Games = Illiteracy, Says British Conservative

Say no to Nintendo… garrotte the Game Boy… paralyse the PlayStation…

So says Boris Johnson, a Conservative member of the British Parliament, in an anti-game rant on his personal website. Johnson, who draws upon a background as a journalist, is apparently of the Bill O’Reilly school when it comes to games. His comments include:

Millions of seven- to 15-year-olds are hooked, especially boys, and it is time… as a society, that we admitted the catastrophic effect these blasted gizmos are having on the literacy and the prospects of young males.

in the six years following 1997, the numbers of young children who said that they didn’t like reading rose from 23 per cent to 35 per cent… I refuse to believe that these hypnotic little machines are innocent…

These machines teach (children) nothing. They stimulate no ratiocination, discovery or feat of memory – though some of them may cunningly pretend to be educational. I have just watched an 11-year-old play a game that looked fairly historical, on the packet. Your average guilt-ridden parent might assume that it taught the child something about the Vikings and medieval siege warfare.

Phooey! The red soldiers robotically slaughtered the white soldiers, and then they did it again, that was it. Everything was programmed, spoon-fed, immediate…

Huge numbers are still leaving primary school in a state of functional illiteracy, with 44 per cent unable either to read, write or do basic sums. By the age of 14, there are still 40 per cent whose literacy or numeracy is not up to the expected standard…

For more on Boris Johnson, check his Wikipedia entry.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    JacksonW says:

    I can safely say that after reading that I don’t feel illiterate, but I do feel more like a gamer. I’m 15 and I love writing, from journalism to poetry, it’s really something I love. I’ve failed one class so far, and I can say without doubt it was never because of video games distracting me, me merging reality and fantasy, or being illiterate. Never really liked arithmetic and science, I just feel at home with languages and history.

  2. 0
    Terminator44 says:


    “I am well aware that children are being churned thruogh school without learning anything. This isn’t the fault of videogames. It’s the fault of a broken education system, and the one here in the USA needs fixing soon.”

    So sad. Yet so true.

    “As for the replacement of the don’t walk signs to the pictogram, that was done to accomodate foriegn language speakers. Remember, technically USA has no official language.”

    Hey, nobody said such policies for one reason and one reason only. 😉

  3. 0
    Vinzent says:

    @ Terminator44

    That’s why I used the term “functioning school system. I am well aware that children are being churned thruogh school without learning anything. This isn’t the fault of videogames. It’s the fault of a broken education system, and the one here in the USA needs fixing soon.

    As for the replacement of the don’t walk signs to the pictogram, that was done to accomodate foriegn language speakers. Remember, technically USA has no official language.

  4. 0
    aniki21 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I think you guys are mostly over-reacting.

    Boris is an oddball of the highest calibre but he’s pretty harmless; he’s one of those “and finally” comedy news stories when he says something utterly stupid (like Prince Philip only not as racist).

    Frankly, nobody takes him seriously – even Conservative voters roll their eyes. I’d not be surprised if Boris isn’t just playing up his own reputation to extend his fifteen minutes until another Have I Got News For You appearance comes a-calling.

  5. 0
    Daniel says:

    WHAT? This is ridiculous. These games don’t make people illiterate. I refuse to believe that. What is it with older people? They can’t stop blaming everything that happens on video games. Something goes wrong blame video games. A psychopath kills some people blame video games. These people need to stop acting so childish and immature. Politicians are bums and gamers have to step up to stop this CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m way past tired of everything being blamed on my favorite pasttime. I’ve had it. It makes me SICK TO MY STOMACH. I’M GOING TO THROW UP IF I KEEP WRITING, SO JUST STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. 0
    SilverStar says:

    Strange.. I was the most avid game player in my school, yet I was scoring higher than the teachers on some of the tests.

    If I was doing that, while games were making me into a blasted retard, then how intelligent would I have been without playing games?

  7. 0
    Wookiee ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Sheesh, take a stroll through a Barnes & Noble sometime. There are now book series’ based off Myst, Halo (I plowed through Ghosts of Onyx overnight. It was GREAT) Descent, Warcraft, Doom, Perfect Dark (a prequel, no less) Tomb Raider, ect.

    While some of them have failed to live up to the storytelling standards of the games they’re based off of, many of them succeed in carrying on the intriguing storylines of their source.
    I highly recomend
    -Halo (Fall of Reach, the Flood, First Strike and Ghosts of Onyx are all exelent)
    -Tomb Raider (I liked the Amulet of Power and the Lost Cult, but the Man of Bronze was kind of corny in places IMO)
    -Perfect Dark: Initial Vector

  8. 0
    Soldatlouis ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Also, note that Boris Johnson published this article in the “Daily Telegraph”, where it sparked a huge debate :

    It went so far that the Telegraph went back to that topic on december 30th (my birthday !!).
    First, you can read this response by Sam Leigh :
    And these other articles :

  9. 0
    Susi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I know this has been said a million times already, but I just want to add another voice and personal experience to the fray.

