- Video game consoles can be expensive, but an initial hardware investment can create many programs down the line for a library. Alternatively, put out a call asking patrons or staff to bring their hardware - there are many people in the community who want to see it happen, and will help in any way they can!
Consoles are constantly changing as "generations" pass every six or so years and a new wave supersedes the old. Interestingly, the two frontrunners this generation, the Playstation 4 and Xbox One are technologically very similar to one another (and to high-end PCs), making the differences come down primarily to the games offered for each (and many games come out for both). The currently active consoles on the market are:
- Sony Playstation 4 - Has a strong selection of independently made games, and is the technological powerhouse for this generation.
- Sony Playstation Vita - Sony's handheld, which has a lot of the same excellent independent games as its bigger brother, but which has been largely abandoned otherwise.
- Microsoft Xbox One - After a shaky launch and rolling back its plans for the Kinect camera peripheral, the Xbox One is coming back with some interesting exclusive titles.
- Nintendo WiiU - While struggling in sales, the WiiU has a number of great titles that lend themselves well to local multiplayer tournaments, especially the ever-popular Smash Bros.
- Nintendo 3DS - The successor to Nintendo's insanely popular DS handheld system, the 3DS has had success with a number of great exclusive titles. Pokemon tournaments, the most likely use of this console in the library sphere, would require patrons to bring their own systems from home.
Pokemon: While Pokemon games are made primarily for handheld systems (currently the Nintendo 3DS), creating a venue where kids can battle and trade makes for a solid (and cheap) program. Pokemon is a surprisingly deep game that requires kids to think strategically to succeed.
NintendoLand (WiiU) - A variety of team-based and solo videogames patterned after Nintendo franchises. Features several instances of asymmetrical multiplayer, meaning it’s an excellent game for groups. Don’t let any cutesy presentation fool you - after one round, every demographic gets hooked.
Mario Kart (WiiU) - An easy game for anyone to get into, Mario Kart lends itself well to multiplayer gaming in the same room.
Marvel vs Capcom / Injustice (PS3/Xbox/WiiU): These fighting games cover Marvel and DC Comics franchises, respectively. Both games have “Ultimate” editions that include extra characters and costumes.
NBA/Madden: Teens, especially boys, will refer to “2K” and “Madden” like they’re a way of life.
Naruto Ninja Storm - A fighting game featuring the ever-expanding roster and storyline from the Naruto series.
- Super Smash Bros.: A ridiculously popular tournament game with extremely broad appeal. The newest version is for both the Nintendo WiiU and 3DS, but there are currently versions available for the older Wii (Super Smash Bros. Brawl) and the Nintendo Gamecube (Super Smash Bros. Melee, which many prefer).
- The Cover Project - Encourage patrons to design their own new cover art to their favorite games. They can also upload it to the Cover Project website and share it!
- Encourage patrons to catalog their game collection using the Backloggery site
- Tournaments need brackets, and they can be a pain to make. There is a Tournament Bracket Generator available for free online.
- If multiple consoles are available, it cuts down on the wait for other players.
- Have plenty of controller batteries on hand!
- Gift cards make great prizes for tournaments - you don't even have to give that much!
- Free play sessions usually basically run themselves - just ensure that the players switch after each round so everyone gets a turn.
- Game design for consoles requires a development kit from the console manufacturer - Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo. While possible, development for PC and mobile platforms tends to be significantly easier.
Books and Links
- Metacritic - Metacritic aggregates reviews for games as well as for movies, music and TV, and it's a good way to get a feel for a game's quality.
- GameFAQs - The main site out there for FAQs, tips, cheats, and discussion regarding video games.
- Giant Bombcast - The foremost gaming podcast right now.
- www.replacementdocs.com - Replacement manuals available for download
- www.esrb.org - The website of the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) where you can determine what a game's maturity rating is, as well as what sort of objectionable content it may contain.