No relationship between mood & attention deficit in kids who play video games

APPY Geek<<read @lukekarmali‘s story here!!

“A decade-long study of over 11,000 children in the UK has found no association between playing video games from as young as five, and mood or behavioral problems in later life.”

 (IGN)

The study, known as the UK Millennium Cohort Study, by Alison Parkes, Helen Sweeting, Daniel Wight, and Marion Henderson (British Medical Journalfound 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. 😛

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South Park takes on next-gen console war

As console wars kick into high gear in time for the holidays, the passion behind both sides was played out on the popular Comedy Central TV show, South Park, reports Wesley Yin-Poole (Eurogamer).

GamerDewd has been after me for over a year about watching South Park, but it’s still an M (17+) rating as far as I’m concerned. He’s also itching to play the soon-to-be released game, South Park: Stick of Truth, which is slated for a March 4, 2014 release.

Published by Ubisoft and developed by Obsidian Entertainment, this RPG is targeting a Mature to adult audience. The goal of the game is to assist Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman as they attempt to save South Park and to become cool. The action starts with the player as the new kid in town who is faced with the task of making friends. The kids of South Park are in the midst of a live-action-role-playing-game which turns into a universal fight between good and evil, reports IGN.

Like most South Park plots, the simple story arc seems fitting with the protagonists’ age (Grade 4), but the target rating of M or AO suggests there will be plenty of the boundary-pushing scenarios the South Park TV show has become (in)famous for. Still, like all games that are on GamerDewd’s radar, when it comes out, I’ll have a look and make a judgement call at that time.

The console war clip above is hilarious, and, while there’s one bleeped swear (the F-word, I believe), I’d say the clip is  ON for 12 and up. And like Cartman, Kenny and Kyle, it looks like we’re going to start with Xbox One in this house. We’d like to have both, but the economics of the situation demand that we make the choice (and then save, save, save for the PS4!)…because, as Stan says, “that’s how Xbox people are.” 😉

@Bukosky’s Borderlands 2 GOTY Edition scoop

This just in from JonMichael Bukosky:

Shizzle’s going down — Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’s Coming!

Shizzle is going DOWN this Monday. Why? Oh, a little game called Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is on the way.

In a statement sent to Digital Spy Ubisoft said:

“We confirm that Ubisoft will announce all the details of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag on Monday March 4th at 5pm GMT.”

HOLD THE PHONE — I haven’t even given permission for Gamer Boy to play AC3 (never mind rumored AC3: Washington Edition, a bundle including all of the DLCs to date AND the game). Now Ubisoft raises expectations/excitement/anticipation with another chapter of the franchise? So much AC, so little time…

According to Matthew Reynolds from Digital Spy, AC4 is slated for release on current and next generation systems this year — during Ubisoft’s 2014 fiscal year — and it will be game-ready for Xbox 360, PS3 (PS3 will also have 60 minutes of exclusive content — sweet), PC, and Wii U.

What’s the setting for AC4?

Apparently it’s the high seas — pirate-style. Reynolds confirms that the location is somewhere in the Caribbean, and that the main character (Edward Kenway) is a privateer, assassin (of course), and a pirate. Here’s a peek for you — box art from the game:

Assassin's Creed 4

Paul Tassi for Forbes confirmed that Ubisoft would be dishing out more information this Monday, March 4. So I’ve got A LOT of reading and research to do in preparation for Gamer Boy’s AC4 harassment pleas. Hmmm… I wonder how long I can manage a successful Assassin’s Creed media blackout in this house…

This just in: IGN will be livestreaming the AC4 announcement all day Monday at 9am Pacific (pre-show at 8:30am)!

 

Super Meat Boy — Super Gross — Super Good

Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I fell in love with the creators of indie game, Super Meat Boy, months before I let my son buy the game. Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes’s story of writing, producing, and finally releasing their game on Xbox 360 formed part of  award-winning documentary Indie Game: The Movie, which I saw last winter. So when my son asked to buy it over the Christmas break this year I was pleased to say yes (and he was pleased to hear it).

