Friday, November 30, 2012

Here's some British dude who thinks video games aren't art

The Guardian just published an opinion piece from Jonathan Jones who wants to take to task the "overly serious and reverent praise of digital games by individuals or institutions who are almost certainly too old, too intellectual and too dignified to really be playing at this stuff."

He also really wants you to know that he hangs out at Oxford.  A lot.

The Museum of Modern Art has apparently offended Jones's (effete) sensibilities by introducing video games to their collection.  Jones not only thinks that most people in the art world are too "old", "intellectual", and "dignified" to play video games, and therefore to know whether or not they belong there.  Interesting, because it seems that Jones himself is the one to "intellectual" and "dignified" to play them and understand the artistic capabilities of the medium.  He also claims that art "has to be an act of personal imagination"—fair enough—but that this aspect is absent from video games, rendering them "not art", I guess.

On one hand, I think Jones misunderstands MoMA's reasons for introducing video games to their collection.  He does give an example that chess pieces may be crafted with some artistry, but the game of chess itself is not art.  I think MoMA is actually quite interested in the design of video games: in charting the evolution of their design, in exploring the possibilities of design, and even simply finding aesthetic pleasure in their design.  As digital works occupy an ever larger portion of our culture, MoMA  actually has a duty to be responsive to these changes.  Code and digital images say as much about contemporary culture as a manuscript or painting would have in the past and have no less artistic merit.

Jones thinks the things that make video games unique as a medium and interesting as art disqualify games from the distinction of art.  To him, video games are "playgrounds" in which creators have ceded control of their works.  If he considers the format of video games too open-ended to contain any real vision, perhaps he should take on abstract art in its entirety as well.  I think Jones would have a hard time arguing that a video game is not a "work."  All works have meaning for author and audience.  The creation of any work is ultimately the result of personal vision—no matter how many people collaborated on it, regardless of commercial or artistic intent, irrespective of how the audience engages with that work after it enters the world.  Creation is the result of intent, and thus Jones's qualifier of "personal imagination" makes any work art.  His qualm with video games as art seems to be more of a matter of personal preference.   I am frankly surprised that Jones, an art critic, seems uninterested in the unique artistic possibilities of video games.

Plot vs Premise

I was thinking about how stories function in video games, and I've decided that, while they can be similar to other stories (books, film, etc) the interactivity component really does make a huge difference.  Some games still try to include a plot, through devices such as cut scenes, but others either don't include a plot or allow the player to create their own plot through the interactive play.  Thus, they really don't tell a story in the same way other other, un-interactive mediums.

However, in my experience, it isn't solely the game play that makes me want to play video games.  I think, then, that a more important aspect of the game is the premise.  The premise is connected to the story because it does establish a narrative world for the characters to function inside, but it is not reliant on a plot to guide it.

40 years of pong

40 years ago yesterday (November 29th), Atari announced Pong to the world.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Human imitation of Pong, Tetris and Pac-Man

I just found myself staring at these videos...
                                         Here is the Pong performance
                                         Here is the Tetris performance  

                                    ... and the craziest one here is the pac-man performance

Todays Lecture: Significance of Plot in Video Games

Do I think video games is a good vehicle for storytelling? It can be.
I don't think it was fair to generalize everything like we did in lecture. In some cases, true, the game was specifically made just for the enjoyment and spectacle, the plot was just a means of obtaining that. But some games have the craft of storytelling in it and I believe they deserve some recognition. Blizzard is one such game company that pays attention to the storyline of their games. Come on, who doesn't think the story of the betrayal of Illidan and the frozen Lich King is amazing? The intricate details to the plot and character development is more than evident. Starcraft also has a wonderful storyline that contains deep underlying motifs and themes. I specifically watch my brother play the campaign mode just so I know how the story goes, and I know I'm not the only one. I don't actually play the game, but I want to know what happens in the story.
So yes, there are some games where the story is more than just a drugged piece of meat.

Gamer language

I've found our conversation in Lecture last Tuesday pretty interesting with game semiotics and language used, particularly about how some gamer language has transferred into our everyday language. We mentioned the word PWNED but I'd like to include others I recognized as well.
Here goes:
GG - I don't know if this is within just the Asian community (and I mean Asians that grew up in Asia) but I sometimes hear my Asian friends use GG to describe an unfavorable end of a moment or event by some degree of failure.
      For example: - Two Asian kids walked out of the exam hall after a ridiculously hard exam. One of them turns to the other, shakes his head and says "GG".
                           - After spending hours in the mall searching for the dress his girlfriend wanted him to buy for her birthday, he says "Okay I give up I'm outta here, GG."

C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER - In message boards usually in internet forums, when someone breaks a chain of people repeating the same phrase, it is considered a c-c-c-combo breaker. This phrase came from Killer Instinct in which you could stop someone's combo right then and there.
    For example:
Sheila: I'm just saying, guys are generally terrible at keeping their apartments clean.
Jack: WOAH!
John: WOAH!
Jacob: WOAH!
Jess: c-c-c-combo breaker!

This term could be used more generally though when a chain of posts is broken.
Jenna says: I
Jenna says: l
Jenna says: o
Jenna says: v
Jenna says: e
Jenna says: y
David says: C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!
Jenna says: What the f*** is your problem?! You always do that!

Any other examples guys?

#1reasonwhy and #1reasontobe

In the last couple days, Twitter has been blowing up with stories of sexism towards women in the gaming industry, specifically marketers, journalists, and developers. #1reasonwhy began to trend yesterday displaying testimonials of women being judged and harassed because of their gender.

