Library Video Game Tournaments

Hi, friends! Have you ever thought about hosting a video game tournament in your school library? I hadn’t, until Karina Quilantan shared this great guest blog post with me. You may remember that she wrote another guest blog post about Using Social Media to Advocate for Your Library. Read on to learn more about bringing eSports into your media center!

video game controller

“Video games in the library? I thought libraries were just for books.” 

If you’re an experienced video gamer, chances are you’ve already heard of electronic sports, also known as eSports. If you’re new to gaming and are wondering what the eSport craze is all about, you are not alone. eSports has taken the world by storm and what used to be considered “a waste of time” is now becoming one of the most lucrative businesses of the 21st century. Students can now get full scholarships from offering universities because of their video game talents and others are raking in thousands of dollars just for streaming their video game play on various platforms. Where was that kind of motivation when I was playing PacMan at the arcade?

I recently hosted a Super Smash Bros tournament in my library and its success inspired me to continue this tradition. If you are interested in hosting a tournament at your library, but feel completely overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, I have a few tips that helped me overcome the same feeling.

Game Plan

  1. Start small and seek out student gamers who own a Nintendo Switch and collaborative video games such as Super Smash Bros Ultimate or Super Mario Kart. Let students take on leadership roles and help you create a video game club that you can invite during lunch or after school to play the chosen video game. Trust me when I say that word will spread FAST and you will have interested gamers lining up outside the library just to see what the hype is all about!
  2. After you’ve established your club, discuss a plan of action for your upcoming tournament. Create fliers, make announcements, post on social media, and set rules for sportsmanship and game play, and tournament prizes. Your gamers will have a lot of input on this because they’re experienced enough to foresee potential problems that an inexperienced gamer might have overlooked. For example, my students asked if I had all the characters, if we were using items, and if Kirby was banned. I assigned a student who was well-versed in tourneys as our Smash Game Warden. Turns out, yes, I had all the characters (thanks to my husband), we decided on no items since items are things that characters can use and throw during gameplay, and we banned Kirby after we took a vote.
  3. Familiarize yourself with different types of controllers that may make an appearance at your tournament such as those in the image below. Make sure you have all necessary cables and inputs. If you use the Nintendo Switch, make sure you have the Nintendo Switch, controllers (students will often bring their own that they can sync), the charging dock, necessary adapters, and an HDMI cable that will allow you to connect to your screen or monitor.Nintendo video game controllers
  4. Before hosting your tournament, I would suggest that you have interested players add their names and characters in the tournament brackets. This saves a lot of time and helps the tournament run smoothly. text
  5. Let the kids lead the way! Remember that this type of event and gaming opportunity is meant to be fun and not at all stressful. Your students will help you every step of the way. My gamers had a fun time teaching me new video game tricks, gaming jargon, and ideas on how to promote the event. Our libraries should aim to be student-centered and what better way to align our vision with 21st century skills than letting students take charge of their own learning and programming?

More Resources for your Library Video Game Tournament

If you are interested in hosting a tournament at your library and feel a little out of the loop on how to navigate the Nintendo Switch, you can check out my Wakelet collection with additional resources I referenced often before I hosted the tourney. 

Don’t forget to have fun and if you need a helping hand with running your first tournament, don’t be afraid to reach out! Until next time, gaming librarians!

Karina Quilantan

Karina Quilantan, or Mrs. Q. as her students like to call her, has been an educator for ten years. She is currently a middle school library media specialist in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. She loves her rescue dogs, playing Magic the Gathering with her husband, reading to her son, and everything nerdy. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @cuethelibrarian. She also maintains a blog,, with her current reads, favorite tech, presentations, and more.

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