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The Positives of Gaming – Joseph Elliott

This week Joseph Elliott, comedy and children’s TV actor (star in CBeebies Swashbuckle) visits our blog to celebrate the publication of his new middle-grade comedy, Nora and the Map of Mayhem. Joseph highlights an important message around the positives of gaming and the skills it can provide. In this blog, Joseph tells us more about the positives of gaming and how the new book explores the theme through one of the main characters, Atticus.
Joseph Elliott the positives of gaming children's book

Joseph Elliott the positives of gaming children's book

Guest Post: Joseph Elliott

CBBC and CBeebies actor and author of Nora and the Map of Mayhem

 Joseph Elliot authorNow, I know some of you might be thinking that gaming is a mind-numbing, pointless waste of time, but hear me out! Because I’m telling you now, there’s no way I’d be as creative as I am today if it wasn’t for computer games.

Ever since I bought my first games console – a Nintendo Entertainment System circa. 1988 – I’ve loved diving into the immersive and creative world of a good game. From stomping Goombas in the Mushroom Kingdom to roaming the wilds of Hyrule on horseback, there’s something about losing yourself in a computer game that is a joy like no other. I’ve been a Nintendo loyalist my whole life (except for a short blip with a Sega MegaDrive in the early 90s, but we don’t talk about that), and have followed Mario, Samus and Link from one console to the next.

Games have changed a lot over the years – from pixilated 2-D dungeon crawlers to epic fully immersive virtual reality – but my love for them has only grown. In my opinion, the most enjoyable games are the ones that share the same qualities as a brilliant book: a captivating narrative, engaging characters, and a healthy dose of originality and creativity.

Games With Gripping Storylines

The storylines of modern games are often so complex and gripping, it’s no surprise that they’ve led to some hugely successful screen adaptations, including The Last of Us, The Witcher and Arcane. The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) shot to box office success and became one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time (second only to Frozen II). Why? Because, for some reason, we just can’t get enough of that squat Italian plumber, alongside Peach, Bowser, Yoshi and the gang. Nintendo has created a perfect mix of weird and wonderful friends that have been capturing our imagination for decades.

Gaming Inspire Creativity

Video games inspire me. When I think about the expansive and peril-filled worlds that I create in my fiction, there is an obvious parallel between my work and the sort of video games I enjoy playing. Computer games have expanded my imagination and increased my creativity, and I think the main reason is that gaming is such an active pastime. When you play, you embody a specific character, seeing the world through their eyes, and making decisions as if you were them. In some ways, it’s like reading a book, where you’re given the responsibility to guide the protagonist to the final chapter.

Skills from Gaming

In my new book, Nora and the Map of Mayhem, ten-year-old Atticus is always on his phone. Even when his great-grandmother, Nora, sweeps him away on a hair-raising, monster-dodging adventure, his attention – for the first half of the book, at least – is predominantly on a gaming app called Zombie Duck. Nora doesn’t hold back in letting him know that she thinks the game is rotting his brain, and yet the skills that Atticus has learnt through his experience as a gamer come in handy on more than one occasion: reading a map, distracting monsters, and precise hand-eye co-ordination are all skills he attributes to his time playing video games.

Exploring the Addictive Nature of Games

However, the addictive nature of games is also something I wanted to explore in the book. Unfortunately, with the rise of ad-funded apps, many games are now being specifically designed to be as addictive as possible. We’ve all been there, casually playing Candy Crush, only to emerge three hours later with no idea where the time went. In the book, Nora encourages Atticus to truly experience the world around him in the present moment. Ultimately, she concedes that gaming isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as we don’t use it to suppress our emotions and hide away from the world. Like all things, it’s best in moderation.

Filling the ‘Creative Well’

Creativity inspires creativity, and the gaming industry employs some of the best creatives in the world. For writers, it’s important to constantly fill up our ‘creative well’ – the fuller it is, the more there is to access when we sit down to write. It can be filled in so many different ways, such as taking a mindful walk, visiting an art gallery, or by gazing at the stars. Sometimes (in moderation) I fill mine up by losing myself in the creative genius of a well-crafted video game.

Oh, and gaming is also really fun. That’s important too, right?


Joseph Elliott’s new book – Nora and the Map of Mayhem– is out this week. The story is written from the tone of voice of hilarious and sassy great-grandma Nora as she goes on a hair-raising adventure with her two great-grandchildren Atticus and Autumn, complete with monsters, mischief, mayhem – and pirates – inspired by Joseph’s time on Swashbuckle!



Thank you to Joseph for visiting our blog this week to tell us more about the new book and how it explores the theme of gaming. Nora and the Map of Mayhem is available from Amazon or Bookshop.

Check out our topic booklists to find more books for children about gaming, story books about pirates or children’s books about maps and mapping.

For more reading-for-pleasure recommendations, you may also like our recommended booklists for each primary year group.


Where next?
> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.

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