    My reading is BETTER for having played video games as a child. Video games involve a lot of reading and while more and more games are voice acted these days, there are and will always be games and parts of voice acted games that require reading.

    If any kid plays any Zelda or Final Fantasy game, s/he is in for a LOT of reading. I mean, heck… have you read those quest descriptions in World of Warcraft? They’re pretty verbose.

    Hasn’t it been shown in studies that children who play video games are more literate and have better hand-eye coordination? Those studies came out just a few years ago–are they already obsolete? Wish I could cite them properly.

  10. 0
    Terminator44 says:


    “Serously, how does a kid slip through a “functionining” school system without being able to read.”

    Actually, until the 90s, when gaming became more mainstream, that was the case. I’m not sure if this is true for the U.K., but in the U.S. in the 80s huge numbers of people slipped through high school without being able to read. Why do you think the “DON’T WALK” sign was replaced by a little guy? Nobody could read the signs anymore. That’s why I find it hilarous when old people say our generation is the least educated.

  11. 0
    pix ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    God i love Boris I really do, what you guys on the other said of the pond have to know is that Boris is pretty much thought of as a joke, he only really ever open his mouth to insert his other foot into it.

    Try not to take anything he says to serious, the guy is a legend for all the wrong (comic) reasons

    good old Boris, how you cheer me up

  12. 0
    Matthew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    To reiterate what has been said before, Boris is something of a public figure of ridicule. That’s not to say that some people mock him in the same way that they mock other politicians; this guy is invited on TV specifically to have people laugh at him. He’s a bit quaint, a bit antiquated, and generally a bit rubbish at getting his point across without sounding like a parody of a British MP.

    With regards to what he’s saying, rather than the way he’s saying it, he’s almost right. Almost, but crucially not quite. In my opinion he’s right in saying that kids are generally getting worse academically, and he’s right in saying that playing computer games isn’t going to solve the problem. He’s wrong in drawing a link between the two; other things that won’t teach children are playing football, building forts out of pillows, and eating crisps. It is the job of the school system and the parents to educate children.

  13. 0
    kurisu7885 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    He nearly broke my brain.

    I’ve learned a grat deal of Mythology from them ore recent Castelvania games.

    most of what I know about world War 2 and the cold War came from video games.

    I know alot about certain weapons, not how to operate or fire them, but histories and schematics from video games.

    I’ve learned a good deal of my reading from video games.

    I’ve learned to manage my finances from video games.

    I’ve learned a good deal about time management from video games.

    And it’s clear that video games aren’t the problem. Maybe, I dunno, making schoolwork half interesting and less like work?

  14. 0
    BRR says:

    I got to the part where he refers to games as “blasted gizmos” and I almost had to stop reading. I guess I’ll cut him some slack since he’s british. As I read the article I couldn’t help but imagine his voice sounding exactly like Professor Hubert Farnsworth from Futurama.

  15. 0
    ZeRu ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Just a copy & paste of my comment from his website:

    “No, Mr. Johnson, it is about time you should learn values of human righths, freedom of choice and tolerance, as this article is no more than an uneducated and uninsightful attack on those. The main purpose of video games is for people to entertain themselves, and people always had a need for entertainment to relax themselves (ever heard of Roman phrase “Panem et circenses”? – while Romans enjoyed Gladiator fights, today we have more civilized forms on amusement, like sports, arts, even computer and console games). However, entertainment has always been a thorn in eyes of authocrats, as it doesn’t help them spread fear in people they rely so much upon. So whenever a new form of entertainment is introduced, such authocrats will do their best to invalidate, or even outlaw it – football, television, rock music – they all in their early days had a very hard time getting their place under The Sun.

    However, this isn’t only about entertainment but about intolerance, because politicans, pragmatic as they are, don’t want to promote differences in people as they don’t need votes from everyone, only from majority. That’s why I call Mr. Johnson’s text as intolerance – it’s no better than spreading racial or religous hatred, the only difference being it is targeted at different minority. Unfortunately, knowing a difference between good and evil is something people gain empirically, not something they’re born with and that’s why many people will support his words without being aware they’re spreading intolerance. If I wasn’t playing games, would that guarantee I would think differently than Mr. Johnson? No, but I have enough experience with them to know his perception is wrong.

