Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reading is Fun + Computer Games are Fun = Reading + Computer Games are FUN!

While browsing a newspaper on the way to work this morning - yep, the telecommuting is over, and NineMoons must needs partially return to the rat race - my eyes lit on a headline of quite a different type: a sci-fi author was using video games in order to get more children to read.

Okay, what, right? One of the things that the sane users on the SEA / ANZ Granado Espada forums complain about the most are people, derisively called sotong or squid, who do NOT read the forums but instead create threads just to re-ask questions that have already been asked and answered elsewhere.

You know the type: there are guides in the forums, the guides are stickied so they're always visible in the relevant sub-forums, and people STILL keep asking, say, How do I get Catherine the Summoner? or What is this [item name] for? or even Do the Baron RNPCs craft the Baron Costumes?

Well, I found out that the sci-fi writer is named PJ Haarsma. He's a Canadian author, and his current book series is called The Softwire. It's the tale of a kid who finds out that he's the first human who can pretty much interface with any computer he encounters with just his mind - essentially, he can jack into the Matrix without needing the port at the back of the head.

What makes Haarsma and The Softwire unique? Well, he took the concept of the books one step further by creating an online Role-Playing Game [RPG],
Rings of Orbis. In order to advance in this RPG, players must read the books! Also, Haarsma emphasized that his game was not a "pick-up-a-gun-and-go-kill-each-other-game" [sic] - it's more of resource management meets social networking meets role-playing.

The article on Haarsma featured reactions from other people in the world of children's and young adult books, many of whom had traditionally complained that they were losing their audience to all those new-fangled kill-'em-all video games. Some said that those types of games, coupled with the incessant chatter of "tlkng lyk dis" and terminology such as "Boom Headshot" were damaging the language skills of the players.

Others disagreed, and some mavericks even went so far as to say that video game players actually read more - strategy and tactics guides, game information, and - wait for it - blogs!

I was going to make a joke about how this development pretty much blows the cover off the raison d'etre for this blog's existence, but decided I might as well just celebrate it!

I created the NineMoons Family blog in order to document the journey through the New World, to provide guides and reportage for major events, to give the community another place to meet and exchange views, and so that I might have someplace to talk about my own opinions regarding the game - and that's nothing to hide!

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