Jessica Rovello, Co-Founder and President of the casual/social/advergame firm Arkadium, has authored an opinion piece on the Huffington Post that cross references a CNBC piece from earlier this week (in which game executives fretted over the Schwarzenegger v. EMA SCOTUS ruling) with new statistics just released from Rockstar’s hit Red Dead Redemption.
Writing that “Since a significant portion of the industry's best selling triple A console titles are loaded with violence, it [a Supreme Court ruling for the California law] could mean a huge drop in profits for major game publishers,” Rovello noted that Rockstar had just released news that players had murdered over 132 million people in Red Dead Redemption over the first two weeks of its release.
The timing of the release of the stats gave Rovello pause. She wrote:
Dave Cullen’s comprehensive recounting of the April 20, 1999 school shooting in Littleton, Colorado is built upon innumerable interviews, police files and media reports, along with videotapes and writings made by the killers— Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris—themselves.
The shootings, which played out on live television over the better part of a day, impacted Americans and other people around the world intensely, as was the attackers intent. It also caused society to scramble to look for reasons why this tragedy happened, and some were quick to point the finger at various elements of culture, including violent videogames.
Australian Senator—and fervent anti-gambling crusader—Nick Xenophon (pictured) is turning his attention to arcade games that feature gambling elements, saying that such entertainment is a “training ground” for children to learn how to gamble.
Xenophon, who previously took on mobile and PC games based on slot machines (or pokies as they are called Down Under), was joined in his latest contention by Charles Livingstone, a Monash University “electronic gaming expert,” who told the Age that such arcade games achieved a pair of purposes: “to indoctrinate kids to gambling, to make them think this is a normal part of life; and to lure children, and with them their parents, into the pokie venues.”
As one Guardian author wondered what happened to the ambition of boys, citing videogames as at least a contributing factor, another Guardian columnist fired back, defending games as part of the solution.
Will Hutton’s Sunday column examined the possible reasons why society is churning out “so many disaffected, troubled and disengaged young men.” Hutton argued that “the great male demotivator is the risk of loss of face.” He continued:
One of the reasons that boys do not try harder is that the penalties for disengagement are so low – indeed, there are even rewards, at least in the sense that if you don't try, you can't fail. Much better to smoke dope, hang out and obsessively play computer games all day.
Claiming they were motivated by a Grand Theft Auto play session, a pair of Raynham, Massachusetts boys were arrested after allegedly attempting to set fire to two buildings with Molotov cocktails.
The 12-year old and 16-year old tried to burn down a garage and an apartment building early Sunday morning with stolen gasoline poured into bottles, according to Enterprise News. The younger of the two suspects told police that “they got the idea from a video game they had been playing earlier in the night.”
Police Chief Lou Pacheco told the paper, (in a solemn voice, no doubt), “They appear to have crossed the line from virtual reality to reality.”
The boys were arraigned on charges of possession of an explosive device and attempted arson before being released to their families. The two are also suspected of going on a tagging spree as well, though thankfully there was no mention of the boys playing Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure prior to that undertaking.
A Canadian researcher (and conspiracy theorist), who focuses on the “causative forces behind major changes in historical development” and believes that culture is “created and altered by those in control, always to lead the people like sheep into the next pasture,” believes that videogames, of course, are a part of this process.
Alan Watt has written a series of books on the subject and operates a website entitled Cutting Through the Matrix. In a YouTube video, Watts says about humanity, “The average person is so out of touch, so incredibly out of touch, with the only true reality there is, that it’s a different world all together. They cannot tell fact from fiction anymore.”
On entertainment in general he offers, “You cannot be entertained today and enjoy it. If you watch any of these movies… as soon as you’ve identified with these characters, you’ve lost it and you’ve been indoctrinated. They are downloading into you.”
A man in Wales who accidentally shot a city worker with a .22 caliber rifle was a videogame player, so of course that had to be mentioned in a story about the incident on a South Wales website.
23-year old Ersid Cela of Clas y Bedw, Waunarlwydd, allegedly bought a BSA air rifle “for £200 from a drug dealer in Mumbles after playing the Call of Duty computer game, in which players shoot each other with a range of automatic weapons.”
Cela was additionally described as a “fan of a violent computer game.”
Thank goodness he didn’t buy the gun before playing Call of Duty or there would be no story.
