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If Garrett Olsen takes his eyes off the computer screen for one second, he could die.

It wouldn't be the first time. In fact, if you ask Garrett, who's 11, how many times he's died already, he'll give a casual response: "In this game? About a million."

It's Saturday afternoon, the middle of the fall, warm enough to play outside. But Garrett and his friend Chandler would rather be at the Folsom, Calif., Public Library, absorbed in a world of medieval knights, castles and keys - the name of the game is RuneScape.

Right now, they're talking to each other, trying to find the secret door that will take them to the next level. But they move with caution. If they open the wrong door, they'll have to start over. Again.

The boys go to the library often to play this free online game, but Nov. 14 was special because they were counted among the 31,300 people who flocked to libraries across the country for National Gaming Day. Only in its second year, the annual event sponsored by the American Library Association more than doubled its numbers from 2008. More than 1,360 libraries registered to participate, including libraries in Canada and Japan. Morocco expressed interest for next year.


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Russell Nichols  |  Staff Writer