    Also, why majority of game-haters always perceive them as something only children are interested in (other than to prove how they have abslutely no insight on the matter)? With computer technology being so evolved today, average gamer’s age is getting up and up, and I wouldn’t be surprised if games become more popular to old people who are in their retirements, as they usually have boring lives. I am aged over 30, I have a university degree, a regular job, but I’m also spending most of my free time by playing games. I don’t have any children, but if I had them, I certainly wouldn’t forbid them to play games, as long as they are aware some things, like school, are more important (although this could be relativized, as I’ve seen people gaining more success in life than me with less education, and some people earn for living by making, or even playing games – although the latter is much rarer) and as long they play games suitable for their age (games, just like movies, can have age rating, and even when they have no age restrictions, they might be over-complicated for small children to understand).

    Also, not all games can be treated equal, just like a pornographic book cannot be treated same as the one written by Shakespeare – a game could be mindlessly simple, or it could require planning and thinking (for example, Mr. Johnson should’ve tried the game called “Planescape: Torment” for the greatest amount of text and dialogue in a computer game ever before blaming games for promoting illiteracy) – playing a game of chess or quiz on your computer still qualifies as a game and as such, falls under Mr. Johnson trivial accusations, even though the former promotes thinking and the latter promotes knowledge. But mindless or not, they always fill out one purpose: to entertain. Is watching 22 people on a large grass field running to catch a ball (a.k.a. football) less mindless than sending red soldiers against white soldiers? No, but it still fills than one purpose, so people enjoy it. There’s no reason to treat games any different.”

  16. 0
    eugaet ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    My 6yo son loves to play video games…spends more time playing video games than I feel he should, but then I spend countless hours logged into Guild Wars every week, so I’m one to talk.

    I used to read the text on the screen to him when he was younger. He has now been old enough to read it on his own for quite some time. And the games he plays require quite a bit of reading to understand what is going on, what you are supposed to do, and at times even just to play.

    He loves books, loves to read. Favorite place to go is the bookstore. We read to him (and his younger sister) every night, and have done so since they were born.

    At school, his class is learning subtraction. At home, I’m teaching him multiplication and algebra. Not only is he very good at it, he enjoys it a lot and is constantly badgering me for more math problems to solve.

    So aside from bragging, what is my point? It’s not the videogames, you pompous snob. Maybe you should take a look at the parents. If we say it enough, someone is bound to pick up on it, yes?

    I know my kids are much smarter than I was at their age (I was most definitely not figuring out algebra in 1st grade). But they also play a hell of a lot more videogames than I ever did at their age, too.

  17. 0
    Azradesh says:

    Boris is a fun little guy, and he does have a point to an extent, before you all shout at me let me explain. 😀

    First, the English schooling system is a pile of steaming horse dung. Having worked with and around kids here for the last 2 years, it really makes me angry to see how much they are spoon fed at school.
    Second, kids that are a product of this schooling system NEVER read anything if they can help it, and so will skip past any narrative in the games they play just to get to the action.

    So Boris is probably right that most kids don’t learn a lot from games, except for hand-eye coordination, spacial awareness, and maybe if they have the patience for RTS, some tactical forethought. But these are not things that can be easily seen, and of course kids that don’t like a metal challenge are going to ignore the more complex games.

    In short what Boris sees is not the course but the symptom. I myself learnt a hell of a lot of history from some games, and some science. And this made me want to find out more.

  18. 0
    shadaik says:

    Yay, let’s judge al of literature by watching someone read, let’s say, Lord of the Rings.
    Because you learn so much of it. Like, um, hobbit culture – oh, waitaminit…

    This all is a complete overestimation of the importance of books as well as a complete underestimization of videogames. Funny how this woul mathematically fuse into mediocrity.
    Piece of personal opinion btw: What is so important about being literate in a world where books may very soon no longer be a significant way of telling stories?

  19. 0
    Grahamr ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “On the 28th of December 2006 Johnson wrote a comment piece in The Telegraph[10] turning his attention to computer games. In it he wrote “Some children have it bad. Some are miraculously unaffected. But millions of seven- to 15-year-olds are hooked, especially boys, and it is time someone had the guts to stand up, cross the room and just say no to Nintendo. It is time to garrotte the Game Boy and paralyse the PlayStation, and it is about time, as a society, that we admitted the catastrophic effect these blasted gizmos are having on the literacy and the prospects of young males.” He went on to say “We get on with our hedonistic 21st-century lives while in some other room the nippers are bleeping and zapping in speechless rapture, their passive faces washed in explosions and gore. They sit for so long that their souls seem to have been sucked down the cathode ray tube.” The bit about souls and cathode ray tubes is a typical quote from Boris. The comments started getting wider coverage a week after the initial publication increasing the chance of a response from concerned parties similar to that in some of the above examples.”

