Video Game Club (VGC) is a club that meets biweekly in the library, with 60 members who show up at various times. We let the students pick the games they play, as long as they are pre-approved by myself or the other librarian.
The goals of VGC are to build a community and great friendships out of the love of video gaming. This club came about as a discussion with two student video game enthusiasts. They knew many kids who wanted to participate and planned to spread the news via word of mouth. They also agreed to bring in their own consoles. We announced the program via school announcements for a week before our first meeting, and 60 kids showed up the first day!
The only challenges were kids wanting to bring in unapproved games that were too mature for some participants. All games must be pre-approved by librarians for content. I check the content and appropriateness of the games with Common Sense Media  and with other gamers before approving it. Cartoon violence is tolerated, but games with realistic violence, blood and partial nudity are not. We do not want games that might trigger some of the more emotional teens.
Currently, the games that are usually played are Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart and Dragon Ball Z.
Prior to the first meeting, posters were hung all over Maine West High School. (View a poster under Attachments at right.) Announcements were made every day for a week before our first meeting.
There is no budget for the club. We collected funds for a pizza party from club members; that was the only time we collected money.
However, there is talk of collecting money to buy new games in the future, and the library is currently working on getting our own game console to make things a little more consistent. At the moment, the games and video game consoles are the property of Maine West students.
Set-up involves a student bringing in a video game console and game(s) the morning of our meeting.
At the meeting time, one staff member sets up a cart with a projector, pulls down a screen and connects the console with an HDMI cord. I take a quick roll call and then playing begins.
The teens decide who plays first and then proceed to play in a tournament style. Everyone is very patient while they wait for their turn. Those who aren't playing are actively watching each other play, cheering the players on, talking strategy or discussing games with each other.
Our club runs for an hour, including 30 minutes after the library is closed.
At our first meeting, 60 students showed up and excitement was very high for the group. Since then, our numbers have gone down due to other clubs, school and work responsibilities taking precedence. About 10 to 15 students show up at every meeting now. There is a demand for "edgier" games, but we cannot do this since some students may be more sensitive to violent scenarios than others.
As a result of the club, friendships have been formed in and out of school. We have a place for students to discuss games and strategy, and hope that friendships will form out of common interests.
My advice is to let students take ownership of the club. Organization, execution, marketing and game selection should happen with student input whenever possible. We want them to be responsible and proud of their work and accomplishments.
About This Library
Maine West High School is located in Des Plaines, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. The school has a diverse student population of 2,300. The library staff consists of librarians Nicole Coover-Thompson and Geoffrey Greenberg and administrative assistant, Ellen Brannan. In 1996, they were recognized as the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and Follett Library Resources' National School Library Media Program of the Year.