My son Finn turned 8 on January 17 and one of his gifts was his very own copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. My wife Haley and I have been playing the game for over three years and haven’t stopped enjoying it. In those three years, Finn has created his own character in each of our towns and dabbled in the game here and there. As he got older and started learning how to read, one of the things we told him was that he could get his own copy of the game. His eighth birthday seemed like the perfect time to get him his own copy: he’s a pretty great reader, he’s got his own Nintendo 2DS, and it just felt right. We snagged him a copy of the new Animal Crossing: New Leaf Welcome Amiibo game and last night dove into starting up a new town for Finn.
He decided to call his town “Finntopia” and that his in game character would be known as Finnix because “I just like the letter X.” We cozied up on the couch as a family (minus his younger brother Aero, as he went to bed and this was a special Mom/Dad/Finn night) and helped him through the setup process of getting into his own town, finding where to put his house, and more.
Once all of the setup was complete, Finn opened his town gates and invited Haley and I into his town. It was like the “Mom and Dad, I’d like to invite you to my first apartment/home” moment, but this time it was when he was 8 and it was in Animal Crossing. He showed us around his town, pointed out that he had some pear trees, and introduced us to some of his villagers. We then headed back to the train station but before we left did the parent thing and left him with some gifts and money to help him start his new life in Finntopia.
After playing for about an hour, it was 10pm and we told Finn we were getting tired. He said he was getting tired too. But he had a glow on his face that I will never forget: he finally got his own Animal Crossing town and he also got to spend some time with his parents playing video games. It was a great night where we all got a chance to enjoy something fun, learn something together, and best yet….hang out as a family.
Video games can be awesome family and community building tools!
I’ve written about how fun, learning, and community can happen during gaming in the past. You can read all of those here or head on over to Medium and read this collection on Nintendo games.
PAST YEARS: 2015, 2014, 2013
Let’s get it out of the way before we jump into everything: 2016 wasn’t a great year for most of us and there are way too many reasons out there to put here into this blog so I’m not gonna do that. Let’s try something else, something that we all remember from way back in 2014-2015: positivity.
At the time of this writing, I have successfully arisen from my slumber on 337 out of the 366 days in 2016. I’ve spent most of the time I have been awake during those 337 days doing two things: spending it with my family or working for my community. I don’t have a fancy photo or some numbers to show you to back this up. I can just promise you that my family, our home, and the Benson Memorial Library continue to exist, thrive, and go about doing things that have a positive impact on the world. It’s the only thing that we know how to do.
I have enjoyed listening to all kinds of music. I’ve played so much Animal Crossing: New Leaf. I’ve got to watch some great films. I can’t recall what their titles were but they were enjoyable in the moment.
I did eat way too much food and I didn’t go on enough walks. I am going to do my best to fix that in 2017.
I really enjoyed meeting lots of new people this year as I did some traveling. I think traveling is the best…you get a chance to connect with people you have never met before, and in doing so your world grows and you grow as a person. I never want to stop growing and being a better Justin. I think that’s where my recent obsession with cyborgs comes from. Cyborgs can upgrade and change. I’ve been trying to figure out a way that I can do that myself as a human being. I think I’ve got it!
Goodbye to you 2016. I can’t think of a better way to say au revoir than Bowie’s Lazarus.
This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me
Originally released in 2013 (2012 in Japan), the Nintendo 3DS version of the popular franchise gets an update…3 years after it was released. I have to admit I was thrown off a bit when this update was announced, but as a very avid Animal Crossing: New Leaf fan I was so excited that I jumped out of my pants.
You can read all about the improvements made in the update by clicking on this sentence. While I do really enjoy the added Amiibo compatibility, my favorite part are the added items and the MEOW coupons, which reward you daily for accomplishing tasks around your town. I was already visiting my town daily to shake trees, collect fruit, and more, and with this update it gives me even more of a reason to say hello to my townspeople. The new and returning characters are just as you’d expect from any character in the Animal Crossing series…adorable and instantly loveable. They fit really well into the world of Animal Crossing and I look forward to seeing them in my town everyday.
Anyone who is a fan of the Animal Crossing series will love this update. It packs so much more into a game that was already full of great joy. New Leaf is the pinnacle of the series so far and I am curious to see where Nintendo takes this game when their new system comes out in March 2017. In my opinion, it would be hard to improve on this amazing gem of a game but I’ve been surprised before.
It is hard to place these in order listing my favorites at the top, so this is instead a list of great video games that are some of the best ever created. Totally pay attention to numbers 1-10 on the list though!
Image by Raina Telgemeier. Used with her permission because she’s really nice like that.
