International Games Day at Chicago Public Library a Resounding Success

International Games Week is a yearly event where thousands of public libraries all over the world invite their communities to come together in the name of play. We were at the Harold Washington Library to see how the Chicago Public Library celebrates their International Games Day, and we got a chance to see some examples of independent, locally made video games and tabletop games that were available for the community to play. Bit Bash was on hand as well as Chicago developer Jackbox Games and a whole room of local tabletop game designers and there was even a game-themed scavenger hunt to participate in.

One of many games on display at Bitbash’s pop-up at the Harold Washington Library. Photo by Marielle Shaw.

Bit Bash had on display an eclectic mix of colorful video games at a variety of difficulty levels that were rotated throughout the day. Bit Bash’s co-founder Brice Puls says the emphasis was on accessibility, as well as fun. He noted that some people are surprised to see that games aren’t all just like Call of Duty and instead offer lots of experiences besides the normal, violent approaches. Another goal was to have people see what different forms games can take and on hand was a mixture of conventional games, to those that were a little more experimental.

We played Regular Human Basketball, a game where players attempt to play a basketball game while controlling giant, intentionally unwieldy death machines. The fun isn’t just in outscoring your opponent but also in the challenge in controlling such a machine. (You can check it out yourself here) We also played Joy Exhibition that puts you into a serene art gallery in an attempt to communicate with a mute alien race using only art that you can create with a variety of different paint guns. (Joy Exhibition can be found here.) Perhaps highest on the strange-to-fun ratio was Sky Sutra, a competitive magic carpet ride where one player attempts to unseat their carpet’s driver while the driver tries to undulate in just the right ways to dodge incoming missiles. The description hardly does it justice, but you can check out gameplay videos and find out more here.

R2i Games was one of many game designers in the tabletop gaming room on International Games Day. Photo by Marielle Shaw.

The tabletop game room was equally accessible, as every table had a game (or games) to play, with a room full of friendly, local board game designers and purveyors willing to teach young and old of every skill level the joys of tabletop games. Some stand outs include fantasy card game Squarriors, based on the graphic novel of the same name, and R2I Games’ Road to Infamy, a strategy board game with the goal of running the most successful crime organization in Chicago. Another standout is XYZ Game Labs’ RobotLab: The Card Game, a colorful, kid-friendly game that only takes a few minutes to play.

Players dropped in and hung out for rounds of Jackbox Party Pack 4 all day. Photo by Marielle Shaw.

For most of the day Chicago developer Jackbox Games had their newest game, Jackbox Party Pack 4 (see our review here) set up for the audience to play in the video theater. It was the perfect fit for this event, and anyone with a smart device was able to sit in and participate as much or as little as they wanted. There was also a puzzle hunt run by The Mystery League that ran throughout day with clues scattered throughout the library.

This event was expertly run and curated on the part of the Chicago Public Library, the sponsors and participants. Games types were varied, all were accessible, and there was a great, welcoming atmosphere.  International Games Day was a resounding success at the Harold Washington Library as the Chicago Public Library proves they know the value of play in thecommunity.

If you want to see any future events being held at the Harold Washington Library, you can check out their schedule here.

Bit Bash hosts all sorts of pop-up arcades and video game experiences. If you’re interested in seeing anything coming up from Bit Bash, you can follow them on Twitter here, and their website is here.

Antal Bokor
Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian.
He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.