Today, the women of the industry fought back by creating #1reasontobe, a hashtag that embraces the advantages of femininity and video games. Gamer ladies took their stance on why they belong in the industry and how women in the workforce is a positive ongoing change in the gaming industry. These women were not going to be innocent bystanders of gender roles in the gaming world, and we're one step closer to equality in a man's playground.

First Impressions: Wii U

I'm sure those of you who care have already looked at what the Internet has to say about this console. I'll be the first to tell you that I am extremely empathetic when it comes to designer decisions. Although some decisions are just terrible on all levels, I believe that there is justification for creating a system as different as the Wii U. And end all be all, I don't hate it. When you think about future consoles and how Microsoft and Sony are going to be "better," what will be authentically innovative about those platforms? Sure they'll be stronger and faster, but they'll still have the same fundamentals, games, and controllers. Way to go Nintendo. You've always shocked us with new concepts, even if the Wii was arguably I mistake on many fronts.

Unfortunately, there's a 5 GB update that has to happen right out of the box. I just got to stare at my brand new shinny system download for almost an hour. While we're on the subject of memory, let's get something out of the way. Yes, the largest system only has 32 GB of space. But guess what? You can hook up an external harddrive by USB. The people who cry about it drive me bonkers because if you really wanted to, you could put a terabyte of memory to your system. XBOX 360 will only allow for 16 GB of external space on their Slim 360s. Just think about it.

While it was downlading I was also playing with the controller. Believe it or not, the weight of my 360 controller is about the same as the gamepad, which makes the gamepad extremely light. It's not a PS3 type of light though. I feel like this touch screen is actually durable and will last me awhile and a couple frustration shakes if need be. Anytime I hold my PS3 controller, I feel like I'm going to break it by pushing X too many times. The button layout is actually really natural. Because it's a big rectangle, it looks awkward. Holding it feels completely natural. I'm totally OK playing with just this controller and skipping over the pro controller that they also released.

One of my favorite things about the DS is that you can draw stuff. I just like sending people pictures. Is that too much to ask? I feel like Nintendo is super known for this idea of a drawing pad, and it's something that adults and kids love. If you turn on the system, you can see the eight most popular games being played on the Wii U right now. Random bubbles will pop up from different Miis around the world, and you wouldn't believe how much time people put into their back and white drawings of their favorite game characters. By that feature alone, I like the Miiverse more than XBOX Live and PlayStation Network. Honestly, everything just feels a little more personal. 

And now it's time for the games. At first I picked up Nintendo Land and Mario because they were exclusives that I knew would show off the systems new capabilities. But of course the only thing people really care about is how it stacks against other systems. The Wii U is in HD, so yeah, it looks just as good as everything else. Period. Moreover, I think this will be my main system from now on. The two pictures above are Batman: Arkham City. For starters, everything that you need from your weapons menu is available at your fingertips. You just click and it's activated. It also uncluttered the HUD because you can see that my map and objectives as well as any intel will pop up on the gamepad instead of in a tiny box on my TV. I can also play the entire game in another room. The whole thing. Nothing was missing from the console version. It's kind of like the PS Vita for Nintendo. There's also an impressive emersion tool that caught me off guard. Nowadays, almost every game has radio dialogue that happens to exchange information. So when Batman talks to Alfred, Batman's voice occurs on the TV while Alfred's occurs on the gamepad. Like a real radio. Think about the spacial hearing that's going on. It's genius. If games do this in the future, the auditory emersion of a game will be altered forever. I thought it was one of the most intense and successful game emersion tactics I have ever encountered. 

End of review, beginning of gushing. I freaking love this thing already. I can't wait for hardcore RPGs to come out for it. It won't be that much different for gameplay, but if I had a search bar on my gamepad for a particular potion with having to search for it alphabetically, I would be so, so grateful. The first console MMO was announced just last week, and I think that's totally fitting. If I could put the Wii U in one sentence, it would be, "The Wii U is the perfect combination of PC and console gaming by using the gamepad as a makeshift keyboard or hot key system." 

The Silent Protagonist

For some reason, the release of Dishonored came with some backlash of silent protagonists. I found the beginning of the argument on my Flipboard app, but I think that both sides raise good questions on the matter.

It has also been my opinion that silent protagonists are a excuse to not create a character for the player. As an avid RPG player, I am all about making backstories to characters I create or making their attributes accurate with a particular race (i.e. my orcs are longsword masters while my high elves are stingy-looking mages). When action-adventure games give no dialogue for the protagonist, I feel the reverse of identifying with the character. If the character doesn't talk, how do I know if how he feels about his situation. I don't want my avatar to be bossed around and pushed into situations that he isn't comfortable with. But if the protagonist neve speaks, I just have to assume the complications of his character.

With this new discussion, I did a little research. Here are some definitions to start:

Silent protagonist: a character in a game who speaks no lines of dialogue, letting other characters tell the story in scripted moments or cutscenes. "Let me do everything everyone tells me to do with no question whatsoever."

Mute: characters who are recognized within the game world as people who are incapable of speaking

Secretive: these characters are a step up from mutes in complexity in that they are essentially predefined but are left with space for the player to insert his or her own thoughts and motivations simply left unsaid and thus "secret."

Reactive: protagonists whose actions are assumed by the game's scripting in spite of having no lines or dialo options. This the character technically speaks, and other characters in the world react to the player as if they have spoken, but the words are never actually shown or heard.


For those of you who look forward to writing scripts of video games, this is something to consider. What will your game stand for as far as the opinion of the protagonist? Is it really all that important to know?

Bungie's New Game

For anyone interested in the new game potentially named "Destiny" that is currently being worked on by Bungie, creator of the Halo series, check out this video from IGN.  The video includes some general details about the plot and some intriguing concept art.  It sounds and looks interesting and Bungie has certainly proven itself with the Halo series.  Personally however, I'm going to need more details before I decide whether or not to get really excited for this game.  I've included some of the concept art below.

