Discussion: Does electronic entertainment affect reading?

I’m not a gamer. I never have been and I doubt I ever will be. I spend about 2 minutes playing a game, get board and think, “I wish I was reading a book…” The same generally goes for the television. I just don’t care nor do I find either activity mentally engaging enough to keep me entertained. That being said, I know plenty of avid readers who are into both movies and video games. There’s nothing wrong with that in the least. To each their own. 
However, I sometimes wonder if readers are a dying breed due to video games and the television and other devices that plug into walls and/or require batteries. I wonder if less people are interested in reading these days, because there are other, more visual and electronic ways for entertainment to be had. Or, perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps gaming and television isn’t slowly sucking away the numbers of avid readers. 
What do you think? 

6 Responses

  • Miss Jane

    I'm not a TV watcher, but I've been a gamer for over 30 years. No one who knows me would say that gaming has affected my enjoyment of reading, or how much I read. I read 1-3 books a week, and always have.

    Now parenting – THAT has affected how much I read, definitely. But the thrill of sharing my favorite books with my kids makes it all okay. 🙂

  • Erik Lundqvist

    Just like Miss Jane I've always had time for both gaming and reading, although nowadays it's mostly reading. I remember my parents encouraging me to read books, but back then computer games did not really exist. Video games are just a more instant form of gratification and demands a lot less of the user. I think parenting is important but the availability of video games probably has had an effect.

  • James

    The internet cuts into my reading time, which means I read fewer books now than I did a few years ago and read them slower.

    However, I have always been into video games, television, and even just sitting around, doing nothing more than listening to music while staring at the ceiling. Books have always shared space with those activities.

    Though I am sure there are people that do not read due to spending their time playing games or watching television, I am not about to place the blame for less readers on the shoulders of electronic entertainment. I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere and one of the questions I always got while at work, dealing with customers, was, "What do you do for fun?"

    My answer was always the same, "I read."

    Their reply was almost always the same, too. "What do you do that for?"

    The librarians had a habit of complaining to me about how no one gets books anymore and that most people just use it as a free video store.

    I think the problem is more along the lines of people thinking of reading as that unpleasant thing they were forced to do in school. So, of course they are likely to resort to finding entertainment in video games and film/television… or, hell, if they are anything like my brother, just about anything else.

  • Gina

    I was into video games when I was a kid, but now all I do is read. I can't stand just "watching television," and I hate it when it's on and I'm trying to do something else, because the sound is so distracting. But I will get into a show, and will tune in each week to watch my one show (or more, but right now it's Game of Thrones). I watch the show I want to see then I turn it off. I watch tv for the character development and because I want to get lost in the story, which is the same reason I read. Plus, it gives me something to look forward to each week.

  • Sarah (Bookworm Blues)

    I usually don't comment on these discussions because I enjoy seeing what others say more than what I have to say. Anyway, a friend of mine on Facebook had a comment in reaction to this post and I thought I'd copy and paste it over here. His name is Doug, and this is what he said:

    maybe because i am a multi-tasker i can do both books and games at the same time. I try and listen to books on tape but i also read alot (though you read a hell of alot more than me. ) I don't think we are a dieing breed however i do see the vocal word being more and more prominent and the written word being of less importance. it also depends upon my mood whether i want something intellectually engaging or whether i just want something to numb the mind. Plus with video games i am one who plays MMORPG's RPG's and the like which people who love to read usually understand so many of the jokes and so many of the quests that those who do not don't. I played a game recently that had references to different philosophies and unless you understood the philosophies even on a basic level you wouldn't understand, and then referenced lord of the rings, metallica, wheel of time, the original Dracula and Frankenstein. i mean there is also the cultural underside that attempts to make jokes referencing books that helps to make the spoken words even better, and part of society will never get it. (makes me feel like im in a pretty cool club sometimes).

  • Nathaniel Katz

    It's hard for me to say. I'm definitely odd in that, for me, video games and TV (what little I watch) has to struggle to wrest space back from books. I can't count the number of times I'd fired up a DVD or game only to think that I'd rather be reading, but the inverse is both rare and limited to awful books that I'd rather watch paint dry than read.

    Internet, however, does compete. It's not a direct thing, but I spend far, far, far too much time surfing online, and that no doubt does cut into the time that I'd spend reading, writing, and being otherwise productive if not for the web.

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