In any case, Cela was attempting to load the gun when it went off, hitting worker Jason Crocker in the shoulder as he worked out side Cela’s home. A second shot hit Crocker’s van as well. How the gun went off “accidentally” a second time was not disclosed.
Cela will be held in custody until he is sentenced on July 26.
A piece on the Scientific American website (thanks Kotaku), attempts to pick apart research from Cheryl Olson that looked into the motivating factors among kids for playing videogames.
Olson’s paper, entitled “Children’s Motivations for Video Game Play in the Context of Normal Development” (PDF) argued that “The debate has moved from whether children should play video games to how to maximize potential benefits and to identify and minimize potential harms.” Querying 1,254 kids on the reason they play games, Olson found that the top responses were “It’s just fun,” It’s exciting,” and “something to when bored.”
Maybe videogamers really are skewing older—a 52-year old Florida man invaded a home Tuesday night demanding an Xbox 360.
Allan Crosswell (pictured) was armed with a pipe, which he threatened to use when he stormed the home, unless he was outfitted with Microsoft’s console. The residents were able to wrestle Crosswell outside, then locked the door and called police who arrested the man “without incident.”
Perhaps Crosswell was just really impressed with Microsoft’s E3 showing? Sadly, the man also had the option of picking up a current generation 360 at quite a significant discount.
Charging videogames and consoles to government credit cards has helped to take down a Baltimore Mayor and may also lead to arrests in a probe of Nova Scotia House of Assembly members. Now, the lure of putting the burden of payment on the public has proven too hard to resist for yet another piece of bureaucracy, the Los Angeles Probation Department.
A Los Angeles Times article states that “mayhem has reigned for years” in the LA County Probation Department, and claims 170 cases of employee misconduct over an unspecified time frame. The author turns us on to “a story you haven’t heard yet”:
Fourteen patients from the Huai’an Internet Addiction Treatment Centre in China decided they had enough and tied an instructor to a bed in order to make their escape from the facility.
The group, which ranged in age from 15 to 22, grabbed a taxi to a nearby town, but their similar garb, and lack of funds, raised the suspicion of their driver, who took them directly to a police station. All the escapees were then quickly returned to the treatment center, according to a story on the Telegraph.
One escapee’s mom broke down in tears at the police station, recounting a story in which her son played online games for 28 hours straight.
The facility makes its charges go to bed at 9:30 PM and requires them to partake in two hours of physical activity per day, as well as take mandatory courses in calligraphy and Chinese philosophy.
A report on NPR this morning about the two young New Jersey men arrested at New York’s JFK airport as they attempted to travel to Somalia, with the alleged intent of joining a terrorist organization, piqued our interest because of the mention of videogames.
24-year old Carlos Eduardo Almonte and 20-year old Mohamed Mahmood Alessa were arrested and charged with trying to join the terrorist group al-Shabab. The pair apparently had no ties to the group and were traveling to Somalia, by way of Egypt, with the hopes that al-Shabab would welcome them into their organization.
A New York Daily News story on the two men reported that “they often went to mall stores and played first-person-shooter computer games - assuming the terrorist role.”
Seven months after being knifed virtually in an online round of Counter-Strike, a 20-year old French gamer tracked down his online assailer and stabbed him in the chest.
Julien Barreaux hunted down his victim, identified only as Mikhael, after falling under his knife in a November 2009 game of CS, according to the Telegraph. It turned out that Mikhael lived only a “few miles” from Barreaux, who visited the house and stabbed Mikhael in the chest when he answered the door, just missing his heart. Mikhael apparently survived the attack.
Barreaux was arrested within an hour of the attack and sentenced to two years in jail, and also will be forced to undergo psychiatric tests. The attacker was dubbed a “menace to society” by Judge Alexiane Potel, who added, “I am frankly terrified of the disproportionate reaction you could have if someone looked at you the wrong way in the street.”
A 17-year old from Latrobe, Pennsylvania was sentenced to 12 months probation, 250 hours of community service and ordered to pay Sony Computer Entertainment $5,000 for his role in crippling the electronic giant’s gaming website on November 16-26, 2008.
An investigation conducted by the FBI and Greensburg Police led authorities to the boy, who apparently took the website down in response to being repeatedly kicked off the PlayStation Network for cheating while playing SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals online.