Screw You Roger Ebert! MoMA and VideoGames Together at Last

MoMA Video Game collection

MoMA announced they will permanently house video games in their collection.

Its pretty cool and I think another great step in recognizing the art and design that goes into videogames.

The link also touches upon videogame aesthetics, space, time, etc.

Very Cool

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The New Disney Princess

The magical world of Disney has brought us another princess. For those of you who didn't already realize.

Fantasy Football Addiction?

Here's another article in the realms of mental health and new media. Psych studies also suggest that you can become mentally addicted to fantasy football. It shares the common thread of other kinds of internet addiction where there is an "illusion of control." Or the player has to control the outcome. This is actually a blog entry I think from the New York Times website, so you can think of it as a blog within a blog.

*Again clinical psychology is still developing, so addiction diagnosis will not be perfect.

(article sent to me through Tissyana Camacho).

The Internet and your Mental Health

This might not be directly related to video games, but this article analyzes the impact of virtual worlds, specifically  the internet on our mental health. Clinical psychology is still improving, but there have been replications of studies that suggest a kind of "media psychosis" is indeed possible, and we should not dismiss it so easily.

*Just a note, clinical psychology is not perfect so please don't be offended if you think differently from the article.

Is the Web Driving us Mad?

(article sent to me from Tissyana Camacho)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Machinima Example: Red vs. Blue

We were discussing machinima in class today, and some people seemed unaware of what it was. Julian provided a link to the machinima website, and I'd like to supplement his post with some specific video examples of one of the most famous machinima series, Red vs. Blue, created by the guys at Rooster Teeth.

The first episode ever. Of all time.

An awesome action sequence integrating both machinima and 3D CG animation.


More semiotics!

Proof that you can get way too damn carried away with gamer slang.  These are honestly just the basics - I've played too much Halo for my own good.  Also, this website as a whole has a terrifying amount of detail about Halo...

On top of that, there are terms that you need to know for each and every map.  Obviously you're not going to here these out in public, but it just goes to show how in depth the terminology can get for an individual game.  Also, don't watch the whole thing, I'm just proving it exists.

So 20 or so terms for each map, times 20 maps, plus a ton more jargon, times an absurd amount of video and computer games, equals a great many terms that mean nothing outside of gaming.

An Engineer's Perspective #2

I'm taking a class this semester on Computer Game Design and we have had several assignments over the course of the semester involving making video games. In my opinion, the hardest part of these assignments has been coming up with an idea for a game that is innovative / fun. Unlike our game concept assignment for this class, the ideas we come up with actually have to be able to be programmed, sometimes in a relatively short period of time (less than 2 weeks including concept, artwork, sound, etc.).

One way we were taught to come up with new games, is to start by thinking of a unique game play element and then inventing a game around that. For example, for my first assignment I decided it would be cool if the player had the ability to change the direction of the force of gravity. I then took this concept and turned it into a multi-level, maze-like, puzzle game called "Multigravity" (shown below). 

Mass Effect Omega DLC

Apparently the first single player DLC for Mass Effect 3 since launch was released today.  I am excited for this because I felt that it was a vital part of the story that was missed during the game.  However, I will not buy it now.  I was unhappy with how my Mass Effect 2 story ended and I plan to redo that before I end replaying 3 again.  I doubt I will play through these games anytime soon since I'm loving Halo.  Anybody else have Mass Effect 3 and has already started playing the new DLC.  Thoughts on?


As much as I hate this saying, this picture is funny (and relevant)!


For those interested:

Gender in Gaming, Female Protagonists

Games with Female Protagonists

So the link above is an article about how games with female protagonists are not as prevalent and do not sell as well as games with male protagonists. Some shocking or not so shocking statistics to take away from the article:

Of a sample of 669 games, only 300 had an option of male and/or female protagonists.

Of that same sample, only 24 had only a female protagonist.

Games with only a male protagonist sell 25 percent better than a male/female option game.

Games with only a male protagonist sell 75% better than games with only a female protagonist.

Games with female protagonists recieve 40% less marketing money.

So that last statistic may explain why they don't sell as well, but the lack of prevelance of female leads is also intriguing. Back in the day, before our days, Metroid shocked the masses when it was revealed that Samus Aran (the lead) was a female bounty hunter. Why so shocking? Are we conditioned to think that a bounty hunter, gun wielding robo-human has to be male? But more importantly, I think it is a little unfair that game companies may have to scrap a female lead because they are afraid their profits will fall.

But when I think of female leads I think of big-name games like Metroid franchise, Lara Croft Franchise, and even the Portal games had a female character. Personally, I don't care about the gender of my character. As long as the gameplay and story is good, it really shouldnt matter.

Man Vs Woman

I pick Master Chief alll day everyday!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Top Diez

Another week means another post. This week I was looking for something to write about and similar to last week my mind continues to go into this blurry state. Nonetheless, I was on Google and I saw this mega-site where it featured the top ten games of all time. So, I clicked on a link – the UNIKGAMER – link and I found their top 10 games of all time. I do not know how credible this site is, however, the gamers seem to think the games below are  just 2 LEGIT and 2 LEGIT TO QUIT.
  1. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  2.    Mass Effect 2
  3. Final Fantasy 7
  4.    Half-Life 2
  5.  Fallout 3
  6.  Super Mario World
  7. The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past
  8. Chrono Trigger
  9. Metal Gear Solid
  10. Portal

So 4 out of 10 of the games I am familiar with. This list is accurate as of February 2012. Do you agree? What’s your top 10?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wreck It Ralph-We Talked About This in Class!

