Video Games for Literacy

Video games sometimes have a bad reputation in the educational world. But can they succeed as another teaching avenue for literacy? Recent research says they can.

“A new study by the UK’s National Literacy Trust linked video games to improved literacy, creativity, positive communication, empathy and mental wellbeing in young people.” – Marie Dealessandri 

The National Literacy Trust’s research found six key benefits to video games for young people (ages 8 to 18):

  • they give them a route into reading and writing
  • they improve confidence in their reading skills
  • they immerse them in stories
  • they support positive communication with family and friends
  • they increase empathy and support wellbeing
  • they engage boys and reluctant readers with literacy

A later survey also found that young people’s communication via video games supported their wellbeing during the first national COVID-19 lockdown. 79.4% read materials relating to video games once a month, including in-game communications, reviews and blogs, books and fan fiction. 62.5% of young people who play video games write something relating to video games once a month, including video game scripts, advice to help other players, fan fiction and blogs or reviews. That’s a lot of reading and writing that goes hand-in-hand with video games. This as an opportunity to engage children with a medium they already enjoy and spend time on.

The website Taming Gaming has a large list of recommended video games to encourage reading and writing skills. This website was constructed by the National Literacy Trust to help parents and guardians navigate the gaming world.

“Video games have significant benefits for children who are reluctant or struggling readers. They give them access to stories through interaction and world building which they may not have been able to read in print.” – Taming Gaming

The best way parents and caregivers can take advantage of the benefits of video games while also reducing the potential harms, is to engage in the games with the children. By developing your own gaming literacy, this format can be used to improve overall literacy for young people and other learners.

For more information about gaming and literacy, check out the resources below.


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