll be going over all the Xbox One titles this month so that you can decide what works for your space.

 

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide

Single Player
M for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Alcohol Reference

 The game where you play as fantasy Pest Control.

The game where you play as fantasy Pest Control.

Vermintide is a first person hack and slash game about defending the city of Ubersreik from waves upon waves of rat people. Players will choose from 5 unique characters and three of the remaning characters will be their party members, played by either AI or other players online. They’ll have to work together if they have any hope of saving the city.

Vermintide is a bloody mess of fun and sets a really great atmosphere. If you have a collection of M rated games, go ahead and give this game a whirl.
 

 

Child of Eden

Single Player
E for Mild Fantasy Violence

 Where the rule of thumb is to shoot anything that glows.

Where the rule of thumb is to shoot anything that glows.

Child of Eden is a rail shooter game that was meant to be played with the kinect, but plays on controller just fine. Players delve through really abstract levels shooting their way through targets to save Lumi, a newly awoken human turned AI internet consciousness. This game is also best played either with the sound on or a set of headphones due to the sort of musical aspects of the game.

Child of Eden is both a fascinating game to play and to watch. It’s mesmerizing. It’s also fairly simple to play so it’s good for a range of ages. It’s worth a download.

 

Back to the Future: The Game - 30th Anniversary Edition

Single Player
T for Drug and Alcohol Reference, Language, Mild Blood, Mild Violence, Sexual Themes

 Now with a secret Bioshock level.

Now with a secret Bioshock level.

Back to the Future: The Game is one of Telltale’s episodic adventure games. The game is more story than game. The gameplay is about interacting with objects and people to keep the story moving forward, like searching for clues or using certain objects on other objects.

Back to the Future is at its best if you’ve seen the movie. If your players are big fans of the movie then go for it.

 

Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death

Single Player
M for Violence, Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Strong Language

 That feel when you don't know whether to deal with the explosion or the guy with the scythe.

That feel when you don't know whether to deal with the explosion or the guy with the scythe.

Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is a hack slash game. Players take on the role of Marlow Briggs who is taking a break from his work as a Smokejumper, while his girlfriend Eva is working as a translator of Mayan codex for an archaeological dig. Eva finds the work questionable and decides it may be time to go, but her boss has other plans. Her employer kills her boyfriend, Marlow, with an ancient Mayan weapon that ends up bringing him back to life. With the help of a dead Mayan Monarch, Marlow is off to slay everything that stands between him and rescuing Eva.

Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death has all the chaos of a good action flick. If you have an M rated games collection and blood and gore isn’t an issue, give it a download.

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6.
 
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on December 11, 2017 .

Fiasco Playsets: Battle Pets

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One of the great things about Fiasco is how flexible the system is. With no need for complex resolution systems or arcane tomes of back story and special exceptions, games run smoothly as long as all the players are engaged in the story more than they are just being a hero.

 Battle Pets, the playset we are sharing this week, is one we first crafted shortly after Pokemon Go was announced and has been used successfully at several of our Pokemon related events. Players may be Battle Pet trainers, veterans of the monster wars, hosts of Battle Pets tournaments, or even be crafty battle pets trying to avoid being captured. Win the big tournament, progress to their next evolution, or even learn where monsters come from. 

Even though we were first inspired to create this set because of Pokemon Go, we play with the "boy and his battle pet" theme so you may find hints of other monster capture games like Monster Rancher, Jade Cocoon, or Digimon. We even previously discussed the long history of this theme on the Inverse Genius podcast IG 008: Pokemon Battle Friends. If you listen you'll hear just how much we love the whole genre, not just Pokemon. 

 
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The important takeaway is, if you can't find an existing playset you like, or modify one to meet your needs, how easily you can craft a playset based on your favorite settings. Successful playsets don't need to be completely faithful to the source material, which is great because who wants to deal with lawyers anyway? 

