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Is gaming more creative than reading ? Currently being discussed ...

edited February 2012 in - Reading
Apart from attempting to play pacman type games on a Sinclair Spectrum computer years and years ago, I haven't a great deal of experience in 'gaming'.

But I find this question incredulous.

To me reading is so obviously a very creative activity as we have to make up the characters and scenes in our minds, changing marks on the page into a whole sort of film show in our minds. Bill Oddie has just said on TV that reading is a passive activity - how on earth can that be so ?
Apparently playing video games (or whatever is the correct terminology) is very creative in that you have to make up your characters and decide what they will wear, do and what situation to enter into.
Maybe so, but all I've seen on X Boxes and Playstations is devising better ways to arm yourself to shoot or blow people up. I'm sure there must be some other genres of games, but I haven't come across any.

Ok, yes I am old... is this all there is to it ?

Heres a link http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/video-games/video-game-news/9077458/Video-games-more-creative-than-reading.html
(I'm afraid I haven't come across Lucy Prebble either. Maybe that's my problem ;) )


  • I would have said it's the writers/designers of the books/games who are the really creative ones. And no one made the point that books increase your vocabulary.
  • Perhaps, now there are e-readers, more people will read as there's a gadget involved.
  • All that wealth of literature going unread ...
  • [quote=lexia]Apparently playing video games (or whatever is the correct terminology) is very creative in that you have to make up your characters and decide what they will wear, do and what situation to enter into. Maybe so, but all I've seen on X Boxes and Playstations is devising better ways to arm yourself to shoot or blow people up. I'm sure there must be some other genres of games, but I haven't come across any.[/quote]

    To some extent this is true. There are games that I play that put me in the mood to write. True there are a large selection of war games such as Call of Duty but games like Assassin’s Creed, Dead space or Skyrim inspire me to write. Okay, I’ll admit that I do spend too much time playing play station some nights. To make up for it I am a keen reader! One of my short stories for example “The Ruby” is based on a sub mission from Assassin’s Creed 2. Video games do have their uses! :-)
  • "Research shows reading frequency has a direct link to attainment, as eight in 10 children who read over 10 books a month are above average readers compared with just three in 10 of those who rarely read."
    Now, there's a surprise: those who read more read better...

    Computer games (of which I am not a fan, but my son is a top designer) involve the brain in making fast decisions; they do stimulate the brain, and they do take the player into realms they would never otherwise imagine, let alone enter. I think they can be creative and instil a level of creativity in people who would not otherwise choose to read books: it's like comparing a stone with a potato - they aren't the same thing, and shouldn't expect to achieve the same results.

    Regular readers are people who like to read (I'm taking a leaf out of the expert's book here and stating the obvious): gamers are people who like gaming. neither should be forced into the other's preferred activity, because the result will not be a sudden complete conversion, rather an aversion.
  • Hmmm, but even that argument is flawed. And who is to say that those who read a have better attainment anyway and part of that attainment is more reading? My daughter learned to read aged 2. Of course she read more as she found it easy and enjoyed it and so - read a lot. You need to read fluently to attain in ANY subject, those who can't read well are at a massive disadvantage.

    My friend's son just could not seem to read. But he LOVED stories and would go to his neighbours' house at story time to get more in. He would have read if he'd been able to. So it's not just as simple as get them reading more and they will read more - it's managing to teach those who find it really difficult in ways that actually chime with their individual needs, and that is what is missing as far as I'm concerned, they use a few methods per school and if those don't help your child, they are stuffed.

    My son started reading more normally and loved reading, and still reads. But also spent/spends most of his spare time on his X box. However, his writing is really, really good, sometimes it takes my breath away. His imagination i would say HAS been stretched by computer games.
  • It's quite interesting reading some of the comments under the article. I've just had an interesting conversation with my son, who does spend most of his life locked away in his bedroom playing games and scripting. Whilst we both agree that games like Call of Duty are just mindless shoot 'em ups other games like Minecraft actually are creative, one called 'Hammerfight' which does sound like a mindless head-smashing game actually employs the laws of physics and makes the player think. Civilization can help with learning strategy and geography, puzzle games help logic.

