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.
"

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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MechaCrashWhat good is being one of the perpetually offended if you don't make sure everybody sees just how offended you are?05/28/2015 - 9:02am
james_fudgeYou two can reasonably slug it out in the article in question if you want :)05/28/2015 - 8:59am
MechaCrashI wasn't expecting you to drag it into the shoutbox, either. Just when I think I have you pegged, you prove me only MOSTLY right.05/28/2015 - 8:55am
MechaCrashWhat argument? You made a joke in bad taste. I made a response joke in similar bad taste. And you are going berserk with...okay, not the flavor of HOW DARE YOU I was expecting (I thought you'd No True Scotsman, instead you dodged it entirely).05/28/2015 - 8:52am
Wonderkarpfyi, thats a self made "REDACTED" to make Mr Fudges life a little easier.05/28/2015 - 8:50am
Wonderkarphow is calling somebody out for being a [REDACTED] throwing a Tantrum? Is it cause you cant dispute my argument?05/28/2015 - 8:46am
MechaCrash"Grow a thicker skin," says the person throwing a tantrum that's filling the shoutbox.05/28/2015 - 8:40am
Wonderkarpbeen a bombing had Sarkeesian spoke, because there would be an increase police presence and nobody is THAT STUPID to make a threat like that and follow through. This isnt the movies05/28/2015 - 8:35am
WonderkarpIts what you make of them. GamerGate in DC had a bomb threat. Police were there, but GG continued to enjoy themselves and have a good time. Bomb Threats in general, you give them to the police and continue your business. I guarantee there wouldnt have05/28/2015 - 8:34am
MechaCrashhttp://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58521856-78/sarkeesian-usu-video-feminist.html.csp Remember the talk Sarkeesian had to cancel because of death threats? Yeah. That's the thing I'm talking about.05/28/2015 - 8:30am
WonderkarpI'm not defending Bomb Threats. They are idiotic and have no place in society, but as somebody who lived through several bomb threats I can tell you they are weak05/28/2015 - 8:29am
WonderkarpSchool Shootings on the other hand are violent events that end the lives of children and come without proper warning due to mental illness and gun laws.05/28/2015 - 8:28am
Wonderkarpcause Bomb Threats are what you make of them. No successful bombing in the US has had a threat posted about it beforehand. Boston Marathon? Okahoma City? You either handle it with caution or dont handle it at all. most of the time ar done as stupid pranks05/28/2015 - 8:27am
Infophile@MechaCrash: One difference is that there's actual evidence linking GGers (or their ideological allies) to bomb threats, and no link to school shootings. For instance, we hate Jack Thompson here, but let's not accuse him of eg. committing grand theft auto05/28/2015 - 8:26am
james_fudgeGo to your corners and let the cutman do his work.05/28/2015 - 8:21am
MechaCrashHm, yes, "lol aGGs make bomb threats" is vastly different from "lol gaters threaten school shootings." Yes, I see the error of my ways! ...wait, no I don't, I see that you're still a hypocrite who can dish it out but not take it.05/28/2015 - 8:21am
WonderkarpThere is a big difference between what I said and what you said.05/28/2015 - 8:13am
MechaCrashNot that it stops you, of course.05/28/2015 - 8:11am
james_fudgeI have edited your comments. They were both inappropriate.05/28/2015 - 8:11am
WonderkarpI've had, and will always have, a serious problem with "Moral Crusaders" who would stick the crimes of a few sick individuals on the shoulders of everybody else for their own political views. Its Scapegoating BS and it is Disgusting05/28/2015 - 8:10am
 

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