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About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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Video Games Healthier Than Reading Books?

by Rainier on Dec. 13, 2007 @ 10:45 a.m. PST

Parents and teachers might have to rethink their long-held belief that the more a child reads, the better. Ironically, in the just-released Book of Games Volume 2, the authors cite research indicating that video games actually can be better than books, both for your mind and body.

"An obvious but largely overlooked fact is that reading is one of the most sedentary activities there is," says one of the book's editors, Erik Hoftun. "In a society where obesity has become a serious health issue, watching television has rightly been blamed as a major culprit, but strangely reading is never mentioned. Video gaming also gets its share of blame, but the fact is that new video games and hardware actually can be great tools in fighting obesity, so much so that video games are finding their way into physical education programs in schools both in the US and Europe."

Having watched their children, parents do not have to be told that video games develop dexterity and hand-eye coordination. What may still surprise is research such as an experiment that showed how doctors perform better at surgery after playing regular video games.

Hoftun goes on to explain what he as a parent finds most intriguing when comparing video games to reading: "Reading is a passive activity, not only in the physical sense. You are completely at the mercy of the author, having to accept a story as it unfolds, with no influence on the outcome. Of course no one objects to be taken on such a ride as long as it is a good one, being it through a book or a movie. But the question is; what develops a young mind better: Passively reading a book or actively playing a video game where you are in charge and where your actions and reactions decide the outcome? And more importantly: What prepares you better for real life?" Being an avid reader himself, Hoftun hastens to add that " ... of course there are good and bad video games, just as there are good and bad books. My point is that video gaming is a valid and sometimes better alternative to reading."

"It may seem contradictory to publish a book about video games, but we thought it might be fun to prove that video gamers actually can read," Hoftun says wryly and adds: "We are surprised that an industry that this year is surpassing the music industry in size has next to no representation in bookstores. At Barnes & Noble and Borders there are rows upon rows of titles on music, movies and computers, but you have to look really hard to find a book about video games."

Book of Games Volume 2 is a 400 page book presenting 100 of this year's best games along with informative feature articles on topics such as gaming in schools, video games as art and intriguing stories from the world of hard core video gaming. With literally thousands of screenshots and photos the book accurately represents the wonderful visuals of video gaming making it a great gift. With an extensive glossary section and tables this is a true reference book for gamers, parents and anyone interested in the fascinating world of video gaming.

It is available in major bookstores and on Amazon now for $24.95.

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