Banks Using Video Games to Bring In Younger Clients

Young people love video games, but hate banking! What a conundrum! The two are not mutually exclusive anymore, as Yahoo News is reporting that banks are using Video games to bring in new clients. Banks include several in Switzerland, and even Fidelity investments created a Virtual Reality game called StockCity

StockCity combines the fun of looking at things with the fun of the stock market! That’s 0% fun!

Those of you who put all of your money into Nintendo’s “Pokemon Bank”, only to find out that it was neither a physical place or a bank for money, may be weary of Banks making games to trick the younger generation into investing for the future, but it’s just the latest trend to grab this generations attention.

5 dollar transaction fee for withdrawing a Pokemon

Should we care? Probably not. It’s interesting in the sense that video games are such a big part of our culture that areas that video games have virtually nothing to do with are being invaded by them, but it’s still feels like nothing more than a marketing ploy. If anything, video games are evolving to become the “grab” for younger generations, and that’s certainly something sociologically interesting. That said, maybe video games can help people figure out their finances? You Need a Budget is one of the most popular budgeting programs out there, and it’s available on platforms like Steam, so there is somewhat of a audience. Still, it’s pretty silly that bank marketing men are getting together scheming about how video games will bring in new clients. As Yahoo’s Finance Senior Columnist put’s it:

“I think we may look back and say this was a ridiculously patronizing way of treating younger people… they play a lot of video games, they grew up with them, therefore that’s the only way that they can have information presented to them.”

Now excuse me, I gotta go play a game that’s going to trick me into celibacy (That’s gotta already exist, but I’m too afraid to look it up).

New Study Links Video Game Usage to Alzheimer’s Disease (A.K.A New Study Doesn’t Say That)

If you’re keeping up with the news of the day, you may see numerous news outlets reporting that a new study coming out of a research group in Canada is claiming that they’ve discovered a link between video game usage and Alzheimer’s Disease. The studies does not claim that. However, the  The Douglas Mental Health University Institute was quick to examine the research and make the claim for the researchers in their very own Press Release designed to scare video games right out of your hands (And hearts…).

The Guardian has a great piece written by Chris Chambers, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the school of psychology at Cardiff University, on why these claims are ridiculous…but essentially it’s correlation being blown up by media outlets to grab viewers. Hey media, don’t do that. Be better, please. As chambers points out, the brunt of the “link” comes down to this:

1. The type of learning shown by the gamers has been associated in previous studies with increased use of a brain region called the caudate nucleus

2. Increased use of the caudate nucleus can be associated with reduced volume of the hippocampus

3. Reduced volume of the hippocampus can be associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease

4. Therefore (take a deep breath) video gaming could increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease

That’s not how things work. It’s grade A conjecture on the part of those making the claims.

The press release also includes a statement from the lead researcher that is a clear exaggeration. Dr Gregory West is quoted as saying “we also found that gamers rely on the caudate nucleus to a greater degree than non-gamers”. Actually they didn’t find this at all, because their study didn’t measure activity in the caudate nucleus. Instead it measured a type of behaviour that previous studies have associated with activity in the caudate nucleus. There is a world of difference between these two, and readers would do well to take these latest claims with a generous helping of salt.

We live in world where conjecture is more attractive that facts, so I felt it was appropriate to get some of the bigger eye grabbing headlines out of the way, as to not waste our time on them in the future.

“New Study Shows Link Between Video Games and Being Able to Fly” – A new study out newbury community college has shown that if you play video games you’re more likely be able to grow wings and fly. This study was conducted on a population of 50 students that we’re hanging out by the quad’s pond and prefer to migrate north during the winter.

when will senpai Crash notice me?

“Can Video Games Make You Impotent?” – A Floridan man claims that he became impotent after playing too much  Crash Bandicoot. “No woman will ever look as sexy to me as that Bandicoot, thus I’ll never be able to make love” the man said to a mirror.

“Is There a Link between Playing Candy Crush and Going to Hell?” – A cartoon child drawn by another child, found that people who play video games are more likely to burn in damnation. He found this out by staring at a pond for hours until he imagined it. WHAT A SCOOP.