    From wikipedia

  20. 0
    Vinzent ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Old Codger begins his rant:

    I can’t believe kids today, growing up and graduatin’ school without being able to read. In my day, if a kid couldn’t read he was held back until he could. Now we got these dang videohoochamawhatsis, teachers can’t teach no more!

    Serously, how does a kid slip through a “functionining” school system without being able to read.

    I will agree with this politician on one thing. There is nothing educational, ratiocinational, and involves no discovery or feat of memory about WATCHING an 11 year old play a videogame.

  21. 0
    neoelasticman ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Sorry to post over and over again, but I just realized when I read his website that he’s blaming the wrong agent for the correct reasons. He seems to be complaining that boys hate to do book-related assignments in school (e.g. book analysis and reports). I haven’t read any studies to this effect, but it seems to be a natural notion that if two things go hand-in-hand that the brain affiliates them as a group. More specifically, schools attach work to book-reading, so children affiliate reading with work. That’s it.

    The solution is not to eradicate video games; that was never mentioned in my analysis. It might be something chosen preferentially over something affiliated with work, but it is not the cause of illiteracy. The correct solution is not even to stop the book reports and analysis. I have always hated those, but they are necessary nonetheless. The best answer is to find some way of making that particular work more enjoyable. I am not going to delve too deeply into that prospect right now, since any ideas I come up with would never become concrete. I’m sure that British school employees are not reading GamePolitics. However, the idea of giving kids some sort of reward for their work or perhaps making the work itself the reward should be considered.

  22. 0
    neoelasticman ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Well, HEY! Looks like I only messed up once! Those darn games, if only I hadn’t played them I wouldn’t have accidentally hit two keys at once that one time!

  23. 0
    neoelasticman ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I am going to try typing this comment with my eyes closed, starting in the next paragraph:

    I don’t think that this guy has any creidibility. He clearly has no experience with games and he’s apparently a laughable guy in the UK. I could go on and on, but everybody has already said everything that needs to be said, so I don’t think that I could add much except that I am very literate and currently typing with muy eyes closed. I’m pretty sure that my typos are minimal.

  24. 0
    sa9097 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    If John Boris is reading this, I’d like to remind the douchebag he forgot 16+ year-olds. And it would also appear we have a better grasp on capitalization than he does (second paragraph)…

  25. 0
    Ohma ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “I wonder one thing. Why do games even need to teach you anything? I play games because it is a hobby. I don’t see any reason why every hobby needs to be educational. Nowadays, we are living in a society where a lot of people think that everything you do needs to be for the greater good of society. It seems that there is a huge taboo on doing something because you think it is fun. Not everything in my life should be about educating myself. “

    And why do you assume that games cannot be education while being fun? Frell, when I was a kid I made it a point to read the Civlopedia text (and later Centaripedia) for whatever technology my little Vikings(or Peacekeepers) had discovered in Civ II(or Alpha Centauri).
    Knowing the (albeit condensed) history behind humanity’s discovery and use of that advancement made me feel even better about having chosen to research it(e.g. the game was more fun for me).

  26. 0

    Comment on his site from myself:

    Dr. Mr. Johnson

    The very idea that anyone, let alone an elected representative of the people of great britain, would make such idiotic and baseless statements is just sickening to me.

    That you would blame the failings of the british education system on what is after all, just another form of entertainment, is crass, opportunistic, and irresponsible.

    What is worse, while doing so, you have referenced no actual research or data of any kind, and have instead simply drawn a completely random correlation between two things. Where is your evidence that the rise in illiteracy has any connection to video games, or is it supposed to be pefectly obvious to all educated peoples, as it is to you? What is obvious is your complete ignorance of the subject.

    I think I will go ahead and say the there is a clear link between the rise of new technology, and the growing incompentence of our elected officials. My conclusion has just as much basis as yours.

    For shame, sir.

  27. 0

    What about the seven million active subscribers (a bunch of which are kids) playing WoW.

    The game not only simulates an actual market place, but was involved in a study on how MMO’s galvanize task oriented strategy in kids, which is an important factor in living thats rarely ever taught at a young age.

    Lets not forget that you cant really play WoW if you cant read quests and communicate effectively with others.

    For god sake, somone scored a top job in finance because he put his guild leading history on his resume.

    Lastly, dont forget about the endless numbers of RPG’s and RTS’s like Civilization and Kessen.

  28. 0
    James Clark says:

    FIRSTLY: It’s not of Boris Johnson’s business what other people’s kids do with their free time. I would have thought a “conservative” would accept this, but I guess not. Personally I think rugby is a primitive and dangerous exercise in macho hormonal dysfunction, but I don’t go telling the British public their kids shouldn’t be allowed to play it.