As Chloe already posted, the movie is GREAT. The best Disney movie of recent. For our video game studies though, 2 NON-SPOILER parts particularly stood out to me.

First, a BA officer from a Halo-esc world named "Calhoun" has an interesting twist to her character: being programmed with the most tragic back-story ever. Backstories were brought up in class, and how they have often been overlooked with older video games. It is wonderful to see the creators of Wreck-It Ralph not only aware of that, but playing with the idea.

Second, at one part of the movie, a character goes into "the code" of the game and makes an alteration. It is fascinating to see how the movie makers have imagined the "code" of a video game. It looked much like many tabs or buttons of a "game board" that would be found in a traditional arcade game, but suspended in space by wires that connect their functionality to players and areas. I personally don't know why they just didn't say "we need to go to the board" instead of "the code" (since the characters obviously couldn't alter the code with their own hands), but the section still stuck out to me as exploring an interesting concept in video games.

I give Wreck-It Ralph a solid "A." Let me know what you think of these ideas once you see it!

Black Friday

Between Amazon, Steam, GamersGate, Green Man Gaming, Origin, the Microsoft Store, XBLA, PSN, and any number of other game distribution platforms and sites like cheapassgamer and subreddits like GameDeals and SteamDeals, Black Friday can be a great time for gamers and a rough time for gamers' wallets. 

What'd everyone get this week?

I picked up Dark Sector for 3$, Zeno Clash for 1$ and TERA for 5$ (I know I'm going to regret the last one because MMOs are a gigantic time sink.)

Comment below!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Star Wars Holiday Special

I'm pretty sure I remember us talking about this during class on one of our tangents (namely Lucas Arts, if I recall).  Well, someone sent me the link yesterday, and it's pretty much amazing.  The quality's pretty poor, but I can see why Lucas never let anyone touch his work again.

Gifts for Sullen Teenage Girls

During my shift of avoiding work at work, I stumbled upon this Kotaku gift guide, which is apparently for people like me (or least like me but about 6 years younger).

Apparently the Sullen Teenage Girl can be impressed by items like:
A painting of the Big Sister from Bioshock that sort of looks like something Regretsy would make fun of. (It's already sold on Etsy so good luck finding it there. Besides the "Steampunk" Little Sister illustration is better.)

- To The Moon. I haven't heard of this (therefore, I have not played it), but apparently it's an "RPG-Adventure-SciFi-Tragicomedy-Psych" game. Kotaku describes it as, "a little bit Chrono Trigger, a little bit Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and all heart." Huh.

- this lovely little pin.  Because why speak when you can threaten with a button?

Personally, I think going and deleting ALL the save files would be too much work... 

 ...and I think the only person who I would consider doing that to would react a little something like this.

So, then, what is the IDEAL gift to get the Sullen Teenageish Girl who is too lazy to delete your save-files but too interested in black comedy and bad paintings to deserve a mere gift card?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Best Lego Game (so far)

This may be very revealing of my less-than-hardcore gamer status, but I love the Lego video games. I have spent many an hour playing Lego Star Wars, and I have dabbled in Lego Harry Potter and Lego Batman.

Naturally, when I heard they were making a Lego Lord of the Rings, I got super excited.

Lego Lord of the Rings Review

Can't wait to scoop this game and play it over the holidays :)

Violence and the Media

If anybody is further interested in Violence & The Media, Professor Huemann offers a class that is pretty interesting. It is 4 credits and here is the course description:

COMM 481/ PSYCH 481. Media and Violence. (4 credits)
This course examines the psychological causes of aggressive violent behavior and the theoretical and empirical connections between violence in society and portrayals of violence in the mass media. It surveys the research on the physiological, psychological, and environmental factors implicated in the development of habitual aggressive and violent behavior and examines the theories that explain how exposure to violence in the mass media adds to the effects of these other factors causing aggressive and violent behavior.COMM 361 or 381 strongly recommended.

The professor has studied this for a long time and a lot of the articles that are assigned are some of the studies he has done in the past, either alone or as a collaboration with other researchers.

Hulu has Video Game Content

Hulu announced that is will now be carrying HD trailers, release dates, and reviews of video games on it's free PC-based service. Hulu plans to roll out something a little more advance for Hulu Plus subscribers, but it has not be confirmed exactly what yet.

I think this is exciting and shows how much people have sought out content from other providers forcing Hulu to step up their game.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Games That Define This Generation

I recently watched a video on IGN where four of the site's editors discussed the question: What game most defines this generation of platforms?  Of course, there's no easy answer.  Would it be Modern Warfare, the game that sold millions of units and is probably at least partly responsible for the recent burst in shooters, or would it be another one of the increasingly huge blockbuster games to have graced this console cycle?  One could make a good argument for World of Warcraft, the MMO juggernaut that continues to deliver massive expansions and boasts over 10 million users.  Maybe it should be Wii Sports, the game that launched the motion control craze that even Sony and Microsoft have hoped on board with now.  Could it be Minecraft, the indie hit that embodies player control and creativity?  What about Angry Birds, the casual game that defines casual games in an era where the sales numbers for casual games are far surpassing those of games released on consoles and PCs and are reaching a far wider audience?  The games in the Angry Birds Series alone have seen over 1 billion downloads worldwide.  Personally, I think the field has become far to vast to pick any one game.

Wii U Launches Today

Reports are everywhere that the Wii U has launched Sunday at Midnight, people actually went to buy it, and is becoming a hot commodity.

The new Nintendo system will supposedly usher in a "new era of councils," but I disagree. Since it is focused on in party play or multi-player cooperate play, I think this is entirely something else.

Do you expect to see Microsoft and Sony new councils in the next year? And if so, is it because of Nintendo or something else?

