NPR’s “All Things Considered” piece on Gaming Diversity

NPR’s “All Things Considered” piece on Gaming Diversity and Video Game Violence

NPR’s “All Things Considered” has a new piece on video game diversity that reflects on their experience at this years E3. For those who don’t listen to ATC, it’s a segment show on NPR in which the correspondents go out and explore different things. This week Arun Rath reflects on his experience at E3. Spoiler alert: He didn’t spend his entire time there playing the new Battlefield.

Listen to the piece on their website or read the transcipt, it’s less than 7 minutes and an interesting insight from someone who clearly is a foreigner to the gaming community. He raises some issues we already know about, but are important nonetheless. His major focus in the lack of diversity presented in E3 among presenters and protagonist, which is true and fair. However, using E3 as a temperature for the community as a whole isn’t pragmatic. Despite this, he does an interesting enough job of bringing the issue to his listeners, a populace of people who probably don’t know much In addition, he brings up is  the amount of violent video games revealed/shown at this E3 and the amount of sequels at the show. These are fair reflections, but they may not necessarily reflect the entirety of E3. He glances over a lot of the new and unique things coming from specific developers and instead focuses on how the Oculus Rift is the next “revolution” in gaming. EH….I don’t want to comment on what I think about the OR, but I think it’s fair to say that  Rath didn’t get the full scope of E3 in the article.

It is fair to say that E3 has become dominated by violent video games. This graph, created by user timetokill on Neogaf, shows the breakdown of reveals of games that focus on shooting:

GAMERS JUST WANNA SHOOT

This generations focus on shooters is interesting, but that’s a subject for another day. E3 has always been about appealing to the console gaming masses, and this year’s was no different. With the gaming demographic expanding, hopefully in future years we’ll see the console population diversify as well. Until then, big shows like E3 are still going to be directed at their main audience: males who love shooters.

At least Nintendo is doing something….not shooting?

Fans Disappointed With Ubisoft’s Lack of Gender Choices in Upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity

Fans Disappointed With Ubisoft’s Lack of Gender Choices in Upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity

It’s been a fun week of demos, conferences, and mostly announcements for First Person Shooters. Between announcing games in which people shoot each others’ heads off, Ubisoft announced the newest entry into their Assassin’s Creed franchise. The game is the first game in the franchise to offer co-op play, allowing up to 4 players at once. That’s all fine and dandy, but fans are disappointed with Ubisoft for something besides them announcing another AC game; fans are upset that the game will feature no playable female characters. Alright, you may be saying “Hey, dingbat. Lots of games don’t feature female characters”, but it’s pretty silly when other games in the franchise have featured playable female characters. With 4 main protagonists in the game, surely they could have put one in.

So what’s Ubisoft gotta say about this lack of gender choices?

“It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets…Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.”

DOING THINGS FOR BOTH MEN AND WOMEN IS HARD. I get it, it’s true that having to animate, design, and whatever else a female character would add production time to the game, but really? For a company like Ubisoft, who has been releasing an Assassin’s Creed game almost annually, to play the workload card is a little absurd. How about spacing the games out a little more to add this one customization in? The company went on to explain that designing a female character is increasingly difficult because they  don’t have a”female reader for the character” at their disposal, nor do they have “all the animations in place.” A spokemen went on to explain that designing a female character is different from a male one, because they look, act, and walk different. After he said that, the world smallest violin was played for him.

It’s not only fans reacting to the statements of Ubisoft either, as other game developers have added their voice to the subject matter.

Jonathan Cooper of Naught Dog calling  them out for being both lazy and…incorrect? This one  from Tim Borrelli from 5thcell is in response to female characters looking and acting different.

One last one from industry types (I forget who they are with)

All in all, fans and developers aren’t happy with Ubisofts response and laziness on the matter. Come on Ubi, you’re not an independent developer struggling here; the Assassin’s Creed franchise is a huge one and we expect more out of they. They should probably use some of that Babyz and Dogz money to fix this fiasco, but we probably won’t see that happen. Who knows how this will change future Assassin’s Creed games or ever the upcoming Unity.

BLOG NEWS!

