Friday, February 21, 2014

Video Games and Literature It could happen

Do you worry about your child's brain melting away from their love of video games replacing that space that used to be filled by classic literature?  This does not have to be the case.

Today I read an article that asked the question "What if our favorite characters from literature played video games.  What video games would they play?"


This is a great way to talk with your kids  about great books.  You could also take it the other direction and ask your kids about their favorite video game character and ask them what book do you think they would read?  What book would Mario read in his spare time?

When my kids were younger and they wanted to buy a new video game they were asked to write a minimum of 200 words about that video game.  The idea was that they had to convince me in writing that this game would be worthwhile.  In general, we always ended up buying the game but this this process accomplished a couple of things.  It made my kids think about the value of the game that "everyone" was playing.  It also made them take an extra day before we purchased it which ensured it wasn't just an impulse buy.

The other thing we discovered together was that there is a connection with great literature and some video games.  The book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad was the basis for the video game Spec Ops. (This game is rate M by the ESRB and truly is only appropriate for Mature gamers).

As my boys were growing up I would require that they balance their video game time with reading time and physical activity.  They could select books that they were interested in but they were also asked to read a book from the "classic" column every now and then too.  One of those books that they selected from the Classic category was Beowulf.  When I read Beowulf as a high school student I trudged through it.  It was a painful read.  My boys powered through it and they LOVED it.  To them the characters came alive.  For them, they were reading this classic from the eyes of great video game characters.  They could see each battle vividly as though it was being played out from a first person shooter perspective.

So when you begin to worry about your child losing critical thinking skills because of their love of video games don't take the game away from them.  Instead, help them think about the themes of the game they are playing and help them find ways to make a literary connection with their favorite game.

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