Comment below.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The 50 Hottest Video Game Characters

The 25 Funniest Video Game-Themed Web Comic Strips

Don't Offend My Religion

So, initially I was going to write a blog post about games that make you "Scream & Shot," because I was inspired by's new song, "Scream & Shot." Nonetheless, randomly some force weird force hit me today and I decided to google games that offend and I came across the article below. Top 5 (Games that offend)

  1. Christianity
  2. Judaism
  3. Hinduism
  4. Buddhism
  5. Satanism 

Christianity believers tend to dislike the content in games in general.
Judaism tends to dislike games similar to Xenogears/Saga games that are said to throw the Torah around withing their games.
Lastly, Satanism believers tend to dislike games like Devil May Cry and Doom because the devil protagonists' in these games are either to be defeated or seen unworthy by non satanist believers.

35 Years of Console Launch Prices

Gaming consoles have always been quite the financial investment for a consumer.  This is also true for the companies as well as most of these systems were sold at a loss at launch (they use games and accessories to make up the deficit..."razor" marketing strategy).  I notice how Nintendo seems to have done the best job staying at a median price over such a long time period.  Thoughts on this graph?  I shall try to find one with the handheld systems as well.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Some random funny pictures

The Halo Legacy

This video provides a hilarious and somewhat accurate depiction of the impact the Halo franchise has had on society.  It also goes in depth to explain what the future might look like with the domination of Halo.  The movie a little bit long, but definitely worth watching if you're a Halo junkie like me! :]

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Time's top 100 games

Here is a link to Time Magazine's top 100 games of all time.  I have to admit that I am a little surprised that Time has taken the time and effort to release a Top 100.  I have not given it much of a look yet, but I am curious what the have to say.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Aussie gov't finally takes local video-game industry seriously Summary: The Australian government is finally taking the local video-games industry seriously, injecting AU$20 million into the sector to make it more competitive in a global market.