Super Meat Boy has done exceptionally well with game critics and reviewers. IGN’s Daemon Hatfield says it’s “one of the best modern platformers,” adding “[i]t’s infuriating, exasperating, and arduous, but it’s also delightful, thrilling, and hilarious.” And he gives the game two nines (out of ten) in presentation and gameplay.

The ESRB gives Super Meat Boy the rating of T(een):

Super Meat Boy
Platform: Macintosh, Windows PC, Wii, Xbox 360

Rating:

     Teen Rating Symbol
Content descriptors: Animated Blood, Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor, Language
Rating summary:This is a platformer game in which players help an animated cube of meat (Meat Boy) rescue his kidnapped girlfriend. Players run, leap, and cling to walls throughout each maze-like level to avoid a variety of hazards (e.g., meat grinders, spinning buzz saws, propellers). Meat Boy leaves behind gooey red liquid when he lands on these hazards, causing him to disappear in a red spray of blood. Some cutscenes also depict instances of violence: Meat Boy is blown up by a rocket, resulting in cartoonlike blood; a girl stomps and dances on a character named Dr. Fetus, causing puffs of blood to appear. The game also contains an instance of bathroom humor: after a toilet gets flushed, a brown character, Brownie, emerges and emits flatulence. One cutscene also depicts a character who sticks out his middle finger.

So what does this non-gamer Mom have to say about the game?

While I don’t disagree with the T-rating, I’d allow kids under the age of 13 years to play it, depending on their temperament and their level of exposure to some of the themes in the game. I love Meat Boy’s relationship with Bandage Girl; though it’s his job to rescue her, he’s not just being chivalrous (and reinforcing sexist themes). Meat Boy’s a bleeding mess without her — Bandage Girl’s his strength and he needs her to help him stop bleeding, which to me is a lovely message to reinforce.

Sexual/Adult Themes & Language

While there’s no overt sex in the game, themes of sex and abortion are manifested by the villain, Dr. Fetus, a top hat wearing, black gloved fetus in a jar.

Drfetus

Your level of comfort with the game may depend on how comfortable you are with these topics. In our house, my husband, a cradle-Catholic, is the most uncomfortable with this game specifically because of the presence and role of Dr. Fetus. Abortion is never mentioned, nor is it an aspect of the game. I’m not even sure the game developers were aware of the underlying symbolism in the game — certainly it’s lost on my son who’s only aware that Dr. Fetus is a malevolent, antagonistic, and rude character.

Oh yes, and in case you missed it, Dr. Fetus is also infamous for flipping the bird. There’s no swearing, nor are there any other profane gestures, but this aspect of the game may be a deal breaker for you.

Violence & Gore

As I’ve already mentioned, Meat Boy is a bloody mess. Literally. As he moves through the game he leaves a trail of blood splotches, which can also be helpful breadcrumbs showing players where they’ve been. Aside from Dr. Fetus, Meat Boy faces numerous buzz saws as he makes his way through levels in his journey to Bandage Girl. As you can imagine, Meat Boy becomes a splattering mess when he comes in contact with a buzz saw. And he dies, returning to the beginning of the level. According to my son, “You die a lot.” (said with a certain level of graveness)

In addition, Meat Boy faces the challenge of escaping a hospital that fills with blood. But it’s not just blood that contributes to the grotesqueness of the game; Dr. Fetus also makes a likeness of Meat Boy out of his feces and names him “Brownie“.

brownie_super

Closing

As Hatfield says, this game is frustrating (my son concurs). There’s a lot of dying and repeating levels, which can be difficult on some kids. My son loves the game and sometimes dislikes playing it for this reason. If your child has a tendency towards frustration, you might want to reconsider this game.

VERDICT: RECOMMEND FOR SOME KIDS 11 YEARS PLUS