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Joystiq presents

Ace Attorney cited as evidence against games as the enemy of reading

The Mirror recently posted an article positing games as the reason for a decline in reading. The "research" seemed to indicate that because a rise in video game playing was taking place at the same time as a perceived drop in reading time. But what if ... you read while playing? Like you do in every video game?

In a Guardian blog entry, Trigger Happy author Stephen Poole discusses exactly that. You guys are aware of this, having actually played a video game (unlike most of the game "experts" that the mainstream media listens to) but games have lots of words in them. One specific example: the Phoenix Wright games, each of which "contains at least as much text as your average children's novel." For that matter, they are novels. Does reading not count when it's done on a screen? If anything, you're constantly tested on the information you've just read, meaning that a game like Phoenix Wright could significantly help with reading skill. If the games weren't about murders, that is. They aren't appropriate for the earliest readers, let's say.

But The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is entirely kid-friendly and jam-packed with text. As Poole says, "A child playing this game is probably more passionate about reading its prose for clues and taking detailed notes, than he is about doing his homework." Kids passionate about reading? But they should be reading instead!

Poole sums up the post with a sentiment that is close to our own feelings: that literacy is not decreasing due to new technologies, but rather expanding into different and varied forms that aren't always on paper, and aren't always in the form of insulting children's literature.

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Reader Comments (Page 1 of 1)


12-04-2007 @ 11:22AM

Tush said...

Remember back in the day when people like Socrates thought that written language was causing people to use their memory less? I mean, why would you remember anything if you could write everything down!

Louis Daguerre invents the photograph... people said that the art of painting would vanish.

People are always afraid of new types of media and the effects they have.


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12-04-2007 @ 12:01PM

teh_7lip said...

i know many children who had an increased desire to learn how to read when pokemon hit north america, i rest my awesome case.


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12-04-2007 @ 12:37PM

hvnlysoldr said...

Learning the nuances of elements and statistics as well as sales greatly affects the joy out of Pokemon. Using Pikachu against Onix is a horrible idea. Each person would seem to know just enough to help you out. What potions will keep me from fainting? My Pokemon will love me more if I give them vitamins? Using a calendar I can schedule berry picking, moon-stone finding, poor Marowak's mommy, and story.

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12-04-2007 @ 1:32PM

Loxias said...

I even distinctly remember the boxes to Red, Blue, and Yellow stating something to the effect of "basic reading ability is needed to fully enjoy the entertaining story." It would be nice if kids actually took that to heart. I wouldn't know, though; I was already 12 and satisfactorily literate when I picked up a Pokemon game for the first time.

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12-04-2007 @ 4:44PM

Matdredalia said...

I've been gaming all my life (I'm 20) and it was the glorious wonder of video games that gave me a desire to read.

Screw Hooked on Phonics! Final Fantasy 1 Worked For Me!

And speaking of Pokemon...apparently I know squat about the game compared to what I thought I did. I had no idea the time/date helped with finding moonstones....*smacks forehead*

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12-04-2007 @ 2:03PM

troy said...

I love the way you worded this article, JC. The kind of close-minded people your words effectively shut down need to hear this stuff. Sadly, they won't because while we read and write the stuff they say about us (Video Games/Gamers) I bet they don't scour the net for stuff about what gamers say or are really like.


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12-04-2007 @ 3:47PM

Danny said...

There's an article in my school's newspaper this month which mentions how great the Harry Potter books are because they encourage kids to read "in a time when children spend more time on the computer and playing video games rather than actually challenging their minds."

Because it's totally impossible to challenge your mind in ANY WAY on the computer or playing a video game. After all, it's not either of those things EVER require reading or thinking. Rrgh.


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Author X8

12-04-2007 @ 4:53PM

Author X said...

Y'know how I learned my cardinal directions? I don't remember how old I was when I played Star Tropics, but I can tell you I wasn't old enough to know to Never Eat Soggy Wheat. Nor did I know the musical scale.
So how did I navigate the game's puzzles and directions? By learning, by gum!

And for that matter, that was certainly a game with a LOT of text.

Now, mind you, there IS a big difference between reading dialogue in a game and reading a novel, and there are different skills that are exercised. However, the really absurd part of the "research" is that it makes one of the most common mistakes, and certainly the easiest to make when you're LOOKING for a particular conclusion - correlation DOES NOT imply causality! The population has also (probably?) increased significantly since video games started coming out - the only question is, does that mean they make people more fertile, or that they make people have more unprotected sex?


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12-04-2007 @ 6:18PM

SephFinale said...

RPGs have tons of text in them (They tell amazing stories). 'Nuff said.


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12-04-2007 @ 8:22PM

Ethan said...

Internet forums always teach the third person, because there's usually somebody talking in it.

Said Ethan.


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