As far as entertainment is concerned, there is no competition; modern video games are far more immersive and engaging than books. I have no intention of implying that books are obsolete, but rather, I wish to place video games on a pedestal to be admired for all the integrity they have earned for themselves.
There are, of course, many critics who disagree with this thesis. One of the more common attempts to belittle the value of gaming asserts that video games are limited in potential experiences. The argument goes something like this: “Books rely on the reader’s imagination to visualize the story, and therefore, the potential for engaging a story via book is limitless.” This argument is a paradox. It seems the exact opposite is the truth. The power a book has to create atmosphere is not limitless, in fact, it is limited by the readers experiences. That is, the reader can’t imagine a scenario in which his memory has no experience with.
Here is an example: Picture Sam Harris eating a durian. You can’t do it, and whatever image you conjure up in mind will have very little resemblance to what this scenario would actually look like. A video game, however, could recreate nearly any situation with such authenticity and detail that you could understand exactly what happened with unparalleled accuracy.
The youth of America has shifted from books to video games for their means of entertainment. This shift has brought with it a shallow accusation from video game critics. It is believed by many, that America’s youth has lost their desire for intellectual satisfaction due to our overly convenient society.
People read less and less novels these days, and it is tempting to be lead to the conclusion that this must be a bad thing. It isn’t. America’s youth isn’t reading less because they’ve lost their intellectual desire for stories and adventure. People are reading less because modern video games have become the richest and most immersive story telling medium in history.
The power of modern video games to illicit an intellectual and emotional reaction in the player is nothing short of astounding. I have read a few books for entertainment in my life. I remember a couple of characters and generally enjoyed the experiences. However, no book has ever grasped my curiosity and filled me with a sense of awe as many games have. I will never forget the tension I felt when creeping through the leaky corridors of Rapture, reluctantly following the “suggestions” of Atlas. AAA titles such as Skyrim, Mass Effect, and Uncharted have redefined our ability to tell stories. The combination of realistic visuals, dynamic audio, and interactivity have allowed video games to raise the bar on human entertainment.
No longer do books guide us along to one inevitable ending. The ability to control your character and interact with your environment have transformed gaming into an entertainment phenomenon. Hans Arnseth says it well: “A reader has no say in what happens to the protagonist of a book…while we may feel empathy, emotions run higher for video games. By controlling the protagonist in a video game, we become an active participant in the story. We are no longer passively being taken for a ride, but have to process information actively, make decisions and respond to stimuli from the game. Thus video games are the stronger medium playing to a broader register of the human mind.” (Book of Games).
This article was written by Frank Curzi, he is an avid gamer and a Call of Duty commentator. Check out his You Tube page at “MrPotatoHole”.