For those who subscribe or check in regularly, you may notice the domain has lost the “wordpress” and is not just a .com! Exciting times people. We are now a registered domain! Will the blogs level of terribleness lessen? PROBBBBABBBLLLLYYYY NOOTTTTTTT

 

 

2014 Nielsen Report on Video Game Consumption

2014 Nielsen Report on Video Game Consumption

The folks over at the Nielsen Report (You know, the people who tell you that your favorite show will probably get canceled) have released their 2014 report on video game consumption. The Nielsen report is more of a general observation on video game consumption that other outlets. For a more detailed look, I recommend checking out the ESA’s 2014 report on video game consumption.

So what do these guys named Niels (I assume everyone that compiles this data is named Niel) have to say about video game consumption?

#1: People are spending more time playing video games!

Up from 2012 and 2011, gamers are putting more hours into gaming each week. This would mean that the average gamer puts a little less than an hour of gaming in a day. Neato.  That’s an extra hour of Pokeymans than last year! This increase could very well be due to the increase of popularity in mobile games, which enables players to play on the go.

#2: The number of console gamers who also play on mobiles is increasing!

This isn’t that surprising. As smart-phones and tablets become more and more common place so does the amount of gamers playing games on these devices. You’re not going to not playing games on a mobile device you already have, right? I mean that would be insanity…so of course I will devote days of my life to “Candy Crush” like the electronic heroine that it is.

#3: Mobile Games/Tablets are increasingly growing in the amount of gaming time played!

Although the number of hours spent on gaming is increasing, much of the share of the time is being given to mobile and tablet games. However, console games are still the norm and still make up the majority of gaming time spent. Likewise, newer consoles (Wii U/Xbox One/ PS4) are gradually building audiences while last generation consoles still make up the majority. We’ll probably see this percentages shift in the next two years, but as of this year many gamers have yet to make the jump to next gen.

That’s pretty much all the Niels have to say. Not real revelations, but interesting nonetheless. It’s pretty nifty to see in numbers the increase in popularity that video games are having. As these numbers grow, it becomes increasingly more pertinent that we evaluate all the sociological issues around video games. If only someone would do that…instead of what we’re doing here, which only amounts to nonsense.

NOW ONTO E3 WHERE ALL OF OUR DREAMS AND NIGHTMARE WILL COME TRUE!

IGN: Why We Need More Gay Characters

IGN: Why We Need More Gay Characters

Here is a link to a great piece by Luke Karmali of IGN about the lack of gay characters in video games. While he does note that representation and inclusion are up considerably in the last few years (mostly in part due to western studios such as Bioware and Naughty Dog), it is still an uphill battle to get proper and adequate representation for the LGBT community in gaming.

"Gone Home" is one the few games to feature a LGBT relationship.
“Gone Home” is one the few games to feature a LGBT relationship.

Growing up is hard. Growing up in a world where you find it nigh on impossible to catch sight of someone you can relate to is harder. The inclusion of gay characters in games leads some to believe that one day there will be no heterosexual characters they can choose to play as, that this is a slippery slope that will inevitably cause entire entries in popular franchises to be populated exclusively by LGBT characters. Such a premise is ludicrous. It’s also the exact reverse of what’s facing young lesbian, gay, bisexual and especially transgender gamers – who are represented even more poorly still – in most titles today.

I won’t say much more about the article, as the author has already said everything much more elegantly than I could ever, so please take some time and give the article a read.  For more articles about the LGBT Community and Gaming, check out these articles:

Can Video Games Alleviate LGBT Bullying

Kickstarter for Documentary about LGBT Community in Games 

Study Shows Video Games May Help with Dyslexia

Study Shows Video Games May Help with Dyslexia

Today in The Biology of Video Game news (Wait, that’s not what this blog is…)

mario

Jokes aside, a recent study suggests that there may be benefits of video games on those with dyslexia. This is important news to those with children struggling with dyslexia or those themselves who struggle with it, which is about 5%-10% of the population. I won’t go into the study all too much, but essentially the study found that children with dyslexia were able to  match those without dyslexia when it came to reacting to a visual cue followed by a sound cue, as opposed to being asked to reacting to cues broadly.

Hey, what does that have to do with video games you may be asking. First of all, I don’t know why you’re asking a computer screen, and secondly, this finding would suggest that video games may be able to assist with dyslexia because video games may be able to get children with dyslexia more accustomed to switching between audio and visual cues.  As one of the researchers behind the study suggest:

“The idea is to train with some kind of video game that trains the eye movements to different locations to add in that multisensory component,

Maybe in the future we’ll see games developed specifically for kids with dyslexia to help alleviate the problem. It certainly wouldn’t be far fetched, as we already have plenty of video games meant to teach kids basic reading and writing.

