Moscow Airport Attack like Call of Duty?

Last week a suicide bomber slipped into a crowd waiting for international passengers arriving at Moscow’s newest and busiest airport, setting off a huge blast that killed 35 people and highlighted another weak spot in security for global air travelers.  This attack was one of the most tragic events to happen to Russia in recent history and their president, Putin has vowed revenge when they find out who was behind the attack.  The blast also wounded 180 other people and was aimed at killing foreigners.

The scary part about all of this is that video games put us in these types of situations every day.  Every time we play a first person shooter we are entering into a reality where things like this are normal.  Most gamers know that reality and a video game are completely different but there are surfacing reports that are aimed at blaming video games for this attack.  I find this pretty outrageous, clearly this was a terrorist attack and I highly doubt they were inspired by the likes of Call of Duty.  However, the claims do offer a bit of a debate.  In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, players are put into a mission that includes the killing of civilians as an objective.  In the mission “No Russian” the player goes on a terrorist rampage, helping to massacre civilians in a fictitious Moscow airport.

While I don’t personally believe that this is enough to connect the attack that happened at the airport to the game scene that is depicted in Call of Duty it is interesting point out the differences.  Obviously in the game play you are using a gun and not a suicide bomber which I believe is a clear difference.  If the terrorist had planned on emulating the game he would have attacked in ways reminiscent of those used in the game.  The game scene has long been controversial as such a popular game has included an act of terrorism as part of the plot.  However, people should realize that video games are not to blame here.  This was a planned terrorist attack by a terrorist group and the hunt should be on to find the group and bring them to justice.

Video Games can make you smarter

While browsing CNN today at work I came across an article that talked about how video games can make you smarter.  It puts the theory that video games are a lazy, anti-social form of entertainment to the test.  Coincidentally it employs Gee’s book at one point.

The article branches off into 4 categories that try to show that video games can develop skills and make people smarter in the process.  The first category was hands-on experience.  It asserts that video games are actually much more engaging than simply watching tv or a movie.  As we know about the flow now, we know that video games can be very engaging and draw all of our focus.  This is where they credit Gee for his work and tell us that this was Gee’s point exactly in his book.  That memorizing facts will not help you solve problems in life.  Children may be able to pass tests but they often cannot apply the knowledge in the real world.

The second part is job training which I found to be very interesting.  When I had my internship we used online training simulations which I found very helpful.  It never clicked with me that this was a manipulated way to get you more focused on learning information instead of just reading it in a manual.

Probably the most important part of the article for the future of the world is the contextual learning section.  It talks about bringing real life and dangerous situations into the virtual world.  They specifically mention medical training but in the coming years I expect this field to expand greatly.  We could soon see training for dangerous jobs becoming a virtual training.  This could be for jobs such as police, firefighters, etc.  The possibilities are limitless.

The final portion was about teamwork which I found pretty self explanatory.  It just mentions that video games can be social and often require high level skills to understand and high level management to be successful.  Video games like this could be used to test a persons management skills in the future.

Overall I found this article to be very interesting and informative.  It was nice to see an article from an accredited news source that helped validate a lot of the concepts we learned in class.

Source:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/TECH/gaming.gadgets/01/31/video.games.smarter.steinberg/

NASA’s MoonBase Alpha

In this week’s reading from Edge, it talks about a STEM-education-related game being developed for NASA. They also mention that part of the game, MoonBase, is available on Steam. I did a quick search and turns out it is!

http://store.steampowered.com/app/39000/?snr=1_4_4__13

I haven’t been able to download it yet (I rarely boot my MacBook Pro into Windows and the game isn’t available for Mac yet) but if you get a chance you should check it out and let us know how it is!

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