    SECONDLY: There are more adult gamers than child gamers. What they do with their spare time is none of Boris Johnson’s business, and none of the government’s business so long as it harms no non-consenting parties.

    THIRDLY: Boris Johnson obviously has a vastly inflated opinion of himself. The market speaks for itself… Video games are a massive industry which only keeps growing in popularity. But no… screw the millions of gamers in Britain, Boris Johnson’s opinion, which he formulated by watching someone else play one unnamed video game, is infinitely more important than the economics. Again, I would have expected this idiocy of a neo-liberal or social democrat – not a conservative.

    FOURTHLY: Britain’s pathetic public education system and welfare state is the primary reason for the nation’s kids being so ignorant. Stop trying to scapegoat your problems and do something about it.

  29. 0
    Stairmaster401 says:

    Yawn. I’ve been a gamer since I was about 6 years old, and I read books almost daily, and I did even through my prime video game years. foConversely, my sister who has no interest in video games at all rarely reads for pleasure.

    Just another wild claim with no scientific basis. If you really wanted to blame anything on the per-generation decrease in reading as a pleasure activity, you should probably look more toward television and film, though even they are not to blame.

    And I don’t know about you, but I sure learned a lot from video games. I learned the princess is always in another castle, that red things hate blue things and vice versa, and that you can jump on turtles and then kick them into other turtles. Assuming the turtles arent mutated ninjas, of course.

  30. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Considering how the Cdn government put a pro-industry, anti-environment guy in charge of the Dept of the Environment… Yes, governments do ironic stuff like that all the time. 😉

    Ministers in charge of Dept’s rarely have any eduction/qualifications in relation to the department itself. Ministers set policy based on what will get the government elected next time. Those who actually know what they’re doing (usually) are the ones working IN the department. Politicians come and go, but civil servants get all the work done…

  31. 0
    Spyrle ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Nah Boris is nothing like JT… Except for the part about nobody listening to him. He’s just A) a tory, and B) laughable – so no-one really cares what he says.

  32. 0
    Yoshiko says:

    So this guy is like the British counterpart of Jack Thompson, except unlike us, nobody over there actually listens to him?

    What a crazy world we live in.

  33. 0
    BustermanZero ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m surprised he can still talk, with his foot shoved that far down his throat. This is like the drunken ramblings of Mel Gibson, only instead of being anti-semetic he’s a player hater.

  34. 0
    Tater-Dad says:

    I convinced my mom to get me the original Final Fantasy because of all the reading. I also got hooked on The Romance of the Three Kingdoms by playing Dynasty Warriors. Now unfortunatley most of the home consoles have spoken parts so reading isn’t as important, but like Gamer Dad was saying- GBA & DS Games have tons of reading in the games.

  35. 0
    Rammsoldat says:

    Ah good old borris, he’s no stranger to tabloid controversey as hes been doing it since before he was an MP. I laughed my arse off just after he’d been cheating on his wife and it came out in public. Hed just been riding his bike and got back home when a bunch of reporters jumped him outside his home. He tried to fob them off and go into his house but his wife locked him outside with all the reporters lol.

    anyway if any of you americans who are getting riled up over his comments want to see why us brits are just laughing at him there’s a nice early clip of him on youtube wich goes some of the way to explaining why.

  36. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Gawd forbid this guy go on about movies. You could easily convert his arguments to watching TV or movies… And they’d still be just as meaningless.

    Kids aren’t playing games in the classroom, so if kids aren’t learning, maybe you should try looking there first. THEN focus on why the parents aren’t instilling a good work ethic in their kids to get the homework done…

  37. 0
    Dave says:

    Educational? You want to speak educational? I didn’t know much about World War 2 before playing games about it, and I learned a thing or two. Not only that, but playing World War 2 games made me more interested and I went onto Wikipedia and other sites to read about it.

    Same goes for Age of Empires and a few others.

    This guy is a joke.

  38. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I know this is just one example, and doesn’t really reflect the masses, but of my friends, I’m an “average” gamer, and yet I read more books than most of my friends who haven’t touched a console since high school.

    Perhaps gaming is cutting into education, but so does anything. I used to skip homework to read my fantasy books. My friend would be glued to the TV, and another friend would spend all his time at the rink practicing for the hockey tournament… And yet all three of us got decent marks…

  39. 0
    GamerDad says:

    All I can say to this is that the biggest complaint I hear from parents about GBA, DS, (some of the best selling games period) and some other console games is the sheer amount of reading – let me repeat that – READING required. It’s a complaint, btw, because parents often buy some of the clearly kid safe stuff for a 4-6 year-old not realizing that they’re going to have to sit in the backseat of the car during a trip and read the game to their kids.

    I actually sell this as a plus because, hey, reading a game to your kid and reading a book to your kid really amounts to the same thing in most cases. I’m saying this part as a writer of kid’s fiction.