    As for developing social skills I have to say that my son has probably better social skills from being able to interact with his friends online than he would have with his nose stuck in a book.

    On the subject of gaming being more creative, which I know is the actual argument. I don't think it is any more creative, but I do think there is a creative element to playing games. I have to admit there may be a bit of demon slaying going off on this computer later. I am with StF the games I play can be quite inspiring both with the writing and the painting (I don't just paint doggies!!) As an avid reader when I was in my teens (still am) I would say some of the books I have read were about as creative as an hour on Call of Duty. At the end of the day you get out of anything what you want to. I get lost in a book, it is a good book, I get lost in a computer game, it's a good game.

    Games these days are far removed from Pong and Pacman, you have to use your imagination and your creativity to get yourself out of situations. Although I am not sure playing Fifa12 has anything to do with my daughters footballing prowess, but I get the feeling it hasn't hurt it any. Least she understands the off-side rule. :P
  • Oh and just to add, my son doesn't read, he doesn't enjoy it. But he has a vocabulary that impresses his english teacher and an understanding of the language that has always been beyond his years. My daughter on the other hand reads but her spelling and vocabulary are not as impressive.
  • edited February 2012
    As one of my boys is starting a 2 year college course in September which will eventually lead to him creating his own computer games (beyond his current level), and hopefully for other people. I've had a bit of a crash course this past year...:)

    As my son says there are games that are just variations on the previous version to make money, and those that actually do something different, tell a story etc.
    Creating a computer game shares many of the same skills needed by the writer, characters, world building, environment, planning, story boards etc.

    If you take the comparison of someone playing a game versus someone reading, then the gamer has the edge as what they do as they play the game will have certain causes and effects.
    The reader has the story set before them- it can't change, but how they view the characters and their motives is obviously going to be different from person to person.

    The other two play computer games at various level too. Their language skills are very good, and apart from my autistic son, they've always read books that are beyond their actual age.

    (But I do wonder if children of writers get a head start on the reading, language and grammar skills needed, so they are at an advantage compared to many of their peers.)
  • (Just so you know, I’m an avid reader.)

    Computer games are (generally) more involved these days. The collaborative ones, while plot-engineered are very character driven, as it’s the players doing the “driving”. With more of the decision-making in the players’ hands, it is a richer experience.
    There is a greater sense of achievement, when the protagonist surives the odds because the player is that character.

    In a novel, we follow a character and how s/he makes a decision and deals with the outcome of that decision. We read the same novel later and that same decision is made again. With the games, and the ability to revert to a plot point (via game reload or character death), you can explore different outcomes.

    Computer games have replaced the “dungeoneering” books I used to read, where at the bottom of the page I had to turn to page X, Y or Z dependant on the decision I made.

    The larger games also inspire fan-fiction, usually found on the forums associated with the games. So while the game “world” is already large, the player / writer diversifies further, enriching their game experience.

    I do agree that due to the rich graphics of these games, there is less stimulation required on how something should look. You can see what it looks like, so do not need to build up the character or landscape in your head, which a book allows you to do.

    It could be a sign of the times, that reading is too long-winded for the younger generations. Why read several sentences of getting the description of a character and their environment when you can see it on the screen in an instant? (I make this comment because when I asked my daughter if she’d like to read a certain book, she said, “Why? I can just watch the film instead.” – yes, I was mortified.)
  • [quote=carlradley](I make this comment because when I asked my daughter if she’d like to read a certain book, she said, “Why? I can just watch the film instead.” – yes, I was mortified.)[/quote]

    I think I would have been too!!

    I have to add that Mariocart still hasn't done anything for my driving skills :P
  • [quote=Carol](But I do wonder if children of writers get a head start on the reading, language and grammar skills needed, so they are at an advantage compared to many of their peers.)[/quote]

    It's all down to the nature v nurture debate really, I suppose.