I don’t know what this game is, but it looks like so many of my nightmares.

So at this point you may be asking (as we’ve already established you’re a curious one) what does this all have to do with sociology. Well, if video games can help alleviate dyslexia or train your brain in other ways, then certainly they will become a more important part of our social world. The more evidence of the benefits of video games, the more they become a social norm in our society. That’s not too bad for us gamers, right?

Check out more classic video games re-imagined as children’s stories Here!

Check out the original study Here!

Could Your Next Job Interview Include Playing a Video Game?

Could Your Next Job Interview Include Playing a Video Game?

New York Time is reporting an increase in the number of companies using video games to screen potential employees for their creativity, problem solving ability, multitasking ability, and more. Does this mean playing Double Dragon will be an key part of your next job interview?

One such game being used to screen potential candidates is Wasabi Waiter (Pictured above), a game that makes candidates figure out which sushi dishes to serve to which customers.  While this sounds like a strange scheme that a 1st grader would concoct, some big name companies have been utilizing games like Wasabi Waiter to make the hiring process more efficient, cost-saving, and unique. However, the Times’ piece raises question as to how effective and fair these methods of screening candidates are. As the author mentions, they run the risk of unfairly screening out entire classes of workers in favor of those with more affluent higher education and means. Likewise, it’s unknown how effective these games are measuring employees’ capabilities and the level of match for a certain company. As the author to the Times’ piece mentions, in this job climate many jobs’ responsibilities and skills can change over the course of one’s employment, meaning that these games may only be able to test for the skills required at hire, if those.

Before you claim vindication over your parents saying video games were a waste of time, we have to ask: should you expect to play a gimmicky video game on your next job interview? Probably not. Very few companies have adapted this means of screening candidates, and most seem to be within the sphere of the video game industry. The greater question is whether this means of screening candidates is a valuable one, and that remains to be seen. For better or worse, video games are becoming more and more apart of our social world in ways we probably didn’t foresee, and sooner or later sociologist may have to examine how their influence are effecting our daily lives.

Telltale’s The Walking Dead Being Used To Teach Ethics in Norwegian School

A highschool in Norway is using Telltale’s acclaimed “The Walking Dead”  series to teach their students about ethics. Will these kids learn actual ethical insight, or will they only learn that Zombies = bad news?

The school was brought to attention by NRK, a media outlet in Norway that reported on the class. A video of the report can be seen here (Warning, it’s in Norweigin, but you can hit the translate button if you don’t speak the language).

According to the report, the game is being used to give student ethical dilemmas that they may not otherwise be given. Before you assume these ethical decisions are “Be a zombie murder or not?”, bear in mind that the series has been acclaimed for making players actually feel for their characters and feel the weight of their decisions. Unfortunately I personally have not had a chance to play the series, but I’ve heard they’re very well respected and well developed in character design and progression.

The report also claims that students have had positive results using the game to teach students ethics, as the game has spawned lively discussion of many of the ethical dilemmas that are presented in the game. Likewise, the students are reported to be much more engaged in this form of teaching than in traditional forms of teaching ethics.

Such a report begs the question: should video games be incorporated into more classrooms? Certainly there has been evidence to suggest that video games help engage students in school, but are they more successful in teaching than traditional means? That remains to be seen, and anecdotal evidence like this can only be applied to the situation. Certainly The Walking Dead wouldn’t be appropriate outside ethics and philosophy classes, but perhaps other games can help bridge the gap between education and video games. Similarly, one must ask: are using video games in the classroom any different than using television or movies?

Can Playing Video Games Cause Hallucinations?

Can Playing Video Games Cause Hallucinations?

A Recent study out of Nottingham Trent University, and reported on by Gamespot, claims that playing video games for may cause hallucinations. Should we be worried, or should we just forget about it and continue to try and get Donkey Kong out of my backyard?

The study is based on experience compiled by  gamers collected on online gaming forums. The fact that the study is relying on personal experience from internet testimonial is already questionable, but we’ll just go ahead and move on.  Gamers reported seeing distorted versions of reality that included aspects of games after playing for extended periods of times. This could include things like seeing gaming menus, signs, or even options in the real world. This phenomenon the research team calls “Game Transfer Phenomena”is  what they describe as “how playing games can affect a person’s sense of sight, sound, and touch after they are done playing”.  These experiences were mixed, with some gamers having uncomfortable experiences in which they were unable to concentrate, confused, or even worried about the perceived objects they saw.

