Rumble box: Books vs video games

Each week the members of Team YP will debate life's important issues in casual dialogues. This week...


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Video games

Karly, Karly, Karly: books are fine if you're in the middle of the jungle, or if you have enough space for a library. But here in the real world, a game is where you want to be. You can play them on any e-device; they're coming soon to sports arenas; you can store them in the cloud.

The gaming business is booming as people realise what a good investment a game is. Books - you read them and then they gather dust. Games just keep on giving. And they've come a long way since the arcade's heyday. With today's fantasy role-play and MMORPGs, gamers have a global social setting.

Most games teach multiple skills. Of course, if you want to be stuck mashing buttons for the rest of your life, that's up to you.

But strategy games are a different thing entirely. They're like a fun version of chess. Once you've mastered one level, you can move on to a harder one. The challenge is constant. If you involve players from around the world, you go head-to-head against complete strangers. Playing with folks of different ages and cultures means you need to be socially astute to succeed.

In these games, you get to test out the skills you need in real life - leadership, public relations, business, the list is almost endless. Many games demand skills that could not have been imagined even 10 years ago.

Reading is a solitary pursuit while gaming is much more social. Just think about it: no one ever invites friends around to read. Having the latest Harry Potter never gave anyone instant kudos. But having top-of-the-range games can certainly up your popularity quotient.

Let's be honest: a book can entertain you for a few days. One game can entertain you for life.

Gaming is becoming a professional pursuit, too, a viable career: soon pro-gamers will be offered a salary, much like pro-footballers.

So, Karly, put the book down and step into the 21st century. We're waiting.

Susan Ramsay


The smell. The weight. The joy of revisiting an old favourite. The gentle sound and sweet anticipation as you turn a page, not knowing what lurks on the other side.

Books: those time-defying inventions. They've been around in some form from as early as the 7th century BC, and they haven't changed much since. If it ain't broke, as they say, don't fix it.

A book is the ultimate in portable entertainment. Sure, there are all those "systems" - NDS, PS Vita, smartphones; you name it, it probably plays games - but they're riddled with problems. You have to carry game cartridges with you, or download the latest upgrade, because the last version was buggy and didn't sync with your phone. There are new devices every, ooh, six months, so you shell out again, because the "old" version is so last-month. Your device has to be charged at all times, in case the power dies just as you're about to score the winning goal, or shoot the last zombie, or whatever it is gamers do. Books don't rely on other factors. They're always good to go.

In video games, if you don't win a round, you have to go back and start over. And over and over. YAWN. I know practice makes better, but how many times can you make the man jump and spin before you go mad? Honestly?

Books take you into other worlds, and teach you about cultures you may never have even heard of, let alone experienced. They make you think. They encourage you to try new things. They improve your vocabulary (of real words, not acronyms or plain misspellings; "pwn" is not a word, people). They provide issues for discussion, and ice-breakers for awkward social situations. Reading improves your memory, your social awareness, your knowledge of world events. Books make you a better person.

C'mon Sue, I understand the thrill of speed, flashing lights, colour, and jangly, tinny music. When you're five, anyway. I prefer more grown-up pursuits. One I can do anywhere - not just locked up, alone, in a dark room. Come round some time to my library - let's see if we can't find a book you'll enjoy.

Karly Cox

We hope you enjoyed the rumble. If you have an idea for a fun topic, e-mail us at [email protected] with "Rumble Box" in the subject line and we could be wrangling your topic idea next week

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