Author Says Video Games Are Better Than Reading


Grownups of a certain age sometimes have a less than charitable view of video game enthusiasts, known colloquially as ‘gamers’ these days. We’re familiar with the caricatures: gamers are lazy, socially awkward, junk food-obsessed, only conversant in ‘geek’ and basically look like Hurley from Lost.

While that cliched description may be true of some–is certain to be true of some, let’s be honest–it doesn’t mean that real life gamers are any more inclined to slack and lounge around than, say, readers are.

And some, like British author Lucy Prebble, even argue that playing video games is a better hobby for your kids if they’re going to be sedentary anyway. (Prebble wrote the ITV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl and the play Enron.)

She writes that “the idea of raising a chubby automaton who spends all day shooting people in the head while calling for more Doritos,” is what scares a lot of parents. “Never mind that no one ever lost any weight reading, the holy grail of youthful hobbies.”

Prebble goes on to point out that the Xbox Kinect and other new accessories can make gaming a physical activity, where the human body is used as the controller.

You’ve probably seen commercials for products like the Kinect, where friends and happy families are shown shimmying and flailing in front of their TVs, apparently having the time of their lives.

According to an article in The Telegraph, Prebble argues that video games give users an opportunity to influence the story and even design the world in which the game is played. She says that games demand more of players than movies, television or even books ask of the people who consume those older forms of media.

The author also says that video game design should be viewed as an art form and deserves praise for the way it engages the player competitively, creatively and socially.

In The Observer, Ms. Prebble wrote that she became addicted to video games after playing a text-based DOS classic called Zork. Growing up, she said that her father, an IT professional, trained her siblings in computer programming, and that gaming became one of their family’s shared activities. She fondly recalls everyone gathered around the computer taking turns playing or helping each other with a game’s more challenging aspects.

Video games have also been targeted by critics who feel that anti-social behavior may be triggered when kids play the more violent ones online for hours on end.

But Lucy Prebble doesn’t buy into this line of thinking either. She says that it is insulting to those who’ve experienced real violence and warfare to suggest that people, even young people, will have trouble distinguishing between reality and the fact that they’re just playing a game. She says millions happily play these games–casually or obsessively–without ever acting out in real life.

So the next time you observe your little ones sitting 3 feet from the TV screen shooting their best friends’ avatars in the head, don’t panic. At least right away. After all, according to author Lucy Prebble, their favorite hobby isn’t likely to lead to mayhem.

Offscreen, anyway.

Talk To Us! Do you allow you kids to play online video games on school nights? Do you ever play with them?



Image Source: Young Blood NYC