Publishers, authors, and even libraries are embracing video games to promote books to young readers, reports the New York Times. When P.J. Haarsma wrote his first book, a science fiction novel for pre-teenagers, he didn’t think just about how to describe Orbis, the planetary system where the story takes place. He also thought about how it should look and feel in a video game. The online game that Haarsma designed not only extends the fictional world of the novel, it also allows readers to play in it. At the same time, Haarsma very calculatedly gave gamers who might not otherwise pick up a book a clear incentive to read: one way that players advance is by answering questions with information from the novel. "You can’t just make a book anymore," said Haarsma, a former advertising consultant. Pairing a video game with a novel for young readers, he added, "brings the book into their world, as opposed to going the other way around." Haarsma is not the only one using video games to spark an interest in books. Increasingly, authors, teachers, librarians, and publishers are embracing this fast-paced, image-laden world in the hope that the games will draw children to reading. Spurred by arguments that video games also might teach a kind of digital literacy that is becoming as important as proficiency in print, libraries are hosting gaming tournaments, while schools are exploring how to incorporate video games in the classroom. In New York, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is supporting efforts to create a proposed public school that will use principles of game design like instant feedback and graphic imagery to promote learning…

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