Hours of Fun Playing Skylanders Spyro's Adventure

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There’s an XBox 360 in my living room connected to my TV.

So what? As of this January, 66 million XBox360s have been sold worldwide. There must be millions of living rooms with XBox 360s connected to their TVs. And maybe millions more with Playstations and Nintendo Wiis, not to mention handheld games, like DS’s, etc., etc., and so on.

But maybe it is a little unusual for a retired school teacher, a grandmother of eight and a lover of reading to be one of the millions.

For years I have seen my children and grandchildren playing video games and especially role playing games( RPGs). The latest to visit my lounge room, Skylanders, an RPG with toys, has fascinated all from my three year old grandson to my eldest son.

When my children were still in primary school we bought a VIC 20. With only 5kb of RAM it was one of the first little home computers you could buy. Incidentally, ours was one of a million sold. From then my boys were hooked.

Computers are very important in their adult lives both at work and, at home , where they play games.

Reading is also a very important part of their lives.

Every book and author I come across and suggest to my eldest son has already been read by him. My second son reads and re-reads fantasy novels. And my youngest son will read just about anything. They all like fantasy, and sci-fi.

And it’s not just my boys, many gamers are also avid readers.

So what came first, reading or gaming and is there a connection?

From the little research I have done on this subject, there does seem to be a connection between gaming and the genre of novels being read. Most RPGs are fantasy or sci-fi based. Playing the game allows the fantasy or sci-fi reader to extend the experience of getting lost in a good book, to becoming part of a story. So it may be that reading fantasy and sci-fi gets readers into playing.

As a teacher, I see many students eager to develop their reading skills so that they can begin borrowing books such as those in the Beast Quest series. There is a huge variety of fantasy and quest novels for young readers and they are often connected to something else, like cards and online extensions and additions to the stories. Scholastic’s “39 Clues”, for example.

Great reads, such as Lewis’s Narnia series,  Rowling’s Harry Potter, Tolkein’s The Hobbit, Paolini’s Eragon, Garth Nix‘s The Keys to the Kingdom, etc., encourage the excitement of the quest and heroes. Something the reader can live through vicariously. RPGs then give these readers the chance to live them out, to problem solve, to be the hero, to make their own story.

So, can video and/or role-playing games get players into reading? I certainly think there is much more to be said and debated on this topic. What type of people play RPGs?

What do you think?