The teenager reportedly used hacking tools to harness infected computers around the world and directed the botnet “to clog three games on the PlayStation site, causing it to crash and go off-line.”
Sony had sought over $33,200 from the teen, but Judge John Driscoll ruled that such an amount would be “too excessive” for the boy. Driscoll wrote in his order that, “the juvenile seems to have accepted personal responsibility and agrees he should be held accountable.”
The Vietnam government’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has drafted legislation that could significantly impact that country’s online gamer population.
The proposed measures, according to Vietnam Net, include limiting users to three hours of playtime for particular games, imposing licensing restrictions on the purveyors of online games (to limit the current fragmenting of the online game market) and introducing clear language that would label in-game assets as unconvertible to real-world money.
“Simple and low-tension” games, such as chess, are not addressed in the proposal and would be able to continue to run twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The three-hour restriction on playtime would also be increased to four to five hours per day for games that are cultural or education-based.
A segment on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show last night discussed pedestrians in New York City repeatedly ignoring a dying man on the street and somehow turned into a referendum on videogames.
A NYC man was stabbed after apparently attempting to help a female fend off an attacker and then collapsed on the street as people kept passing by, eventually dying of his wounds. In discussing the story, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, filling in for Cooper, brought on board psychologist Dr. Michael Bradley (pictured) to talk about what might make people ignore a mortally wounded person lying on a sidewalk.
A transcript of the discussion follows (in video on the CNN website, the segment with Gupta and Bradley begins around the 17.25 mark)
Last week we reported on a school in East Brunswick, New Jersey putting on a play that revolved around the subject of videogame addiction.
The story of Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (N3RD for short) being put on by the School of Performing Arts at the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School eventually made its way to a few other gaming sites, inspiring a Kotaku reader to go watch, and then review, the play.
Geist002, who called the play “fairly well done,” offered this description:
Most of the characters with the gaming addictions came from broken homes, really messed up backgrounds, or were victims of poor parenting. If you approach this play already condemning video games, you just see video games as the villain.
A report from The Queensland Legislative Assembly of Australia on Alcohol-Related Violence inexplicably suggests that expanding research into the effects of violent videogames on youth might somehow provide more insight into the impact drinking has on people.
The inquiry (PDF), released last month, was drafted by the Law, Justice and Safety Committee and focuses on “alcohol related violence around licensed premises.” The report begins by asking, “What has happened to Australia’s drinking culture?” and claims that “Vomiting, falling over, and creating a nuisance in public are not seen as shameful but to some are badges of honour.”
A terrible story emerging from Russia details the story of a 14-year old boy reacting to having his videogame privileges revoked by killing his sleeping father with two blows to the head from a sledge hammer.
The events took place in the Russian town of Tuapse just after midnight on April 12, reports a story on News.com.au. The boy’s parents had taken his keyboard away from him in order to curb his computer game playing, but after the killing, “the boy's frightened mother gave him the keyboard back and the boy played computer games for several more hours until he fell asleep.”
Once the boy fell asleep, his mother called relatives, who, in turn, called police. The boy is old enough to be charged with murder under Russian law.
|Via Kotaku, Thanks Andrew|
While the topic of videogame addiction has spawned books, studies, round-table discussions and even treatment centers, up until now, it’s never been the subject of a school play.
Students from the School of Performing Arts at the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School in East Brunswick, New Jersey are preparing to unveil just such a production. Entitled Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, or N3RD for short, the play centers around a group of kids who become addicted to a fictional horror videogame (Neighborhood 3).
The Sentinel reports that the play, written by Jennifer Haley, “explores video game addiction and the importance of teenparent communication by revealing the thin line between reality and virtual reality, and dramatizing the consequences of games gone too far.”
Could videogames be responsible for a widening education gap between U.S. men and women?
The author of a piece in the Wichita Eagle seems to think so. Citing a drop in the number of American males earning college degrees, the article claims that women are not forcing males out of the classroom; instead, “Women are taking empty seats as males fall by the wayside.”
While some groups have pinned the fall of man on recent education reforms or the “feminization of the classroom,” the piece’s author notes that, “Males are dropping out of academics in all developed countries,” and, “Whatever is depressing boys' school performance is cutting across cultural and political boundaries and widely disparate educational systems.”
The “whatever” mentioned above does not remain unnamed for long, as the author offers, “This decline in boys' scores coincides with the emergence of video games.”
