Monday, March 26, 2012

Parents be warned: Video games may encourage your kids to read!

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of parents out there who think gaming is a completely unhealthy activity. I always argue strongly against this position and recently, after playing Skyrim and Mass Effect 3, it struck me that games can encourage teens to read.

1) In Skyrim, there are quite a few quests that involve collecting books and you can pick up books everywhere. These books can be opened and read, and have stories and lore about Skyrim. Each one would be about three or four pages of an actual book, but there are hundreds of them in the game. Just to recap, the game presents finding and reading books as a fun activity.

Reading a book in Skyrim

In Mass Effect 3, you explore a vast and rich universe as Commander Shepard of the Normandy. Again, as you explore, the lore and background story are revealed as updates to the 'codex'. A careful reading of the codex brings you more deeply into the game

Mass Effect Codex

Many other games have a background story revealed through in-game books, journals or a codex.

2) Game Fiction

After enjoying a game, many gamers aren't ready to give up on the experience and can't wait two years for the sequel to come out. A game like Mass Effect spawns books written about characters in the Mass Effect universe. Most of these books are very suitable for teens.

And then there's fan fiction... fiction written about Mass Effect or other games, by fans. Some of it is amateur and some of it can be pretty good.

So there you go, that's how gaming can help to encourage a reading habit. I'm a gamer and I usually read about two books a month.

And remember, as well as encouraging teens to read, games can also encourage them to write - they may want to try their hand at fan fiction. And games can stimulate teens to try their hand at art - just look at all the game-based fan art on for example.

So I hope you can agree with me that encouraging reading is just one of the ways that gaming can be healthy for young (or old) minds.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Staxx - a challenging word game

Here is a brand new game on Flash By Night.

It is called 'Staxx' and the aim of the game is to form words of 3 or more letters. You can click on the letters to slide them around and in each level, you are given a time target and a target of how many words to find.

Play it here: