Nostalrius: Blizzard Shuts Down Popular Private Serve of the Original “Vanilla” World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft may be the most sociologically interesting game of all time because of the massive community the game has fostered in its 12 years of being active.  In those 12 years Blizzard has made some dramatic changes to the game, with new areas, races, and elements being added in with each update and expansion. While fans have been more or less positive about these expansions, recently a niche crowd of the WOW population grew nostalgic for the World of Warcraft of the past. Thus a private server named Nostalrius was created to give players an option to play the original, “vanilla”, World of Warcraft just as it was when it released in 2004.

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This form of game  duplication falls into a murky waters when it comes to piracy. As it stands, it’s impossible to play the original vanilla WOW on an official server. Blizzard, for obvious reasons, has a stake in pushing their newer versions of the game that feature updated elements and graphics. What the team behind Nostalrius did was provide fans with an option to experience ( or experience again) a very specific version of the game that will most likely never be released officially by the developers. While what the team did is technically piracy (they’re distributing a game they don’t own for free) they are distributing a game that, for all intensive purposes, is financially dead: Nostalrius isn’t charging clients for the product and neither is Blizzard. Legacy servers are not a new thing, several MMOs offer legacy servers that allow players to play the original versions of their games, but the majority of legacy servers are officially ran or sanctioned. With World of Warcraft being the most popular MMO of all time, it’s only natural that Nostalrius grew in popularity and eventually reached a client base of 150,000 users (  a mere fraction of WOW’s 5 million subscribers). Despite being a fan-made project not seeking any financial compensation for their product, Blizzard has sent the team a cease and desist letter to halt all distributing and running of the game.

The Nostalrius team will be shutting down their server on April 10th and active users are already preparing for the end of the game’s world: clients across the world are actively participating in pilgrimages across the game’s world as  symbolic measures to bring in the servers demise.  “We never saw our community as a threat for Blizzard.” said the team in their open letter to Blizzard offering the company their help in providing fans with an option for legacy servers.

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Cases like Nostalrius are particularly interesting in that they are instances in which a portion of a video game may simply no longer exist or be available to the general population. With video games slowing becoming more and more digital exclusive, certain games may become lost to time because the developers will no longer offer them or no longer have the means to offer them. In the case of WOW, fans came to Nostalrius because they were enthusiasts of something long-gone and fans of World of Warcraft as a whole. I’ve discussed these issues in the past, but it’s interesting to see the discussion come up around a very active game. Nostalrius and their community stark set on an in-game   pilgrimage to the apocalypse represents just how evolved and unique a video game community can become.. Some will revere the experience of playing the original game while other wills scoff and go back to the more updated version, but I do believe it’s an important thing to be given the opportunity to experience the game’s beginning. The in-game world of games like World of Warcraft are becoming more than just data online, they’re developing into shared experiences and worlds that hold sentimental value to those inhabiting them; when a online world ceases to exist it doesn’t simply disappear, it lives on in the memories and experiences of those who loved them. To a sociologists, we need to research and observe  how the advent of these digital worlds are effecting our social dimensions. If distant version of massive popular game can garner such a community, then certainly there is something more at work people merely playing a passive video game.

It is unfortunate that Blizzard will be forcing Nostalrius to shut down as it seems the server was only supplying fans with something Blizzard themselves are unwilling to offer. Perhaps one day Blizzard will head the advice of the team and provide fans with an official chance to experience the game’s beginnings. The story of Nostalrius reminds us to not take for granted the online games we love and play, because one they day they simply may not exist.

PCgamer’s piece on Nostalrius

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Pew Research Center’s Report on Gaming & Gamers

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The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan research group that conducts polling and demographic research, has released 17 page long report on their findings about Gamers and Gaming. This is an incredibly insightful report for anyone conducting sociological research on current issues in gaming or  seeking the demographic make up of the video game community. It’s a pretty lengthy report, but I’ll try and break down some of the highlights.

The group posed the following questions to a survey of over 2000 Americans.

  • Do you ever play video games on a computer, TV, game console, or portable device like a cellphone? Yes, No, Don’t know, Refuse
  • Do you think this is true for most video games, true for some games but not others, NOT true for most video games, or are you not sure?
    • Video games help develop good problem solving and strategic thinking skills. 
    • Video games are a waste of time.
    • Video games portray women poorly.
    • Video games promote teamwork and communication.
    • Video games portray minority groups poorly.
    • Video games are a better form of entertainment than watching TV.
  • Based on what you know about video games, please tell me if you agree or disagree with the following statements. Agree, Disagree, Don’t Know, Refuse
    • Most people who play video games are men.
    • People who play violent video games are more likely to be violent themselves
  • Some people use the term “gamer” to describe themselves as a fan of gaming or a frequent game-player. Do you think the term “gamer” describes you well, or not? Yes Gamer, No, Not Gamer, Don’t know, Refuse

Additional probing questions were asked about video game causing violence, how racial groups were represented in games, and how video games represent women.

Let’s go over some of their discoveries!

In regards to who plays video games and considers themselves gamers, the report found that only 10% of respondents considered themselves to be gamers, despite nearly half of respondents answering that they play video games.

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Respondents in older age brackets were less likely to identify as a gamer

The demographics of gender in gaming is similar to what the ESA reported earlier in the year, but there’s a considerable difference between the number of women and men who identify as gamers, perhaps signalling a disconnect between women and gaming culture.

Why is there such a big difference between people who play games and identify as gamers? It could be that by identifying as a gamer you’re admitting you are a part of a bigger culture that many respondents desire not to be counted upon. The term gamer may carry with it perceived connotations that aren’t appealing to more casual or infrequent consumers.

With regards to the questions regarding video games as  cultural and societal entities, the report found that a good portion of the population believe that video games can provide positive effects.

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I believe this graph is a particularly important one, because it represents a practical and reasonable view of video games within society. As with any medium, video games have a varying range in terms of intellectual and interactive value; some games will be your action fueled titles that don’t challenge you to work out problems, while others can be great sources of cooperative play and brain stimulation. It’s unfortunate that the medium often gets labeled as being only its biggest titles (Call of Duty, Madden, GTA) when there are plenty of games that challenge players to think outside of the box, work together, or take witness to a wonderful tale.

The study also asked questions to respondents in regards to how they perceive violent video games as agent in creating  real world violence.

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The majority of respondents did not believe that violent video games lead to violent actions, despite some groups believing they do. It’s clear that younger men and women disagree with the statement, but that the issue is still one that is very much up for discussion and debate among the community.

Lastly, we’ll look at the study’s finding on public perception of representation in gaming:

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This one is a little surprising, as the majority of respondents didn’t choose to weigh in one way or another. It’s clear that more respondents believe that only some games exhibit poor representation of women and minorities, which is a fair statement of video games, but it is alarming that that a healthy portion believe that most games have poor portrayals. This shows that proper representation within video games of women and minorities is an ongoing struggle and that the general population simply do not know about it.

There’s a lot more in the actual report that I highly recommend checking out. This kind of data is rare, but it helps us gain a better understanding of how video games are being viewed in our society and what we need to work on as a community.  For sociologist, such data is invaluable because it gives insight to the social problems existing at the intersection of sociology and video games.

Charts and graphs provided by the  Pew Research Center

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ESA: Essential Facts About Gamers and Politics

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Oh Electronic Software Association, you’ve given me an early Christmas present. The ESA is the foremost data collector of statistics and data on video game consumption, usage, and attitudes.  Annually this blog reports on their essential facts about video game consumption, but today they’ve released a special report on their findings on how politically engaged gamers are. They’ve created a easy to read infographic of all of these statistics that I will be pulling from.

