Media Molecule Studio Director: “It takes women working on games for games to change”

Media Molecule Studio Director: “It takes women working on games for games to change”

In a recent interview on BBC Radio, Media Molecule Studio Director Siobhan Reddy addressed the issue of gender in the gaming industry. For anyone who doesn’t know of Media Molecule’s work, they’re the studio behind the real-time sock puppet life-simulator that is “Little Big Planet”

“We have a lot of women within the industry who run studios and pack a mean punch, the influence of women within the industry is pretty great, but we need to see that on the game design and programming side as well.”

What Reddy refers to is the lack of female representation in gaming, be it through the lack of female protagonist or the lack of industry focus. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, with female gamers making up nearly 50% of the gaming population, it’s certainly time for the industry to take notice and start making accurate representation of females in games and making more games that appeal to females and both males and females.

Reddy herself is in a small majority, as most studios are still run by males and the gaming industry in general is a male dominated one.   She believes by empowering females to design and make games that the gaming industry will change for the better. We’ve certainly seen the call for this in other avenues, such as the girl scouts promoting young girls to design video games.

“It takes women working on games for games to change. I know there are all sort of discussions about where it is now and where it has been but I’m interested in where it’s going… particularly like the type of things we’re making at Media Molecule and lots of other studios are making, games which are for both genders and all ages.”

So who knows, will these call for more females to enter the gaming workforce make for diverse and fair games? One can hope. Meanwhile, we can all make our Sackboys as awesomely feminine as we want.

Neat.

 

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Club Nintendo Rewards: Why We Care

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Today Club Nintendo released their 2012-2013 year prize list for members who had registered enough Nintendo products to make their way into their gold and elite membership statuses. Platinum and Gold members get to choose one free gift, as a thank you from the big N. This is of course in addition to the prizes members can redeem year round for “coins” earned by registering products.

This rewards program got me thinking, as it’s quite the ingenious program that Nintendo has created. Essentially Nintendo is giving incentives beyond the games themselves for purchasing their products and often times these rewards come in the way of free p. Why do so many gamers care about these types of rewards program? Is it just for the free swag, or is there more at work?

Personal bias upfront: I think the Club Nintendo rewards program is awesome. I already buy a lot of Nintendo games because I generally enjoy most of their games, so being further rewarded for registering games I already own is a nice addition. Plus, their rewards are generally pretty nice. About a year ago I used some of my built up coins to get their 3-set of 25th anniversary posters for the Legend of Zelda, and they’ve made amazing additions to my apartment. In fact, I even framed one of them.

 

 

Why do we care?

Yes, it’s partly because of the free merchandise. Ok, mostly. But let’s look at Club Nintendo from a more sociological perspective, mainly because I’m bored and killing time.

Club Nintendo is great example of Social Exchange theory. Economist and psychologist probably can express it better, but essentially SET says that society is a series of social interactions in which people determine their outcome by rewards gained vs. negatives lost. Basically laid out, the thought process behind most interactions can be shown by this equation.

Interaction/Behavior/Act = The Positives or Benefits of the act – The negatives or costs of the act.

GLABIDYGLOOOK, I know. When applied to Club Nintendo it goes something like this: Registering a Product in Club Nintendo = Free rewards from Nintendo – The time and effort it took to register the product. If someone deems there to be more positive outcome from registering a product with Nintendo, then they’ll most likely do that action. So if someone can’t stand to take the 5 minutes to fill out a Nintendo survey, then the free rewards that Nintendo is offering aren’t worth the social act.

This all sounds like common sense, so why am I even taking the time to spell it out? I don’t know. But the theory also goes on to hypothesize that it’s social acceptance and acknowledgement that makes people deem something positive or negative. Like gamer scores or PSN trophies, registering Nintendo games on Club Nintendo is acknowledgement of a task; a badge of honor if you will. Thus gamers are seeking acknowledgement from the Big N in someway when they register their products. Neat O.

What does this say about us gamers?

