DC Public Library Visits the Gamer Family Festival

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Central Library

DC Public Library Visits the Gamer Family Festival

On Saturday, Aug. 15, Librarians Cameron and Kim visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum for the Gamer Family Festival, a whole day inspired by games in the museum’s collection. Not to be out done by event partners MAGFest (who brought multiple console stations and awesome games including Duck Hunt, Sonic & Knuckles, Super Mario World, and Starfox 64) DC Public Library came prepared with some games of our own.

Do you know what’s better than Pong? Library Pong. Using a Raspberry Pi and a MaKey MaKey, Cameron, a children’s librarian at the Southeast Neighborhood Library, programmed a DC Public Library version of the classic game, complete with a bouncing library logo.

Raspberry Pi is a small, pocket-sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or a TV that can be programmed to do anything a full size computer can do. It’s a great, low-cost device that helps people learn how to code, using languages like Scratch or Python, and dream big with what they can build. We dreamt of Library Pong and it came to life! The high score for the day was 58 -- not too shabby.

Using a MaKey MaKey, we created game controllers for Library Pong and Super Mario out of old books. MaKey MaKeys are small control boards that use electric currents to complete tasks. A series of wires connect to the control board, and anything that can carry an electric current (water, bananas, ketchup, etc.) sources the current and when connected to a ground conductor, the programmed task will happen. For our purposes, old books and No. 2 pencils did the job. Using the graphite from a pencil, we drew arrows on an old book and connected the corresponding wires. Our Player 1 served as our ground wire, and anytime she touched the graphite arrow, Mario jumped or ran through the course bopping every goomba in sight.

We also used humans as arrows. Yes, humans. Humans conduct electricity, too. For some games, we tossed the book aside and handed a wire to a person. The Player 1 grounder need only tap the skin of the human holding the “jump” wire to jump up and hit the coin box, and then touch the person holding the “forward” wire to run through the course.

Gives a new meaning to live action gaming, right? Visit our calendar to learn about our computer and tech classes, including Cameron's Coder Club for kids 8 years old and up. We also have tons of books on gaming, all of which you can find in our online catalog.