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Posts Tagged ‘ Call of Duty ’

Gun Crime & Video Games – Why It Isn’t The Issue

klebharLet me begin by saying that this article may seem in slightly bad taste given the proximity to the tragedy of Newtown, Connecticut but I should note that I had planned to write it for some time and that in my own opinion, it is a subject that has never needed to be discussed with more urgency.

So, do video games encourage violence in teens and young adults?

Thirteen years ago, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold strolled into Columbine High School on Tuesday April 20th armed with automatic weapons. When they were done 12 people had lost their lives, while nearly double that had sustained life long injuries, and the two perpetrators themselves then took their lives. Until this year it was the worst incident of its kind with the loss of life so great and the victims ages so young. Everyone immediately looked for some sort of rationale, why and how did these teens somehow deduce that this action was necessary? Whilst bullying arose as a motive of sorts very early on in proceedings, mainly due to remarks survivors heard the two make towards their victims, the biggest red flag that appeared to many was that of the teens obsession with video games. Both were particularly fond of Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, two games of a genre known as the First Person Shooter (FPS) where the aim is to take control of a protagonist and play from the viewpoint of their eyes, always with a gun in main focus on the screen. It is a commonly held belief that these games “teach” players how to use a gun and it is from here that the desensitisation to gun crime and death begins. Now I’m not one to profess some level of qualification in the field of psychology nor am I set to outright defend these games. The simple fact is that through my own slight obsession with the medium I can clearly see the addictive and unhealthy quality to them. I personally have 10 days cumulatively of Call Of Duty Black Ops clocked up on my Xbox since it released in November 2010. Thankfully for myself I cane to realise I was spending an insane amount of time playing the game, and have since been very restrained in my usage, but I got to see first hand how someone like myself could develop this addiction, even though I knew well how ridiculous it was. Yet my time spent playing the game was only done so because I am an avid gamer with huge respect for the medium. Never once did it cause me to develop a slight interest in real warfare, weapons, anarchists or anything of the sort. Ten days people, if that can’t do it then what can. As much as I agree that there is an unhealthy nature to these games, I cannot conform to the notion that these games actually encourage a violent or aggressive nature. Philosophers debate endlessly about inherent evil versus implied evil, nature versus nurture. In the case of the Columbine tragedy, both perpetrators had a pre installed living situation wherein they suffered bullying and prejudice, leading to a socially outcast way of life.

One official report suggests that Harris was a psychopath and that Klebold was a depressive. Their journals have been sought after for possible motivations and both teens make multiple references to their pain and suffering at the hands of “jocks” and so forth. They were clearly tortured souls and though this could obviously never excuse their actions, maybe it could go some way to explain them. Whilst video games may have been of little help to the two in their state of mind, one cannot simply say that their addiction directly lead to their actions. Quite simply, these games are not the realistic experience they claim to be, they present an extremely inaccurate view of a real hostile experience and most crucially, they are intended for a specific age bracket. This is a particular bone of contention for me due to my experience in retail. Countless times o have been asked by customers, in relation to an over 18s title, “how bad is it?” or I frequently am asked for the “most appropriate” adult aimed title. These games are produced by adults, for adults. No child should ever be next door near them. If parents allow it to happen they are only enabling.

Harris and Klebold, as well as Adam Lanza who carried out the Sandy Hook massacre, were of course all of the required legal age to purchase and play these games, but it would probably be an educated assumption to guess that they were all exposed to them at earlier ages. Coupled with each of their own medical conditions, from depression to autism to psychotic tenancies, then it can be said that if course these video games could lead to violent and hostile behaviour. But anything in this world that is used incorrectly or monitored and regulated inappropriately has the ability to have an adverse effect. This may all seem like the angered ranting of an angry nerd and to a degree yes it is. On a personal level, it irritates me that amidst the sadness and tragedy when incidents like this occur, it always has to be dragged out into the light that there is a link between the act and video games in some way. We blame the music they listen to, we blame the entertainment they seek, we can even find ourselves blaming the dietary habits of some, all quite simply so some can deflect focus from themselves. The bigger issue is the lack of parenting, the lack of attention to notice when ones child is acting off form. Marilyn Manson famously said in Bowling for Columbine when asked what he would have said to Harris and Klebold, that he would have said nothing, he would have listened. Maybe the focus should be shifted more towards this method of thinking.

