Reader Chris W. pointed us to a nice little piece in The Guardian on the questions of video games and literacy, with author Steven Poole coming to the defence of that medium we're all so fond of. It's nothing new for those of us who game, but it never hurts to have another (reasonable, rational) voice in the chorus. Poole points out there are plenty of games out there that require as much reading as the average children's novel (if not more), and while the quality of writing may be variable, it's not as if every paperback on the shelves is fantastically written.
Ah, but is the writing in these games any good? Well, it's variable, like the writing in books. Some of it's rubbish and some of it is very good. (In my opinion, Phoenix Wright is funnier and cleverer than most TV made for adults.) But quality doesn't really matter. My memory of reading as a child is basically that of voraciously hoovering up any old crap. (This turned out to be excellent training for becoming a book reviewer.)
Not all of the games that children are playing are so dependent on reading, of course. Doubtless children are also playing a lot of games where you race shiny cars or shoot zombies into bloody chunks with massive guns. Well, everybody has to relax now and then. To insist that a young person spend every minute of his or her waking day in adult-mandated forms of self-improvement would be a kind of child abuse.
In answer to the "is our children reading?" comment - no, they're probably not reading as much as they "should", but Poole's point about new forms of literacy is a well-taken one. Not that it will stem the tide of 'Video games are ruining literacy rates!' screeching, but one can dream ....
Is our children reading? [The Guardian]