That’s enough ranting for now..

This Day in Gaming History: Nintendo’s Revolution

This is a new feature on the blog in which we look back at some of the important landmarks of video game history and explore how they changed the video game landscape.

gam

Today we take you back to the futuristic past of the year 2005 with the unveiling of Nintendo’s little rectangular console that would be a revolution in gaming.

IT’S THE WII

As crazy as it sounds, it’s been over a decade since Nintendo first revealed the Wii (Then called the Nintendo Revolution). Marty… we gotta go back to May 17th, 2005.

E3 2005 is in full swing, gamers are enjoying the amazing games like Resident Evil 4 at home, and the final Star Wars film will be in theaters in only a few days (YOU’VE FOOLED US AGAIN LUCAS!). Sony and Microsoft have already announced their next generations consoles the day before and Nintendo is the only major conference left. 30 minutes into the conference Mr.Iwata takes the stage and proclaims “We gave you DS, a new Game Boy, and new games to play on them. And now, you say you want a Revolution? Well, we’ve got one”,  to which he pulls out the console. The next few months were filled with speculation over hardware and what to expect on the little console from Nintendo (Spoiler: Some good games, but a lot of waggle).

A snippet from Nintendo’s press release immediately after the conference:

NINTENDO’S COMPACT CONSOLE WILL TURN THE WORLD OF GAMING ON ITS SIDE

New System will be Forward-Thinking, Yet Backward Compatible

LOS ANGELES, May 17, 2005 – Each generation of video game consoles builds on the past to set new standards for the future. As the company with the strongest heritage of innovation, Nintendo redefines expectations for all next-gen systems by employing a wide-ranging strategy to attract more kinds of gamers to more kinds of games. When Nintendo’s new console, code-named Revolution, arrives in 2006, everyone will discover the meaning of All-Access Gaming.

“We will show the world what a next-gen system can be. Revolution marries the strongest heritage of innovation to the future of gaming,” says Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. “With backward compatibility and the ‘virtual console’ concept, the stylish, compact body provides maximum gaming power. It will not only take home entertainment into another dimension by expanding the definition of video games, but it also will give you access to the great history of gaming.”

“Our next console proves small in size but big on ideas,” says Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales & marketing. “We’re throwing open the doors of gaming to wider audiences, from casual players to hard-core gamers who live for the thrill of defeating an endless army of wireless opponents.”

One omission you’ll probably notice about the press release is the lack of comments talking about the Wii’s motion controls, which weren’t actually detailed until sometime after the console’s initial announcement. It wasn’t until The Toyko Gameshow 2005 that Nintendo announced the hallmark of the Wii, it’s unique motion controls via its sensor bar and remote like controller. At E3 2006, a year after the console’s announcement, Nintendo finally announced the change from Nintendo Revolution to Nintendo Wii, which disappointed some gamers in the end.

So why do we care? The Nintendo Wii was and is still Nintendo’s highest selling video game console to date (2nd only to Sony’s PS2) and is the first console to popularize motion controls. Today, many will brush off the Wii as passing fad or a phenomenon charged by popularity, but it really was a drastic change in the gaming landscape from one of the oldest and most prominent names in gaming. It radically changed how the company viewed gaming and what they prioritized in making their consoles. Sony and Microsoft’s secondary motion control efforts are proof of concept for Nintendo and proof that Nintendo really did create a spark.

Beyond that, the Wii introduced (or reintroduced) many to video games and expanded the community of gamer to be more inclusive than ever. Your mom was playing the Wii, your grandma was playing the Wii, your high school teacher could school your butt at Wii Golf. It was in every sense of the word a phenomenon.  Wii Sports, the console bundled in game, is the best selling console game of all time and many of the console’s titles went on to remarkable success. Nintendo showed that you didn’t have to be the most powerful console on the market to be the most successful; sometimes innovation trump hardware.