I don’t wish to paint the people that carry out these acts as lonesome suffering victims, nor do I wish to entirely vindicate the video games industry, but as we can see already on both sides of the gun control debate, there is too little of a desire to resolve this issue correctly in the USA, too much focus shifted on to irrelevant details. The source is the ignorance of those in need and the lack of awareness of just how lethal the readily available nature of firearms in the country is. Obama now stands at a great impasse wherein he has a better opportunity than any who came before him to actually solve this, with nothing to lose and no election to concern him he could potentially get to the source and at least aid in some way the ridiculous situation the country has found itself in, which has led to tragedies such as these and will surely lead to more, lest something be done and done fast.

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Gaming Daily: June 29th 2012

Welcome to the Friday edition of Gaming Daily, your look at the biggest stories breaking around the games industry.

Vivendi looking to sell shares in Activision Blizzard

Some industry news first, and market website Bloomberg reports that Activision Blizzard parent company Vivendi could be looking to offload it’s $8.1 billion, 61% stake in the gaming giant. Activision Blizzard are arguably the biggest developer and publisher in the industry, and are responsible for some of the biggest titles in gaming including the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft franchises. If no overall buyer is found, it’s possible that Vivendi could sell a stake in the company on the open market. It marks a turbulent time for Vivendi, which has seen their stock hit a nine year low, and who have recently ousted their CEO.

Premium type offers coming to more EA titles?

With reports that take up of Battlefield 3’s Premium subscription model has surpassed the 800,000 mark in a little over 2 weeks, EA has raised the possibility that similar models could come to their other titles. Patrick Soderlund, EA Games Executive Vice President was bullish on the service’s performance. “We are very pleased with the performance so far. We’re actually only two weeks into it, so it’s a little early to tell how this is going to pay off. It certainly it looks very promising right now.”, with another executive, Frank Gibeau, stating “longer term we think that we can bring more properties into that offering and that’ll be great for the business”. He also responded to criticism of the service’s similarity to Call of Duty’s Elite offering: “We had EA Sports subscription before Elite came out, so adding that component to the design is not a reaction. It’s something we’d always been considering and we had been looking at… We actually think our Premium service exceeds what Elite does – from a value standpoint [and] from a content standpoint”.

Clint Hocking quits LucasArts

In another story of a developer leaving a major studio for pastures new, LucasArts’ Clint Hocking, has announced his departure from the company:

Yup, that’s right, you heard it here first. Unless you heard it somewhere else first. I recently left my job at LucasArts and am moving on to something new. Unlike last time, (and mercifully less wordy) I already have something lined up and I am currently in the process of dealing with the living hell of relocation. I will let the world know where I am going once I get there. Unless you already know.

Expendables 2 getting a game tie in

If over-the-top, balls to the wall, out and out action movies are your thing, you’ll no doubt have heard that The Expendables 2 is in production. What you may not have heard is that Ubisoft is developing a tie in game that will be available on PC, PSN and XBox Live. From the official blurb: “Building on the universe created in the high-octane, star-studded movies, The Expendables 2 Videogame invites gamers on an adventure to rescue an extremely valuable, kidnapped billionaire. It’s business as usual, until all hell breaks loose and the explosive mix of testosterone and kerosene detonates in a massive fireball that never lets up. The adventure concludes right where the new movie begins, creating a continuous story experience for fans of the Expendables’ hard-boiled brand of action.”. From screens released, the game looks to be a side scrolling shooter, and features Barney Ross, Yin Yang, Gunner Jensen and Hale Caesar (who are Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and Terry Crews respectively).

That wraps up the week, Gaming Daily will be back next week. Any and all feedback, either here or through twitter @michael_ormonde, is appreciated.