A spokesperson from Mothers Against Violence (MAV) recently appeared on BBC Radio for a debate about violent videogames.
As recounted by EuroGamer, the MAV representative put the onus on parents to control what games their children are playing, saying, “I'm not directly blaming games, I'm blaming parents.” The spokesperson also suggested that parents band together and educate their peers on the issue of violence in games, stating, “It just takes one of us to spread the word, to plant the seed.”
The spokesperson then expressed “fears that violent games were ‘desensitising’ children who are ‘becoming complacent and think they're invincible.’”
Eurogamer wrote: “A broader point made was that many parents, despite age-ratings on packaging, don't pay attention to the games their children are playing, not (sic) are they aware of the negative effects they could have.”
Thanks Andrew and Mdo!
Results from a new study seem to indicate that young gamers are twice as likely as their non-playing counterparts to develop tooth decay and cavities.
Wales Online carries a summation of the research, which was conducted by Jordon Poss, (not Dr. Craig Anderson) at the University of Iowa. The study was conducted on teenagers between the ages of 12 and 16 years old and also suggested that kids who had no structured eating patterns were 30.0 percent more likely to suffer cavities.
It was suggested that snacking and drinking soft drinks while playing games contributed to the study’s results.
Dr. Nigel Carter, CEO of the British Dental Health Foundation, told the paper, “This study helps our understanding of the dietary habits and subsequent decay risk of gamers when the effects have previously been unknown.”
According to the politician behind the law, a recently-ratified, but not yet enacted, Swiss violent game ban would not blindly outlaw all violent games.
Swiss Social Democrat Evi Allemann (pictured) was recently interviewed by the Swiss publication 20 Minutes Online (translated) and indicated that the ban would apply only to “individual games.” She estimated that, “like in Germany,” only 12 or so games would wind up being banned, including titles such as Mortal Kombat and Manhunt (which are banned in Germany), but not the likes of Counter-Strike.
Moral Kombat, the documentary by Spencer Halpin that examines the subject of violence in videogames, has been picked up by a variety of new digital distribution services.
The documentary is now, or will soon be, available for purchase or rent on Amazon’s OnDemand service, iTunes, Hulu, Xbox Live, Netflix and the PlayStation Network. As mentioned earlier this year, the film is also still available for free viewing on Babelgum.
Halpin on the additional distribution options:
Playing Farmville on your own time, some might say, is bad enough, but playing it on the job, especially if you are a politician, is a definite no-no.
Councilor Dimitar Kerin, a member of the City Council for the region of Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, was dismissed from his position after repeated warnings about playing the Facebook application during meetings. Several councilors were first caught playing Farmville early in March, during debates for the city’s 2010 budget, reports Novinite.com.
Fellow committee member Todor Hristov suggested that Kerin be removed from his seat as he “needs more time for his virtual farm.” A vote to remove Kerin was taken up, and passed by a slim 20-19 vote. Kerin then complained that he was not the only council member playing Farmville and noted that he was only a Level 40 farmer, while a fellow councilman had reached Level 46.
CVG editor Tim Ingham recently appeared on British TV as part of a ridiculous round table discussion on violent games.
Ingham himself performed remarkably well, especially when factoring in the idiocy surrounding him, whether it was the piece’s pre-determined slant, a vast generation gap, or a host who couldn’t take the time to research, or comprehend, that videogames have their own ratings, nevermind parental controls.
Consider that the show’s host, Alan Titchmarsh (a gardener?), actually made the following remarks in the opening minute of the discussion:
Ingham comments that games are no different than movies
Titchmarsh: "But they (movies) have certificates on them…"
Ingham: "The videogames have exactly the same certificates…"
Titchmarsh: "But they are at home…"
Ingham: "I’m sorry?"
No, not the soon to be ex-South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, but Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor (pictured).
The Labor Party member, speaking at a Sydney conference put on by the Australian Council on Children and the Media and Macquarie University, which examined the impact of violence and sexualized media on children, expressed concern over motion-sensing controls for videogames, saying, “Computer game manufacturers encourage users to put down their control pads and participate physically in a game through motion-sensing technology.”
This led O’Connor to proclaim:
These interactive features are set to increase the impact of the material being enjoyed by consumers.
We need to consider how increased interactivity will impact on children and what this means for content regulation.