Now that were are officially a year away from the 2016 election, such statistics are as timely as ever. Spoiler alert: Most gamers  don’t think America’s leadership is a monarchy ruled by Princess Zelda.

votingThe results are overwhelmingly positive: gamers are very politically engaged. In a survey that asked whether or not they would vote in the 2016 election, 80% of gamers said they were going to exercise their right to vote. This is in comparison to non-gamers, which had a percentage of 75% respondents saying they were going to vote in next years election.

“100 million gamers will vote next year…Gamers are engaged, informed and hold strong opinions on critical issues. From both sides of the aisle, and in every state across the country, they will influence the course of our nation’s future.”

partyIn terms of political party, gamers are split even with an equal amount identifying as
Republican and Demographics. This doesn’t surprise me all that much, as it closely represents the general demographics on the United States, further showing that gamers are the general population. That said, significantly more gamers identify as conservative than liberal. Why gamers skew heavily social conservative is beyond me, and on what issues they lean conservative isn’t specified

Lastly the survey looked at what gamers think about specific issues.

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There’s some really interesting insights into how they fall on issues and this is really one of the first studies to actually ask these specific questions.  Despite the majority classifying themselves as “conservative” their political leanings on issues definitely have some socially liberal slants.

With the statistics out of the way, we can hypothesize as to why gamers tend to be more politically active than non-gamers (or at least say they are). It could certainly have something to do with their connection to online communities; video game communities are gathering places for people to discuss on-going issues. Places like NeoGaf’s off-topic forums ignite intellectual debates in their threads, and this creates public awareness for issues people may not typically come across in their daily lives. Whatever the reason for this political engagement, it’s a beautiful thing to see gamers getting politically active. There are issues out there that concern all gamers; A more politically engaged community is one that has a greater voice.

I think Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of NDN, says it best in the ESA press release:

What is so striking about this research is how deeply mainstreamed video games have become in our culture…The views of gamers are as diverse as the nation itself, and there can be little doubt now that playing video games is a near universal activity at the very core now of the national experience in the U.S.”

Not to brag or anything, but I’ve been saying that for years…Yeah, I’m cool.

Please head over the ESA website and support this type of research. We need more of this stuff, it really does make for a more educated and informed video game community.

Pew Research Center’s 2015 Findings on Console Ownership

Less progressive parts of the gaming community are in an uproar today, as a new survey suggest that more American women own video game consoles than their male counterparts. Should chauvinistic males flee the medium for fear of cooties? We’ll look into that finding and more!

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The Pew Research Group is a well respected, non-partisan ,and non-advocacy research group that gathers data on public issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world. This week they released their findings on technology device ownership, ranging from tablets to video game consoles. It’s great data to comb through, but I’ll be focusing specifically on the findings of console ownership.

Let me start of my saying this: It’s ridiculous that there is a backlash to this survey. Read any article reporting this survey and you’ll be met with juvenile comments from people saying it’s poor research, a conspiracy of sorts, or a sign that video games are going to hell. Regardless of the validity of the data,  such comments and responses prove that there still exists a vocal minority that represent backwards and offensive views. If this survey is true, we as a community should be thrilled that this once male dominated medium is now a more inclusive one. A diverse video game community is a stronger community and  these negative views do not represent the entire video game community.

With that said, lets examine the finding:

The number that is grabbing the most headlines is the finding that 42% of women own video game consoles, while only 37% of men own a console.  This result is contrary to what most would assume, as the ESA report on video game consumption found that male gamers were still in the majority. However, it’s not as inconceivable as it once was; female gamers are on the rise and they make up nearly half of the gaming population.

With that said, there are certain consideration to think about when looking at this data, such as does this data include respondents who are parents and own video game consoles because their children? Likewise, does this include respondents who bought video game consoles because of their multimedia uses and not their video game uses, and would otherwise not consider themselves “gamers”?  Although we don’t have an answer for these questions and these aren’t suggestions for why the data is as it is, such questions allow us to better interpret and hypothesize about the data in front of us. To create a better picture of console ownership, additional probing questions would have to be asked.