  40. 0
    Chuma ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Of course you have to take these comments with the knowledge that Boris is really the political equivalent of a lovable buffoon. Gaming since the age of 5 got me interested in programming, something that requires learning mathematics, logic and grammar, albeit not entirely English grammar. In turn this got me a decent paid job using my brain.

    I should be pointed out to Boris that one of the top selling games of 2006 was ‘Brain Training’ and that there ARE realistic and helpful options for parents to buy their kids educational as well as entertaining software. (Incidentally, I bought the Brain Training for my 7 year old niece this Christmas and within 5 minutes she was happily playing sudoku)

  41. 0
    A British Chap says:

    Apologies to the Yanks (and indeed anyone who isn’t British) who don’t really ‘get’ Boris. No one really listens to him and everyone in Britain knows he is a rambling old fool, but we consider him a national treasure, much like how you lot let Jimmy Carter out of his pen once in a while to utter complete nonsense.

  42. 0
    Muetank ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I just read the artical on his web site and i must say, I think I just lost a few IQ points reading that. It’s not just the fact that he has no idea what hes talking about that makes me upset. It’s the fact that he acts like computers and video games are a form of plauge that is slowly killing our youth. Maybe the reasion that kids today dont want to read is that the books are just uninteresting, Or they really are a chore. Who really want to read a book about a angsty teenager when you your self are an angsty teenager. Then you have to wright a long drawn out essay on some chapter about what it ment to me and the symbolism of some obscure item in the chapter. If i’m gona read, I’d want the book to be imaginitive and exciting. Not something I’m going to expereance just by steping out side.

  43. 0
    squigs says:

    To be fair to Boris, he’s usually sincere. He may be an idiot, but he’s an idiot with his own opinions rather than a bandwagon jumper.

    It can’t be right that the Playstation and XBox caused this illiteracy when the Commodore Amiga, Sega Megadrive, the NES, the C64 and the Atari 2600 didn’t. Video games aren’t as new an invention as people like to think.

    On the other hand, he does make a good point, and then follows it to completely the wrong conclusion. That was “Everything was programmed, spoon-fed, immediate…”. Far too many games are pretty mindless. Too many studios just want to churn out formulaic clones of established concepts rather than encourage thought and strategy. I’d love to see more emphasis on promoting more thoughtful games (which would probably include the example Boris gave).

  44. 0
    Rich says:

    Ha ha ha ha… classic. Ol’ Boris gets involved in the whole ‘video games’ scene, and once again like everything else he talks about, he stuffs it up completely.

    He is one of the funniest people you’re ever likely to see, but not for the right reasons. He doesn’t mean to be funny, he just comes across that way because of all his complete screw ups.

    If anyone wants a laugh (and to see how pathetic our ‘leaders’ can be) then google a bit of Boris into your day. If you can, get hold of some of his appearances on a TV show called ‘Have I Got News For You’ where he proves to be the floppy haired dimwit he appears to be.

    I just hope he joins forces with Keith Vaz, then the video game industry and fans will really have something to laugh about…


  45. 0
    dutch_gamer ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I wonder one thing. Why do games even need to teach you anything? I play games because it is a hobby. I don’t see any reason why every hobby needs to be educational. Nowadays, we are living in a society where a lot of people think that everything you do needs to be for the greater good of society. It seems that there is a huge taboo on doing something because you think it is fun. Not everything in my life should be about educating myself.

    If this person thinks that children don’t read enough, schools should put a focus on language skills instead of just math. Let them focus more on oral bookreports. At least that way the children have to actually read the book, instead of being able to use a written report that they download from the internet.

  46. 0
    Robb ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wow, I didn’t realize the UK had slashed classtimes to allow kids to play more video games. What? They didn’t? They’re still using curriculae that is considered adequate? So this guy is saying that UK education is inadequate?

    I think the whole rant to: I don’t understand kids these days, I don’t see why they need all of these new-fangled gizmos, and I’m afraid of technology. This is called the Generation Gap. It’s been around longer than video games, I’m afraid.

    On the less critical side, his rant is an opinion piece, so don’t take it as fact. He really should be able to express his opinion. I think he has missed the news on how lack of sleep and proper nutrition affects learning.

  47. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Two things caused the rise of ‘illiteracy’ as percieved by many people in the UK.

    1) The original habit of mobile texting services to charge by the letter. This helped created the ‘Txt-spk’ mentality that stuck with people long after it should have died out because of reason 2.