If there is a trick to making a great playset, and I'm not saying there is one, it is just making all of the choices  interesting and open-ended. Taking the primary themes and then riffing off those to create an engaging experience is much more fulfilling and interesting than transcribing a setting point by point. Every entry in the set should be approachable and open up more opportunities for exciting interactions at the table. 

In other words: file off all of the serial numbers, by avoiding setting specific names and places whenever possible, so players don't need to be adepts in the lore. You can count on the players to fill in the name of the headmaster for your school of wizardry, or expand on the big conflict, as they need them. You don't need to spell out everything for the players; it isn't that kind of game. 

 

Do you want to be the very best? Like no one ever was?

Well get in line kid. Everyone wants to be the best here. They’re all running around trying to shove wildlife into this newfangled pocket dimension device. The cool kids call it the Podide. Or at least I do.

Point is, go out there, catch you some creatures, and then pit them against one another in battle. What’s the worst that could happen?

 

Follow the link to our completely unauthorized and totally non-IP-infringing Battle Pets play-set created at the Waccamaw Neck Branch Library in Pawleys Island SC.

 

Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on December 4, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

4 Player Video Games - Cooperative

Cooperative Games

Do your gamers want to work together instead of compete? Do they want a challenge that is going to take everyone give their all to overcome? Cooperative games have players working together as a team to overcome the computer or some set challenge. There are so many great cooperative games out there. Here's a list of some of our favorites!

 

Overcooked

1 - 4 Players PS4, XB1, & PC
E for Mild Cartoon Violence

 Which of you thought this was a good idea?

Which of you thought this was a good idea?

Overcooked is a cooperative game where gamers run a kitchen. Players chop, cook, serve, and then clean dishes. Sounds simple, but things get complicated when you decide to take your kitchen out on the road, literally. One level finds players juggling ingredients between two moving trucks, and there are many more like it; from lava planets to haunted pizza mansions. Even without these challenges there’s a lot to keep track of;  making sure customers get what they order and not burning the meals. It a game about efficiency, using your team as a well oiled machine, and then adapting when it all goes sideways.

This is one of my favorite games because it’s simple to learn, difficult to master, and something always ends up on fire anyway.

 

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

1 - 4 Players PS4, XB1, & PC
E for Fantasy Violence

 So many choices, so little health bar.

So many choices, so little health bar.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a game where players pilot a spaceship. It’s a blend between platforming and spaceship battles because as situations change players need to run to the different stations and adapt to the situation. Players pilot stations like the engine, lasers on various sides, shields, and the ultimate weapon. Meanwhile outside players are being attacked and trying to make their way across the map to rescue caged bunnies, birds, and other space critters.

This game is a fantastic cooperative experience and gives players the fun of operating a spaceship together without the complexity.

 

Pac-man 256

1 - 4 Players PS4, XB1, & PC
E for Mild Fantasy Violence

 ghosts + lasers = fun

ghosts + lasers = fun

Pac-man 256 is a cooperative twist on a retro game. Players navigate a maze together while dodging ghosts and gobbling up fruit. There are power-ups as per the usual pacman, but some of them are new; laser beams, lava, tiny pac-man clones, and more. As players gather up coins and points they can be redeemed to make these new power-ups last longer or give more points. Another unique feature is players reviving dead players, which is where the cooperation really comes in. After all the more of you there are the further you’re likely to get.

This game is a lot of frantic fun and an excellent choice if you’re looking for something that looks a little retro for your collection.

 

Monaco

1 - 4 Players XB1, XB360, & PC
T for Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes, Mild Language, Crude Humor, Use of Tobacco

 You know it's secure when it has lasers and dogs.

You know it's secure when it has lasers and dogs.

Monaco is a cooperative top down bank heist. Players can take in a team of up four players to sneak into a location, grab the loot, and then hustle back to the getaway van. There are a variety of characters to choose from and each comes with their own special skill; locksmith opens locks quickly, lookout is great at knowing where all the guards are at, hacker can use computers to shut down security, and there are many others. Players have the option of being super sneaky, and when that doesn’t work out they have guns or other secondary items to help them get out of there. Should a teammate drop, players are able to revive them if they can reach them. The guards however can do the same.