    As for improving skills, why does anyone want to jump about in front of a screen doing 'sports' instead of being outside doing the real thing ? I do appreciate that not everyone can go skiing or bob sleighing or whatever but could do it on a Wii thingy. I am not THAT much of a Luddite. And I spend many a happy evening going up and down mountains and round lakes all over the world ! (on Google Earth )

    edit: maybe the Wii thing is a different debate :)
  • edited February 2012
    I find that those that read the genre I hope to write and be published in also game. It's a given, even expected when you get to the 30ish and under generations.
    The Oblivions, Skyrims, Fables, Baldur's gate, Tomb Raider, Starcraft, and to a much lesser extent Warcraft. All such games have a great reader/gamer following. For Warcraft alone there are tons and tons of fanfic sites. The original meaning of RPG - Role Playing Game, dear old Dungeons and Dragons spawned alot of the above. As Carl has already stated.
    Creativity is the core element. What if, is the source of every plot.

    Books are very very very slow by comparison to a game. Plots change depending on who you play, what you wear, how you hit the green blob with your stick. Books are somewhat stale in that department too.

    Of course, regardless of game genre - some one has to write these plots you know!

    I have hundreds of books. And tens of games.
    My daughter has a Nintendo DS which she happily plays as an elf running around, or as a boy collecting crazy monsters, coz you gotta catch em all - then goes into the playground at school and insists on being Tiamat breathing fire, lightening and posion or Pikachu in the latest game. Every now and again a moshi monster might pop up. - And she is the top of her year in reading skills because she too has hundreds of books.

    Children only like books if they are introduced to them, and continued to be tantalised by them. Books can't do that on their own. Teachers can't do it all either. Children are quieter when playing on the computer and not asking "Mum what does this mean?" throughout Eastenders. Yet, one of the biggest drives behind my daughter's desire to read was the Pokemon game - and her not being able to understand what Ash was instructing her to do to catch that precious fire-pony-thing.
    Her dad bought her a tablet for christmas. I dread what that will inspire her to learn.
  • Interesting question. I think they are hard to compare, as someone has already said, they are completely different. I am not a gamer, at all. My husband on the other hand does enjoy them. He's not especially a book reader but when he gets into one, he really gets into it (he's currently reading The Count of Monte Cristo on Kindle). He is also one of the brightest people I know (and no, I'm not just being biased! :) ) I think a lot of it is just what you're drawn to. He's always been interested in gadgets, computers, etc whilst I on the other hand am not in the slightest. It's always been book love all the way for me.
    I agree that some of it for the younger generation is down to an attention span thing. There are so many things competing for their attention that if they think they can get everything they need from a film instead of sitting down and reading a book, they are perhaps more likely to choose that option. Even though I think films rarely live up to the original books. One exception, I actually prefer 'Confessions of a Shopaholic' fim to the book.
  • I think Bill Oddie is right to a degree - reading is a passive activity compared to gaming, which is an active pastime. Is gaming more creative? Possibly, depending on the game. Yes, a reader has to engage with the book, become involved on an intellectual and emotional level, and prompts a certain amount of imagination, but it doesn't produce creativity. That's already been accomplished by the writer who wrote the story.

    Gamers - particularly those with strategy games - have to employ imagination and creativity to play the game, and many of the levels progressively get harder for the gamer. Some games do actually teach the gamer too. As I gamer I prefer strategy games - those that challenge me and require enough brain power to stoke a nuclear power plant - and sometimes I prefer that to some of the crap that passes for books. Haven't read a decent book in ages.
  • Anything that takes the mind away from its normal path is a means to relaxation and that allows the freedom to become more creative.

    I've just finished six weeks of Salsa classes. For two hours each week that's all I think about. When it's over, my mind is buzzing with ideas - simply because for two hours it's had a break.

    The strategy of not tripping over is the closest I'll get to gaming. Surely any creativity with gaming is off the back of the designer? They wrote the scenarios, the gamers just exploit them. I shan't insult any choreographers by associating their creativity with my 'steps'.

    [quote=Red]Haven't read a decent book in ages. [/quote]

    Then now's the time to write one!
  • [quote=Baggy Books]Red wrote: Haven't read a decent book in ages.

    Then now's the time to write one! [/quote]

    I've written two, second one in last stage. But unfortunately there are more pressing issues taking up my time at the present moment and reading a good book has taken a back seat. Having said that, I'd need to find a good book in the first place.
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