Dungeons & Dragons anyone? FIMS goes analogue

GamesIf you look around at people who enjoy video games, it’s not hard to find those who still gravitate towards old school choices played on platforms like Atari, the original Nintendo, and Sega.  Remember Donkey KongMario Bro’s 3?  The original Metroid?  Huge hits of a bygone era that are still popular today.

For many people, it’s tough to remember a time when video games weren’t around.  But if you roll back the clock even farther, you’ll find yet another thriving gaming community with a history that far outstrips any kind of electronic entertainment.

Analogue gaming – the kind that forms happy childhood memories for many people over a certain age – stayed confined to a niche interest while video gaming took over the world.  But now, according to Sarah Roberts, FIMS Gaming Club founder, the scene is experiencing a real renaissance.

“This summer, I traveled to GenCon, a huge gaming convention held annually in Indianapolis, IN, USA, and was amazed at what I saw,” said Roberts, who is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University.

“There were over 50,000 gamers in attendance at GenCon this summer, and the range of games (theme and game type, length of time to play and complexity) was staggering. I realized I was witnessing something important and I wanted to formalize it at FIMS.”

Monopoly, Risk, Euchre, Hearts and similar titles are some well-known examples of analogue games that most people have played at one point or another.  But the true selection is vast.  In the FIMS Gaming Club, everything is on the table, so to speak.

Roberts explained that the FIMS club is open to all types of choices, from tabletop strategy games like Settlers of Catan, to card games like Netrunner or Sushi Go!, Role Playing Games like the famous Dungeons & Dragons, and smaller indie games such as Fiasco or Dungeon World.

Aside from just plain being fun, Roberts explained that gaming has a special resonance within FIMS, particularly for the library science and media studies communities.  Games are a form of media, and as such are objects of academic and professional interest.

“For our LIS folks, there are fascinating information literacy and transfer issues around teaching and learning games.  Imparting rules of complex systems, such as strategy games, is no easy feat!” said Roberts.

“Programming with, collecting and cataloging games is another huge new area that bears consideration for our students.  From the Media Studies side, we have several students who are actively studying games and gaming.  This could include looking at particular games as object, games systems or genres or types, gaming culture, game design and so on.”

Matt WardSince the launch of the club, interest has been so strong within the Faculty that the MLIS Program Committee recently approved a new “Games in Libraries” course, to be taught (most likely by Roberts) in Spring 2016.

When Roberts first put out the call to the community about forming a club, she expected a handful of people to be interested.  Instead she got 60 responses right from the get-go.  Students, staff and faculty members were all represented in the group.

The club has also partnered with the Graduate Resource Centre in FIMS.  A collective effort has been made to significantly grow the catalogue of games in the GRC, an initiative that was helped along when Roberts reached out to game publishers and companies.  When she explained the goals of the club, they responded quite generously, donating in excess of a couple thousand dollars in free games.

“This is providing a valuable experience to GRC student employees who are interested in processing and working with the games, and have also created a collection for our Faculty community to check out and use and check out and study,” said Roberts.

Down the line, Roberts hopes to expand beyond Western and partner with community groups.  If the response in FIMS is any indication, it’s a realistic goal.  But in the meantime, she’s is hoping that more people from within FIMS will come out to experience the world of gaming.

“Anyone who has even a passing interest in finding out more about games should drop by.  There’s no expectation that a person have experience with these games, so anyone can come to learn and try them out. It’s a very welcoming and friendly group.”


Events for the Fall Term:
Every other Wednesday from 6:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. in the Grad Club Boardroom (drop-in)

FIMS Gaming Club website: