Video games are the death knell of intelligence and are turning kids’ brains into pudding.
That’s the “prevailing wisdom”, right?
Maybe, but recently I’ve been seeing it in a slightly different light. The kids and teens I work with daily have a very different way of perceiving what they’re doing when they sit down at the computer to play Minecraft or World of ‘whatever it is today’. They feel like they’re building something or living in the story. I recently had a conversation with a teen about Halo. He explained that it the story that draws you in, not just the action and graphics. His whole description sounded like a book review, not a game at all. He told me the entire story line! We actually got into the conversation in the first place because he was asking for books about the Halo story. Another teen that I see at school, who has NEVER asked me for a book, asked me recently for a translation of a Russian book called Metro 2033, that is apparently the back story for an online immersive game that he plays. And yes, I found this rather obscure book and obtained it for him to his great surprise and awe because I am a rockin’ librarian! And guess what? HE READ IT! Wow!
I heard a piece on NPR a couple of weeks ago with a neurologist who was talking about the kinds of connections that take place in the brain when people have to interpret photo data as opposed to interpreting symbols in the form of letters (reading). It turns out that science says both skills are essential and very human. Each type of activity involves a complementary part of the brain and leads to stronger connections in both areas. How interesting is that? In addition, they have found that the active screen time devoted to video games is not the same as the passive screen time of TV watching and is not harmful, but is actually somewhat beneficial.
So, I am beginning to see the value in “stories” told in this more interactive format.
And stories are what libraries are all about.