Next the survey looks specifically at the breakdown of race in regards to console ownership. This data is actually quite interesting if only for the fact that it’s not something most research groups typically delve into when conducting research concerning video game demographics. That said, it’s not all that surprising; the percentage of people who play video games is relatively similar across each race.

Likewise, the data on educational attainment  and community type is relatively unremarkable. It is worth noting that the educational attainment data is mostly tied directly with financial ability to purchase video games.

As stated at the bottom of the survey, the sample size surveyed was 948 respondents. This is a pretty healthy sample size; more could be included, but it’s viable enough to work off of.  The Research Group goes into their complete methodology behind the survey for anyone with lingering doubts about the survey. Given that, should we take all of this data at face value? Not necessarily. As I mentioned, this data doesn’t give the complete picture. There may be reasons why certain stats are what they are, but the data does  gives us a better picture than we had before.

In all, this isn’t the most earth shattering survey response. Not all data is shocking or dramatic, a lot of time surveys just confirm what we mostly assume. However, it’s important for groups like the Pew Research Group to conduct these surveys because they give us the raw data that we need to formulate our arguments and theories. They’re out there doing the hard work for us. No body wants me calling 948 people asking about whether or not they have video games, I swear.

Time’s “Everything You Know About Boys and Video Games Is Wrong”

A new Time’s piece is claiming that everything you know about boys and video games is wrong. I don’t know if exclusive knowledge on either subject is false, but you may as well throw away all of your beliefs about both boys and video games. Rosalind Wiseman, whose work you probably have experienced without even knowing it (Her book was the basis for the movie “Mean Girls” for example) explores how middle school and highschool boys view sexism in video games. Should we care? Is this study worth your time?  “Forget Everything You Know About Research Studies”

The interest in the subject matter began when she started noticing her students being annoyed by overly sexualized characters in their handheld games (Candy Crush 3 features some real bosomy candy bars). She specifically mentions “Game of War” which is an incredibly popular mobile game that has, as its mascot, Kate Upton dressed in a outfit very inappropriate for the battlefield. Thus, she decided to team with her research group to survey kids from across the country to get their perspective on sexism in the video game industry. She surveyed  more than 1,400 middle and high school students with a questionnaire that asked them to agree or disagree with certain statements relating to sexism and objectification of females in gaming. The results, she claims, will stun you (They probably wont).

To preface, I want talk about the presumption the article takes: it assumes that young boys are drawn to games that features women in scantily clad clothing and feature a male protagonist.  This assumption is an odd one, as teenagers and middle school students aren’t the target audience for games that feature these characters. Obviously puberty is difficult and young boys hormone are insane, but that doesn’t mean they want sexism or objectified women in all aspects of their lives. If anything,  I would argue that young men have more shame when it comes to characters being over sexed because they  feel embarrassed to play games with on-screen characters they don’t want their family seeing. Adults, on the other hand, could care or less, which is why they are the target audience for games with more explicit characters. As such, I don’t think a results that claim that boys are “more progressive” than we believe is a stunning new finding.

Terrible anecdote time: From my own personal experience, I wouldn’t have wanted to play or had games around that featured sexist characters.  For example when I was a teenager, I wasn’t particularly proud of playing Final Fantasy X-2 at points. It’s a perfectly harmless game that features the games heroines in ridiculous outfits, but otherwise it’s actually a pretty solid game. Being a fan of the original I naturally wanted to play the sequel, but was embarrassed at times because some of the silly and ridiculous scenarios and outfits the game would place the characters in. I also knew others who chose not to play the game as a result (Probably more so because it looks like a girls game, but regardless). FFX-2 is also a very low offending game, so I can’t imagine how others would feel with more explicit characters and games.

Nevertheless, back to the claims:

Boys believe female characters are treated too often as sex objects

47% of middle school boys agreed or strongly agreed, and 61% of high school boys agreed or strongly agreed. “If women are objectified like this it defeats the entire purpose of fighting,” Theo, an eighth-grader who loves playing Mortal Kombat, told us. “I would respect the [female] character more for having some dignity.”

This one is the that’s garnering the most debate. It’s a difficult thing asking middle-school children about objectification, as it’s a complex concept that a lot of them may not understand. That said, the results aren’t as overwhelmingly positive as piece seems to make them out to be.  If only 47% of middle schoolers and 61% of highschoolers agreed with the statement that women are being objectified it leaves a healthy portion of kids that either don’t agree or have no particular opinion on the matter.  I have other issues with the research method (or lack there of in terms of description), but we’ll come back to those issues.

Both boys and girls aren’t more likely to play a game based on the gender of the protagonist

70% of girls said it doesn’t matter and 78% of boys said it doesn’t matter. Interestingly, boys care less about playing as a male character as they age and girls care more about playing as a female one.

With more female characters in gaming becoming the norm, it’s positive to see this response.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this question was influenced by the wording however, as the results are almost too overwhelmingly in favor of not caring whether the protagonist is male of female. Likewise, I’ll discuss that a little more in a bit.

Girls play a variety of game genres

26% played first-person shooter games like Call of Duty and HALO, 36% played role-playing games like Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto, and 17% played sports games like FIFA and Madden. (19% did not play games, compared to 3% of boys.)

This one if the most straightforward, and represents a lot of the data that the ESA reported on with their yearly findings.

The survey isn’t currently available and I haven’t been able to find a copy of it. If I had a better sense of what was asked I could make a more informed decision on this study, but as of right now it’s all conjecture. I bring up that I’m unsure of the answers, as the statements seem like they could have been led in some way. The way someone phrases a question can dramatically effect the way someone answers it. For example, a questionnaire that asks “Do you care if the video game protagonist is your same gender” is a radically different question than ” Who do you prefer to play as: Male, Female, or it doesn’t matter”. This isn’t to suggest that the results would be different, but if you’re going to make bold claims that claims everything we know is wrong, you should have a strong methodology to back up your research. This takes us to the surveys bigger issue:

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The gaming community is questioning some of the research methods, as it seems that a portion of the respondents were distributed via twitter and using Survey Monkey.  That right there is a red flag, as one’s twitter following is clearly not representative of a general population and  survey monkey in no way  prevents people from lying about their age to take the survey.  These two facts alone are grounds to throw the whole thing into question, as it’s just not proper science.

It’s a shame, as this is an interesting question and one that, with a proper methodology, could potentially yield similar results. If video Games  are to become an academic medium then we must adhere to tried and true forms of scientific methodology. Faux science isn’t going to cut it.

Study Suggest 23% of Kids Consider Playing Video Games a Form of Physical Activity

The Youth Sports Trust, a group the does advocacy for physical education and physical well-being, has compiled a report on the status of today’s youth. The report is pretty well done, with a lot of insights about how technology is changing the way kids socialize, view physical activity, and interact with technology in physical activity, but there’s one piece of data that is grabbing more headlines than others. The report suggests that 23% of kids believe that playing video games is a form of physical activity.

Should we panic and throw out all video game consoles and computers for fear that our kids will inevitably become blobs? Probably not. Let’s consider what this data is actually suggesting, whether it’s an accurate claim, and how they might have come to this conclusion

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23% of kids believe video games can be a form of physical activity. This would be a bigger issue if this was 1995, but kids today have a much wider experience when it comes to playing their games.  If you’re in this age range of 5-16, you’re household more than likely has a console that has some sort of motion control component to it. The Wii itself was a     cultural phenomenon, so it’s unlikely that kids today haven’t seen or played a game that requires physical motion. With this in mind, it’s not insane to see where kids are making this claim from; some games require physical motion, they must be a form physical activity.

