We have published independent new research today on the relationship between video games and young people’s literacy, as part of an exciting new partnership with the Association of UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) and Penguin Random House Children’s.
We found that playing video games can support young people’s literacy, creativity and empathy – with particular benefits for boys and reluctant readers – and has also helped young people’s mental wellbeing during lockdown, according to parents.
To help support young people’s literacy through video games, we have also published a fantastic range of activities, challenges and resources for young people, parents and teachers.
Video games can provide young people with a route into reading
We found that 4 in 5 (79%) young people who play video games read materials relating to video games regularly, including in-game communications (40%), reviews and blogs (31%), books (22%) and fan fiction (19%). A third (35%) also believe that playing video games makes them better readers. As one young person said: “Books help grow your imagination and so do games, because of all the things you can do.”
Video games can encourage young people’s creativity through writing
3 in 5 (63%) young people who play video games write something relating to video games regularly, including video game scripts (28%), advice to help other players (22%), fan fiction (11%) and blogs or reviews (8%). What’s more, 3 in 5 (58%) young people would also like to write or design video games themselves and more than 3 in 10 (31%) would like more opportunities to read and write about video games in school.
Video games have potential benefits for increasing empathy
Two-thirds (65%) of young people said that playing video games helped them imagine being someone else, indicating potential benefits for increasing empathy. As one young person explained: “Playing games can help you create your own imaginary world and understand other people’s view of life.”
The shared cultural experience of playing video games can support positive communication with friends and family
Three-quarters (76%) of young people talk to their friends about video games compared with only 3 in 10 (29%) who discuss books. In addition, young people said that playing video games helps them to build social connections both ‘in real life’ and online, and maintain relationships with friends and family. One young person said: “Video games help me stay in touch with my cousin as he lives hundreds of miles away.”
Playing video games was linked to supporting young people’s mental wellbeing
Many young people said that playing video games helps them either deal with, or escape from, stress and difficult emotions, with one young person saying: “[Video games help me] talk with my friends if I feel down without having to meet up with them.”
The role of video games in supporting young people’s mental wellbeing was also key during lockdown. More than half (56%) of parents said their child had chatted with family and friends as part of playing a video game during lockdown and 3 in 5 (60%) felt that this communication had been helpful for their child’s mental wellbeing during this time.
The benefits were strongest for boys and reluctant readers
Boys were much more likely to play video games than girls (96% vs 65%) and nearly twice as many boys as girls said they chatted with family and friends as part of playing a video game during lockdown (71% vs 40%). Video games were also found to be effective at engaging reluctant readers with stories, as 3 in 4 (73%) young people who don’t enjoy reading said playing video games helps them feel more part of a story than reading a book-based text.
Resources to support young people’s literacy through video games
To further support young people’s literacy though video games, we have launched a range of activities, challenges and resources in partnership with Ukie and Penguin Random House Children’s for young people, parents and teachers to explore.
For young people:
- An exclusive video interview with award-winning video games writer and author, Rhianna Pratchett, in conversation with family video games expert and journalist Andy Robertson
- A series of job snapshots from leading industry figures collated by Ukie, including the President of ZeniMax Online and the Editor of Edge magazine
- Some fun challenges including how to write a video game narrative
For parents and teachers:
- A list of recommended video games to support children’s literacy curated by family video games expert Andy Robertson
- A book list packed with inspiring reads for kids who love video games from Penguin Random House Children’s
“We know that video games are a part of everyday life for so many children, young people and families across the UK. 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 their 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 harness the benefits of video games for young people’s literacy.”Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive