Games and literacy

New research reveals benefits of video games for young people’s literacy, creativity and wellbeing

Major new research has shown that video games can provide young people with a raft of benefits including a route into reading and confidence in reading skills. With the playing of games being of particular benefit during the pandemic by helping to maintain social links between friends. 

The survey comprised of 4,626 young people aged 11-16 in the UK was undertaken by the National Literacy Trust, supported by Ukie and Penguin Random House. 

Four in five children who play games also read materials related to those games, and one in three believed that made them better readers. Three in five also then write something related to those games, such as scripts or fan fiction. 

Games were also found to have possible empathy-boosting characteristics, with two in three respondents saying they helped them imagine being someone else. Games were also shown to support positive communication with friends and family and support for young people’s mental wellbeing, especially during the current crisis. 

One key finding was that games were most effective in engaging boys that are reluctant readers, by giving them access to stories and text in a format they can relate to. 

The research is just part of a wider initiative by the Trust to engage children through games and talk about potential careers in the sector. With a range of resources available at literacytrust.org.uk/videogames including a video interview with Rhianna Pratchett, a recommended reading list for young gamers and a curated list of games to support literacy. 

Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, said: “We know that video games are a part of everyday life for so many children, young people and families across the UK, so it is exciting to uncover the opportunities that video game playing can provide for young people to engage in reading, stimulate creativity through writing, enhance communication with friends and family, and support empathy and wellbeing.

“COVID-19 has significantly disrupted young people’s literacy and learning in recent months, and we want to ensure that no stone is left unturned when it comes to identifying new and innovative ways to support children’s literacy when they return to school in September. Through our partnership with Ukie and Penguin Random House Children’s, we hope to be able to provide families and schools with the resources and tools they need to best harness the benefits of video games for young people’s literacy.”

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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