Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Out of Touch

I hope print books never cease to exist. There's something about holding a book in your hands, feeling its weight, flipping each page and then noticing how far along you are in the story until the author writes, The End. You can't do that on a screen. You can't feel the paper with your fingertips or mark the pages with a bookmark or read in bed with a flashlight.

If you play a game online, it's not the same as it used to be when you played a board game with friends. I used to like lining up all the small, polished Scrabble letter tiles on the wooden tray. And then when your turn was over, you'd stick your hand inside a bag and draw more letters until you had seven again. Computers have robbed us of our sense of touch. Keys don't feel like wood tiles. There's a big difference between a full-sized game board and a tiny flat-screened one online. Dragging your tiles into position with a computer mouse isn't quite the same as picking them up and positioning them on a board.

What about Monopoly? Or Yahtzee? Or other games that have been computerized? Yes, you can play them on a screen, but you don't get to hold the game pieces in your hands, or shake the dice and roll them, or move your token around the board. And the biggest drawback of all? When you play games online, it's a solitary activity not a social one, Because even if you're playing against another person or persons, you're in your space and they're in theirs and you don't talk to each other. The closest thing we have to human interaction online is chat windows. At least you know the other person is "talking" at the same time you are.

We've lost something, people. If you want to see what, try this experiment. Play a game by yourself online. Now invite some friends or family over and play the same game, but at a table with cards or a game board. Which one was more fun to do?

I like games, so if playing online is my only option then I'll do it. I like to read. If I don't have a book, I'll go online and read a story. But given a choice, I will always opt for a real book and a real deck of cards or a board game. It's just more satisfying.

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