October 6, 2008

Using Video Games to Bait Newspaper Readers

Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers

“Mr. Bagley, now a senior, was so addicted that he sometimes abandoned friends in the dining hall to return to the game. But the story was never the attraction. Both the narrative and the characters, he said, were too simplistic, and he gave up “World of Warcraft” in his sophomore year.

Video games, said Mr. Bagley, 21, ‘certainly don’t have the same degree of emotional and intellectual complexity of a book.’

Some people argue that video games are an emerging medium likely to undergo an evolution. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if, in 10 or 20 years, video games are creating fictional universes which are every bit as complex as the world of fiction of Dickens or Dostoevsky,’ said Jay Parini, a writer who teaches English at Middlebury College.” [New York Times]

I’m disappointed in this article, not because it isn’t a “rah rah, video games are great” piece, but because I don’t think it reflects what would have come from eight months of research, which is how long the author spent on it. Several librarians, including me, have talked with the reporter since January, and I think we all expected something a little deeper, regardless of the viewpoints expressed. The excerpt above is indicative of the back-and-forth, “one said good, the other said bad” piece. I don’t think this article adds anything new to the debate, and I expected a series titled “The Future of Reading” from the New York Times to offer something more in-depth.

In the end, I think this article is a rorschach test for how the reader feels about video games. If you’re against them, you probably feel like this article validates your objections. If you think video games are okay (or even beneficial), you can also find quotes to support that perspective. Certainly the comments get interesting and continue the “good versus bad” debate, but I keep wondering when we’re going to get past extremes in this discussion in order to figure out how to integrate a format that is clearly here to stay into our kids’ media diet (and into our libraries) in a balanced way.


10:40 pm Comments (7)

7 Comments

  1. I would guess that video games equaled the complexity of Dickens and Dostoevsky quite a while ago whether that complexity is measures in plot twists, characters, symbolism, or just plain ideas. True, not every video game reaches that complexity, but neither does every book.

    Comment by Jon Gorman — October 7, 2008 @ 7:11 am

  2. That’s also part of my concern about extremes in this discussion. Comparing Dostoevsky to DDR is like comparing Danielle Steel to BioShock – neither is fair.

    Comment by jenny — October 7, 2008 @ 8:10 am

  3. […] Using Video <b>Games</b> to Bait Newspaper Readers […]

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  4. I enjoyed the thoughts you left over at the NYT site – great comment!

    Comment by Andy — October 8, 2008 @ 2:09 pm

  5. […] 6. Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers (New York Times) Reaction from Jenny Levine […]

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  6. […] artikel waar zowel de voor- en tegenstanders van gaming zich in kunnen vinden. Jenny Levine zegt in haar reactie op het artikel dat zij teleurgesteld is in de uitkomst van 8 maanden onderzoek, dat is de tijd die de auteur er […]

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  7. It certainly doesn’t compare to “Online, R U Really Reading?” which I thought had some good pros on the Internet age and what it’s doing to/for children and teens.

    Comment by Liz — October 21, 2008 @ 9:10 am

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