Monaco is a blast! If you don’t mind having a game that’s all about robbery, then Monaco is an excellent pick. It’s so much fun seeing how the different groups of characters manage to get in and get out.

 

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

2+ Players PC
E

 Nothing more relaxing than a timer ticking down.

Nothing more relaxing than a timer ticking down.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is all about disarming bombs. The catch is that only one player can see the bomb and everyone else has the manual to disarm it. This game can be played with as many people as you can gather around however many manuals have been printed out or digitally downloaded. Gameplay consists of the bomb player describing the different elements of the bomb, and then the others looking up how to disarm it in the manual. The manual however is written in the most opaque way. Directions such as “If this then refer to that. If not then refer to this that will then refer you to that.”

This is such a great game. It can be played with many or even just two. It’s really easy for people to drop in and out of. And with the manual and a clock ticking down it’s really easy to get immersed into. If you have a game collection I highly recommend it and it’s amazing for teaching skills like skimming, reading comprehension, and communication.

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6.
 
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on November 30, 2017 .

November Playstation Plus PS4 Roundup

If you do console gaming in your schools or libraries then Playstation Plus and Xbox Gold can be an amazing way of adding new games to your collection each month. However, not every free game may be appropriate for your space. We’ll be going over all the PS4 titles this month so that you can decide what works for your space.

 
 This is a stick up.

This is a stick up.

Worms Battlegrounds is a 2D Strategy game where players take on the roles of worms battling one another. Turns go back and forth between the different players as they choose weapons then use them on each other. The game features a campaign mode and versus modes for players to fight each other.

Worms Battlegrounds is a great addition to any collection. While appropriate for all ages, younger players may have trouble with learning the controls.

 

BOUND

Single Player
E for Fantasy Violence

 And to our left you'll find more crumbling abstract landscape.

And to our left you'll find more crumbling abstract landscape.

BOUND is a platformer where players switch between two roles, a woman revisiting the place of her childhood memories and a princess ordered to rid the land of the monster destroying it. The game’s setting has a dreamlike feel about it. In a lot of ways it feels more art piece than game.

The world and designs are gorgeous making this a beautiful game to watch, but gameplay can feel a bit stiff. If you’re looking for an interesting single player experience to add to your collection give it a download.

 

Dungeon Punks

1 - 3 players
E for Fantasy Violence, Mild Language

 Really, this was a lovely village before the zombie attack.

Really, this was a lovely village before the zombie attack.

Dungeon Punks is a side scroller beat em up that plays up to three players. Players choose a character, each with unique skills. Players will always have a party of three with NPCs filling any of the other unused slots. Gameplay consists of fighting off hordes of creatures with your teammates.

Dungeons Punks would be a good fit for any collection that caters to tweens and up. The skills and gameplay might be a bit much for younger gamers.

 

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood

Single Player
M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

 Nope. Just nope.

Nope. Just nope.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is VR only. If you don’t have a VR setup you’re not going to be able to play this title at all. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is a Rail Shooter. Players ride through a roller coaster of horrors and shoot at what they see; ranging from things with bullseyes on them, terrifying killer clowns, apparitions, and all other sorts of spooky creatures.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood would no doubt draw people in being a spooky VR game, but if don’t have a VR set, you’ve got gamers that scare easily, or you're not comfortable with all the gore and violence then you’re going to want to pass.

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on November 20, 2017 .

Fiasco Playsets: Dewey Decimation

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One of the great pleasures of RPGs in general, and Fiasco in particular, is telling stories. Sometimes players tell tales of terror, heroics, power fantasies, or even great tragedy.  