Violence in Video Games *Note that Bushman used to work at UM!* Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions Studies provide converging evidence that exposure to media violence is a significant risk factor for aggressive and violent behavior. By Craig A. Anderson, PhD After 40+ years of research, one might think that debate about media violence effects would be over. An historical examination of the research reveals that debate concerning whether such exposure is a significant risk factor for aggressive and violent behavior should have been over years ago (Bushman & Anderson, 2001). Four types of media violence studies provide converging evidence of such effects: laboratory experiments, field experiments, cross-sectional correlation studies, and longitudinal studies (Anderson & Bushman, 2002a; Bushman & Huesmann, 2000). But the development of a new genre-electronic video games-reinvigorated the debate. Two features of video games fuel renewed interest by researchers, public policy makers, and the general public. First, the active role required by video games is a double-edged sword. It helps educational video games be excellent teaching tools for motivational and learning process reasons. But, it also may make violent video games even more hazardous than violent television or cinema. Second, the arrival of a new generation of ultraviolent video games beginning in the early 1990s and continuing unabated to the present resulted in large numbers of children and youths actively participating in entertainment violence that went way beyond anything available to them on television or in movies. Recent video games reward players for killing innocent bystanders, police, and prostitutes, using a wide range of weapons including guns, knives, flame throwers, swords, baseball bats, cars, hands, and feet. Some include cut scenes (i.e., brief movie clips supposedly designed to move the story forward) of strippers. In some, the player assumes the role of hero, whereas in others the player is a criminal. The new debate frequently generates more heat than light. Many criticisms are simply recycled myths from earlier media violence debates, myths that have been repeatedly debunked on theoretical and empirical grounds. Valid weaknesses have also been identified (and often corrected) by media violence researchers themselves. Although the violent video game literature is still relatively new and small, we have learned a lot about their effects and have successfully answered several key questions. So, what is myth and what do we know? Myths and Facts Myth 1. Violent video game research has yielded very mixed results. Facts: Some studies have yielded nonsignificant video game effects, just as some smoking studies failed to find a significant link to lung cancer. But when one combines all relevant empirical studies using meta-analytic techniques, five separate effects emerge with considerable consistency. Violent video games are significantly associated with: increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased prosocial (helping) behavior. Average effect sizes for experimental studies (which help establish causality) and correlational studies (which allow examination of serious violent behavior) appear comparable (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). Myth 2. The studies that find significant effects are the weakest methodologically. Facts: Methodologically stronger studies have yielded the largest effects (Anderson, in press). Thus, earlier effect size estimates -based on all video game studies- probably underestimate the actual effect sizes. Myth 3. Laboratory experiments are irrelevant (trivial measures, demand characteristics, lack external validity). Facts: Arguments against laboratory experiments in behavioral sciences have been successfully debunked many times by numerous researchers over the years. Specific examinations of such issues in the aggression domain have consistently found evidence of high external validity. For example, variables known to influence real world aggression and violence have the same effects on laboratory measures of aggression (Anderson & Bushman, 1997). Myth 4. Field experiments are irrelevant (aggression measures based either on direct imitation of video game behaviors (e.g., karate kicks) or are normal play behaviors. Facts: Some field experiments have used behaviors such as biting, pinching, hitting, pushing, and pulling hair, behaviors that were not modeled in the game. The fact that these aggressive behaviors occur in natural environments does not make them "normal" play behavior, but it does increase the face validity (and some would argue the external validity) of the measures. Myth 5. Correlational studies are irrelevant. Facts: The overly simplistic mantra, "Correlation is not causation," is useful when teaching introductory students the risks in too-readily drawing causal conclusions from a simple empirical correlation between two measured variables. However, correlational studies are routinely used in modern science to test theories that are inherently causal. Whole scientific fields are based on correlational data (e.g., astronomy). Well conducted correlational studies provide opportunities for theory falsification. They allow examination of serious acts of aggression that would be unethical to study in experimental contexts. They allow for statistical controls of plausible alternative explanations. Myth 6. There are no studies linking violent video game play to serious aggression. Facts: High levels of violent video game exposure have been linked to delinquency, fighting at school and during free play periods, and violent criminal behavior (e.g., self-reported assault, robbery). Myth 7. Violent video games affect only a small fraction of players. Facts: Though there are good theoretical reasons to expect some populations to be more susceptible to violent video game effects than others, the research literature has not yet substantiated this. That is, there is not consistent evidence for the claim that younger children are more negatively affected than adolescents or young adults or that males are more affected than females. There is some evidence that highly aggressive individuals are more affected than nonaggressive individuals, but this finding does not consistently occur. Even nonaggressive individuals are consistently affected by brief exposures. Further research will likely find some significant moderators of violent video game effects, because the much larger research literature on television violence has found such effects and the underlying processes are the same. However, even that larger literature has not identified a sizeable population that is totally immune to negative effects of media violence. Myth 8. Unrealistic video game violence is completely safe for adolescents and older youths. Facts: Cartoonish and fantasy violence is often perceived (incorrectly) by parents and public policy makers as safe even for children. However, experimental studies with college students have consistently found increased aggression after exposure to clearly unrealistic and fantasy violent video games. Indeed, at least one recent study found significant increases in aggression by college students after playing E-rated (suitable for everyone) violent video games. Myth 9. The effects of violent video games are trivially small. Facts: Meta-analyses reveal that violent video game effect sizes are larger than the effect of second hand tobacco smoke on lung cancer, the effect of lead exposure to I.Q. scores in children, and calcium intake on bone mass. Furthermore, the fact that so many youths are exposed to such high levels of video game violence further increases the societal costs of this risk factor (Rosenthal, 1986). Myth 10. Arousal, not violent content, accounts for video game induced increases in aggression. Facts: Arousal cannot explain the results of most correlational studies because the measured aggression did not occur immediately after the violent video games were played. Furthermore, several experimental studies have controlled potential arousal effects, and still yielded more aggression by those who played the violent game. Myth 11. If violent video games cause increases in aggression, violent crime rates in the U.S. would be increasing instead of decreasing. Facts: Three assumptions must all be true for this myth to be valid: (a) exposure to violent media (including video games) is increasing; (b) youth violent crime rates are decreasing; (c) video game violence is the only (or the primary) factor contributing to societal violence. The first assumption is probably true. The second is not true, as reported by the 2001 Report of the Surgeon General on Youth Violence (Figure 2-7, p. 25). The third is clearly untrue. Media violence is only one of many factors that contribute to societal violence and is certainly not the most important one. Media violence researchers have repeatedly noted this. Theory One frequently overlooked factor in this debate is the role of scientific theory. Pure empirical facts often have relatively little meaning and are seldom convincing. When those same facts fit a broader theory, especially one that has been tested in other contexts, those facts become more understandable and convincing. Recent years have seen considerable progress in basic theoretical models of human aggression (for recent integrations see Anderson & Bushman, 2002b; Anderson & Huesmann, in press; Anderson & Carnagey, in press). Most such models take a social cognitive view of human aggression, integrating social learning theory, advances in cognitive psychology, script theory, developmental theories, and biological influences. Using such general models, media violence scholars now have a clear picture of how media violence increases aggression in short and long term contexts. Immediately after exposure to media violence, there is an increase in aggressive behavior tendencies because of several factors. 1. Aggressive thoughts increase, which in turn increase the likelihood that a mild or ambiguous provocation will be interpreted in a hostile fashion. 2. Aggressive affect increases. 3. General arousal (e.g., heart rate) increases, which tends to increase the dominant behavioral tendency. 4. Direct imitation of recently observed aggressive behaviors sometimes occurs. Repeated media violence exposure increases aggression across the lifespan because of several related factors. 1. It creates more positive attitudes, beliefs, and expectations regarding use of aggressive solutions. 2. It creates aggressive behavioral scripts and makes them more cognitively accessible. 3. It decreases the accessibility of nonviolent scripts. 4. It decreases the normal negative emotional reactions to conflict, aggression, and violence. Unanswered Questions Several major gaps remain in the violent video game literature. One especially large gap is the lack of longitudinal studies testing the link between habitual violent video game exposure and later aggression, while controlling for earlier levels of aggression and other risk factors. Indeed, of the four major types of empirical studies mentioned earlier, this is the only type missing. There are such studies focusing on television violence but none on video games. Another gap concerns potential differences in effect sizes of television versus video game violence. There are theoretical reasons to believe that violent video game effects may prove larger, primarily because of the active and repetitive learning aspects of video games. However, this is a very difficult question to investigate, especially with experimental designs. How does one select violent video game and television stimuli that are matched on other dimensions? On what dimensions should they be equivalent? Number of bodies? Amount of blood and gore? Realism of the images? There are a couple of unpublished correlational studies that have compared the effects of television and video game violence on aggression, using comparable measures of violence exposure. Both yielded results suggesting a larger effect of video game violence. But the issue is not settled. Finally, more research is needed to: (a) refine emerging general models of human aggression; (b) delineate the processes underlying short and long term media violence effects; (c) broaden these models to encompass aggression at the level of subcultures and nations. Several different research groups around the world are working on these various issues. References Anderson, C.A. (in press). An Update on the Effects of Violent Video Games. Journal of Adolescence. Anderson, C.A., & Bushman, B.J. (1997). External validity of "trivial" experiments: The case of laboratory aggression. Review of General Psychology, 1, 19-41. Anderson, C.A., & Bushman, B.J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12, 353-359. Anderson, C.A., & Bushman, B.J. (2002a). The effects of media violence on society. Science, 295, 2377-2378. Anderson, C.A., & Bushman, B.J. (2002b). Human Aggression. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 27-51. Anderson, C.A., & Carnagey, N.L. (in press). Violent evil and the general aggression model. Chapter to appear in A. Miller (Ed.) The Social Psychology of Good and Evil. New York: Guilford Publications. Anderson, C.A., & Huesmann, L.R. (in press). Human Aggression: A Social-Cognitive View. Chapter to appear in M.A. Hogg & J. Cooper (Eds.), Handbook of Social Psychology. London: Sage Publications. Bushman, B.J., & Anderson, C.A. (2001). Media violence and the American public: Scientific facts versus media misinformation. American Psychologist, 56, 477-489. Bushman, B. J., & Huesmann, L. R. (2000). Effects of televised violence on aggression. In D. Singer & J. Singer (Eds.). Handbook of children and the media (pp. 223-254). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Rosenthal, R. (1986). Media violence, antisocial behavior, and the social consequences of small effects. Journal of Social Issues, 42, 141-154.