We like being acknowledged, either by our peers or our developers. Hey, that’s not too bad. Being acknowledge is nice after all, and when companies acknowledge their fanbase it makes for better games. Then again, maybe systems like Club Nintendo are merely way to appease rather than acknowledge, but that’s not for me to decide.

In the end, I just wanted to talk about Club Nintendo. I’m pretty excited for these 2013 rewards. I got the three poster set, and they’re looking to be pretty snazzy. So…Thanks for the indulgence.

 

Games to Celebrate Independence Day With

Video games like other forms of media attempt to, in some way, mirror society. (Hang in here with me, this is my attempt to justify this piece) While video games are probably the most far-removed from mirrors of society of all the media forms, they still reflects many aspects of society and values. That’s not to say plumbers murdering turtles and gaining super powers from plants and mushroom is an accurate depiction of society, but even in games like Super Mario can we see aspects of society. Or values are their values, even when it seems the most obscure. We as a society like to find days of significance to celebrate and have fun. Thus, it’s only natural that games celebrate holidays just like we do in society.

So I bring you today: Games to Celebrate Independence Day with

Animal Crossing (Series)

Probably the best way to celebrate independence day in game is with the Animal Crossing series. Because the series works off an internal clock and calendar, it knows when holidays and special events take place. Typically, depending on the holiday, the characters in-game will do something special like give you gifts or have a special event like a fire-works show. Of course, since the game a global game it doesn’t exactly call independence day by its name, but instead “Fireworks show day”. You’ll see no flag wave or BBQ have from these animals. Note: the latest installment, New Leaf, will not hold a fireworks show on July 4th. Instead, the game will have Fire-Works day later in the summer. Sucks, I know.

Sid Meier’s Colonization (PC)

Like Independence Day, but want to celebrate it more in a historical sense? Then Colonization is for you! Released on the PC in 1994 as a follow-up to Civilization (Also remade apparently) the game lets you take the role of either the British or American settlers up to gaining Independence. The game makes you work for it however, as you’ll have to deal with trading routes and native populations (There’s nothing quite like celebrating America by decimating Native populations), as well as getting your settlement off the ground correctly.

 

Metal Wolf Chaos (Xbox)

Feel those games were just a bit too girly? Want a game that will make you bleed red white and blue from your eyes as you fail to comprehend how and why the game you’re witnessing was made. Well Metal Wolf Chaos is for you! Developed by From Software, developer of such games as Demon Souls and Armored Core, this hyper patriotic game never made its way to the United States. I’m not going to lie, I’ve never played it, but it sounds to be the most absolutely ridiculous and awesome game in one. Sedt in the near future, you take the role of the President of the United State that has been the attack of attempts to usurp his position. After narrowly escaping the White House in his mech suit (Yeah, that’s what I said) he attempts to regain control of the country from an administration that reigns terror and even slavery.  We could analyze this game all day, but it’s essentially Mechs, patriotism and explosions the game. While it doesn’t directly celebrate Independence Day, it will give you such a patriotic overload that you’ll feel like waving a flag and gouging out your eyes.

Independence Day (Playstation 1)

Based on the 1996 film in which Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith seemingly stop an alien invasion with a lot of yelling and kabooms, the PSX title Independence Day is a great way to celebrate any 4th of July. Why you may ask? Because Aliens hate freedom…Well at least the ones in the movie did. With each alien ship you shoot down a tear of pure American freedom will fall down your cheek.  But really, it’s actually not a great game. But if you’re really hankering for some pseudo- Will Smith, 4th of July having action, then maybe give it a shot.

 

 

So there you have 4 games that you can celebrate the holiday with. Sit back, eat some BBQ, water your lawn, blow up pieces of glass, (or whatever normal Americans do on the 4th of July) and enjoy some very applicable games.

