The 'Bad' Guy: Steven Johnson Thinks Video Games And Violent TV Are Good for the Brain

Okay. It’s true, as Johnson says, that video games can be intensely challenging and absorbing, and that book-loving snobs tend to be oblivious to this fact. It’s true that “The Sopranos” is complicated and subtle as well as violent. And although you yourself don’t watch “24,” your smart colleagues talk endlessly about its intricate plotting.



What’s more: You love how comfortable your kids are with new technology. You totally agree that “the ability to take in a complex system and learn its rules on the fly is a talent with great real-world applicability.” Maybe they can support you in your old age!



In fact, if you ignore the absurdly sweeping assertion of Johnson’s title — and hey, he says, if you can’t see that “Everything Bad Is Good for You” is winking at the reader, we’ve really got a failure to communicate — his core argument seems reasonable enough.



To summarize briefly: He’s talking trends, not absolutes, and over the past 30 years, the trend in both video games and television shows has been toward forms that are more cognitively demanding. (He doesn’t dwell on the Internet, which he thinks needs little defense.) —Bob ThompsonThe ‘Bad’ Guy: Steven Johnson Thinks Video Games And Violent TV Are Good for the Brain (Washington Post (will expire))