Online Video Games

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/06/nyregion/video-game-systems-close-sex-offenders-online-accounts.html

The world of social media/interaction is both a blessing and a curse – while it provides a worldwide network of communication it also has the potential for negative networking.  Chat features exist in nearly every technological application in daily use – Facebook, Gmail, even Ctools.  In New York, thousands of onlie video game accounts of registered sex offenders have been closed to prevent any more predation via online gaming chat and networks.   “A press release by the attorney general’s office noted a recent case in which a 19-year-old man from Monroe County pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy he had met through the video game system Xbox Live”.  This issue does extend to an even larger debate around restricted rights on sex offenders and their ostracization in their communities, but ultimately it interferes with video game companies and has the potential for adversity to reach into this industry.  The interactive features of games are part of what can help to make them even more educationally and socially beneficial, especially debunking stereotypes of “loners” and anti-social gamers, yet the destructive behavior of some might curtail these functions.

Video Game April Fools and Economic Boom

In light of Barry’s oh-so-funny April Fool’s joke – that I did not realize was a joke until today out of my own laziness and ignorance of the attached “proof” in his email – here were some of the best video game company pranks from yesterday.  Most spoof some actual video games that we have encountered in the class, and take a laughable twist:

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gamehunters/post/2012/04/april-fools-day-the-best-video-game-pranks/1#.T3pIC1TuBcM

In less jovial news, but still positive, the video game also appears to be booming in the U.S despite economic downturn.  Industry research shows that in the 5 years to 2012, that sales have risen due to an increased spending by companies in advertising and hype for new game releases.  Investment in this has allowed for the video game industry to stay above water in the midst of national economic troubles, and looks like it will even steadily rise over the next few years.  It seems as though this industry might be something (for us as college students and soon to be graduates on the hunt for a job) to keep an eye on and something to get involved with.

http://www.seattlepi.com/business/press-releases/article/Video-Game-Software-Publishing-in-the-US-Industry-3450828.php

So much news in the gaming world!

I guess as a mainly non-gamer (besides the class assignments of course), most of the highlights I have for this blog come in the form of news and articles (I’m more of a current events buff).  Lucky for me, the recent online news has been booming with relevant articles about conversations that we’ve had in class about the benefits of video games and learning.

http://blogs.wsj.com/wsjam/2012/03/09/why-parents-should-embrace-videogames/
This first article gives a great personal perspective of a writer from the Wall Street Journal who is a parent of a 10 year old.  He was writing in response to this original article in the WSJ, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203458604577263273943183932.html?KEYWORDS=lee+hotz, “When Gaming is Good for You”, which is a likewise interesting read that focuses more on a research backed argument about gaming.  Gordon Deal’s article breaks down why he can agree with the research, and even though he may not know it, he evidences many of Gee’s principles – i.e  when he sites first-hand experience with his son:

“I find there are also lessons from videogames about competitiveness (“I’ve gotta beat Michael’s score!”), sense of accomplishment (“Woohoo! Level 15!”), determination (“I’m sick of losing to the same guy!”), measuring progress (“Yesterday I got 250 points. Today, 800.”), setting goals, time management and putting success and failure in perspective.”

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/03/06/hours-playing-video-games-can-change-brain-for-better-research-finds/
And, while many may discredit Fox News normally, I think that this article is particularly different than most of the intellectual benefits discussed in other news.  The article focuses on research that shows that video game play has physical benefits as well that include “improved hand-eye coordination in surgeons to vision changes that boost night driving ability”.  In class, we talked about how video games can be used in training for specific occupations, especially as a means of mental preparation for different scenarios.  As many other stimulating activities that require concentration and focus, video games create “rewarding surges of neurotransmitters like dopamine strengthen neural circuits in much the same way that exercise builds muscles”.   It is interesting to think of how physical adeptness might be measured/changing in the future with these studies and how video games will be a part of that.

http://mindshift.kqed.org/2012/03/game-based-learning-without-video-games/
Finally, I thought this insight was different, and also relateable because of its coverage of a  game-based learning experience at another university.  It sounds as though Roger Travis at the University of Connecticutt has similar objectives to our own professor, with way of executing them.  Some of the reactions definitely resonated with me, especially as a non-gamer.  I could definitely agree that “some students admit parts of the course seem silly, [though] they say it enhances their learning”.  Overall, it is cool to see other schools working towards a researching an alternate curriculum that incorporates game-play experience into learning and grading.

CU-Boulder’s video game design program wins $1.5M grant

University of Colorado’s iDREAMS Scalable Game Design Summer Institute has received a new $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation that will help CU researchers track how video game design engages students in computational thinking and STEM simulation design.

It is exciting to see that video game research is being funded by major scientific foundations, and exemplifies how far video games have come in the field of education.  Not only this, but the article explains the value of video games as an educational tool, as well as participation from less represented groups such as females and minorities.  This project is just one example of the variety of ways in which video games are making progress and being integrated in learning environments at higher education institutions.

The full article and details about iDREAM’s studies and mission can be found here: http://www.dailycamera.com/cu-news/ci_19979536

– Katie

Video Games in the White House

In stark contrast to Stoll’s critique on how using computers to “make learning fun” will never be a positive education tool/is an excuse to make learning easy/will not help future generations get jobs/etc., this article gives news of a video game revolution traversing both educational and occupational fields.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-01-26/edcuational-video-games-white-house/52908052/1

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s senior analyst, Constance Steinkuehler, is working to with “video game mechanics to immerse players in history, science, civics and health, among other areas”.  She studies the “civic potential” of video games – moving beyond just encouraging new types of motivational learning for students.  Unlike the more abstract benefits of video games that we have explored (concepts of trial-and-error, tripartite identity, instructional benefits), this office is looking towards making an even more explicit connection between video games and real world research and academic fields.  Science, for example, can be explored through games such as Foldit, which combines puzzle-solving and protein structures to have the “gamer” unfold and analyze different structures.  The implications are far and wide for how games like this could be beneficial, but especially that “the most elegant solutions could help scientists develop cures for Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS and cancer…”.

Its exciting to think games are being developed and tailored to very real jobs, research, and educational fields.  There are real rewards to be gained from how these interactive tools can change academics, and it would be interesting to see how Stoll would react to this news.

– Katie

Overseas Research Highlights the Importance of Video Games

In reading some global news online, I came across this interesting article from the Irish Times that fell very nicely into the initial conversations we had in the class about the false stigmas associated with children and video gaming.  It seems that even research overseas is making similar findings about how we should not reject technology, especially video games, as a means of educational development tools just because many are under the impression that they are mindless games.

The set up of the research project is interesting in its investigation of how the general activities that parents structure into the lives of their children affect their skills in the classroom.  The research found that “time spent on computers and video gaming seems to promote engagement and achievement at school”. Still, the article focuses on the importance of other activities as well, with Ian Robertson, professor of psychology at Trinity College Dublin, saying ““it is all about balance.” The risk is the use of technology will take over at the expense of other activities”.  Take a look at the article in its entirety and see what else it said about activities, television, and sports affecting childhood development:

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/health/2012/0131/1224310997417.html

– Katie O’Kane

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