IT’S JUST LIKE MOVING!

Whether using the Kinect or Wii can be considered a “form of physical activity” is a subject up for debate for adults, but they undeniably require physical activity. Kids aren’t going to be able to define the difference between an activity specifically meant for physical fitness and an activity that simply requires physical activity; they’re kids, let’s not be silly.

Another consideration is that the poll was conducted using a likert scale, meaning they give the respondents the options between “agree, strongly agree, neither agree or disagree, disagree, or strongly disagree”. These types of polls are useful, but can lead to polling errors and over simplification of data.

Let’s think about it. If you’re a 7 year old child and you’re ask if you think games are a physical activity you’re going to draw on your knowledge of video games. You’re most likely thinking some games have physical activity involved (Wii Sports, Star Wars Kinect, etc), but the majority do not (Minecraft, Skylanders, etc). With a Likert scale, “Agree” and “Disagree” most closely relate to “Some, but not all”, but kids with some knowledge of physically active video games will probably tend on the side of agree, even if they only marginally agree with the statement. Thus we have a problem: likert scales lump people who only marginally agree in with people who agree to a greater extent, which wouldn’t be a problem if we weren’t making bold statements based on these scales.  It’s a minor nuisance in data collecting, but important nonetheless.

Also, some kids just like to pick the silliest options.

So maybe we shouldn’t be flabbergasted that video games are being considered physical activity; maybe they’re just evolving to become one. With VR on the way, it’s certainly looking that physical activity and gaming are tied together.

TLDR: GET OFF THESE KIDS’ BACKS.

It’s unfortunate that this singular question is the one sparking headlines and debate, because the report itself has a lot of interesting insights that are being overlooked as a result. With more and more public funding being cut to programs that support physical fitness and with the rise of technology being more closely tied to social and physical development, it’s important for us to understand and research how we can adapt to these new trends.

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..

Study Shows Link Between Excessive Gaming and Behavioral Issues

SHOCKING HEADLINE: A new study posted in  the Journal of Psychology of Popular Media Culture finds a correlation between playing games for an extended amount of time and behavioral issues in teenagers. KEEP THAT POKEMON AWAY FROM THEM TWEENS, OR YOU’RE GONNA GET TROUBLE!

The new study posted in  the Journal of Psychology of Popular Media Culture  evaluated the amount of time spent on video games per day and the behavior habits of teenage students in class. The Washington Post has a pretty good break down of the study in general, so check it out here. As you might expect, teens who played more than 2 hours a night (on average) exhibited more behavioral issues, such as hyperactivity, and were less interested in their academics. The sun is also hot, and Mario sometimes jump (SPOIIILLLEERRRR).  Furthermore, the study found that gamers who played solitary video games  showed less of these behavioral and academic problems than those who played competitive online games. However, teenagers who played online social games were less likely to exhibit social problems and were found to be more emotionally stable. PUT THAT ON THE BOX BLIZZARD!

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I apologize if I sound cynical about the first half of the study, but this form of study is one that we’ve seen several times in the past few years.  It’s correlation without causation. It’s easy to find a common thread in video games between respondents that are hyperactive and young because it’s an easy target. 10 years ago similar studies were done to say that internet use is leading to behavioral issues, 30 years ago it was TV corrupting our kids, and 60 years ago it was too much Radio leading kids astray (NPR led me to satanism).  It’s not to say that video game consumption isn’t an issue, but it’s a outlet for other isss. We have a habit of demonizing whatever media is popular among youths as corrupting, which in this era is video games.

That said, the study is one step in understanding how video games effect our lives, which is obviously something we like here on the blog. It may not be a drastic leap forward, but perhaps it will pave the way for future research evaluating how video games lead to specific social behaviors. A step is still a step, right? We’ll get there one day…

Can Video Games Cause You To Hear Sounds After The Game is Off?

