I was listening to the radio one night when the host said, less than 1% of persons under the age of 29 read novels anymore. She mentioned two other statistics, only 50% of students know who Adolf Hitler was and just 2% know that the American Civil war took place during the second half of the 1800s. She went on to blame playing mindless video games as the culprit to the demise of education. This got me angry. Lumping all video games into the mindless category is unfair to the industry and gamers. I can see how some games can be considered mindless, but the majority requires much more interaction and mind power than just reading.
Let us examine the characteristics of a book:
- Top notch literature
- Can be fact based
- Improves reading and writing skills
Now let us examine the characteristics of some video games
- Top notch literature in games, such as The Witcher and Planescape Torment
- Can have accurate historical elements in games, such as Civilization and Europa Universalis III
- Reading a novel or reading an excellent BIOWARE story; what is the difference?
- Not only are Video Games Entertaining, but they are interactive.
Above and beyond a book
- Massive Multiplayer elements of video games provokes social interaction, teamwork, and healthy competition
- Strategy games offer a Chess on crack experience. Who would frown upon one playing chess?
- First Person Shooters are cinematic enjoyment and develop hand and eye coordination.
- Almost all games contain statistical analysis, problem solving, and trial and error.
Do not get me wrong, reading novels is an ideal way to spend your free time, but like gaming every form of entertainment should be done in moderation. Now the great thing about sites like GamerTales is that it is the best of both worlds. Members post their imaginative creations and visitors enjoy the written word, all within their favorite gaming universe. I wonder if those ignorant of gaming benefits would lighten up if every kid spent 15 minutes per gaming hour writing something to post on Fan Fiction sites. The child would be able to enjoy 1.5 hours playing World of Warcraft, and a half hour writing about something they enjoy. This would allocate some time to develop creativity and writing skills along with the benefits above.