I remember reading, back when actual printed video game magazines were just starting to die and the website boom was starting to hit, that the vast majority of console gamers bought just two games a year, and that at least one was almost certainly their favorite annual franchise. Are things different now? I tried looking for the source of that story two years ago and couldn’t find it (did I make it up?) and so it never made it into any articles I wrote.
It’s true I can’t substantiate how many games people buy a year on average, but it’s worth it to say that there are periods many people go through where buying new games, or buying any games at all, is not an option. So what do you do if you can’t afford to buy anything, with your month to month expenses eating every hard earned dollar?
Well, if you’re me, you go to your city library and see what they have. Now it turns out that my library, part of a county collective, has a truly excellent game collection, where the only restriction to date is an unwillingness on the part of the county to buy M rated titles (though the fiction section directly behind it houses all sorts of violent and sexual horrors for those interested, and the movies adjacent have no shortage of rated R films). Outside of that, the purchasers have truly excellent taste; sometimes even purchasing unexpected gems amidst the popular stuff (my library has The Last Story, and Xenoblade Chronicles X!?).
In addition to that, a lot of libraries have a great platform for social gaming. Just Dance, Mario Party, karaoke titles, and other local multi-player social games are great for kids and teens; as public libraries have been moving more and more away from places of quiet study to places of community connection. So while not every community library has adopted social programs like game nights—or they may be age-gated for the comfort and safety of the kids or teens—the rise of games as an art form has given public libraries another form of media to collect and share with the public.
It does mean having to wait for new games though. Like anything new at the library, you may end up in a line of holds, itching for weeks to get your hands on a single title that all the game blogs have poured over in detail by the time you get it (at the point of this writing, with the recent release of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild I am hold number 32 of 38, with a handful of copies and a week’s time to play once it’s available, with no renewals). Heck, even if you’re first in line, you may have to wait for the title to go through in-house processing before it becomes available that may take a week or more.
So, being fairly unable to buy new games, but having an abundance of consoles, I’m starting a new writing project, Library Thursdays, where I’ll share my adventures in public library gaming. That means I’ll play the games for as long as they’re checked out for an hour or two a day—around my regular responsibilities—and give my impression as a library patron of these games as I can play them within the one-week check-out period.
This week’s title? Dishonored 2, which I surprisingly managed to finish. After that I’ve got Watchdogs 2, which I expect to make virtually no progress on the main story during the allotted time. After that, I’ll have to pick up something that’s been around long enough that it’s not constantly checked out. The other day I saw they had an Atelier game; this is gonna be great.
featured image: metronews.ca. 20115