Libraries, Pittsburgh, PA, Presentations, Technology, Video Games

THIS SATURDAY! I’ll be speaking at the Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Convention 2018

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I’m pretty excited about this. I hope you can make it. Even if you don’t wanna hear me chat about video games and libraries, attend the convention, play some great games, and make some new friends. This is my first presentation in well over a year and I am really excited to dive back into how video games, libraries, and communities can all smooooosh together and make exciting things happen.

Here is a description of my presentation:
If you’re reading this, chances are that you are attending the Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Convention, an event that brings the community of video game lovers together. You know what else brings community together? Libraries! The days of the old, quiet, and musty library are gone. Nowadays, libraries are vibrant community centers, full of life, all kinds of literature, and events for all ages. And guess what else? They have video games too! (well, at least the really good ones do). In this presentation, Librarian Justin Hoenke will share his experience about bringing video games into libraries. You’ll learn about how he created video game collections in public libraries all over the country and also how he created events that centered around gaming for all ages at the library. Gamers who are looking to take video games out into the community and do some community building should attend this event.

Follow along on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PghRetroGaming
Like and follow along on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PittsburghRetroGaming

And for those that can’t attend or for some reason look at presentation slides, well here you go:

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Libraries, Presentations, Technology, Video Games

Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Convention 2018

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I’m happy to share that I’ll be speaking at the 2018 Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Convention in Pittsburgh, PA on April 21, 2018 this year. Video games have always been a big part of who I am, and I’ve always loved bringing them into public libraries so this presentation will be a neat marriage of two things I really love. If you’re attending this convention, say hello and let’s chat about video games and libraries!

Here is a description of my presentation:
If you’re reading this, chances are that you are attending the Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Convention, an event that brings the community of video game lovers together. You know what else brings community together? Libraries! The days of the old, quiet, and musty library are gone. Nowadays, libraries are vibrant community centers, full of life, all kinds of literature, and events for all ages. And guess what else? They have video games too! (well, at least the really good ones do). In this presentation, Librarian Justin Hoenke will share his experience about bringing video games into libraries. You’ll learn about how he created video game collections in public libraries all over the country and also how he created events that centered around gaming for all ages at the library. Gamers who are looking to take video games out into the community and do some community building should attend this event.

Follow along on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PghRetroGaming
Like and follow along on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PittsburghRetroGaming

Libraries, Video Games

“Retro Gaming Gives Libraries a Boost” over at Information Today NewsBreaks

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Head on over to Information Today NewsBreaks today to read my piece on Nintendo’s NES and SNES Classic and why public libraries should be scooping these up and loaning them out to their communities….that is, if you can get your hands on one! I know I’ve been in the hunt for one, both for myself and for my library, for almost a year now. Just imagine the retro video game themed programs you could run with one of these things!

HERE YOU GO OH FRIENDS: http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Retro-Gaming-Gives-Libraries-a-Boost-122162.asp

Video Games

REVIEW: Hey! Pikmin

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If you love all things Nintendo and especially if you love things that are super cute, chances are that you love Pikmin. What isn’t there to love about these neat little space people crash landing on random planets only to find adorable and colorful plant-like creatures that help you solve puzzles?

Hey! Pikmin is the first portable version of the game as well as being the first side scrolling title in the series. While very different from Pikmin 1, 2, and 3, Hey! Pikmin still manages to capture the charm and puzzle solving that this series brings to players. Players once again control Olimar and guide him through levels as he collects Sparklium in his attempt to get enough fuel to power his ship. Each level has the player finding Pikmin and solving puzzles along the way. Unlike other entries in this series, there is no day/night cycle and the objectives are to save as many Pikmin as you can, find as much Sparklium as you can, and maybe grab 2-3 hidden objects each level. On the main map screen, there’s a neat feature called “Pikmin Park” where you can send the Pikmin you’ve found into uncharted areas to find more Sparklium as you continue your quest. It’s the adorable little things like this that makes this game so much fun.

Don’t pay attention to some of the reviews out there. While Hey! Pikmin isn’t as deep as the other games in the Pikmin series, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, I found it to be quite enjoyable. The levels are not difficult by any means, but are still interesting enough to keep you playing more.

Justin’s Rating: 8/10

Family, Libraries, Three Things, Video Games

THREE THINGS 2017.2

COMMUNITY CENTRE

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I like this a lot. I have long thought that libraries are all community centers that just happen to be called libraries because once upon a long ago our only function was to loan books and we’ve grown up a lot since then. Anywho: Te Takere Library is a library in New Zealand and while doing some research I noticed that their council calls them the Te Takere Community Centre and Library.

HOMESCHOOLING

I walked by a public school today (a really great one!) and I saw about 30 kids playing at the playground. They seemed to be in very specific groups: those playing basketball, those playing on the playground equipment, and those around the teacher. They were all nicely fenced in by a giant 12 foot tall fence (I totally understand the need for this by the way) and it hit me: I wouldn’t change our lives as homeschoolers for anything in the world. I’ll eat nothing but ramen every day for the next 10-13 years of my life and be as poor as poor can be to keep this happening. I think about the past week that we had together and what we did and it makes me happy:

  • Wrote and drew a graphic novel (Finn)
  • Created his own guitar/keytar (Aero)
  • Went to swimming lessons (Finn)
  • Visited the library twice (Finn & Aero)
  • Worked on our gardens (Finn & Aero)
  • Went on some side quests in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Finn & Aero)
  • Did some dress up and role playing (Finn & Aero)
  • Read some books (Finn & Aero)

Learning happens all the time and I love being able to live a life with Haley, Finn, and Aero where we can explore this together at our own pace. There should be more freedom in our world. There should be less schedules. There should be more curiosity.

NINTENDO SWITCH

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Even though we’ve really only been playing THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD (combined playtime for Justin+Haley+Finn=over 125 hours) we have been having a wonderful time with the system. First up, Zelda: the game is amazing, fun, and sparks great curiosity and exploration in all of us at the Hoenke house. Every time one of us plays it we have discussions about what we’re doing and who we’re encountering. We’re telling each other so many stories about what we find in the game and in turn we’re inspiring each other to try new things. Second, the Nintendo Switch system itself is glorious. At times it can feel a bit more delicate than previous Nintendo systems. The amazing thing about is the ability to take it from the TV to wherever you want without any interruption. While Finn and Aero were inside using the TV yesterday afternoon after being outside all morning I spent my time in a hammock outside playing Zelda. It was glorious.

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I wrote two articles about the Nintendo Switch for InfoToday recently and you can read those here:

Plan a Library Game Night With Nintendo’s New Console
Attention, Libraries: It’s Time to ‘Switch’ It Up

Family, Libraries, Life, Video Games

Play Video Games With Your Family

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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.

Life, Video Games

REVIEW: Animal Crossing New Leaf Welcome Amiibo

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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.