Video Game Dev. to Show Consequences of Guns in Game

Video Game Dev. to Show Consequences of Guns in Game

Anyone who has played a video game has most likely fired an in game gun. From Megabusters to in-game replicas of real life guns, shooting has become a mainstay in video games. However, not many video games show the real consequences of gun usage besides “splat, there goes his head”. This is where this project comes in. The game, tentatively called Gun Factory, hopes to show players how and where guns are made, as well shown them  the unforeseen consequences of overproduction of guns has on a global scale. Hopefully you’re not asleep yet.

Being developed by a summer program at Concordia University, the game is one of four projects seeking to turn video game conventions on their head. The game puts you in charge of a factory that is manufacturing guns and then goes on to show you the consequences that over-production of guns causes globally. This is an attempt to educate gamers on the real consequences that guns have on the world. It’s a novel idea, as video games and guns have a very confusing history:

Things Video Games have taught players through the ages:

  • 1920s: Carnival shooting galleries make kids really hate clowns and inanimate objects.
  • 1985: Duck Hunt teaches players that the only consequences of firing guns are killing birds and dogs laughing at you.
  • 1993: Yoshi Safari shows kids that riding dinosaurs and shooting guns at the same time are not incompatible.
  • 1994: Virtua Cop teaches players that emotional trauma is not a thing for hostages.
  • 2005: Shadow the Hedgehog teaches kids that small forest creatures are gun ready and willing.
  • 2007: Portal shows that guns can solve any problems, including puzzles!

“The actual idea is about how profiteering works, and it shows that as you develop more guns it doesn’t really solve the world’s problems.”

Sure they do. Hungry? Eat a gun. Too small to reach something? Fire a gun at it. Gun stuck on your other gun? Shoot it. Joking aside, this is an important idea to learn, but are video games really the right medium? The developers sure think so, but that won’t stop many gamers from either not playing the game or not knowing that it even exists.

The game follows in the footsteps of other culture awareness games like “Get Water”, a game about collecting water in areas in which water is scarce. Don’t remember that game? Probably because not many people have played it. These types of games are interesting and compelling, but not to the majority of gamers. While the article conveys that the developers are very much trying to make “fun” the backbone of the game, in a medium where most regular games don’t see many sales or plays, games like Gun Factory and Get Water are almost surely doomed.

But maybe there’s hope in festivals and showings like Games For Change, an annual festival that shows off these types of culturally aware games. Games featured on their website include “Priviledge: The Game of Economic Inequality” and “NarcoGuerra” a game in which you play as the Mexican authorities trying to break-up the drugwar. Clearly these games aren’t Mario and Halo, but perhaps they’re fun (I haven’t tried them out).

With Gun control being a hot-button issue for most Americans, it’s unlikely that games like Gun Factory are going to sway anyone’s opinion, but certainly it might educate gamers on a lesser side of guns’ effects. And hey, people conveying social issues through video games is a neat idea- It worked for Katamari Damacy teaching about waste control, and Harvest Moon for agricultural studies.

ESA: 2013 Data on Video game Consumption

The Entertainment Software Association, one of the foremost collectors of data on the video game industry, has released their 2013 data about video game consumption and use. It’s some pretty nifty information on gamers, their buying habits, and their make-up. In terms of sociology and video games, this is the bee’s knees (That’s a good thing, right?)

Let’s talk about some of the more interesting findings.

58% of American play video games:Look to your left, look to your right. Chances are the person sitting next to you is a gamer. This means that gamers are no longer in the minority. Like it or not, if you’re an American you’re most likely at least a little bit of a gamer. While this statistic doesn’t go into how it defines gamers, it shows that playing video games is now a hobby or activity that most Americans partake in.

45% of Gamers are female:gen Video games are no longer a boys club, unless you’re a game like “Bully”..then you kind of are. Females are increasingly making up a half of the gaming populations, which means that they are no longer a demographic developers can ignore.

Also interesting: The percent goes up a little when looking at “who buys video games more”. What this might mean is that guys, moreso that girls, pirate games more.

The Average age of a gamer is 30: Sorry kids. You’re no longer the key demographic for video games (You haven’t been for while). The average age of a gamer has gone up in recent years. Why? We’re seeing the first generation who grew up with the second wave of video game consoles growing up, and they’re the ones with disposable income.Tricks are still for kids, so take solace in that.