    2) Txt-Spk was originally the domain of the priviged few who used Teletype or other communication devices, the language is actually decades old. However, as the domain of the few, it wasn’t nearly as annoying as it is nowadays. It’s become a problem because of the fact that people are growing up thinking that this is a correct way to spell and because teachers and politicians make such a huge drama out of the whole thing, rather than simply teaching the kids the correct way to spell.

    If there’s anyone in this country responsible for poor spelling or literacy, it biols down to the education system, not the kids, not the computer or the mobile-phone, you have to get those foundations firmly in place, otherwise the whole house comes falling down.

    Personally, I’m an avid gamer, I’m also reading the translation of Homers’ Odyssey, I’m a pretty voracious reader, I read the last Terry Pratchett book in two sittings (and within 48 hours). So I don’t know where this guy gets his ideas from, but he’d be better off looking at our underfunded, unstaffed, undersupported and overworked teaching system first.

  48. 0

    Um, from a “games in education” point of view, this is a good thing. People outside the UK may be unaware that Boris is a largely self-created joke figure, tolerated by his party and liked mainly because he’s a reactionary buffoon.

    There’s a TV programme called “Have I Got News for You” where he is a periodic presenter, mainly so he can come out with crazy statements and be the butt of humour for his ignorance. He plays up the reactionary angle for effect.

    He’s amusing, but no-one outside a few doddery Tories takes him seriously. Remember the slogan: “Boris Johnson is the person to lead this country back into the 17th century!”

    Cue also the last Conservative party conference, where he was chased down the street by journalists demanding he say something controversial.

  49. 0
    Awol ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Just cause children don’t like to read doesn’t mean they can’t read. I know I hated reading growing up. All the books were boring. Then D&D and Final Fantasy hit me and and couldn’t get enough to read. Also games teaching nothing not even memory skills. This guys need to play a game cause if all else the game teaches you memory, to this day most games rely on knowing when baddies will pop out, where the good cars are parked, where to find the health powerup, etc.

  50. 0
    Zach ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Here’s a jewel from a comment on his website:

    “They drain children of an imagination and help the boundaries of right and wrong become blurred.”

  51. 0
    Darkken says:

    I am amused by the notion that videogames cause illiteracy, considering I learned to read Japanese largerly from playing Japanese RPGs. Fact is, you need a solid reading comprehension to get anything out of a great deal of games. Other than that, this man knows nothing about games. I wonder if he’s ever heard of Civilization.

    Beyond that, I wonder what “I don’t like reading” stands for, specifically? What was the precise question and in what context was it asked? if this is another panic attack about how the youth doesn’t read literature, well, that is sad and all, and I think it’s probable and perfectly logical to assume that games are one reason for that, but why not blame television and movies while you’re at it?

  52. 0
    KevinQ says:

    The red soldiers robotically slaughtered the white soldiers, and then they did it again, that was it.

    He’s got a point. If it were truly historical, it would have been followed by the white soldiers slaughtering the red soldiers, to avenge their earlier slaughter, and then the red soldiers would once more have slaughtered the white soldiers, while shouting the “medieval Viking” equivalent of “Remember the Alamo!”

    On the other hand, this is just another rant by an ignorant person scared of what he doesn’t understand. Video games make our kids stupid, rock music turns them into devil worshippers, and the novel will lead to the downfall of civilization.


  53. 0
    Majestic_12_x ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    me no unliterate person ’cause of vidya games. i unliterate ’cause me teacher not like to teach very much. me always on internet instead of reading stuff. me no like Boris Johnson hypothesis.

    Partying, texting/calling, hanging out, internet, homework, television, sports. You can also blame these in addition to video games if you really want to understand why children have no desire to read these days. Yet again, another wannabe Jack tries to single out video games as the cause of societies problems.

  54. 0
    Salen says:

    Because no one ever does any reading in RPGs. *sigh* Hell, the argument probably works the same for movies, until you realize there’s a Subtitle option on most DVDs nowadays. Seriously, this guy needs to be beaten across the head with a copy of Phoenix Wright. Not only could he learn a thing or two about law, but he’ll learn that this game really makes you think. And read. And remember. And puzzlesolve.

    But seriously, this guy makes it seem like a little funtime that isn’t being wasted instead of being used for ‘education’ is a bad thing. I bet this guy thinks that recess in schools is a bad thing too. *sigh*

  55. 0
    Zach ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “These machines teach (children) nothing. They stimulate no ratiocination, discovery or feat of memory – though some of them may cunningly pretend to be educational.”

    Try playing Zelda and then come talk to me about how games don’t offer a sense of discovery.

    Anyway, this is just another dumbass politician jumping aboard the anti-game train. People who blame poor literacy rates on video games aren’t connected with reality.

