This New York Times article, “Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers,” by Motoko Rich, intimates, at least to me, that media companies are now headed down that road that leads to a largely bookless future.

Here’s the kernel of its message:

Increasingly, authors, teachers, librarians and publishers are embracing this fast-paced, image-laden world in the hope that the games will draw children to reading.

Spurred by arguments that video games also may teach a kind of digital literacy that is becoming as important as proficiency in print, libraries are hosting gaming tournaments, while schools are exploring how to incorporate video games in the classroom. In New York, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is supporting efforts to create a proposed public school that will use principles of game design like instant feedback and graphic imagery to promote learning.

It tells about several about-to-be-published, or just-published, books that tie in with video games, such as Scholastic’s “Maze of Bones” series.

Rich touches on the core question that has not yet been answered, namely, do video games, even if they include print, promote the kind of literacy that encourages young people to read printed books? While there are plenty of tech folks who promote computer literacy as a skill that fits right into print literacy, others say that the two have little to do with each other and that while a young person may spend hours or weeks trying to master a game’s minutiae, almost none of a video game’s skills carry over into the very different experience of getting lost in a book.

Reading this article, I could picture it all in my mind: Wait until we baby-boomers all kick the bucket (in 2058? or 2060?), and books will have been well along the way to dying. By 2020, they’ll all have been replaced for younger people by videogame/film/holographic worlds (and if you don’t think holographic TV is coming, read this) that folks can control and manipulate. A few retro folks of the upcoming generations will gravitate to books, but they’ll be seen in, say, 2068, as we see 78-rpm record collectors now – quaint. And maybe e-book readers will finally be cheap and truly functional by then. So, by the 2050s, or earlier, enjoying reading a printed book may be no longer relevant, since everyone will get their entertainment and information electronically.

Am I wrong? I hope I am. Should I care? As a booklover, it’ll be hard to watch. I wish I could be around to see what’s going to happen in 2068. Will there still be libraries by then?

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