Excersising the brain in video reality

Video games channel violent impulses harmlessly into virtual reality, teach bourgeois virtues (the Sims) and exercise the brain, writes Brian Anderson in Opinion Journal.

I recently spent (too) many late-night hours working my way through X-Men: Legends II: The Rise of Apocalypse, a game I ostensibly bought for my kids. Figuring out how to deploy a particular grouping of heroes (each of whom has special powers and weaknesses); using trial and error and hunches to learn the game’s rules and solve its puzzles; weighing short-term and long-term goals–the experience was mentally exhausting and, when my team finally beat the Apocalypse, exhilarating.

. . . True, I might have better used my time reading Phillip Roth’s new novel, but as mind-aerobics this exercise surely beat watching the tube. As for my kids navigating the game, wouldn’t it be comparable with their playing chess for hours?

I worry about the loners substituting virtual reality for real reality, but the desire to escape into other worlds is nothing new. I spent many hours as a kid reading fantasy, adventure, science fiction and historical fiction books. Now I escape by reading mysteries, which is all the brain exercise I can handle.

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