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Game On! Books based on Video Games

Bigger than the battles between Mario and Bowser are the battles between parents and children about video gaming.

“You’ve been playing Xbox for hours, go play outside!”

“Turn off the game it’s time to do homework!”

“Why don’t you read a book instead of playing on your phone?”

It’s a shame that gaming and reading have been pitted against each other because both have positive benefits for children. According to a 2016 study, video game usage among children aged 6 – 11 was associated with high intellectual functioning and competence in school. Gaming helps with problem-solving, visual memory, and encourages teamwork. In a TIME Magzine article, experts suggest forgetting the “stereotypical image of gamers as isolated loners playing for hours on end in a dank basement. Today, kids and adults can socialize with one another, in groups large and small, while playing games online.”

Children can also improve their literary comprehension skills since many games involve intricate plots and dialogue. In his latest book, The Greatest Stories Ever Played: Video Games and the Evolution of Storytelling, Dustin Hansen examines the relationship between gaming and storytelling. He uses popular video games to explain similar concepts learned in English class – plot, character, juxtaposition, symbolism, foreshadowing, etc. This philosophy – encouraging socialization and education through gaming – has been adopted by Menomonee Falls Public Library in a few ways.

Teen Librarian, Katie Alford, curates the video game collection and hosts video gaming events in the teen space on the second floor. The library has a PlayStation 4 with age-appropriate games that teens can play whenever they are at the library. During special gaming programs like Gamer Gathering (for ages 13-18) or Between (for ages 10 – 12), the library brings out the Nintendo Switch for MarioKart and Super Smash Bros. tournaments. Other popular games include Minecraft, Madden 22, Rocket League, Speedrunners, and Runbow. The Library was awarded an innovation grant to purchase five virtual reality systems. The Oculus Quest 2 is an out-of-this-world gaming experience that will be available for use later this year.

If teens can’t make it to the library, they can still connect with peers through the Falls Library Discord server. Through video and voice connections teens can play games like Jackbox, Codenames,, and Dungeons & Dragons remotely. There are also Discord discussion channels for fans of anime, movies, gaming, art, fun quizzes, books, memes, and more! Plus, it has a suggestion channel where teens can tell us what they’d like to see at the library including programs, books, games, and summer reading prizes. Currently, there are 45 members on the library’s server, and it’s easy to join!

Not only is video gaming surprisingly social, but it can also lead to a successful career in technology, i.e. video game development. Developers and their teammates are tasked with transforming games from a concept into a playable reality through coding, programming, and testing. According to research conducted by Zion Market Research, the worldwide gaming industry earned over $200 billion in revenue in 2021, suggesting a bright future for those interested in game design. It’s also highly collaborative, with teams working together to bring all the elements of a game to life.

With any career choice, there are some negative aspects. For instance, professionals in the field often work long hours in order to meet deadlines set by executives who have promised a game’s release by a certain date – likely before the holidays. Both the challenges and rewards of this profession are the subject of a new bestselling novel, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.  The story follows two lifelong friends as they navigate the ups and downs of launching a blockbuster video game together. Critics have given the book high praise and are pleased to see this subject matter making its way to the New York Times best-seller list.  

Still, even with the intellectual and social benefits of gaming, it is important to maintain a balance between screen time, reading, and exercise. If your children are enamored with video games, we suggest checking out these books based on their favorite worlds and characters. Seeing Pikachu or Zelda on the front cover can spark their interest in reading and help them connect more deeply with the story. Contrary to the stereotype, video gaming and reading can coexist – leave the fighting to Mario and Bowser!

Also listed are books for teens and adults. Click on the book title to place a hold through the MFPL catalog.

Children’s Books

  • Jack Gets Zapped by Mac Barnett
    Zapped into his favorite video game by a sneaky bolt of lightning, mischievous Jack finds himself racing around game puzzles while outmaneuvering a pounding boss. Illustrated with classic 8-bit graphics. An early reading book formatted to help children with early stages of reading comprehension.
  • What is Nintendo? by Gina Shaw
    So many of us play Nintendo, but where did all of the fun begin?  Explore the origins of one of the most influential companies in the video game industry and the creator of some of the top-selling video games of all time.
  • Minecraft: The Island by Max Brooks
    An official tie-in to the globally popular video game traces the story of a new hero stranded in the world of Minecraft who must survive a harsh environment while unraveling the secrets of a mysterious island. This is the first book (out of nine) in the Official Minecraft Novel series.

Teen Books

  • Gamer Girls: 25 Women Who Built the Video Game Industry by Mary Kenney
    Discover the women behind the video games we love–from the iconic games they created, the genres they invented, the studios and companies they built–and how they changed the industry forever. From classic games like Centipede and Solitaire to popular modern games like Final Fantasy, Uncharted, and Halo, this book explores the work and history of 25 influential women in the video game industry and how their contributions ultimately built and transformed the medium that we know today.
  • Slay by Brittney Morris
    An honors student at Jefferson Academy, seventeen-year-old Keira enjoys developing and playing Slay, a secret, multiplayer online role-playing game celebrating black culture, until the two worlds collide.

Adult Books

  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin
    A modern love story about two childhood friends, Sam, raised by an actress mother in LA’s Koreatown, and Sadie, from the wealthy Jewish enclave of Beverly Hills, who reunite as adults to create video games, finding an intimacy in digital worlds that eludes them in their real lives
  • Deep Dive by Ron Walters
    Still reeling from the failure of his last project, videogame developer Peter Banuk is working hard to ensure his next game doesn’t meet the same fate. He desperately needs a win, not only to save his struggling company but to justify the time he’s spent away from his wife and daughters. So when Peter’s tech-genius partner offers him the chance to beta-test a new state-of-the-art virtual reality headset, he jumps at it. But something goes wrong during the trial…