Discussions · The Random Things

The Unresolved Debate on Books VS Video Games: Which is Superior?

Hello, everyone!

Today I wanted to do a discussion post because I don’t have to go to work and I have loads of free time to actually sit down and write 🙂

With our conflicting work/class schedules, dinner is usually the only time of day that I get to talk with my brother (aside from short text messages asking ‘what’s for dinner?’) and like all civilized family dinners, ours usually end in debates. This time, the debate was on which form of escapism is superior: books or video games?

Last month, I had the opportunity to watch and review Ready Player One, and while I didn’t really enjoy the movie, it sparked some pretty interesting discussions with my friends and family. It was this movie that started our pretty intense debate. I, of course, have both feet firmly planted in the Book Corner. On the other hand, my brother, who is an avid gamer and an aspiring game developer insists that video games are the way of the future, books are outdated and there can be no question about it.

So before I get started with the case for each media, I just want to point out that I have very little knowledge on video games. What I do know is mostly from what my brother tells me. I haven’t spent a lot of time trying out video games but I used to occasionally watch my brother play Skyrim and Halo because I liked the music 🙂 . So all of the opinions on video games throughout this discussion are my brothers and I’m basically paraphrasing what he told me. Also, when I say video games, I don’t mean games like Candy Crush or Flappy Bird. Just so we’re clear 😉

Our ‘discussion’ essentially could be boiled down to 3 main points: Immersion, Connection, and Boundlessness, so I’ve broken down the case for books and video games into these categories. Okay, let’s get started!

Immersion

The Case for Video Games:

Video games are very, if not fully immersive, especially with the rise and improvements of VR technology. With the stunning visuals and epic soundtracks, it’s difficult to not be sucked into the world of the game. Video games allow you the luxury of being the main character in your own story, especially with open world games. The fear and anticipation when your character is about to go on a journey or quest and the ability to make your own decisions that directly impact the course of the story is something you can’t get with other forms of escapism like books or movies.

VR meme
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The Case for Books:

While it’s difficult to argue with the visuals and sounds that video games have, I still think that books are also very immersive. I’ve lost count of how many times people have called my name and I didn’t answer because I was too engrossed in the book I was reading. How many times have we used or heard the phrase ‘get lost in a book’?

Even without images and music, I still find myself completely lost in the story that I’m reading, and the words on the pages translate into vivid pictures in my head. Not to mention the emotional immersion that books provide. Some books have really been emotional roller coasters for me. I’m always completely captured by the characters and the world in the book and to me, that’s pretty immersive.

Connection

The Case for Video Games:

Games always have the option of playing in multiplayer but with today’s technology, we get the chance to connect with players from all over the world. Gamers get to interact directly with each other, building a team and working together to win the game. And when the game is over, more often than not, these teammates will stay friends.

Another point for video games is the fact that you can create your own character and essentially write your own story. You can literally be whoever and whatever you could possibly want to be and do whatever you want to do. You could be a hero, a thief, a magician, an assassin, the list is endless. It gives you an emotional connection with the game character because that character is you.

The Case for Books:

The connection readers have with other readers is one of the things I love most about the book community. The friendships I’ve built with people because of books are very special to me. Being able to talk about the books I love, the stories and characters, and discussing different opinions always lets me know that ‘these people get me. They understand what I’m trying to say’. And in my opinion, that makes for a really great connection.

Friends.gif
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But more than the connection with other readers, what I love the most about books is the connection I feel with the characters. I know that it’s different from being the character in your own story, but finding similarities between myself and fictional characters always make me very happy. It makes the story relatable, and when I can draw parallels between their story and mine, it always makes me think ‘this character made it. So can I‘. It’s probably weird because these characters are not real but that’s just how it is for me. Unlike video games, where you can craft the characters to your liking, you have to accept book characters for who they are. And that, for me, is also about accepting yourself, flaws and all.

boundlessness

The Case for Video Games:

With open world games, other than the freedom of creating your own characters and making your own decisions, you have the freedom to stray from the game’s main storyline and create your own adventures. There are no rigid storylines that you have to follow where what you want doesn’t matter.

You can explore the world within the game, which is vast and filled with unique elements. And if you’re not happy with it, you can even create your own world or worlds to your own liking. The possibilities are endless, especially when there are so many opportunities to interact with other characters in the game. More often than not they have some side quests you can embark on. Or you can simply ignore them and go rogue. There are no limits when it comes to these games.

The Case for Books:

With books, the world the author created is usually the only one you’ve got, but at the same time, readers know that that world is vast and the story never ends on the last page. Just because we’re following the journey of the main character doesn’t mean something completely different isn’t happening to a different character. It’s really up to the readers’ imaginations to fill up the blanks that the authors have set up. There is always the possibility of going back and exploring more, and if you’re not happy with how things went, well, I guess that’s where fanfiction comes in?

 

Belle
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Okay, so I don’t know if I put up a good fight in defense of books, but the conclusion of this debate is that my brother and I agreed to disagree.

I actually think that the arguments for video games are pretty solid, and I think that both books and video games are valid forms of escapism. It’s simply a matter of personal preference.

To be honest, I don’t understand the stigma against video games. It confuses me why people think that video games are ‘bad’ and reading is ‘good’.  They both offer the same comforts in different ways for different people and one should not be considered better than the other. How many times have we said ‘I wish I was a character in this book’? How is that different from creating another version of yourself in games?

Of course, when I say this, I’m only including people who play video games and read a ‘normal’ amount? If you read/play video games so much that you completely ignore all other responsibilities then you might have a problem and this doesn’t apply to you 😀

So what do you think? Do you think reading is still the best form of escapism or do you think playing video games is more effective? What do you think about the idea that video games are ‘bad’ and reading is ‘good’? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts about it 😀

Signature - Glamor Style

 

8 thoughts on “The Unresolved Debate on Books VS Video Games: Which is Superior?

  1. Love this post! Really thoughtfully laid out and reasoned, Maddie. As a gamer and a reader, I love both platforms – probably for similar reasons. I love getting lost in fictional worlds, and video games now have very similar levels of worldbuilding to books, especially when playing fantasy games. Games like The Witcher and Dark Souls are massive, and filled with lore and extra content that makes the world feel alive and rich, which is exactly what I love about books!!

    That being said, I find video games too easy to become a time-sink. Meaning I can pop a game in only meaning to play for an hour and suddenly a whole afternoon has gone by. I personally prefer to lose that time to a book over a video game, and I think the only reason why is the characters. It’s easier to get inside a character’s head and understand their thoughts in a book vs. a game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I’m always very impressed whenever I see my brother play these video games, most recently Skyrim VR. I can definitely see how gamers can stay in that world for hours, and it makes me want to try these games for myself. But like you said, I’d rather spend hours of my time reading books.

      I think you’re right that it’s easier to understand book characters, and figuring out what drives them, etc. But at the same time, I can see how it’s very tempting to be a character in your own adventure rather than reading about someone else’s. That being said, I don’t think I’ll start playing video games any time soon. There are still too many books to read 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I love this toss up, even though for me it’ll always be books 😉 I really get lost in books in a way I don’t in any other media and the worlds in books are so limitless! I also have so many friends from reading 😀 Wonderful post!

    Like

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