The study, known as the UK Millennium Cohort Study, by Alison Parkes, Helen Sweeting, Daniel Wight, and Marion Henderson (British Medical Journal) found that there was no causal link between playing video games and watching TV, and mental health issues. The authors found that watching TV more than three hours per week at five years of age resulted in behavioral problems for kids between five and seven years. However, there were no effects on hyperactivity/inattention, emotional symptoms, or social problems in these kids. Further, there were no problematic results in the kids who played the same amount of video games.
As you may or may not already know, I address some of these issues in my reviews and discussions of video games. My findings are anecdotal, but relevant, I think.When I read findings from studies like the Millennium Cohort Study, I’m seldom surprised at the findings. My personal belief — based on personal experience with GamerDewd — is that there are some games (and TV shows for that matter) that stir up and impair frontal lobe function. Check out this super-cool interactive brain map, which shows that the frontal lobe is where all the planning, organizing, impulse control, problem solving, and control over emotions happens.
I’ve developed a feel for the kinds of games that cause game-raging and you may be surprised to find that it’s not always the violent FPS-style games. One of the worst offenders remains to be the Lego video game franchise — sorry Lego…your blocks are the coolest, but I banned Lego media in my house years ago. 😛
Parents, be wary of mods. They change the games. A lot.
Just read this piece on Digital Journal. Apparently Minecraft is being credited for a case in which a nine-year-old boy brought weapons to school. Now he has been sentenced by a Florida state judge to home confinement.
“The student, who has not been named, went to his school with an unloaded handgun and a magazine with six bullets, as well as a steak knife and a sledge hammer (a small-handled one), according to Kotaku.
The father also said that characters in the game use hammers to dig and guns and knives to protect themselves from zombies.Gunning down zombies is something that players are not able to do in the regular version of Minecraft. The only way this is possible is if players played the PC version, which has to contain the mod.”
- Indie hit ‘Minecraft’ cited as cause of 9-year-old boy bringing weapons to school (minecraftrules77.wordpress.com)
- Minecraft blamed for school violence (thegamingmix.wordpress.com)
- Now We’ve Heard It All: Minecraft Blamed in School Violence Case (stuffreader.wordpress.com)
- Minecraft Blamed For A Child Bringing Weapons To His School, Including A Gun (wolfsgamingblog.com)
We still haven’t decided whether we’re buying Xbox One or PS4 consoles in this gaming house, so you can imagine the excitement around here when we read the breaking news report from Appy Gamer this morning:
Some fantastic rumors are emerging this week, suggesting that Microsoft has been secretly testing a feature, to allow the playback of Xbox 360 games running on a PC — using streaming and Microsoft’s new-found cloud technologies.
As you may or may not already know, PS4 will not be accepting PS3 discs. That said, Sony and Gaikai are positioned to change the PlayStation gaming experience in a massive way with Gaikai’s cloud service. Gaikai and Sony plan to release a PlayStation app which would allow users to tether smartphones and tablets to the console’s hub. Users will then be able to stream mobile games and access PSN and the PS Store. Using Gaikai’s cloud, Sony plans to offer users remote play and streaming of PS3 games on the PS4.
I’ll provide more news about Microsoft’s plans to use their cloud for backward compatibility as I have it. Looks like the competition between the new-gen consoles continues to be close…
This just in from JonMichael Bukosky:
— JonMichael Bukosky (@Bukosky) August 27, 2013
The GOTY Edition is rumored to include all of the game’s released DLC to date, including:
- Creature Slaughter Dome
- Psycho Pack
- Captain Scarlet’s And Her Pirate’s Booty
- Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt
- Mister Torgue’s Campaign Of Carnage
- Tiny Tina’s Assault On Dragon Keep
- Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade
- Mechromancer Pack
Borderlands 2 is the sequel to the popular, first-person role playing shooter game, Borderlands. Borderlands 2 has been out for a year, with Gearbox finishing off the game’s season pass DLCs at the beginning of the summer. Borderlands 2 is available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. It’s a game I’ve been hearing a lot about at my house, so expect a review (and parents’ recommendation) soon.
Just watched PewDiePie’s recent gameplay of the indie puzzle platformer by Mike Bithell, Thomas Was Alone. Two words spring to mind: happy-making and visually-pleasing (OK, I cheated with the word count). It was first released as a browser game in 2010 but has recently been made to accommodate Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X in July last year. Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita versions were released in April this year.