Did Nintendo follow through on a revolution? In some ways yes. The Wii was a momentous video game console that will go down in history as a game changer, but certainly it didn’t have the lasting effect Nintendo would have hoped for. Nintendo squandered some of the momentum they created by tacking on needless peripherals and control options, but many games at their core benefited from the added on motion controls; games like Super Mario Galaxy, Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword and Metroid Prime 3 are shinning examples of how beloved franchises can benefit from innovation.  Of course, their next move may have been their worst: the Wii U has suffered from some of the same pitfalls the Wii befell; lack of third party support, lack of a pleasing online structure, lack of new IPs, and a poor marketing presence are some of the console’s blemishes. Still, we can only look back on the Wii’s announcement as a door opening in the video game industry. Like it or not, the Wii was something special.

What do you think about the Wii? Was it just a waggle machine or was it really an innovation from Nintendo?

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo “Video Games Have Sabotaged What It Means To Be Male “

Fairly well know psychologist Philip Zimbardo, famously known for the Stanford Prison Experiments, has been making the rounds recently discussing the findings in his new book “Man (Dis)connected: How Technology Has Sabotaged What It Means To Be Male”I haven’t had the time to read his book, but it’s clear that he’s making some bold claims about how video games are changing the social development of today’s youths, specifically boys.

The Guardian has a pretty well done interview with Zimbardo, so I’ll be focusing on their piece rather than his actual book (I’m poor and too busy to with a full time job/lazy/ don’t really want to support him) On why we’re seeing boys retreat into cyberspace and video games more than their female peers:

“Boys have never been self-reflective. Boys are focused on doing and acting, girls are more focused on being and feeling. The new video-game world encourages doing and acting and not really
thinking. Video games are not so attractive to girls.”

That’s a pretty hefty generalization, albeit not completely untrue. Biologically boys have some proclivity to being less “self reflective” and focused on “action and doing”, but a lot of it has to do with a child’s socialization.  The way we treat little boys and girls, in addition to the images we show to them of what it means to be a boy or a girl has just as much to do with a child’s habits as their biological make up.  Additionally, just the way education is presented to boys and girls is strikingly different; young girls are socialized to hold education in a higher esteem than young boys. Obviously Zimbardo is making this statements to make a generalization about the current population and is probably somewhat representing the population as a whole. That said, if we as a society change the way we socialize young boys and girls then maybe that statement will begin to lose truth.

Secondly, no. Video games are attractive to both young boys and girls. If anything, video games are now more attractive to both males and females than ever before. More and more the gender divide in the gaming community is becoming less unequal. Though it still has a long way to go, it’s clear that young girls enjoy playing games just like young boys; video games have historically only been taught to be  “boy thing”, big impart due to marketing and parenting. I don’t agree with that statement.

The driving cause Zimbardo places in his theory of boys becoming addicted to porn, video games, and Ritalin is lack of a father figure in the household.  The lack of a father, or any second parental figure, obviously changes the dynamic of any household. That’s one less parent to provide affection, attention, and income.  All of these factors lead to scenarios in which it’s harder for a child to create more stable relationships and social skills. For example, children from a one parent household are less likely to engage in extracurricular activity because their parent has less time to take their children to the activities or have the money to spend on the activity. This lack of extracurricular activity leads to less chances for socialization and more towards being motivated to seek electronic alternatives. If anything, video game and porn addiction are a symptom of a greater issue. However, these are things that Zimbardo probably already knows and perhaps even addresses in his book.

My biggest issue, and I say issue sparingly as obviously I haven’t read his book, is that video games once again are seemingly taking the blame for something else that’s at hand. Video games, like any other media, can be an outlet for many problems and not necessarily the cause of those problems. Zimbardo doesn’t sound like he’s arguing that, but when you make claims like “Technology Has Sabotaged What It Means To Be Male” it puts the blame on the object, rather than the underlying causes that are resulting in the object overuse or misuse. Yes, more advance technology give easier means of escaping reality and disconnect, but the reason why people are desiring to disconnect and escape is the issue at hand.  Granted, Zimbardo expresses desires for games that better promote social relationships and cooperation, but he’s gotta be better at making a enemy out of something that isn’t there.  I will say this: the book sounds more grounded than it’s shocking title.  Zimbardo is a smart guy, albeit one with questionable tactics, and he has to know hyperboles aren’t helping anyone. Though shock and awe seem to be his style…

Who is The Average Gamer?