Card/Board Games make up most of online games played:World of War Craft who? typeCard games and other more traditional games make up the most online games played. Why? Most likely online gambling, but it is interesting. We don’t generally think of online poker or online gambling as “gaming” as there’s no real content to purchase or games to sell, but it’s definitely a big part of online gaming.

52% of Parents say that Video Games are Positive Parts of their kids lives: Contrary to a lot of the headlines that you’ll read about parents worrying that video games are negative to their children’s well being, the majority of parents believe them to be positive for their kids. Perhaps we’ll see the “VIDEO GAMES MADE MY 12 YEAR OLD PREGNANT” and “GAMES TURNED MY BABY INTO A MURDER” headlines disappear (They were never real).

Shooters/Action Games are still the most popular games:Americans like violence, and it shows in our video games. With games like Call of Duty still topping the charts, the most commonly bought video game is either a shooter or an action game. Cool story bro.

Video Games Sales are on the Decline

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Even though the number of gamers are growing, the sales of video games are coming down from their all time high. While this could mean it was just a burst of a bubble, other contributing factors could be the increase of mobile and free-to-play games on IOS and Android platforms.  Gamers are playing more, but spending less. This state doesn’t take into consideration the amount of money spent in game. Also, purchasing games is becoming more and more popular, most likely due to the importance of Steam and other downloadable services.

So there are some interesting facts from this year’s study. The ESA is made up of individuals from all over the gaming industries in very well known and popular gaming developers, so it’s a trusty sample of respondents coming from all over. For more stats and information about ESA, please visit their website for the complete report.

Is Nintendo Being More Gender Inclusive?

With E3 having wrapped up last week, we’re now left with the empty void of having to now wait for many of the games announced to actually come out. Of course there were a lot of headlines: Microsoft announcing ridiculous restrictions on their console, Sony relentlessly attacking Microsoft for their restrictions on their console, and then Microsoft reversing their decision on said restrictions. Fun stuff. Perhaps the least provocative at E3 was Nintendo, who chose not to do a formal E3 conference, but instead a Nintendo direct released online. While I could go on and on about what they did or didn’t announce, I’ll spare you the rant. However, one interesting thing to come out of Nintendo this year is the number of female protagonists in their showing this year.

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Of the games Nintendo Highlighted this year, most of the games featured female protagonists, or at least playable female characters. This comes as more of surprise, as many of the games with female protagonists are series that have traditionally had male protagonists only. Does this mean Nintendo is being more gender inclusive in their games? Have they heard the pleas of female gamers and well known female gaming critics like Anita Sarkeesian? Is the world going mad? SHOULD I SELL ALL MY VIDEO GAMES FOR CANNED BEANS?

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some of the games Nintendo previewed this year.

Super Mario World 3D

The newest Super Mario game to be announced, Super Mario World 3D features Princess Peach as a main playable character. This is the first time she has been playable in a mainline Mario platformer since the American Super Mario 2 on the NES in 1987, which was only a fluke because the game it was sprite swapped with “Doki Doki Panic” had a female character! Of course the game also features Mario and friends in Cat suits clawing around and meowing like cats, so…maybe they thought Peach would fit right in? The amount of furry drawings will be horrendous.

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Returning to the franchise after being absent from Donkey Kong platformers since Donkey Kong County 3 in 1996 is Dixie Kong. She joins Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong on their second outing from Retro studios.  Fans of DKC will already know what Dixie can bring to the table, as she was the starring character in both Country 2 and 3. As long as we don’t see that creepy Baby character that occupanied Dixie in DKC3, I’ll be happy. Also, I think there’s a healthy chance we’ll see her show her face in the newest Smash Brothers.