Fiasco in particular likes to poke fun at elements from some of our favorite genres, themes, or even the pettiness of everyday day life. We thought it'd be great if we shared some of our everyday life with our patrons, and the world at large, by creating a Fiasco Playset that highlights the comically absurd of our experience working in the library.   

That doesn't mean you'll find our personal stories within this slim volume, or that the deepest darkest secrets of our patrons will be revealed, but if are in the know you may very well see the fingerprints of a librarian who is also a Welcome to Night Vale fan. In other words, imagine the strangest aspects of librarianship writ-large, with the delightful melange of smells, startlingly unorthodox patron interactions, and that one book with the red cover, all with the ability to react how you want because this is a game about bad decisions. 

We didn't get too much into the the more explicit adventures we've been subjected to as librarians, mostly because this is a YA Fiasco Playset. Though if I had to guess there is certainly room for an Adults Services version; that's a different blog entirely. 

Please enjoy Dewey Decimation, and let us know what adventures you have using the play set. 

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Libraries are weird, and this one is no exception. The staff is quirky, the books are many, and something is always just the slightest bit off.

The staff manages to keep the place afloat, but with a ghost roaming the stacks, aliens abducting patrons, and the local PTA’s monthly meetings always going awry things can get... messy.

But the books are free, right?

Get it here.

Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on November 15, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

November Games with Gold Xbox One Roundup

 

If you do console gaming in your schools or libraries then Playstation Plus and Xbox’s Games with Gold can be an amazing way of adding new games to your collection each month. However, not every free game may be appropriate for your space. We’ll be going over all the Xbox One titles this month so that you can decide what works for your space.

 

Trackmania Turbo

1 - 4 players
E

 So, 5th place then.

So, 5th place then.

Trackmania Turbo is a racing game that allows up to four players to go head to head. It features modes such as Double Driver, where two players control a single vehicle, or a variety of party modes; split screen or hot seat where players take turns trying to get the best time.

Trackmania Turbo is a lot of fun to play and has already seen a lot of play with our own patrons. It’s a great multiplayer racing game for any collection because it appeals to such a broad audience and it’s easy to play.

 
 Full steam ahead!

Full steam ahead!

Tales from the Borderlands is an episodic adventure game. It’s more like a story that players interact with and make choice, and those choices affect the way the rest of the game goes; such as helping certain characters might make them pay back the favor later in the story, or creating a vendetta with someone may see them make more trouble for the  player later. This game follows Fiona, a con artist, and Rhys, a tech worker whose promotion has been swiped out from under him, as their worlds hilariously collide in an insane hostile post apocalyptic setting.

 

While this game is a blast, it’s much better for older audiences due to just how rough this entire setting is. Anything Borderlands pulls no punches, gorey things like someone being decapitated by a grenade happens and characters curse often. Unless you have an older teen/ adult gaming club or carry M rated content games then you may want to pass.

 

Nights into Dreams

Single Player
E for Comic Mischief

 Gotta fly through all those rings.

Gotta fly through all those rings.

Nights into Dreams is part side scroller part 3D action. Players take on the role of a Dreamer and with the help of Nights they try to thwart the evil Wizeman and bring peace to Nightopia. Gameplay switches between side scrolling flying and 3D running around, both of which you collect spheres and battle creatures.

 

Nights into Dreams is a gorgeous game to look at and while it takes a bit of figuring out it’s a lot of fun. It’s E rating makes it a good addition if you need another single player title. It’s also great if you’re looking for something retro, because this is a port from Sega Saturn.

 

Deadfall Adventure

Single Player
M for Blood, Language, Violence

 Map, check. Gun, check. Pendulum of death, check.

Map, check. Gun, check. Pendulum of death, check.

Deadfall Adventures is an action adventure first person shooter. Players take on the role of James Quatermain as he escorts a US Agent to retrieve an ancient artifact, but there are Nazis and Russians also looking for it and as they delve deeper the supernatural becomes involved as well. Gameplay features frantic gun battles and puzzles.

