Friday, 17 February 2012

Feature Friday: Video Games Are More Creative Than Reading

"Video games are more creative than reading" [source]

Katamari Damacy is definitely creative!
Or at least so say award-winning playwright Lucy Prebble and this has caused more than a few people to be aghast by such a notion. But why? Prebble believes that video games are more creative because you are more involved in them than you are with books or watching films. She also believes that gaming is an artform, just like theatre.

I can understand that view because in some ways you are passive when reading because you're not controlling the characters or the stories whereas with games you are, some more than others. However at the same time when you are reading you have to imagine the world and characters, whereas with games that is all done for you. One thing they both have in common is that you need to remember what's happened before you paused or put the book down so that you can continue onwards and you also have to invest in the story and characters so that you can get something out of it.

I've heard some people claim that books are obviously better because you get an emotional response from them, where as you don't with games. That's just silly. I can think of more games that have made me laugh than books. I can also think of more films that have made me cry than books. But that doesn't make one better than the other. I still love books because they are a solitary thing whereas games and films are more of a shared experience.

Lucy Prebble from: The Guardian
I doubt that Prebble meant to upset anyone with her comments. She's a writer herself so she obviously loves the written word, but she also loves games and there is nothing wrong with that.

I do agree with one comment she made. I do think that a lot of parents fear that if their kids get into video games then they'll become pasty little fatties who grunt very so often when they want more crisps or coke and only talk online to their fellow gamers. But seriously, that's just ridiculous and if you're even a semi-decent parent you don't have anything to fear. Just tell them to turn it off and shove them out the front door every so often to go play in the park. It's not like reading a book can make you lose weight either, you're still sitting around and not talking to anyone, yet we would rather our kids read.

You can have both. I adore books and I adore video games too. We own all the current generation consoles as well as a lot of older and retro consoles too. We have hundreds of games. I watch TV a lot, films a lot and play a game for a few hours every day or so. But I also read every night before I go to bed. I also go outside and I'm certainly not a pasty little fatty...although I am pretty pale.

This is one of those cases where you really can have it all. Games are fun and creative outlets and they can be social too, books are fun and creative, films are fun and creative. At the end of the day it's about how you use these things. If you're just staring blankly at the screen and going through the motions like a robot then no, it's not good. But the same can happen if you're reading a really boring book, you won't take anything in.

I love that Prebble has such positive things to say about video games, we need more people to stand up and reassure parents that their kids will be fine if they play games, as long as they're still good parents. My only issue is that by saying such a thing you are potentially pushing kids away from books and that's not a good thing. We all need to read more, stories are a huge part of our culture and history, there are so many ways to experience them so why not try and find as many ways to do that as possible? 

The Great Gatsby, also a NES game!


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