Not bored by boards: International Games Week comes to River Falls

Posted November 20, 2017

Millennia ago, around 3,000 B.C., our ancestors were huddled around tables or sitting in circles on the floor, partaking in what would become a timeless tradition: board games. The earliest version of a game archeologists have uncovered comes from pre-dynastic Egypt. It was called Senet and is played much like modern day backgammon.

Fast-forward to present day, and these means of entertainment and tradition still serve us today and now the time has come to celebrate. River Falls participated in its very first International Games Week, Nov. 13-21.

According to the American Library Association, National Games Day started back in 2007 when two people organized an attempt to gather enough participants to set a world record for the most people playing the same game at the same time in libraries around the world. In 2012, National Games Day became International Games Day, and this year it became International Games Week. Events are held on all seven continents, and River Falls finally decided to get on the board.

Cole Zrostlik is the events coordinator at the River Falls Public Library, this year he thought it was time to join the fun. “I used to participate in games week when I worked as a children’s librarian and loved getting news about free games,” he said. Zrostlik had quite the undertaking, planning events to span Nov. 13-21.

The week began with RFPL providing a space for community members to play games as well as create their own. Next the fun moved to Vagabond Arcade in River Falls for an adult and teen board game night. After that, Fox Den Used Books on Main Street hosted a game night. The event finished off the same place it began, at RFPL with different kinds of games in the gallery downstairs, even some arcade games borrowed from Vagabond Arcade.

Zrostlik even decided to sweeten the deal for participants by giving away prizes in the form of codes for the online gaming platform Steam. Community members also got to break in some games. Zrostlik said that game makers and distributors have sent free board games his way for this week.

Participation built as community members popped in and out of the events or stayed for the entire event. “We won’t know how many people will participate for sure, but I am certainly hoping to get as many community members involved as possible,” he said. “We would love to see some new faces at Vagabond Arcade, and the same goes at Fox Den Used Books.”

When planning the event, Zrostlik knew he wanted to involve the community. “We love working with community partners because it helps us to better connect community members from all backgrounds and with various interests,” he said. “I think an event like International Games Week is important for the community because games and play are universally excellent ways for community members to connect with one another. You’re never too young or too old to play!”

Kyle McKinnon took his stepson to the arcade for Games Week and enjoyed sharing the timeless activity with him. “We’ve been able to bond here,” he said. “I’ve been able to show him some of the old games I used to play, some of the tricks, things like that. We’ve really been enjoying ourselves.”

“It’s great that the library puts on these types of events. I’d say we’re very fortunate to live in a community that provides these sort of opportunities for the citizens,” he said. “I’d say it really brings the community together. This is something that I hope they do in the future and continue next year.”

After a successful inaugural year, Zrostlik says the RFPL anticipates that they will continue the event in the years to come.