I was up late one night trying to get the perfect route in Star Fox 64. I turned off my n64 and retired to my bed. It was then I heard the screams and cries of animals far off in the distance. The sounds of a shot down frog here, the tart responses of a falcon over there; the sounds were more real than my hate for Andross. When I ran to the phone to call for psychiatric help, all I received was this response “DO A BARREL ROLL!”. 

What I was experiencing, in this made up story that would never happen to anyone, is a newly named phenomena called Game Transfer Phenomena. A team coming out Nottingham Trent University is trying to figure out the phenomena of gamers experiencing phantom sounds and noises after turning off their favorite games. These sounds can be anything from music to the sounds of explosions and cries (2SPOOPI3ME) The research suggests that many gamers experience lingering noises and sounds overlaying real life from their games after particularly engrossing play sessions. Having gathered evidence from over 1000 testimonials of gamers who have claimed to witness this phenomena, they claim that nearly 13% of gamers experience this phenomena. Obviously collecting testimonials for forums and from such a low number is only anecdotal, but it is an interesting finding. Earlier in the year we blogged a study that was looking into a similar phenomena that dealt with hallucinations, so there seems to be some backing to the findings. Similar research was apparently done in the mid 90s with the very addictive handheld title “Tetris”.

THERE IS NO NES, ONLY TETRIS.

So should we start expecting to heard phantom banjo strings after playing an engrossing game of Banjo Kazooie? Probably not. It’s really not that unnatural for the brain to replay or responded in different ways after having done any task for an extensive amount of time. If Game Transfer Phenomena is anything, it seems to be the brain dealing with the event from earlier. But what do I know about the brain? Nothing.

What does this have to do with sociology you might ask? Well, not much. But it is interesting that video games may be effecting in ways we never knew they could; biologically and psychologically. Certainly video games are effecting us as a population more than ever.

The Guardian has a better take on this subject, so take a look at their article for real justice to the research. Let us know if you’ve ever heard, seen, or even tasted anything gaming related that shouldn’t have been there. WE WON’T REFER YOU TO A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL, I SWEAR.

Study Suggest Violent Video Games Makes Kids Eat more and Cheat!

Study Suggest Violent Video Games Makes Kids Eat more and Cheat!

They have finally found conclusive evidence that Video Games are making our kids fat cheaters. That’s at least what a study coming out of Ohio State University is suggesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The study was conducted by having 172 Italian students either play violent or non-violent games and then conduct a test of honesty. While playing either type of video game participants were given a bowl of M&Ms to see whether the type of video game would effect how much the participants ate. The students wee either given a Grand Theft Auto game or a Pinball and Golf game, so clearly it was going for the most extreme opposite of games. After playing the games, the participants were asked to take a test to win raffle tickets, which they were then able to retrieve their won tickets from an unsupervised envelope to see if they would take more than their allocated tickets.

The results of the study found that students who were playing Grand Theft Auto ate 3 times more M&Ms than those who played the Non-violent video games, finally showing that Grand Theft Auto is a cause of obesity..wait, what? Likewise, the study found that students who played the violent video games were more likely to “steal” raffle tickets while  unsupervised. Together, these findings suggest that playing violent video games makes players less restrained. The study also suggest that males were more susceptible to this change in behavior than females, but females were also susceptible to the change.

So, should we throw our violent video games out the window for fear that we’ll put on pounds and rig the local raffle? (I’M GUNNA GET THAT BAKED CAKE AT ANY COST!) No. Of course not. These results only show a behavior pattern in a small sample of students that may not represent the population of gamers. Likewise, it hard to make the assumption that stealing raffle tickets from a hypothetical raffle means anymore than what it is.  Similarly, maybe one should ask what about playing games like GTA make players snack more than less encompassing games like 3D Pinball. It may not necessarily be a result of the violence in the video game, but rather the level of experience the gamer is having.

Meh, who knows. Ohio State may have to do additional research to prove their hypothesis.