I find I get very similar things from a good video game and a good book. Both entertain me, but also educate me and make me think about the world in a different way. The main difference is that each format has different strengths, books tend to change how I describe the world or find insight into ideas and things. A good game changes how I experience the world. "The Last of Us" made me really focus on the sounds around me in a way I hadn't before, "Cities Skylines" made me think of the visible and hidden networks that keep our cities functioning.
Do others have similar impressions?
For example, if I am experiencing lots of stress, and feeling a deficit of power, I noticed that military tactics and strategy games seem to suggest themselves. If a really long-term, cool strategy is called for, I notice that I play games like golf. If the day is filling up with lots of busy tasks that require a deft navigation of circumstance, the classic Snake-like game always seems to sound fun to play.
Looking more objectively at the game as a learning opportunity, I find that game development is huge for me here. I develop pen and paper games of given topics (from tennis to dungeon combat) and it's interesting to map real life attributes and circumstances like charisma and "home court advantage" onto my mental model of the game. I have to develop a broader model of what makes a player successful, and this spills over into my own approach to life and its problems. For example, if I'm a skilled researcher, it should follow that the more I ramp up and employ that particular skill, the faster my luck will grow, as opposed to skills at which I'm naturally an amateur. And it follows that I probably need a diversely-skilled team to turn to, should I come up against a truly difficult problem which does not yield to my research skills easily. While I build that team, I employ and continue to deepen my research skill.
Minecraft is interesting in that it requires a lot of knowledge in terms of how to make things/play the game, and requires exploration for resources. The harder game modes require more tactics and strategy which are typically first learned outside of Minecraft through youtube or friends. There are a number of high quality Minecraft reference books (by Scholastic and Mojang) which are great.
If what you liked was solving puzzles of how to build things and accumulation of resources I recommend it. If it was building large structures out of legos, this game isn’t that though.
That being said, I'm skeptical that making book-related things in Minecraft will encourage reading any more than Second Life did.
But watch out for recent unofficial books, specifically the "Diary of a <insert pokemon>" series (which I think got C&D'd, because they changed all the cover art and replaced the pokemon names with generic animal substitutes). It's pretty enjoyable to make fun of, but probably not the best for kids to read.
This is the most mind-blowing thing I've read on HN. It really makes me appreciate generational differences.
I don't think it's generational rather just some people "clicked" with ebooks and some didn't.
I couldn't live without search, saving passages, device handover, hold-click dictionary/wiki (so good for setting the image in your head if the book mentions a city/country you haven't been). I read maybe a few physical books a year before, now I read a novel or 2 a week, almost every week, and carry my kindle absolutely everywhere since they launched (have worn out 3).
It doesn't surprise me, because the younger generation seem to be getting tired of technology. It is something they're expected to be on for fun, social connection, and work, so it's not a stretch to imagine they want some time off.
All of my hobbies were on computers, and it has been a real struggle being in the software industry when my social and leisure time also involves sitting at a computer.
I have taken to grabbing a book, leaving the phone at home and finding somewhere to read.
I agree that's it's probably not entirely generational, but there is something to be said for growing up with 24/7 connectivity being the norm.
I do like the feel of a real book when actually reading it but don't mind reading books on my phone either.
Features I cannot live without are adjustable font size, the backlight (can only speak for PaperWhite model) and the builtin book-store.
However, I consistently buy "used" books via Amazon and other means, especially technical books.
Paper books are more expensive and I can't easily take them in the plane. I always have my kindle with me (even though I use it far less than I'd like). It has weeks of battery and it's always full of stuff I want to read but haven't. I also take great care not to put stuff in it I don't want to read otherwise it starts looking like my Steam games library.
I pretty much abandoned paper books when I got a Kindle on a vacation. Many years later, after moving to a country where I can find any book I want delivered to my doorstep in 2 days, I abandoned e-books and audiobooks.
Kindle causes me to read far more than I would otherwise. A few reasons:
- Hundreds of books fit in a space smaller than a single physical book
- Can read at night without an overhead light bothering myself or anyone else (and without blue light!)
- Can travel (and/or move houses) without books taking up space
- Can download a new book in five minutes vs going to the store or waiting for a delivery. This makes it much easier to start books
- Can come back to a book I bought three years ago while living in a totally different place
Getting a kindle was the best decision I ever made in terms of encouraging myself to read.
One claim I've seen is that it is because they are frontlit rather than backlit. But to the photosensor cells that sense the light and report to the parts of the brain that control circadian rhythms, it should just be frequency and intensity that matters. Light of a given frequency and intensity should have the same effect regardless of whether it came from a frontlit or a backlit display.