'The Gauntlet' video game competition

The latest from the guys at Rooster Teeth in Austin, TX. A web series game show based around video games! Who is the best of the best? From 19 contestants, one will emerge victorious as the gaming champion and win $100,000.

Watch the auditions below!

If you want to get some extra game learning on

What is a Video Game

E3 Answers: What Is A Video Game?

Still confused about just what the heck a video game is? Not sure what to say when a family member asks what you do with all your free time? E3 has you covered. According to the press events that I watched this week, video games are:
  • Being told to "Move!" or "Run!" or "Hurry!" down a narrow path which must not be veered from. While all sorts of things happen around you. Things that look like they would be really fun to interact with, if you weren't so busy running and being yelled at.
  • Bold new directions that involve series of games with more than three sequels.
  • Getting to watch ESPN on your TV with a console! As long as you're already paying a satellite or cable provider to watch ESPN. On your TV.
  • Watching a nice woman smiling as she tries to ignore the game telling her "Good job, lad!" during an on stage demonstration.
  • Using your voice to search Bing, use Internet Explorer, and watch exciting trailers for very specific television shows and movies that paid for advertising, just before thinking about how great Nike is and how thrilled you are that they made the millionth Kinect fitness game.
  • Killing foreign people. Being teased with the prospect of getting to torture them.
  • Dubstep, LMFAO, Usher, Linkin Park.
  • Holding a controller in one hand, your cell phone in another, yelling at the tv. Swiping video game elements on the cell phone while all sorts of cool futuristic sounds play, like a Hollywood version of an operating system.
  • Turrets.
  • Shooting, punctuated by non-interactive CINEMATIC MOMENTS. Oh crap, my guy just looked at his future watch! Woah, my guy lost his footing when he jumped from a falling turnpike overpass to a dangling jeep, and he looked down at his legs to the street below! A building fell over! Lara opened a parachute and it didn't work and she opened another! The universe exploded while my guy covered his face and yelled, this is the best game ever!
  • More Halo horseshit. Cortana just announced that AIs deteriorate after seven years and she has existed for eight! Sure, it doesn't make sense, but that will result in amazing tension and character development if you are a toddler and you have no taste and you don't understand the language you're playing the game in. How about that big Metroid ball and the new lava Chozo enemies?
  • People cheering for DLC. Not because it looks interesting or they know anything about it, but because it is announced.
  • People cheering even louder for someone begging for their life then having their face blown off with a shotgun at point blank range.
  • Slowly moving your gun's sights around while BIG scripted things happen. Not shooting at any enemies until a fabricated moment that seems tense. Letting bad guys get close so they can grab you, making you lose control for a few moments while they snarl in your face then throw you or prompt you to press X repeatedly.
  • Horror games. You know, games where you shoot a million dudes and jump behind cover? Dead Space 3? Resident Evil 6? Pretty sure those are horror games.
  • The least important part of an interconnected entertainment platform featuring social communication, rich experiences, and a dozen outside devices.
  • So much ultraviolence that even people like me, who find it funny by default, are sort of grossed out and hoping that we can focus a little bit more on creativity and interaction.