 

Pikmin 3

One of the bigger surprises is the inclusion of a female character in Nintendo’s Pikmin 3, which will release later this summer. Up until this point the franchise had only focused on Captain Olimar (and later joined by Louie) as he charted an unknown land were he assigns tasks based on the color of the pikmin’s skin. Brittany, seen in pink,  joins Alph and Charlie on the Pikmin planet for some adventure and countless death of Pikmin at the hands of other larger animals. We’ll see how she fares in a few weeks.

Beyond these main titles, many of their other games showed look to include playable female characters, including Mario Kart Wii U, The Wonderful 101, and Super Smash Brothers X.

So there you have it. Is Nintendo turning a new leaf on their perspective on female gamers?  Either way, it’s refreshing. As many analysts and gamers pointed out, companies such as Microsoft showed no games with female protagonists this E3, so Nintendo really is out in front this year. This is kind of new for Nintendo, as Nintendo has historically been a much more old fashioned kind of developer. Yes, they have had franchises with female leads (Metroid, Drill Dozer), but for their most popular franchises like Mario and Zelda they have typically relied upon female characters that are stereotypes or cliches. Perhaps with the advent of the Wii’s popularity in recent year they now know they can no longer ignore the population of female gamers.

Can Video Games Help Kids Read Classic Books?

Can Video Games Help Kids Read Classic Books?

Probably not, but the people at Amplify have invested a pretty penny in the hope that they can! This article was posted today on USAToday and it asks the question whether video games can motivate kids to read classic books like Alice and Wonderland or Frankenstein. Evidently, kids aren’t reading the classics anymore and are instead off listening to their rap music, playing a shim sham, or twirling a tire (Or whatever kids do).

At risk, my friends, is our future. I don’t think I have to tell you, but if kids don’t read the classics then our society will fall into a hellish landscape of deviancy and  stupidity. At first it’s the classics they don’t read, then its your Miranda rights, and lastly it’s the label on the bottle of poison that says “do not drink”. Anarchy and hellfire will take hold and WE’LL ALL BE DOOMED because the kids didn’t read Moby Dick.

Games like “Alice: Madness Returns” have already attempted to make learning the tales of classic games fun, by making them exceedingly violent and full of hacking and slashing

That of course is the most likeliest of outcomes. To offset this inevitable demise, Amplify has created “Lexica”, which the article describes as:

massive role-playing game for young teens that invites them to interact with characters from great novels and read the books outside of class if they want to get ahead in the game

Sounds riveting. The game’s world is apparently one in which the worlds books are being safeguarded from the dullards of the world so that no one can read them. Characters from the classics book escape from the books to seek help and seek out players to read them. Literary types are the most needy. It’s then up to players to assist the characters by reading books outside of the game. Players will be reward with in game rewards such as abilities and items. Sounds like a novel idea (HA HA!), but what’s going to motive these kids to play this game?

“The Evil Empire, as it were, believes that you’re not smart enough and you’re not good enough,” he says. “You’re certainly not good enough to write something yourself, because only great writers can be the ones who create books. And, in fact, you probably shouldn’t even be reading these things, because you’re not smart enough.”

Oh. The game actively tells you that you’re not good enough, and that’s supposed to motivate kids to prove them wrong. What about the kids that don’t? They’ll just be defeated and forever cast into a life of stupidity? Negative reinforcement is the best way to motive kids!

Will this work? I’m skeptical. Lexica certainly wouldn’t be the first educational game designed to teach kids classic literature, in fact there’s been plenty of titles attempting to do so throughout gaming history. What the developers of the game intend to do is make the game apart of school’s curriculum, but if no one adopts the game then it’ll most likely never see the light of day. Teenagers aren’t morons. They’ll know when they’re being tricked into reading books, and they don’t need video games to persuade them to do so.  The bigger question is “Is there a need?” Every generation worries that the next is lacking skills or knowledge that they hold dear, but it’s never really the case. TV was marked as an indicator that kids would eventually lose interest in reading and that our kids were in trouble. It didn’t stop kids from reading, and neither will video games.

Sony’s Wonderbook hoped to make reading fun! It flopped!

