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Video games help promote literacy

Check out the selection at the West Linn library


My first memory of playing video games was sitting cross-legged next to my older sister in front of our wood-paneled TV. Her face was calm, but her fingers worked furiously in a series of complicated button presses.

Occasionally, her hands would jerk up as if her actual movement would inspire Mario to jump higher and defeat the dreaded Bowser. Victory was close, but one small mistake and it all came crumbling down. by: SUBMITTED - LEGO The Lord of the Rings

Twenty-odd years later, I’m still gaming. The technology has changed, the graphics are better and TV screens have grown. But the general concept of video games is still the same. Each game asks the same question: What if? Video game story lines aren’t as simple as they used to be. Players are thrown into worlds full of politics, religion, magic, social issues, family drama and all other kinds of gray areas. Our world doesn’t have easy answers and our games are reflecting that.

Believe it or not, video games help promote literacy, a skill which encompasses not just reading and writing, but also the ability to understand maps, body language and spoken words. Video games help exercise decision-making and critical thinking skills that a person doesn’t necessarily get from passive entertainment. As the player, you are expected to move the story along, and in some games the plot is entirely based on the player’s decisions. Players have to develop new strategies, manage multiple resources, predict possible outcomes, track complex statistics and continually adapt those “button-mashing” skills to move on to the next level. by: SUBMITTED - LEGO Star Wars

Some parents may worry about the types of games their children are playing. Visit the Entertainment Software Ratings Board at esrb.org to explore the different ratings for each game (you can also find the rating on the game itself). Another great resource is Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org). Here you can find thoughtful reviews with parents and kids in mind. They also cover movies, books, music and even apps.

What games would I suggest? I’m so glad you asked! Families can’t go wrong with any of the LEGO brand games out on the market. LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Lord of the Rings and LEGO Indiana Jones are personal favorites. Players are taken through these famous stories and are required to problem solve and work together to get to the next level. These games are filled with goofy humor and are loyal to their source material. Plus, you have not lived until you’ve defeated the LEGO Balrog.

Did you know that the West Linn Public Library has video games that you can check out? We have games for a variety of systems, including Wii, Nintendo DS and Xbox 360.

The library is always adding new games to the collection and we would love it if you could fill out a brief two-question survey so that we make sure we’re buying games for your favorite system. Go to westlinnoregon.gov/library to take the survey.

Happy gaming!



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