If you’ve got a gamer of your own, you’ve likely discovered the playful, f-bomb-dropping Swedish YouTube gamer, Felix Kjelberg, better known as PewDiePie. He’s massively popular with GamerDude, and as of this week, with 12 million others who’ve subscribed to the 23-year-old’s unique brand of entertainment/game review. I could do without all the salty language, which honestly, doesn’t add anything to his videos. PewDiePie is very watchable — even for people over (ahem) 30. And often, as with Thomas Was Alone, he takes time to spotlight offbeat, visually unique indie games.
Here’s PewDiePie’s YouTube review. Check it out here:
- PewDiePie, the new King of YouTube (damieniciouailleurs.com)
- PewDiePie Isn’t Bad, But It Really Isn’t Good Either (adweek.com)
Looking for a game that will delight everyone in the house? I think you’ll find it in Ibb and Obb — the winner of Best Title at Develop’s Indie Showcase at the beginning of July. The game developers plan to release this game on PC through Steam, but at present are focusing on their PS3 version, which has been available since August 6 in North and South America. They have plans to release it in Europe too.
Ibb and Obb’s play is a cooperative two-player game requiring both players to work together to advance. Its graphics and the lines are simple and beautiful, though there’s nothing simple about the game’s design. One of the most interesting and elegant aspects of the game is its interplay with a world consisting of two sides — both from which gravity operates in differing directions. The parallel perspectives of the players is a point of interest, a game challenge and one of the most aesthetically pleasing features of the game.
Check out the trailer below:
The victory for GamerDude is a bittersweet one (my WordPress friend, Bitter Ben would argue there’s no other kind of sweetness) — I’ve
given him permission to play Call of Duty: Black Ops II, if he plays within the following parameters:
1. blood, gore, & language controls on, and
2. no online multiplayer gameplay
Of course, I believe this is a massive step for me in my relationship with video games, but in the time I’ve taken to reach a verdict on this game, the creators of COD: Black Ops II have released one DLC — a map: Revolution — last month. Further, this review/MOMmentary is being published the weekend before a gaming platform-wide release of the second DLC: Uprising (which includes a zombie setting called “Mob of the Dead”). Turns out, keeping up with this franchise is a full-time job.
A little background about COD: Black Ops II
It was released for PS3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows November 2012, and it’s the first game in the COD franchise that features branching storylines influenced by players’ choices — these storylines/choices are called “Strike Force missions”. It’s also the first COD game to use futuristic warfare technology.
The game narrative is complex and compelling — in its single player mode, the campaign showcases two connecting storylines with Black Ops protagonist Alex Mason starring in the first section of the game and his son, David, in the second half. The game spans from 1986 to 1989 (the final years of the first Cold War) and then in 2025 — the onset of a second Cold War (this is where we see futuristic weapons and action). Soldiers in the game are tasked with — among other duties — preventing a terrorist attack.
There are three game types: the story-based “Tranzit,” the classic “Survival,” and, less excitingly, the maliciously spirited “Grief.” All overtly have the same premise: using teamwork, survive/kill the zombies.
Zombie mode is also very violent. Like, in a gratuitous way. I’ve banned it in our house because I haven’t found any evidence of zombie mode/maps being anything other than gross — and not in a cool, Super Meatboy way!
Violence and Gore (and Language — Oh My!)
COD: Black Ops II is a violent FPS (first person shooter) game, with and without the use of control settings. This review, and my verdict, have taken about two weeks longer than I’d hoped because of my inherent discomfort with the genre. That said, my decision to allow GamerDude to play the game is rooted in
my the ability to control the level of gore, violence, and objectionable language in the game. With the content controls on, the screen literally goes black in places — to his frustration and my satisfaction. Also, in at least one instance, I’ve seen a cutscene that was appallingly horrific in the uncontrolled game — a man being burned alive — edited in the gore control mode. The effect: a cutscene free of graphic visual and sound effects (preferable).
I’ve watched GamerDude play COD: Black Ops II — avec content controls — and, while it’s still intensely violent, the strategy, narrative, and decision-making aspects of the game really shine in this mode (as opposed to being outshone by violent, gory, and profane content). These are factors that contributed to my decision to allow the game in my home.
The ESRB rates the game Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, and Use of Drugs. The first four themes are controllable and the last two are (virtually) unavoidable. It should be noted that the suggestive themes entail your player entering a nightclub with exotic dancers — in silhouette — and it’s not a primary aspect of the game action or narrative. Regarding the use of drugs in the game, it’s limited to a mission set in a cocaine bunker. To complete the game players need to complete these missions, but if you don’t want to experience these worlds, you can avoid the missions.
I also want to add that the musical score for COD: Black Ops II is stunning. Composed by Jack Wall and Trent Reznor, it’s a powerful combination of classical and contemporary music that serves to enhance the gameplay and enrich what’s already a detail-rich world. Despite the fact that FPS isn’t my bag, I dig the
task responsibility of watching GamerDude play this game.