“The main educational goal is to get kids to be doing more reading of an ambitious sort outside the classroom. Kids today probably read more words than ever before, but they’re tweets or text messages from each other. This is to try to get them to do something which they’re not doing as part of their daily habits, which is reading books of a reasonably ambitious sort.”

Or to sell more tablets. While Amplify seems pretty noble in their journey to save the classic for kids, they’re really just pushing software and products. The article goes on to tell about Amplify’s new tablet that they have just released for a cheap $349 with a two year subscription. Certainly, if they were more motivated by teaching kids the classics they wouldn’t make their program for a tablet that is overpriced to only the most affluent of families.

What this article really gets at is that video games are increasingly being used as tools of education and socialization. They’re teaching our kids and engaging them in ways that weren’t before possible. While it’s unclear weather games like Lexica are the future of this socialization and education through video games is unclear, but certainly they’re a stab at it.

But maybe I’m too pessimistic. Maybe we should be looking to video games to help educating our kids. I had educational video games that I played when I was younger, and my favorite part of computer class was playing Sticky Bear, but I don’t know how much they really aided in my education. That said, video games in general probably did help me develop essential reading skills when I was a kid. Games that were text heavy like Legend of Zelda or Pokemon probably further developed my reading and comprehension skills, and today’s youth certainly seem to have a thing for playing tablet games at a young age, so perhaps it’s not so farfetched. However, I just highly doubt we’ll look back on Lexica as a tool of education that turned thousands of kids onto classic literature. Prove me wrong Amplify.

Animal Crossing: Life Lessons

I’ve been playing a lot of animal crossing. I mean, more than is healthy to play. Something about being in debt to a raccoon just seems so much more fun than being in debt to a university. During one particular long play session reality and the game began to blend into one; no longer could I tell if it was my soulless eyed character or I who was selling butterflies to a poodle and writing berating letters to a cat for constantly asking me to do trivial chores. It was then that I took an unbridled look at the world of Animal crossing; I saw it for what it was, and how it compared to the dull world that I actually inhabited. Upon waking from my haze a day had passed and I found myself in a dog kennel requesting a haircut and a song. I quickly raced home to transcribe what I had learned from the experience, and so this is what I bring to you today: Life lessons from Animal Crossing.

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DEBT MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND

The first thing you learn upon entering the animal crossing world is that nothing comes for free. Before you have time to ask the questions “Where am I?”, “Why did I come to this place with absolutely no money and motive?” and ‘WHERE IS MY SOUL!?” you’re immediately thrust into a contract with one Tom Nook. You better get used to this Raccoon, because he owns you. Everything you do in your town goes through the Nook family (So much for being Mayor). If the above box art wanted to be anymore accurate to the game, there would be a large translucent Tom Nook in the sky laughing manically while looking down upon the town that crumbles at his whim.  Tom Nook has what you need: somewhere to live and the tools required to live. He starts small of course, giving you a measly single room home with room for little more than a bed and a light, but he plays on your own greed, roping you into contracts for bigger and grander houses until you’re his slave. It’s then that your  play time is consumed by fishing and bug catching just to pay back your immense debt to the Nook family.

This sound silly, but that is animal crossing in a nutshell: a cutesy debt simulator fueled by the labor of fishing. If you had to learn one lesson from Animal Crossing it’s that life is about owing others. But hey, that’s not a bad lessons to learn, especially if you’re young. Animal Crossing in some ways teaches fiscal responsibility to children. While Bells are certainly easier to come by than dollars, at least Animal Crossing is teaching kids that they’ll have to work for their money. Is it instilling a strong work ethic? No, probably not, but at least it’s an ethic. It’s only if we start seeing the next generation of kids become really into pawning anything and everything that we should  be concerned.

WANT BIGGER AND BETTER

Of course Animal Crossing also plays on the heart of capitalism, acquiring more wealth and possessions, but it’s all so adorable and silly that you forget that you’re essentially doing what you’re doing in the real world (Most likely minus the fishing). Multiple stores, new items everyday, and a year wide system of changing aspects makes your town an ever changing world, so it’s inevitable that you’re house’s design will go through multiple make overs. Making your house bigger and better is the essential goal of Animal Crossing, and with the addition of wi-fi play you’re no longer doing it for yourself. You can visit and compete with players around the world to see who has the most elaborate and coolest towns.  The most recent title, New Leaf, even lets you live out the fantasy of being a looter in someone’s town. That said, it’s fun. Unlike in the real world, Animal Crossing has a lot more immediate gratification than the real world- You like that cactus with a happy face but don’t have the Bells to buy it? Go fish for 20 minutes. It takes all the mundane parts of accumulation speeds them up and makes them less boring.

You can also be somewhat charitable in the world of animal crossing by donating items to your local museum, but the Owl who runs it is an ingrate who sleeps all day.

Kindness is Key

Although you have ulterior motives in your town, the game very much rewards kindness. Whether your helping out your neighbor by finding him a peach or making your town’s satisfaction higher by composing a new town melody, a big theme in the game is to make others happy. It shows, as the world of Animal crossing is a harmonious world where all types of animals live together under one town. The alligator resident isn’t ripping into the cat resident and there are no major fights over property: it’s a nice world. These acts of kindness make for a good lesson: be nice and play nice, and maybe you’ll be rewarded. Sure, you can also be a terrible villager and axe all of the trees and let your town go to ruin, but that would make for a pretty dull gameplay experience.

However, we don’t know much about what goes on beyond the walls of your town. Perhaps constant war? Famine and disease? Maybe your town is a controlled society in a larger world devastated by war? For more conspiracies about the Animal Crossing world, please read my book “Animal Crossing: The Lies of Tom Nook”.

Other quick lessons:

  • The land provides, and what the land provides will make bank.
  • Animals are sometimes really petty.
  • Not Saving is like committing an unspeakable crime.
  • New fossils appear in the ground every day.
  • Animals are living breathing things that should be treated as such. Not bugs or fish though; capture them and put them in cages.
  • Fishing is the most valuable skill ever.

So there you have it, some life lessons from the world of Animal Crossing. Take them as you like, whether its to your normal life or to your life in your Animal Crossing town. Perhaps one day, when games and virtual reality become one,  we’ll be able to owe Tom Nook huge amounts of money for real. Wouldn’t that be paradise….

Study Shows Parents Are More Positive about Media Use, But Not Video Games

Study Shows Parents Are More Positive about Media Use, But Not Video Games

Northwestern University published this report last about parents’ attitudes towards media use for their children. Exciting stuff! Well, maybe not so. However, it’s worth a read because the study finds shows some interesting insights about changing attitudes towards media.

“hehe! We were told to each wear a different bright color!”

tl dr: The study finds that today’s parents have much more positive attitudes about allowing their kids to consume media than in past years. A majority of parents are not weary of letting their children consume most types of media, as they’re not worried that their kids will become addicted and have to spend their lives as circus folks ( I may be assuming the latter).

With the exception of video games, parents think more positively than negatively about the impact of media (including TV, computers and mobile devices) on children’s reading and math skills, and their creativity.

Math skills are a stretch, but this fact shows an interesting trend: today’s parents, who grew up with computers, TV and other forms of media are less weary of these mediums because of it. What didn’t get them won’t get their kids, right? Meh. That said, the study still finds that traditional forms of family activities still reign predominant in most house holds. Also, interestingly the number of households the article deem ” Media centric” and Media Moderate” is considerably higher than those deemed “Media-light” (Media-Light sounds like a milk substitute). What this could mean is that, while parents may say traditional forms of family bonding are at the heart of their family activities, it could very well be that media plays a far bigger role than they would like admit.

However, what is most relevant about this study to sociology and video games is that parents, despite this positive trend towards media, are still relatively negative about video game use for this kids.

Parents view video games more negatively than TV, computers or mobile devices. Parents rated video games as more likely to have a negative effect on children’s academic skills, attention span, creativity, social skills, behavior and sleep than any other medium.

