A new book came out, the current headlines are “Watching TV makes you smarter” but I guess, according to the author of the book, the book focuses more on games rather than TV. It’s just that more people watch TV so making a issue out of that he hopes will get more people interested in the book.
As small excerpt:
“Imagine an alternate world identical to ours save one techno-historical change: videogames were invented and popularized before books. In this parallel universe, kids have been playing games for centuries—and then these page-bound texts come along and suddenly they’re all the rage. What would the teachers, and the parents, and the cultural authorities have to say about this frenzy of reading? I suspect it would sound something like this:
Reading books chronically under-stimulates the senses. Unlike the longstanding tradition of gameplaying—which engages the child in a vivid, three-dimensional world filled with moving images and musical soundscapes, navigated and controlled with complex muscular movements—books are simply a barren string of words on the page. Only a small portion of the brain devoted to processing written language is activated during reading, while games engage the full range of the sensory and motor cortices…
Read the rest on his blog and the New York Times for a better description of the book. Basically I think he is arguing that the judgement of whether or not a certain entertainment is good or bad for you is normally about if the material is “smart” (Frasier vs Full House) but that instead it should be about how much it makes you use your brain (Frasier vs 24 vs games). To follow 24 requires you to concentrate, to think. To follow Frasier, even if it’s about smart characters really requires you just to sit back and enjoy and not use your brain. Games usually take that even further. It’s an interesting idea.