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A View from Brad King

Malcolm Gladwell Book Review on Games and Popular Culture

My copy editor, Paul Angiolillo, forwarded me this book review from the New Yorker, which has Malcolm Gladwell dissecting Everything Bad Is Good for You by Steven Johnson. The basic premise of the book is nothing new to the digerati:…

  • May 23, 2005

My copy editor, Paul Angiolillo, forwarded me this book review from the New Yorker, which has Malcolm Gladwell dissecting Everything Bad Is Good for You by Steven Johnson.

The basic premise of the book is nothing new to the digerati: living in a world of integrated media and popular culture has made us smarter because we have to manage a dizzying array of information being thrust at us from every direction.

Even Gladwell’s long synopsis about video games, which Johnson correctly argues are one of the primary stimulators in our information development, is likely to strike the digerati as basic. Of course, that’s probably more an issue with the small amount of space Gladwell had to discuss this than his inherent understanding. I’ve had the occasion to hear him speak (and Blink, which covered how we think in a very different way, was quite brilliant), and imagine him enjoying this premise quite thoroughly.

Now, at the ripe old age of 33, I’d like to think I’m past the days when I get annoyed with people – particularly those who didn’t grow up with digital culture as their nanny – who miss out on the power of “integrated screens” – the era where all information is available to you at your fingertips, no matter where you are.

(Just for the record, I only like to believe I am past that, I am still quite annoyed by this most of the time.)

In fact, there have been numerous studies about the positive effects of video culture in the classroom, including those being conducted by MIT’s own Henry Jenkins. Definitely check out his website on Children’s Culture.

Then, there is a laundry list of books out there on this subject:
Killing Monsters, by Gerald Jones
What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, by James Paul Gee
From Barbie to Mortal Kombat, by Henry Jenkins

And, while John Borland and I were finishing up our book, I did a fair amount of writing on the subject of video games and education, including a piece for Wired: “Educators Turn to Games for Help”.

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