 

This game has blood spatters as enemies are shot and dialogue has cursing. It’s a good addition if your collection already features M rated games.

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6

Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on November 13, 2017 and filed under Video Games.

Word Games for NaNoWriMo

Almost any kind of social or hobby gathering can be boosted by having a bank of activities that relate to the theme or which can act as a launching point for discussion and introspection. If you are hosting NaNoWriMo meetup, a book club, or any game night in the library, then word games may be just what you need to spur interaction among the participants.

Posted on November 8, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

Hearthstone 101

Hearthstone

Are your gamers interested in Hearthstone? Do they already like games like Magic the Gathering and Yugioh? Do you want to try something new to attract a new group of the gamer curious to your library or school club? Here is everything you need to get started.

Hearthstone is a FREE Online Collectible Card Game. It is played over PC, Android, or Apple devices and an online connection is required. This is a game where gamers construct decks from cards they collect either from leveling up their characters by playing matches or from buying booster packs with points earned or cash. While it is free to play, each gamer can have their own account or the moderator can make guest accounts available, players can earn in-game currency to purchase additional booster packs and game modes or do the same by spending real  money. We are getting a lot of play without spending a penny. 

Our Teen Room gamers have a lot of fun with Hearthstone. They enjoy building decks and battling against each other. We love it, not only is it fun to play but it reinforces a number of skills; literacy, probability assessment, critical thinking, sportsmanship, math, resource management, and executive decision making. Compared to many CCGs there isn't a steep learning curve and the built-in tutorial means you can get up and running in Hearthstone with minimal confusion or stress. If you have a computer lab or spare tablets in your space, Hearthstone could be an excellent addition to the games you already offer.

 

Fireside Gatherings

Hearthstone has events moderators can host called Fireside Gatherings. These are gatherings where players can play against anyone in the gathering and there’s a special mode available called a Fireside Brawl. It says 3 vs 3 Brawl on it, but that doesn’t mean you need 6 people. We made that mistake during our first gathering. It means that each player will have 3 heroes available to them, the first one to defeat all their opponent’s heroes wins. The fantastic thing about this mode is that decks are pre-built, so this mode is about skill and reacting to what you are handed, not who owns the most cards or builds the best deck.

Moderators with at least 3 unique gamers logging in during their Fireside Gathering can apply to become a Tavern. The big advantage of being a Tavern is the ability to have 5 upcoming events at a time, while anyone else can only have one upcoming event at a time. There’s also now a special hero costume for players who attend a Tavern and play a Fireside Brawl so that’s a big draw for Hearthstone players right now.

Warning: Fireside Gatherings require Wifi. Ethernet only Computers will be unable to connect to the Fireside Gathering.

 

Setting up a Fireside Gathering

Step 1: Make a Blizzard account. https://www.blizzard.com/en-us/

Step 2: Download the Blizzard App and Hearthstone on a device. https://playhearthstone.com/en-us/

Step 3: Head over on over to https://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/fireside-gatherings log in to your account then click Host a Gathering.

Step 4: Fill in those details and then hit Create Event.

Step 5: Make your flyers or use their available ones. Color or Black and White. Now just wait till the day of. Maybe play some matches in the meanwhile.

Step 6: On the day of the event, activate your Fireside. It will pop up when you log into your Hearthstone account.

Step 7: Make sure the Wifi listed is yours.

Step 8: Make sure to click add more. Chances are that your event venue has a number of access points and you want to include them all.

Step 9: Collect access points by wandering around your location with your hearthstone device (if possible).

Step 10: Now have your gamers click on the fireside and join in, if they aren't added automatically.

fireside.png

Step 11: Now that you've joined the Fireside, play some matches!

Hearthstone Screenshot 10-30-17 13.33.14.png

Good luck with your Fireside Gathering and have a blast!

 

Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
Email us: schoolsandlibraries@gmail.com

Posted on November 6, 2017 and filed under Video Games.