Sunday, January 18, 2009

Trickle Down Reading Habits

“My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.” –Charles F. Kettering

Several months ago I read an article in nytimes. com about author P. J. Haarsma creating a video game based on Orbis, the planetary system where his preteen novels take place. Players need to read his novels in order to answer the questions in the game. Scholastic has come out with the first of a ten-book mystery series, The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan that is tied to a Web-based game. And, Random House Children’s Books commissioned online games for Brisingr by Christopher Paolini.

Associating a book with a video game is a brilliant marketing idea for targeting a youthful audience. And I am all for anything that encourages kids to read. However, the trickle down effect worries me somewhat. For instance, when these kids become adult readers, will they continue to expect video games and books to go hand in hand?

As they wander up and down the aisles of bookstores (assuming bookstores will not be a thing of the past) will they pick up a book and then put it down immediately when they discover there’s no game with it? If so…

Will their negative responses to purchasing plain old books force publishers to decline manuscripts that tell a great story if they can’t immediately imagine how it might be turned into a game? If so…

As part of the submission process, will authors have to capture the agent/publisher’s attention not with the first few lines of a gripping new novel but with the first few plays in a wonderful new game? If so…

Should I start playing video games now so I will have a better grasp on the books I may need to write in the future? If so…

How will I manage to find time to write in the present?

Like with the economy, I can’t see this trickle down stuff working, but then…only the future will tell.

What are your views on the next generation of readers?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Orbis, Kettering, Haarsma, Riordan, Paolini,


MoonRise said...

My thoughts on this - that children will grow into adults with the curiosity and the need to learn to both broaden their horizons and prepare them for the future. Whether that be a job or a continued learning experience.
Children play games, adults turn to life.

If a child is introduced to books and learns to love the immersion and what they learn from books and a game encourages them to do this - so much the better.

I think we complicate this- children with the right encouragement will learn to love reading or utilize reading to do what they need to do in life.

I think Mr. Haarsma's approach is another way to bring children to the joy of reading. A positive way. :)

Anonymous said...

This isn't anything really new - remember the "Carmen Sandiego" video games of the 1990s? They came with a small encyclopedia and you had to look things up and read them according to the clues from the game. I loved those games and am glad to see someone is putting a spin on them for kids today.

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