8 common Video Game myths

. The availability of video games has led to an epidemic of youth violence.
According to federal crime statistics, the rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30-year low. Researchers find that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population. It's true that young offenders who have committed school shootings in America have also been game players. But young people in general are more likely to be gamers — 90 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls play. The overwhelming majority of kids who play do NOT commit antisocial acts. According to a 2001 U.S. Surgeon General's report, the strongest risk factors for school shootings centered on mental stability and the quality of home life, not media exposure. The moral panic over violent video games is doubly harmful. It has led adult authorities to be more suspicious and hostile to many kids who already feel cut off from the system. It also misdirects energy away from eliminating the actual causes of youth violence and allows problems to continue to fester.
2. Scientific evidence links violent game play with youth aggression.
Claims like this are based on the work of researchers who represent one relatively narrow school of research, "media effects." This research includes some 300 studies of media violence. But most of those studies are inconclusive and many have been criticized on methodological grounds. In these studies, media images are removed from any narrative context. Subjects are asked to engage with content that they would not normally consume and may not understand. Finally, the laboratory context is radically different from the environments where games would normally be played. Most studies found a correlation, not a causal relationship, which means the research could simply show that aggressive people like aggressive entertainment. That's why the vague term "links" is used here. If there is a consensus emerging around this research, it is that violent video games may be one risk factor - when coupled with other more immediate, real-world influences — which can contribute to anti-social behavior. But no research has found that video games are a primary factor or that violent video game play could turn an otherwise normal person into a killer.
3. Children are the primary market for video games.
While most American kids do play video games, the center of the video game market has shifted older as the first generation of gamers continues to play into adulthood. Already 62 percent of the console market and 66 percent of the PC market is age 18 or older. The game industry caters to adult tastes. Meanwhile, a sizable number of parents ignore game ratings because they assume that games are for kids. One quarter of children ages 11 to 16 identify an M-Rated (Mature Content) game as among their favorites. Clearly, more should be done to restrict advertising and marketing that targets young consumers with mature content, and to educate parents about the media choices they are facing. But parents need to share some of the responsibility for making decisions about what is appropriate for their children. The news on this front is not all bad. The Federal Trade Commission has found that 83 percent of game purchases for underage consumers are made by parents or by parents and children together.
4. Almost no girls play computer games.
Historically, the video game market has been predominantly male. However, the percentage of women playing games has steadily increased over the past decade. Women now slightly outnumber men playing Web-based games. Spurred by the belief that games were an important gateway into other kinds of digital literacy, efforts were made in the mid-90s to build games that appealed to girls. More recent games such as The Sims were huge crossover successes that attracted many women who had never played games before. Given the historic imbalance in the game market (and among people working inside the game industry), the presence of sexist stereotyping in games is hardly surprising. Yet it's also important to note that female game characters are often portrayed as powerful and independent. In his book Killing Monsters, Gerard Jones argues that young girls often build upon these representations of strong women warriors as a means of building up their self confidence in confronting challenges in their everyday lives.
5. Because games are used to train soldiers to kill, they have the same impact on the kids who play them.
Former military psychologist and moral reformer David Grossman argues that because the military uses games in training (including, he claims, training soldiers to shoot and kill), the generation of young people who play such games are similarly being brutalized and conditioned to be aggressive in their everyday social interactions.
Grossman's model only works if:
  • we remove training and education from a meaningful cultural context.
  • we assume learners have no conscious goals and that they show no resistance to what they are being taught.
  • we assume that they unwittingly apply what they learn in a fantasy environment to real world spaces.
The military uses games as part of a specific curriculum, with clearly defined goals, in a context where students actively want to learn and have a need for the information being transmitted. There are consequences for not mastering those skills. That being said, a growing body of research does suggest that games can enhance learning. In his recent book, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, James Gee describes game players as active problem solvers who do not see mistakes as errors, but as opportunities for improvement. Players search for newer, better solutions to problems and challenges, he says. And they are encouraged to constantly form and test hypotheses. This research points to a fundamentally different model of how and what players learn from games.
6. Video games are not a meaningful form of expression.
On April 19, 2002, U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Sr. ruled that video games do not convey ideas and thus enjoy no constitutional protection. As evidence, Saint Louis County presented the judge with videotaped excerpts from four games, all within a narrow range of genres, and all the subject of previous controversy. Overturning a similar decision in Indianapolis, Federal Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner noted: "Violence has always been and remains a central interest of humankind and a recurrent, even obsessive theme of culture both high and low. It engages the interest of children from an early age, as anyone familiar with the classic fairy tales collected by Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault are aware." Posner adds, "To shield children right up to the age of 18 from exposure to violent descriptions and images would not only be quixotic, but deforming; it would leave them unequipped to cope with the world as we know it." Many early games were little more than shooting galleries where players were encouraged to blast everything that moved. Many current games are designed to be ethical testing grounds. They allow players to navigate an expansive and open-ended world, make their own choices and witness their consequences. The Sims designer Will Wright argues that games are perhaps the only medium that allows us to experience guilt over the actions of fictional characters. In a movie, one can always pull back and condemn the character or the artist when they cross certain social boundaries. But in playing a game, we choose what happens to the characters. In the right circumstances, we can be encouraged to examine our own values by seeing how we behave within virtual space.
7. Video game play is socially isolating.
Much video game play is social. Almost 60 percent of frequent gamers play with friends. Thirty-three percent play with siblings and 25 percent play with spouses or parents. Even games designed for single players are often played socially, with one person giving advice to another holding a joystick. A growing number of games are designed for multiple players — for either cooperative play in the same space or online play with distributed players. Sociologist Talmadge Wright has logged many hours observing online communities interact with and react to violent video games, concluding that meta-gaming (conversation about game content) provides a context for thinking about rules and rule-breaking. In this way there are really two games taking place simultaneously: one, the explicit conflict and combat on the screen; the other, the implicit cooperation and comradeship between the players. Two players may be fighting to death on screen and growing closer as friends off screen. Social expectations are reaffirmed through the social contract governing play, even as they are symbolically cast aside within the transgressive fantasies represented onscreen.
8. Video game play is desensitizing.
Classic studies of play behavior among primates suggest that apes make basic distinctions between play fighting and actual combat. In some circumstances, they seem to take pleasure wrestling and tousling with each other. In others, they might rip each other apart in mortal combat. Game designer and play theorist Eric Zimmerman describes the ways we understand play as distinctive from reality as entering the "magic circle." The same action — say, sweeping a floor — may take on different meanings in play (as in playing house) than in reality (housework). Play allows kids to express feelings and impulses that have to be carefully held in check in their real-world interactions. Media reformers argue that playing violent video games can cause a lack of empathy for real-world victims. Yet, a child who responds to a video game the same way he or she responds to a real-world tragedy could be showing symptoms of being severely emotionally disturbed. Here's where the media effects research, which often uses punching rubber dolls as a marker of real-world aggression, becomes problematic. The kid who is punching a toy designed for this purpose is still within the "magic circle" of play and understands her actions on those terms. Such research shows us only that violent play leads to more violent play.