CLEVELAND, Ohio — Libraries aren’t just for avid readers, but also avid gamers.
The Cleveland Public Library is bringing back CPL Play — its gaming and esports program — for all to enjoy this summer.
The virtual events will be hosted on the library’s Twitch channel every other Saturday from 2-6 p.m. Audiovisual and Event Planning Specialist Tristan Wheeler said he’s excited to bring these events back because everyone needs a sense of community now more than ever before.
“Those teenagers kind of lost a sense of community that they had,” said Wheeler. “Different students from different schools would actually gather together and, you know, really like build new friendships and, you know, be together for like, you know, a few hours every day. And so in this case, I just thought, how can we bring all of those people back together in some kind of way, even at a distance.”
Wheeler said eventually he hopes to make these virtual gatherings about more than just gaming.
“So, hopefully as we continue to do these events, we just open up people's curiosity, curiosity in their wonder about other people around the world. We're hoping that in the coming weeks, we'll be able to bring guests on who can actually talk about their stories, their businesses and things like that,” Wheeler said. “So, we definitely want to continue those types of conversations so that everyone who might have any kind of interest and not just video games, but the world of technology and things like that, where they can learn more about what people in Cleveland are doing in that field.”
High school students and brothers Marquise and Vondel Campbell said the library is like a second home to them. They are looking forward to reconnecting with friends they haven't been able to see because of the pandemic.
“We have our personal group of friends that we do still chat with and play games with, but most of the people that we play with at the library we don’t usually see otherwise, only at the library, so with events like this we can recommune and keep in contact,” said Vondel Campbell.
Wheeler said libraries and gaming share a similar philosophy of being diverse and inclusive -- inviting people of all genders and ages to come together. Avid gamer or not, he hopes these CPL Play events are a space for anyone to connect with the community and relieve stress during these uncertain times.
“There's an element of isolation that many people are going through as well that maybe isn't spoken about as much. And so, you know, we want to be sure that we play our part as a community to say, hey, you know, we still, we miss you and we know we do want you to be a part of this,” Wheeler said.
To watch the games live, go to Cleveland Public Library’s website, type “esports” in the search bar, and follow the links.