Peachy. The study doesn’t say if this is a improvement upon previous studies or not, but we’ll just focus on this negativity. The concerns come mostly from parents worrying that video games will effect their children’s physical activity, though that seemingly isn’t a concern for the other forms of media (Surfing the net sounds physical!). These are valid concerns, granted, but should we be more weary of video games than other forms of media on our kids physical activity? Probably not, but it’s an easy target. Likewise, concerns of effects on academic skills, creativity, and attention span are questionable in comparison to other media. With such an array of video games out there, and especially with the amount of video games being created to push creativity and education in young children, it’s hard for me to believe that video games are more destructive to a children’s attention span, intelligence, and creativity than television or the computer.

If video games are to become more widely accepted as tools of socialization, parents needs to be aware of their values and the options they offer. With research and proper insight, parents can choose video games that promote health values in children. Not all children games are angry birds (I loathe Angry birds) or run of the mill cartoon tie ins, so games challenge kids to think out side of the box and inspire them to be more creative. Being a product of growing up with video games myself, I honestly believe games made me more creative and analytical. Games like Zelda taught me to examine my surroundings and think beyond what I can see, while games like Mario Paint inspired me to be more creative than I could be with mere paper and pen. …And Duck Hunt taught me hunt duck, but that’s besides the point. The point is, video games aren’t the menace they’re often made out to be. Like TV and other forms of media, what you get out of a video game comes down to your selection.

Lastly, the study was of 2300 parents. That’s a decent sample size, but it’s not huge. As a result, we have to question whether this represents parents as whole. Likewise, the study did not say how their results were gathered or how they chose their sample size; all good questions to ask if we’re choosing this study to represent a population.

 

Video Games Causing Divorces – Why We Shouldn’ t Care

Huffington Post posted this article this week:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/28/divorce-cause-video-game-_n_3349048.html

They finally did. Those god damn monsters video games have finally found a way to break the holy matrimony of marriage. Bastards.

These stock models have clearly never played a video game before.

The article tells a story of a Chinese couple who has filed for divorce after video games ruined their marriage.

Wang Juan petitioned the Chinese courts for a divorce from her husband, 25-year-old Zhang Ping, for neglecting his household chores and playing video games instead.

A 25 year neglecting household chores because he wants to play video games? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE NINTENDO!? But this isn’t an isolated case, as a 2011 report claims that 15% of divorces are attributed to problems caused by video games. So what does this mean? That the Wii in the next room is maneuvering to replace your wife? That Princess Peach and Cooking Momma will soon be the only women in your life?

Should we be worried? Should we throw out all of our video games and just have couples stare at each other for hours, secretly resenting each other for throwing out the video games? No. We shouldn’t care.

Who am I to claim we shouldn’t care (15 IS A BIG NUMBER BRO)? Excess video game playing can’t be the cause, it’s only a symptom.  Lazy or inattentive spouses aren’t a result of the products they use, but are a result of being lazy and inattentive people. With 50 % of all US Marriages ending in divorce, it’s  hard for me to believe that so many are divorcing over video games. In fact, studies about why marriages fail tend to counteract this 15% of video game break ups. Similarly, “video games” as a response can fall into varying categories of much more overarching problems in relationships, such as lack of equality. If we use the 25-year-old Zhang Ping as an example, his marriage didn’t end because he was playing video games, it ended because he wasn’t holding up his side of the marriage. If he wasn’t playing video games  chances are he’d be watching TV or out of the house also not doing his chores.

Playing video games  isn’t going to end your marriage, make you anti-social, or kill your gold fish- video games are merely outlets for other problems (see the concern over violent video games). In many ways video games are even healthy for individuals to play as they act as stress relievers and challenge you to think in ways you wouldn’t necessarily think in your normal life.

So maybe don’t fret if you’re a gamer about to enter a potential lasting relationship. Just don’t be a moron, and you’ll be fine. Then again, isn’t that sage advice for all aspects of life?