UFC Personal Trainer and Blurring the Lines on Violent Video Games

August 4, 2011 -

Is using a Kinect martial-arts simulator like UFC Personal Trainer like practicing martial arts or like playing a videogame? The answer is neither, according to a guest editorial on Wired's Game|Life written by Paul Ballas, a Philadelphia-area child psychiatrist. Ballas's editorial, "UFC Trainer Is Helpfully Violent," comes to the conclusion that, while UFC Personal Trainer is based on a violent fighting franchise, it could also have positive effects on kids' health.

He opens with his description of the game:

"In this game, playable with the controller-free technology of Kinect for the Xbox 360, the user will, according to THQ’s website, “learn over 70 [mixed martial arts] and [National Academy of Sports Medicine]-approved exercises including moves from disciplines such as wrestling, kickboxing and Muay Thai.”

Some in the enthusiast gaming press considered UFC Personal Trainer one of the most violent games presented at E3 this year. It’s comparable to Ubisoft’s 2010 title Fighters Uncaged, a Kinect-enabled videogame in which the player makes fighting movements in order to make the game’s avatar fight a digital opponent in hand-to-hand combat.
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He then points out the odd ratings for the aforementioned games; while Fighters Uncaged is rated "T" for teens, the UFC game received a softer rating of "E" for everyone. The reasons for the different ratings have a lot to do with how each game is labeled. Fighters Uncaged contains "mild language and violence," while the UFC game contains "violent references."

Using these two games as an example, Ballas then explains why, with the introduction of new technology that provides greater interactivity, it is important that the ratings systems and certain people's attitudes have to change with the time:

"The ESRB rating system exists for a variety of reasons, but I believe videogame technology has reached a point where the way a parents choose games for their children is dramatically changing, and this change is something that needs to be considered by consumers, researchers and politicians interested in the effects of violent media on children. It appears that in the very near future, we will have to consider certain kinds of computer programs not only as not bad for children, but potentially good for them, and will require brand new research to justify our beliefs as to their effects, both good and bad."

The topic then turns to the point that Ballas is trying to make: new technologies and games such as UFC Personal Trainer, shouldn't be called games at all because - as technology improves and allows for unprecedented levels of interaction and social activities - it becomes like its real-life counterpart. Further, he notes, psychologist have never been against children taking part in martial arts training because it offers so many benefits.

According to a 2011 article in the American Association of Pediatrics, "martial arts are known to improve social skills, discipline and respect in children."

So his conclusion is that when games like UFC Personal Trainer and future games that teach martial arts training to children become more realistic due to technological advances, it becomes more difficult for critics to complain about "video game violence." After all, their own research says it's "good for children."

Of course, the discussion isn't completely black and white. You can read the entire article here and draw your own conclusions.


Comments

Re: UFC Personal Trainer and Blurring the Lines on Violent ...

Good stuff. Martial arts are definitely to be encouraged for the reasons mentioned here.

Regarding MA games in this instance, I can't help but thing the ESRB ratings wouldn't make too much difference to a parent - if their kid is interested in an MA game, then they'll get them one or the other, especially if both games don't feature bloody fighting or such.

 
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Andrew EisenWhen I write about these massacres, I don't use the shooter's name or picture. I'm not saying everyone has to play it that way but that's how I prefer to do it.10/25/2014 - 12:44am
Andrew EisenYep, it's why the news media stopped spotlighting numbnuts who run out on the field during sporting events.10/25/2014 - 12:01am
Matthew Wilsonin media research its called the copycat effect. it simply says that if the news covers one mass shooting shooter, it increases the likelihood of another person going on a mass shooting.10/25/2014 - 12:00am
Andrew EisenAgreed. It bugs me that I know the names, faces and personal histories of a bunch of mass shooters but I couldn't tell you the name of or recognize a photo of a single one of their victims.10/24/2014 - 11:51pm
AvalongodAgree with Quiknkold. @Mecha...if that worked we would have figured out how to prevent these long ago.10/24/2014 - 11:32pm
MechaCrashUnfortunately, you have to focus on the perpetrator to figure out the whys so you can try to prevent it from happening again.10/24/2014 - 10:55pm
quiknkoldpoor girl. poor victims. rather focus on them then the shooter. giving too much thought to the monster takes away from the victims.10/24/2014 - 10:15pm
Andrew EisenFor what it's worth, early reports are painting the motive as "he was pissed that a particular girl wouldn't date him."10/24/2014 - 10:12pm
quiknkoldwell then I suck as a man cause I ask for help when necessary :P10/24/2014 - 10:07pm
Technogeek(That said, mostly I was making the smartass evopsych comment because your post seemed like the kind of just-so story that has come to dominate 99% of its usage.)10/24/2014 - 10:04pm
TechnogeekHell, Liam Neeson built his modern career around it. Cultural factors likely play a far greater role than you appear willing to admit.10/24/2014 - 10:03pm
TechnogeekSeriously, though, the idea of "because women are protectors and that's why they never commit school shootings" is, at best, grossly overreductive. There's nothing inherently feminine about being willing to kill in order to protect one's offspring.10/24/2014 - 10:03pm
MechaCrashThe "toxic masculinity" thing refers to how you have to SUCK IT UP AND BE A MAN because seeking help is seen as weakness, which means you suck at manliness, so it builds and builds and builds until something finally snaps.10/24/2014 - 10:01pm
quiknkoldthere, I'm done. And thats what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown10/24/2014 - 9:54pm
quiknkoldand I am not spouting Evopsych, technogeek. tbh I never heard the phrase till you said it. I'm going off my observations.10/24/2014 - 9:54pm
quiknkoldmoreover, the guy who did this isnt even white. He was native american according to the news report I read. Also that he went for a specific target. That's a much different picture than a certain Sandy Hook guy who will not be named10/24/2014 - 9:53pm
quiknkoldbut I am also certain nobody in their right mind is committing these shootings singing the Machoman song. these are sick individuals who have given up on life10/24/2014 - 9:51pm
Technogeekevopsych lol10/24/2014 - 9:49pm
quiknkoldWhen you suffer from mental illness, youre more likely to go by instinct. yes. I came off as sexist.10/24/2014 - 9:46pm
quiknkoldmore on somthing they are fixated on. Post Partum Depression is an example. This is why a woman is less likely to go off on a rampage.10/24/2014 - 9:44pm
 

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