Gaming Daily: June 25th 2012

Just to preface this slightly, the idea behind “Gaming Daily” will be to bring you the top stories from around the industry in bite-sized chunks, making for easy reading.

Guilty Plea for Lulzsec pair

We start the week off with another chapter in the hacking saga involving the PSN last year. Two British teenagers, Ryan Cleary and Jake Davis, 19 and 18 respectively, have plead guilty to two separate counts of conspiracy related to the attack on the PSN, as well as a whole host of other websites such as News International and 20th Century Fox. They, along with two other suspects, Ryan Ackroyd (25) and an unnamed 17 year old, each deny charges of publishing confidential information and will face trial next year.

The attacks on the PSN occurred in April last year, and were the responsibility of the hacking collective Lulzsec, a splinter group of Anonymous. The accounts of approximately 77 million PSN users were accessed, which lead to the network being taken offline for a period of  24 days. The attack was estimated to have cost Sony in the region of $171 million.

Journey Collectors Edition

On a happier note, proponents of the games-as-art argument and well renound development studio Thatgamecompany officially unveiled the Journey Collector’s Edition. While only confirmed for a US release at the moment, the bundle features all three of their critically acclaimed PSN exclusive titles – Journey, flOw and Flower, as well as three exclusive mini games and a whole host of other content including soundtracks, commentaries and avatars. The trailer can be seen below:

James Mielke trades in Q Entertainment for Q-Games

James Meilke, one-time 1Up journalist turned games producer (with titles such as Child of Eden and Lumines Electronic Symphony under his belt), revealed today that he’s set to leave development studio Q Entertainment for the similarly named but completely unrelated Q-Games, developers of the excellent PixelJunk games. Talking to CVG, Meilke said that he’s leaving Q Entertainment “on the best of terms” adding that “for a lot of reasons I won’t bore you with the time felt right to shift gears and move forward”. If his output is anything like that at Q Entertainment, it’s an exciting development and we wish him the best at Q-Games.

Dragons Dogma rolls past the One Million Mark

dragons dogmaStaying in Japan, Capcom told outlets today that it has shipped one million units of its new role playing game Dragon’s Dogma. While that doesn’t mean they’ve sold one million units (the number sold is more than likely significantly less than this), it’s good news for the developer following a string of bad publicity, including the outrage at DLC for Street Fighter X Tekken being included on the disc.

Black Ops 2: Declassified Developer Mystery

Black Ops: DeclassifiedFinally today, when asked about the developer of upcoming Playstation Vita title Black Ops: Declassified, Treyarch’s Director of Communications John Rafecz seemed as in the dark as the rest of us. “I don’t know… With regards to the Vita, all I can tell you is that it’s quite literally declassified.” We’re sure he meant classified. Speculation abounds that ex Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero developers Neversoft have taken the reigns, while the exact nature of other CoD studio Sledgehammer’s work also remains a mystery. The signs aren’t good for Call of Duty fans on the Vita, although it could just be the developers toying with us…

That’s it for Monday’s headlines. If you’ve any comments on the format, or about any of the news items, make sure to let me know in the comments below, or I can be reached on twitter @michael_ormonde

Game Over- Addictive Hobby The Catalyst For Breakdown of Relationships

Have you seen that YouTube video where the girl goes crazy and smashes her boyfriend’s Xbox? She’s lying on her bed and speaks into the camera, “It’s 3am and he’s nowhere to be found. I don’t know where my boyfriend is. Let’s try and find him, I have an idea of where he might be. He’s probably on the couch, where he’s been for the past couple of months, doing nothing but playing his f**king video games”.  She walks into the sitting room and there he is, lying up on the couch engrossed in some game. And then BAM! The Xbox gets it.

He can’t believe it. What has possessed his girlfriend to do such a thing? It was completely over the top, totally unjustified!

Or was it?

A recent survey by One Poll found that over 5% of 1,500 gamers polled confessed that their hobby cost them their relationship. Over half of the women polled admitted to being jealous of the amount of time their significant other spent playing games, and in America, 15% of divorces are blamed on video games. While these statistics may be relatively low in the grand scheme of things, is it cause for alarm? And while it’s no secret that playing your Xbox too much is going to grate on your girlfriend, what are the other ways in which it can ruin your life?

First things first – we need to get to the root of the problem – which is the addictive nature of video games. What is it about them that has both men and women all over the world glued to their television screens for hours on end?

According to a Panorama investigation in 2010, a simple technique based on a 1950s study of rats has been adapted for use in gaming and is feared to encourage addiction. The 1950s study gave rats a lever to press down on and it would randomly give them food, so they kept on pressing it. They became obsessed. The technique, called the ’variable ratio of reinforcement,’ is thought to be one of the reasons people become addicted to slot machines. If you keep on putting money in, you’ll win eventually.

Phil Gormley, a counsellor from Access Counselling in Crumlin, thinks that video games may act as a gateway drug into other addictions such as gambling. Having come through an addiction to gambling himself, he explains how he came to this conclusion, “I think I was going to get into something anyway, and I had to start some place, and video games were where it started. I’d say I was as young as 12 when I started playing games, and it was years ago so there were no Playstations or anything. It was video games and arcades in the shop that you had to pay to use. I would have had no money but I would have stood at a machine watching other people play for hours, or stole money from my parents to go and play them.”

Phil says the reason he used to play the games was because they acted as a release from the stresses of home life. When he was playing the games he wasn’t thinking about anything else only the game, “My mind wasn’t working, I was just focused. As a child I didn’t want to be thinking about the troubles at home and at school so that’s why I played the games, and that’s why I was so good at them, because I was 100% with the video game.”

One of the biggest problems with being addicted to video games, according to Phil, is that there are no obvious problems, “If you’re addicted to gambling there are serious consequences because you lose all your money. But if you’re addicted to video games, you don’t start struggling for money because you have your €300 machine and €50 game – that’s it, financially there are no other problems – but there is huge trauma there. You’re not interacting with human beings.”

It seems that video game addiction is a big problem in Asian countries because competitive gaming is really popular. In 2005, a 28-year-old man from South Korea collapsed and died after playing a game called Starcraft at an Internet cafe for 50 hours. In September 2007, state media in China reported that a man died of exhaustion after playing video games for three days straight, and just this year, a 23 year old man from Taiwan was found dead in an internet cafe after a marathon gaming session. The people who worked in the internet cafe only realised he was dead when they went over to tell him his time was up, and at that stage he had been dead for ten hours and no one had noticed. He was rigid on a chair with his hands stretched out towards the keyboard and mouse.

These are frightening happenings, but not really surprising. In today’s world of over-consumption, addiction is something any of us could fall victim to. The disease is more prevalent in men in general, but especially when it comes to video games. Kirsty Mawhinney from Riot Games, a leading developer and publisher of online games, says that this is because video games tend to be marketed to men more than women. Take Tomb Raider for example, the main character was an attractive, scantily clad woman. Even the colour scheme of most video games is dark and gloomy, something that doesn’t really appeal to a lot of women. Also, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine did a study that shows that the part of the brain that generates rewarding feelings is more activated in men than in women when playing video games.

Video game addiction may not be a recognised illness just yet, but it’s something that we should be aware of. Though it sounds trivial, it can spiral out of control quite easily. Some of the physical effects experienced by gaming addicts include carpal tunnel, migraines, sleep disturbances, backaches, eating irregularities, and poor personal hygiene. If you or someone you know has become a bit of a recluse since the release of the latest Call of Duty, there are websites which give information and advice on how to deal with the situation, and there is even a gaming addiction clinic in the UK called Broadway Lodge. They have a twelve step abstinence programme tailored specifically for gaming addicts. The main thing to remember is that there is help out there if you want it, and if you don’t want your girlfriend to take inspiration from the aforementioned YouTube clip, it might be an idea to put that control pad down and face up to reality.

By Pauline Dunne

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