From personal experience: One night, after a particularly long session of playing the 2001 title “Super Monkey Ball” the game seeped into my reality. Day was night, light was dark, balls were filled with monkeys.  Had my loved ones been trapped in spherical cages, or was it all in my mind? As I navigated the mazes of my mind, and the ones manifested into my reality I began to laugh at the comedy of it all; for aren’t we all monkeys in our own balls? Trapped in our own spheres of lies and desperation? What a world to live we in; It’s Bananas.

…Where was I? Back to the article: Should we stop playing video games excessively for fear that Mario will sneak into our reality? Who knows. The research study team admits that relying on personal experience from an internet pool of respondents means that we can’t say that the group represents a majority of gamers. Further research needs to be done to see what type of gamers are more likely to have GTP occur and to see how and when GTP manifest, if it does. Regardless, it doesn’t seem like GTP is anything gamers should fear, as the majority of gamers didn’t seem to respond to having it. However, if true, GTP does mean that video games and media effect our brains in ways we haven’t quite figured out. Then again, is it just video games and other media that have this effect? One could argue that doing any activity for an extended amount of time can have adverse effects on one’s mental state and lead to sensations of that activity in normal life. We’ll have to keep an eye on the phenomena to further see how video games and media are effecting our social world.

If this sensation has ever happened to you (And not like the ridiculous lie I told) please share!

For more photos of Video games in Real Life!

http://kotaku.com/real-life-photos-mixed-with-16-bit-video-games-are-amaz-476024420

Do We Cheat in Video Games Because We Assume Everyone Else Is?

Do We Cheat in Video Games Because We Assume Everyone Else Is?

We’re back in 2014, with an article that looks into a study conducted by a research team coming out of Singapore. This specific study looks into why we cheat in video games.

genie

I won’t go into the specifics of the study, as the wired article does that quite well, but it is worth discussing the findings of the study. The article reevaluates the belief that it’s anonymity that makes gamers cheat in online communities, and instead finds that gamer’s responded that they more often resorted to cheating because they believed others were cheating as well. Not only that, but they also responded that if one doesn’t cheat in online communities then they are at a disadvantage. Essentially, we’re all cheating because we assume everyone is cheating, and if you’re honest you’re probably losing. What an online world we live in.

Take some time and check out the article, and the study if you have the ability to. It’s worth a view.

I know this post is a bit on the sparse side, but I promise: more content and new articles in the future! Until then, happy new years and good gaming.

New Study Suggest Violent Video Games May Have Benefits for Children

New Study Suggest Violent Video Games Have Benefits for Children

Ru Roh. After numerous studies that have tried to link violent video games to bad behavior in children, the American Psychological Association has conducted a study that has found positive benefits to children playing violent video games. Is this just hear say, or should we sit our kids down in front of Grand Theft Auto instead of going to school?

NG3_SS_B_2_020_Dubai

I don’t go into the study too thoroughly, but basically it discusses the positive and negatives that video games have for children. Specifically, the research discusses how video games in general help form cognitive and problem solving skills in young children. While these effects are not limited to violent video games, they too have these same type of positive effects. After years of researchers trying to find evidence that Video Games have negative effects on children’s development, it’s only recently that researchers have begun to study the positive effects that video games may hold.

“Important research has already been conducted for decades on the negative effects of gaming, including addiction, depression and aggression, and we are certainly not suggesting that this should be ignored,” said lead author Isabela Granic, PhD, of Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands. “However, to understand the impact of video games on children’s and adolescents’ development, a more balanced perspective is needed.”

Hey, that’s pretty much what I said, right? The article then goes on to talk about how new perspectives on video games are being used to educate children. Classrooms and educational plans are being designed with video games incorporated, and these new types of learning tools are revolutionizing the way we teach children.  Hopefully these lesson plans and games are better than the first generation of educational games, which the majority of which were….creepy.

Terror is your teacher in Sonic Schoolhouse for the PC.
Terror is your teacher in Sonic Schoolhouse for the PC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who knows if we are at the dawn of video games being used in education, or a mere passing trend. Regardless, kids will play video games with or without the positive or negative effects researchers are suggesting. Likewise, researchers will continue to disagree about the effects of video games, especially violent ones.