‘Imagine video games were invented before books’

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I have been reading the book ‘Everything bad is good for you’ by Steven Johnson.  There is an interesting section in the book (page 19 onwards) where Steven Johnson compares video games to books.  He asks you to imagine a parallel universe where children have been playing video games for centuries and where books or ‘page bound texts’ as they are described come along and suddenly they are all the rage.

Books are described as;

  • “Chronically under stimulating the senses unlike the long standing tradition of game playing”
  • “Barren strings of words on the page”
  • “Small portion of the brain used, due to devoting written language”
  • “Books are tragically isolating, socially interactive”
  • “Books are discriminatory cruelly taunting the 10 million Americans who suffer from dyslexia, a condition that only exists within printed text.”
  • “Most dangerously books follow a linear path. You can’t control the narratives, simply sit back and have the story dictated”
  • “The risk of installing a general passitivity in our children. Making them feel as though they are powerless to change the circumstances”
  • “Reading is not an active participatory process it is a submissive one.  The book readers of the younger generation are learning to ‘follow the plot’ instead of learning to lead.”

The statements above are extreme and I want to point out I do not agree as I am a huge fan of books.  However, I thought this was excellent reading and thought provoking; it really highlighted to me the level of acceptance that is required before learning methods are accepted and mainstreamed.

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