Bald + Piercings + Video Games = Psychopathic Charlie Brown?
Yes, video games have been painted with red warning flags in recent news, but really, it's a familiar gauntlet that every new form of entertainment (books, film, music) has had to go through. I was actually quite surprised/pleased when I came across an article in The New Yorker titled "Brain Candy" that argues for the intellectual benefits of video games. Here are a couple of nice quotes:
- Most of the people who denounce video games, he says, haven’t actually played them—at least, not recently. Twenty years ago, games like Tetris or Pac-Man were simple exercises in motor coordination and pattern recognition. Today’s games belong to another realm. Johnson points out that one of the “walk-throughs” for “Grand Theft Auto III”—that is, the informal guides that break down the games and help players navigate their complexities—is fifty-three thousand words long, about the length of his book. The contemporary video game involves a fully realized imaginary world, dense with detail and levels of complexity.
The point is that books and video games represent two very different kinds of learning. When you read a biology textbook, the content of what you read is what matters. Reading is a form of explicit learning. When you play a video game, the value is in how it makes you think. Video games are an example of collateral learning, which is no less important.