Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Game of Gnomes, a fun way to get teens involved in tabletop games at the library

I do a lot of test driving games and program ideas at my home using my pre-teen and teenage daughter and their friends as test subjects. I’ve come to think of my time with them as sort of a Programming Test Kitchen. We’ve done dry runs of a lot of programming ideas to determine if they would work and what we would need to turn a craft of DIY project into a library program. We’ve also tried out a lot of games like Exploding Kittens and Ultimate Werewolf, which I have blogged about here.

We recently, on a whim, took our game testing to a whole new level and developed what we have called the Game of Gnomes. Each week we get together and plays games and the winner for the week gets to take home this custom made Game of Gnomes trophy that you see above. They bring it back the next week and have to defend their title. They either win and get to take it home again or a new winner gets to take the trophy home for the week.

I can not even begin to tell you how much everyone loves this! We’ve been doing this for a little over a month and every week there is a fierce but fun battle for the Gnome Trophy. We also take a picture of the winner with the trophy and post it in our secret Facebook group. Bragging rights for the win!

I’ve been doing programming for a long time and I’m here to tell you that this is a great way to get teens coming back for gaming. One caveat I will say is that I have worked with enough librarians to know that some of you are already thinking, “what if they don’t bring the trophy back?”. Well the answer to that fear is to create a Game of Gnomes wall or online gallery and post a picture of that weeks winner with the trophy so that the trophy never leaves the building.

Some of the games we include in our rotation are:

  • Spoons (very popular)
  • Exploding Kittens
  • Uno
  • Avocado Smash
  • Banagrams
  • Qwixt

We don’t always play the same game but we do vote on what game we play for the event. Game receiving the majority vote wins. And then we play.

I haven’t gotten to keep the trophy myself yet, but my time is coming. I can feel it.

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