With the 2015 Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry recently explored, I thought it would be interesting to use all of the data to create a picture of who the average gamer is.

How are constructing this picture? Using the Data that the ESA gathered in their annual report on the demographics of the video game community we can pull it all together to create a hypothetical person. Granted, this person does not represent the entirety of the video game industry (in fact they probably won’t represent a lot of gamers), but it will convey the most typical gamer.

Why is This Being Done? There’s a lot of application to this kind of data. By understanding who the “average gamer” is, we can determine who the industry is primarily catered towards. While we’re making strides in being a more inclusive industry, the video game industry is still one of marketing and product creation with the average consumer in mind. With an understanding of who their target audience is, we can better understand how to expand that audience.

Views in the past. It goes without saying that one’s idea of the average gamer is something that has changed quite significantly in recent time. Years ago video games were thought to be primarily a children’s activity, but we’re discovering that this is no longer the case. The industry is no longer one dominated by young boys; we’re seeing that the industry is diversifying more and more as we go on. Thus, it’s important to reevaluate how he picture the average gamer:

Who is the average gamer?

We’re creating a person; we’ll need a name for this person. Let’s call this person Avery (Yeah, it’s a little on the nose..) Who is Avery? How old is Avery? Is Avery a male or female? What games does Avery play? Who is Avery playing with? How much time does Avery spend playing video games? LET’S FIND OUT WHO THIS AVERY IS.

Avery is a 35 year old male. In Avery’s household, there is one other person in the house that plays video games. The household owns at least one dedicated video game console, but Avery also plays a good amount of his video games on his PC. Avery isn’t new to video games, in fact Avery has been playing video games for 13 years. Avery plays games in moderation; he actually only plays about 3-4 hours of gaming a week. However, the usage of his console doesn’t end there; Avery uses his console to watch movies, watch TV and other forms of media. When he does get sometime to play games, he’s playing mostly social games, action games, and puzzle/card/board games. He plays with others either online or in person, but when he does it’s primarily with his friends. He spends a fair amount on video games per year, as he believes that video games are a good value for his money in comparison to other forms of media (dvds, theaters, etc.) Recently Avery has made a switch to buying more games digitally than physically. Last year, some of the games Avery most likely played were Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Madden, and the Sims 4.  Video games are becoming a greater and greater part of Avery’s everyday life; the time he plays per week are increasing every year and the amount of money he spends on games is also increasing. How long will Avery remain the average gamer? That remains to be seen.

If Avery was a parent:

Avery is knowledgeable about his children’s video game usage. He’s aware of the the ESRB ratings of each game and monitors the content of the game his kids are playing. He believes that its the parent’s responsibility to limit the amount of time their kids are playing games, surfing the internet, and watching TV. Avery believes video games are a positive part of his kids live’s, and will even play with his kids from time to time.

Admissions:

1) Race statistics on the video game industry seemingly don’t exist, or at least there isn’t a reputable source that I could find. Many studies examine racial representation and racial preference in video games, but not necessarily the demographics on the industry as a whole. That said, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the racial make-up of the American video game industry isn’t that far off from the general make-up of the United State’s demographics. This leads me to assume that the average American gamer is most likely Caucasian.

2) This portrait of the average gamer is representative of the United States, and may not be reflective of  other communities. Obviously we can assume that some of the statistics will carry over (Male dominated, for example, is one that is most likely true of most communities)

3) I’m only working with the research at hand. Unfortunately I’m not able to conduct my own research to narrow down other aspects of this portrait, and as a result we’re still left with a lot of mysteries about the average game.

So there you have it, a partial look at who the average gamer is. I hope this has been somewhat insightful and helpful for anyone trying to gather a better understanding on the video game industry. If not….eh, I tried.