- Animal Crossing New Leaf
- Zelda: A Link to the Past
- Super Mario 64
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
- Super Mario Maker
- Shining Force
- The Legend of Zelda
- Super Mario Bros. 3
- Super Mario World
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- Shining Force II
- Super Mario Galaxy
- Super Metroid
- Kickle Cubicle
- Metal Gear Solid
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Resident Evil 4
- Mario Kart 8
- GoldenEye 007
- Chrono Trigger
- Final Fantasy VI (aka Final Fantasy III)
- Mega Man X
- Super Mario Bros.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
- Resident Evil 2
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
- Final Fantasy VII
- Super Smash Bros. Wii U
- Super Mario Galaxy 2
- Final Fantasy Tactics
- Tetris (NES version)
- Clash at Demonhead
- North VS South
- Sim City (Super Nintendo version)
- NHL 94-98 (Sega Genesis versions)
- Super Mario Bros. 2
- Panzeer Dragoon II
- Dragon Force
- Mortal Kombat (series)
- Street Fighter II Turbo
- Street Fighter III
- Marvel vs Capcom 2
- Aerobiz (Super Nintendo version)
- The Simpsons/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/X-Men (arcade game)
1. I am currently in the Atlanta airport on my way to Pittsburgh, PA for my first ever “I’m doing the business travel thing but I’m business traveling to my hometown” experience! I will be taking part in the Supporting Making in Museum and Library meeting happening in Pittsburgh, PA. I am honored to be a part of this! Late last year, I met Peter Wardrip & Lisa Brahms from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and gave them a tour of the 2nd and 4th Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library. It was great to share ideas with them back then and I am looking forward to sharing more with them and many others over the next few days. The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh was one of my big inspirations when I started on the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library. It’s neat that I get the chance to go back to that same place and learn and share more ideas. Here are some photos I took the last time I was there.
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh in cooperation with the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) have launched a field-wide initiative to better understand, advance, support, and connect makerspaces in museums and libraries. This project, in partnership with Maker Education Initiative, Chicago Public Library, the Exploratorium and North Carolina State University Library is holding a convening to advance our efforts in supporting learning in these space and programs.
2. I can’t wait till Megan Emery blogs more about her ideas on libraries, programming, parallel programming, volunteers, and more. I guess this is kind of my nudge to get her to write about those things! Ha! Seriously though, Megan is (IMHO) doing the best work in public libraries at this moment. From Camp EtsyNooga to linking programming between Chattanooga Public Library’s 2nd and 4th Floor to writing a book on library programming, everything Megan is doing is inspiring and community first. Go ahead and think that I’m a bit biased because I work pretty closely with Megan…you’re right, I do work pretty closely with Megan. But read about her programs and ideas and you’ll see what I mean. Go Megan go.
3. I am currently on the sixth dungeon in The Legend of Zelda. This time around I am playing it on my 3DS in little moments of inspiration. I almost forgot how good this game is. I find the grinding aspect of the game to be quite rewarding. I haven’t played a game where I need to dedicate a good chunk of my time to getting rupees and preparing for my next adventure in such a long time. If you haven’t played this game in awhile and are looking for something to do, pick up a 3DS and buy it for a few bucks on the Nintendo eShop. You’ll find yourself quite happy!
First and foremost, a big thank you to Casey Phillips of the Chattanooga Times Free Press for chatting with me and my son Finn about video games.
Read the full article here: Calm, cool, connected: Study suggests an hour of video games a day makes kids better-adjusted
I remember getting my Nintendo Entertainment System all set up for the first time when I was 7 years old. I had Super Mario Bros, Duckhunt, Mighty Bomb Jack, and Trojan as the lineup of for my first set of games. I remember playing them endlessly while I dreamed about the characters, settings, and wondering just how did they make those games? They opened my mind and I was forever changed. Video games gave me something to think, dream, and learn about. A good portion of my youth was spent studying anything gaming related in the gaming magazines of the time. I became a walking, talking pre-Wikipedia for video games.
Fast forward to today. I’ve been pretty successful in getting video games into libraries. Kids, Tweens, and Teens are playing video games together in libraries in pseudo 80’s arcade-like settings and they are connecting with each other and creating community. Friendships are being made over Minecraft, Mario Kart, and more. When I go home, my son Finn and I will sometimes fire up the Wii U. We talk about who gets to use the Wii U gamepad (it’s a pretty coveted thing) and then we talk about the adventure we want to go on. Sometimes it’s Mario Kart, sometimes it’s Lego Star Wars, and sometimes it’s Super Mario 3D World. It doesn’t matter what game we play because the end result is the same: we play, we talk, we laugh, and we share. We fill our heads with amazing adventures. When we’re not playing games, we’re sometimes re-enacting those adventures in the front yard.
Video games are amazing.