I have noticed that the brightness I need to comfortably read a normal screen seems to be higher than the brightness I need to comfortably read paper. Perhaps that is the difference--we simply use less light with paper?
Or perhaps with paper, where we get to choose what light to use for our nighttime reading, and it is often done with a light dedicated specifically to that task, we tend to choose low blue lights?
An e-ink screen with light turned off should be similar to paper (a little less contrast than a book, perhaps, but higher than a "grey" newspaper).
And while we have a lot of terrible modern light sources, a regular glow lamp would be much warmer than a typical "white" led.
I hate reading black font on a white background, too bright.
1. Twilight, f.lux you name it.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.prestigio.... - very great app, you can use widget to see your library also. You can use any TTS ( I use Google) to listen to the book.
You can set speed, pause easily.
A great app that is used for deliberate practicing speed reading skill. Increasing the WPM to an uncomfortable level.
Also you can read before bed without having to turn next page.
The average HN user probably spends 10-100x more times / day on avg than an average Kindle user who doesn't program/develop.
It is a sandbox afterall.
So, is it like the war on drug and war on terrorism ?
Also I remember when I was a kid, people were over my back for reading too much books, as I was supposed to “go outside”, “play with the other kids”, “make things with my hand”. I won’t use the eternal ‘I ended up fine’ argument, but in any day and age we’re grindingly pushing kids toward stuff they don’t care about for no decent reason. As a general rule you shouldn’t be at war against stuff your kids are into.
My 1.5 year old shuts off completely whenever he can get access to a screen, it is amazing and scary. He likes books also, but is much more engaged with them.
Screen time is probably a top issue for parenting today.
Does you kid gain access to a screen accidentally or is it something you employ as an emergency pacifier on rare occasions?
Did you find what’s sucking him into these apps ? At 1.5 yo it can be super interesting to understand what makes him focus and direct his learning.
For ours it was simply things that move that he can’t touch (no texture, no tactile feedback), and it was new enough to him that he stuck with learning numbers and letters shapes just to keep using the ipad.
When everything is new in the world, I'm sure they're feeling the "zone" moment too of absorbing new information.
I don't think tablets are the issue - curation of content is.
What do you mean? Isn't he just reading them?
Fun thing I actually was an avid reader, but the curriculum books were totally out of place. At 12yo “Promessi Sposi” and “Divina Commedia” is such a shitty, verbose and convolute prose it killed my interest in literature.
Funnily enough I was enjoying at the time reading Calvino and Pirandello, authors I wouldn’t find in the curriculum until five years later. And read literally a ton of comics.
So blaming “screens” to me sounds like my average teacher back then totally disconnected with the minds of kids.
But did you really have "Promessi Sposi" as 12yo? I recall having it in the high school curriculum, some 5 years later.
It is downright illegible for a small kid anyway, I 100% agree.
For me, the teachers' recommended readings for the summer were things of the "good educational readings" kind (To Kill a Mockingbird, Fontamara, Cronache di Poveri Amanti, Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini etc) which are terribly boring for kids.
On the other hand, my class had a class library with more enjoyable stuff in it (Tolkien, Calvino, YA stuff).
Kids often used to start read out of boredom, you used to find fun and easy to read junk in sch situation. Now kids play something or watch videos in that boredom situation.
Plus, now kids have more homework and organized activities. And easy to read fun junk is harder to find. But kids not liking what teacher assigned is not new.
This whole mindset of copy & paste information into new citizen is nightmarish and has bred so much resentment/outright resistance it should be persecuted for destroying a young persons motivation and interest in new things.
Youtube and others are laying this idea, that knowledge has to be uninteresting and/or boring to ashes- series like extraHistory, smarterEveryDay, etc. show what is possible and how bad things actually are and where.
If someone must force his grownup tastes down upon a not grown up audience, and overrides rejection /disinterest with force - destroying one of the most vital things a new citizen has to bring to this society (intrinsic will to learn / yearning for discovery) the educator should be fired and banned from his / her profession.
I am not bashing young people in general here. Most are not like that, even if they read less.
Also wtf it is with people that first reaction on anything is threat of firing. It seems like people can't discuss even curriculum without that.
I guess childhood is a rare time where you have the freedom to loiter, but I guess this isn't really true anymore in the Western world, as it's a sure way to get your parents in trouble with social services, thanks to overzealous neighbours.
I spend plenty of time outside as an adult. How exactly do adults lose their freedom to enjoy the outside?
The beatings will continue until morale improves.