  56. 0
    Gamer says:

    I agree, has he even played a video game, does he know that video games actually do increase your concious reaction time and hand-eye coordination. He apparently hasnt done his research. Most people play video games to get away from reality and spark their imagination and creativity. The video game industry has given jobs to many people with high paying salaries. Video games are sometimes actually helpful in many cases.

  57. 0
    Viper_K says:

    This guy really need to play Brainage, it really is a great game, need a PSP port though. Final Fantasy series taught me how to read roman numerals, and after a couple generations of Unreal and Quake have sharpened my reflexes too, on top of that, i always now when someones behind me. Ive aslo done A+ worthy history reports off of the Call of Duty series. When the game developers know what there doing, (and in Infinity Wards case with CoD, do the correct historical research) gaming can become suprisingly educational.
    I mean, every one knows about D-Day but who knew that Rangers needed to scale a 3 story tall cliff to destroy fixed artillery placement (which at the time were gone and had to be sought after) that could jepordize (sp?) D-Day… there ya go, learned something new.

  58. 0
    AY200 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Don’t worry Mister Johnson, I’m sure they’ll figure out how to make video games try and humorless, just like the early British literature you invoke every time you hit us with one of those darling colloquialisms.

    But if it is all the same to you, I’ll stick with Terry Pratchett and Simon R. Green. I understand you might have trouble understanding my point of view, but please understand that your contemporaries, Eliza Haywood and Jane Austen, have somewhat fallen from favor.

  59. 0
    Darth_Toxic says:

    *Is a video game player*

    *Is currently a high-school honors student whose favorite books include Anthony Burgess’ “A Clockwork Orange” and Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Universe”, splits his spare time in class by either reading novels such as the ones I mentioned, *graphic* novels (“Johnny The Homicidal Maniac” needs more recognition for being possibly one of the greatest, most rightfully pessimistic social commentaries of our generation, in ANY artform), or psychology/philosophy books, and greatly enjoys reading about different cultures, religions and spiritualities, and really loves getting to sound off about his political and artistic opinions in essays and analytical papers, as I’d wager you can tell right now.*

    Or, going the short road… This man is a crackpot. And not one of the GOOD crackpots, like John Waters…

  60. 0
    Bilbobaggins says:

    game+educational. if I had played it right after I got it, I would have learned stuff (we covered the subjects in class the week I first played it)
    hey, look, paper on games as educational.

    plus, look at me. I was born the year of the SNES release, and when my hands were big enough to hold the controller, I was playing one. I”m an honour student, I am currently only not reading due to a TON of school work (exam time. hooray.) and I’ve been reading classic novels since I was 7 (I’ll never forget staying up all night with a flashlight finishing that one chapter of Moby Dick, then reading more because I was so excited)

    I still play games, and I’ve noticed since I became a serious gamer (last year) I have increased memory, decreased reaction time, and at least in my opinion, better problem solving skills than non-gamers/casual gamers of my age.

  61. 0
    Mark says:

    Illiteracy = Not being able to read…Am I correct? Just because they dont read books does not mean that they dont read.

    I admit that it may sound a little wierd but video games are merely books with sound, graphics, and a more involved interaction that books cannot match. Although I admit books do provide more detail and more creativity, do not look down on video games as being inferior to books.

    Honestly poeple talk up books a LITTLE too much (they are good, I read a lot, dont misinterpret me). However, Theres plenty of badly and poorly written books out there as well as poor video games. FOr every bug in a game you find a misprint or an error in a book.

  62. 0
    Tiki Music says:

    Many of the points raised above are questionable. One said that he learned some Japanese by playing a game. Another said that he learned to read by playing another game. A third argued that he learned “a thing or two” about World War II by playing a third game. One even argues that people don’t want to read because they don’t want to read. Another adds that he plays video games but is an honors student, which implies that he represents the population of students playing video games.

    Jane Healey and other psychologists have shown that playing video games do not replace reading and other activities, and that they and other media (including television) impede learning. Also, there are many other activities, such as sports, which enhance hand-eye coordination, and board games, which encourage social skills. Why are all of these ignored in favor of video games?

    Finally, I find it incredibly strange that many posters insist that video games helped them learn. And what about those who didn’t grow up playing video games? What can you say about them?

    That is why, in response to Terminator, I don’t find it hilarious when old people say younger generations are not as educated because that is a fact.

  63. 0
    Ralff says:

    Query: Do other hobbies for children/teenagers promote literacy? For example, football, generally considered to be a “wholesome” and “worthy” pastime for high-school age people. The muscle-heads at my school aren’t even reading what they have to for school assignments, much less for enjoyment. And most of these are the kind of people who consider gaming a “wussy” or “nerdy” hobby (unless, of course, it’s Madden or GTA). Is it really video games that are causing a decline in reading, or is it simply the fact that people don’t want to read anymore?

Leave a Reply