VERDICT: RECOMMEND — with content controls ON — FOR SOME 12 YEARS PLUS
In the comments section of yesterday’s Uniting the generations through COD The Double Parent asked:
Have you reached a decision about the game for your son?
I started writing a response in the comments, and then I realized that it was becoming a blog post. So here’s my response:
Personally, the shoot’em up style FPS games continue to make me uncomfortable. That said, I’m packing less testosterone than a lot of FPS fans. My intent isn’t to reinforce gender stereotypes re: boys are more aggressive than girls (or snakes, snails & puppy dog tails, which, as a little girl I always thought seemed much better than sugar, spice & all things nice!). But generally speaking, boys find violent and physical play to be more cathartic — even therapeutic — than girls.
I used to be very strict with the no-violent-video-games rule in my house and you know what? At that time, my son was getting into playground fights at school. I allow some violent games now, and he hasn’t been in a playground fight in over two years.
Admittedly, there are a lot of factors that contributed to the playground fights, as well as to his current success in regulating and managing himself when he sees injustices on the playground — his MO has always been “defender of social justice”; fighting for what’s fair for himself and others. But he tells me that after a crappy and/or frustrating day, he finds respite in his violent video games. It’s a zone of total fantasy where he can take a break from civil society and be pure id for a spot of time. And I don’t have a difficult time getting him to stop playing when I ask him to stop.
I think it’s also important to emphasize that violent video games represent a fraction of Gamer Boy’s collection of video games. He’s also quite outdoorsy and sporty.
Between us, I’m leaning toward a yes and I’ll elaborate on that in an actual review. I plan on keeping this from Gamer Boy though, otherwise I’ll never hear the end of it!
MINECRAFT: If your gamer is under the age of 16, the chances are excellent you’ve heard of this incredibly popular E10+ digital download for PC and Xbox (PlayXBLA). This week, PlayXBLA announced they`ll be unleashing Minecraft on
parents disc for Xbox users who aren’t connected to the game through XboxLive. Ready yourselves to see Minecraft on disc hit the US retail market next month — April 30.
According to IGN the disc version of the game will have the same features and content found in the current digital version and players using both game formats will be able to join each other in multiplayer mode. As well, retail Minecraft will include the highly anticipated additions from the ninth update.
So what IS Minecraft anyway?
Let me start by telling you what it isn’t: it’s not a campaign and there’s no narrative guiding the action, per se (although the final goal of the game is to fight and slay the Enderdragon). I’ve heard it referred to as a sandbox game, meaning the player has tools to modify the world they’re playing in, and to create how they play in it. The overarching goal of Minecraft is to build whatever captures the imagination from the highly stylized and pixelated Minecraft world.
Your child will choose between Creative play mode and Survival play mode. Both play modes experience day and night play, but in Creative mode the player is invincible and in Survival mode, you guessed it — players are required to survive attacks from creepers, enders, spiders and other monsters that reproduce in dark crannies and spaces of the game.
During the day in Survival mode, players will be conscious of feeding themselves and maintaining a level of health that is above 30%. There are animals that drop meat throughout the game and players need to pick this food up when they find it, but they’ll also need to pace themselves because animals don’t frequent the Minecraft terrain! Also, GamerBoy emphasizes the importance of sheep for their wool — you can make a bed of their wool and sleep safely through the night (this is the only time I’ve ever heard him talk about the importance of sleep to his quality of life).
At the start of the day, players need to build well-lit structures and weapons with the resources they find through their explorations. Weapons are helpful in defeating and fending off monster attacks. But both modes have players searching for and accumulating resources.
As the game’s name suggests, crafting is central to Minecraft. Players will be able to craft some items from the inventory provided to them at the start of the game, but a craft table is necessary for the heavy-duty crafting that intense Minecraft play demands. GamerBoy tells me that the bread and butter of the game as far as resources are concerned are stone and coal. You’ll use these resources to craft your first, most important tool — the iconic Minecraft pickaxe. Once a player has this tool they can go on to mine cobblestone, which can be used for even stronger tools!
Minecraft play is chock-full with details of mining and creating and I’ve really only scratched the surface here. One of the best (and most entertaining!) tutorials I’ve seen on Youtube — and there are LOTS — is Conan O’Brien`s Clueless Gamer review.
Also, Conan appears to have and advance copy of the retail disc Minecraft in this video! *Edit: GamerBoy drew my attention to Conan’s LIVE version, so, like, no advanced copy. Still — Enjoy: