Are Video Games Really so Different from Books?

Without any further talk, I can probably name a dozen people that steadfastly hold to the extreme position on one end or the other of this argument. Are video games really that different from books?

I love both, for different reasons. Books and games fulfill slightly different parts of me. I think it’s worth noting that reading books takes energy for me. Hopefully this isn’t an earth-wrecking observation for my readers. I absolutely believe that a source of joy or amusement can also require effort on our part. Reading is like that for me. So is writing, which is probably less of a surprise. My method of writing is rarely a “sit and puke out words on the page.” I’m a thinker by nature, and also a planner. Even my leisure tends to reflect these traits.

Maybe people disagree with me, but I’ve found that the amount of reading/writing I do for leisure is almost nonexistent when work or school obligations reach a certain intensity. Gaming can also suffer from mental exhaustion, but it has historically been considered the lesser of the two endeavors anyway. Still, when I’m so tired that even interactive visual media is unappealing, it seems like I lump both reading and gaming in the same “effort” category.

Another similarity I see between the two hobbies is in the act of pursuing them. Both engage my imagination in one way or another. Both can totally absorb me under the right conditions. Even more, I can have the same types of emotional experiences with each.

All of this neglects the interesting research done on the detrimental effects of gaming, however. Reading has rarely received that same critical attention, but perhaps there’s a reason for this. There are definitely problems with allowing life to become totally about gaming or visual media. But I still wonder if these two hobbies are more alike than different.

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