Suffolk Public Library provides safe fun for adult gamers

Published 10:00 am Sunday, March 17, 2024

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Along with providing a safe space for parents and families, Suffolk Public Library is providing a safe space for gamers. “Come Hit Some Buttons: Adult Gaming After Hours” is one of SPL’s programs aimed at connecting video game fans with each other, with “Buttons” aimed at giving adults an opportunity to connect and bond over their favorite video games. Attendees can expect titles such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and much more.

During their Friday, Jan. 26 outing at the North Suffolk Library, SPL Library Services Coordinator Kelvin Ellis talked about how he created the program to help appeal to an “unheard” audience. 

“I actually live in Virginia Beach. In Virginia Beach, they have a lot of local community gaming stuff and when I came to Suffolk, I didn’t really see anything,” Ellis said. “I don’t have the bandwidth to do [this] on a weekly basis, we can only do it once a month, but still it’s something that I really wanted to try to give to the community as an opportunity to come to. If they wanted to.”

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Ellis talked about discovering the hobby overall, reflecting on his older brother playing Super Mario World when they were both very young.

“I remember, there’s a photo of me holding a Super Nintendo controller next to him, and at that time of the picture I couldn’t really speak. And that’s literally how I started getting into video games, just by watching him, and the rest is history,” he said.

Ellis also talked about the negative perception that video games and gamers receive, notably from the older generation.

“One of the things that people don’t realize is that for the younger generation that plays video games and how they play online, and they have that community whether it be through Discord, whatever it be through the communities that they create while playing their video games and such, the older generation still has that need for community with their gaming. I think it’s one of those things that I think gets lost at the wayside,” Ellis said. “There used to be arcades all the time and then they got completely decimated with the rise of [home] console gaming, but people still played on the couch next to each other.”

Ellis continued, reflecting on the positivity video games have brought in his own life.

“I’ve got a lot of good memories of that growing up. It’s one of the driving factors of why we created this is to make sure we have a space for people to be able to still have that community aspect while sharing it,” he said. “For me personally, I made some of my best friends, some of my best friends, playing video games, just sitting down on the couch next to them playing some of the stuff that we just like. I’m grateful for it.”

Ellis also talked about how games can provide learning opportunities for individuals. 

“You can learn a lot of comprehension problem solving, you can learn how to read better if they have a heavy text video game… So, I think the negative perception that we get… is that they’re ‘lazy,’ sometimes they’re a little ‘crude’ and the community that they’re centered around is kind of ‘toxic.’ That’s not always the case,” he said. “Sometimes people are just looking to be near somebody and just like if you go to a bar, just like if you anywhere else like a sporting event, you’re going to see people from all different kinds of walks of life, but they have this common ground. Same thing with gamers.”

Ellis detailed SPL’s other gaming programs, with “Game On! Drop-In Family Video Games” at the Morgan Memorial Library designed for families while “SPL Arcade” at the North Suffolk Library being specifically for teenagers. Likewise, SPL will be holding their 8th annual IconiCon on Saturday, April 27 and will include a Super Smash Bros Tournament among other activities for different fandoms. Finally, when asked what his favorite game was, Ellis ended with this:

“My favorite game is Kirby Super Star,” Ellis enthusiastically said. “1996? I don’t remember the year, but Kirby Super Star, that’s my stuff right there!”

“Come Hit Some Buttons: Adult Gaming After Hours” will be held on Friday, March 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. at North Suffolk Library, located at 2000 Bennetts Creek Park Rd. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. with the last entrance at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, go to or call 757-514-7150.