Steven Johnny’s convincing article ‘Making our Brains Sharper’, published n ‘The Times’, aims to highlight the value of other ‘non-literary popular culture’ in ‘honing different mental skills that are Just as important as the ones exercised by reading books. ‘ Johnson begins his piece with a sarcastic jab at what he calls ‘conventional wisdom’; the idea that ‘reading books enriches the mind; playing video games deadens it’. He prepares readers to question these widely accepted views while highlighting the Idea that these views are old and, consequently, likely to be outdated.
In order to ensure that his views are not considered radical, Johnson also acknowledges the Virtues of reading books’ which reassures the reader that Johnson Is reasonable In his views and Is likely to follow with a logical and reasoned argument. In support of the Idea that video games are the ‘most powerful example’ of popular media which improves thinking skills, Johnson explains that the games are not simply about pleasure: that the player actually spends significant time ‘not having fun’ because games are fiendishly, sometimes maddeningly, hard. In doing this, Johnson challenges the common beliefs held by those who place video games on the list of the debased instant gratifications’ and encourages readers to focus instead on the ‘delayed gratification’ often inherent in these games, as well as the problem solving required. Further supporting this idea is the comparison Johnson makes between playing video games and ‘doing chores’, highlighting that kids, the most frequent players of video games, are often the group ‘most averse to doing chores’ but that video games are actually able to get kids to complete these mundane tasks despite the lack of Immediate reward.
He Is playing on the frustrations of the many arenas who would like nothing better than to have their kids complete their chores and homework without complaint. To further ensure that parents of video game playing parents are convinced, Johnson then spends some time highlighting the academic virtues of video games. He uses the example of the game ‘Simplicity, which explores the intricacies of industrial economics’ which would normally send a child ‘screaming for the exits in a classroom’ and raises the suggestion that there needs to be more research ‘into the question of how games get children to learn without liaising that they are learning. This encourages parents to view games as a more engaging way of learning and focuses their attention on the educational value of many games. In rebuttal to the potential argument that many games do not contain content which has any real educational value, Johnson compares video games to other satellites which are ‘considered to be good for the brain’ such as chess and algebra.
He explains that these activities are often not ‘about acquiring a specific tool: games with these other, accepted, activities and further convinces the reader that died games are not, in fact, mindless entertainment. Finishing the article with another comparison to reading novels drives home his overall message: that novels ‘activate our imagination and… Conjure up powerful emotions, but games force you to analyses, to choose, to priorities, to decide. ‘ Overall, the article is a highly effective piece of writing.
Johnson presents himself as an intelligent person by using a sophisticated vocabulary and reasoned views. He acknowledges the lack of research and despite the lack of a credible expert on the subject, he presents his arguments in way that readers would difficult to refute, especially because he acknowledges the values of the computer game nemesis: books. Boris Johnson has posted an article titled ‘Strike a blow for Literacy on his own website. This very dramatic piece encourages parents to ‘stand up, cross the room and Just say no to Nintendo. He likens the reactions of children to having their games turned off to the withdrawal symptoms of narcotics users, claiming that they are ‘hooked’ and ‘addicts’ in an attempt to cause shock and dismay in the parents of children who might play video Ames. The violent terminology, ‘garrotter’ and ‘paralyses’, used to describe what we should do to this technology that causes ‘catastrophic effect[s]’ to’ the ‘literacy and the prospects of young males’ encourages parents to view this an urgent and desperate problem, and to read on in the hopes of finding a solution to the downfall of their children.
Johnson does not let the ‘average guilt-ridden parent[s]’ approach this problem with a clear conscience, however. He makes sure that they take responsibility for the problem by highlighting the demands they make on schools in he education of their children: We demand our teachers provide…. We expect the schools…. ‘ and insults their ‘hedonistic 21st century lifestyles where parents allow their children to ‘sit for so long that their souls seem to have been sucked down the cathode ray tube. Parents are forced to consider their own role in the education and lifestyles of their children, which encourages them to take action and ensure that children do not spend too much time on these games which ‘may cunningly pretend to be educational’. To highlight the worthlessness of these games, Johnson gives an example of one which looked historical and possibly educational ‘on the packet’. He describes the game as ‘programmed, spoon-fed, immediate’ and claims that it was ‘showering the player with undeserved praise, richly congratulating him for his bogus massacres. This reinforces the popular view that video games are unnecessarily violent and encourage children to expect instant gratification. Johnson reminds readers of the original purpose of the piece: to ‘persuade boys to read books’. He claims that reading is the only way to ‘learn to write’ and that this will never happen if We continually capitulate and let them fritter their lives away in front of these traveling machines. He is appealing to the desire of parents to see their children succeed in life and attempting to show them that their children will not succeed if they play too many video games. The article concludes with a call to action. Johnson asks parents to ‘summon up all your strength, all your courage… And yank out that plug. ‘ This demonstrates that it takes a strong person to be a parent, a trait which all would like to claim to have, further encouraging parents to make the decision to courage video games in their households.
He completes the article with the title reminding readers of the importance of literacy, encouraging them to take the message seriously and do something about the problems facing the youth of today. This article is effective due to the colorful used throughout; Boris Johnson has written a highly engaging piece which forces parents to consider their own roles in their children’s’ lives and educations. In a society where digital technology is the norm, there is no easy answer as to whether or not playing video games has any negative effects on our children.
Thus, the debate is likely to continue in the media for some time. These two articles represent only two of the many views existing around the topic, although both are quite effective in different ways. Steven Johnny’s piece presented a more reasoned point of view, in comparison with Boris Johnny’s dramatic and exaggerated tone. Both authors used sophisticated vocabulary, which gives them credibility as intelligent and well informed individuals. Although both articles use examples of individual games, neither cites any evidence, research or expert opinions on the topic at hand.