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 2011: Oct-Dec

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24th December   

Update: Syndicate Decapitated by Censors...

Australia bans the computer game Syndicate
Link Here

Electronic Arts Syndicate PC DVD The Australian Classification Board has banned the upcoming computer game Syndicate. No doubt it would have qualified for an 18 rating, but as there isn't one then the game was banned.

The Australian censors justified their decision as follows:

In the Board's view this game warrants an 'RC' classification in accordance with rule 1(d):

Computer games that: are unsuitable for a minor to see or play will be Refused Classification.

The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play.

The game is set in a futuristic dystopia where people have computer chips in their heads that allow them to interact with the "dataverse", It is a first person shooter with realistically rendered graphics. A player controls Kilo, an agent of one of the "Syndicates" (powerful corporations), as he moves through levels completing objectives such as rescuing Eurocorp employees and extracting chips from people's heads.

In order to complete the missions, a player has to engage in intense combat with swarms of enemy combatants who are clad in light armour. A variety of weapons is available and these often cause decapitation, dismemberment and gibbing during frenetic gunfights. For example, an intense sequence of violence commences when a player collects a "G290 minigun", which operates much like a Gatling gun. A player moves through a building rapidly firing at enemy combatants. Combatants take locational damage and can be explicitly dismembered, decapitated or bisected by the force of the gunfire. The depictions are accompanied by copious bloodspray and injuries are shown realistically and with detail, Flesh and bone are often exposed while arterial sprays of blood continue to spurt from wounds at regular intervals.

Similar injuries can be caused by many other weapons, including shotguns, high-calibre revolvers, sniper rifles, assault rifles, rocket launchers, laser guns and grenades.

The game also allows a player to repeatedly damage enemy combatants' corpses. This is shown in realistic depictions. For example, it is possible for a player to decapitate a corpse with a headshot before individually blowing off each of its limbs. Depending on the weapon used, it is also possible to bisect a corpse, with realistic ragdoll effects noted. The depictions are again accompanied by arterial sprays of blood and detailed injuries that include protruding bone.

Throughout the game, a player consistently encounters unarmed civilians and has the choice of whether to target them or riot. Civilians can be shot, accompanied by copious bloodspray, but it is not possible to decapitate or dismember them, whether they are alive or dead. Their corpses can still be targeted, resulting in bloodspray only. In single player mode, the game treats civilian deaths neutrally, but it is noted that in cooperative gameplay, points are awarded for civilian casualties.

In the opinion of the Board, the game contains intense sequences of violence which include detailed depictions of decapitation and dismemberment that are high in playing impact. The game also contains the ability to inflict repeated and realistic post mortem damage which exceeds strong in playing impact.

It is therefore unsuitable for a minor to see or play and is therefore Refused Classification.

Update: Meanwhile at the BBFC

24th December 2011.See  article from  bbfc.co.uk

The BBFC has passed Syndicate 18 uncut with the consumer advice: Contains strong bloody violence.

The game includes 1 hour of video or cut scenes.

 

14th December   

Shoot View...

Ad agency generates hype with a 'game' allowing players to stroll round Google Street View with an assault rifle firing at whatever takes their fancy
Link Here

shoot view A Dutch advertising firm Pool has unveiled a nutter baiting game that allow you to wander the streets of London with an assault rifle.

The concept behind Google Shoot View is pretty simple: wander around any city in the world that already uses Google Maps' Street View and pretend to use a M4A1 assault rifle to shoot anything and everything you see.

Apart from the sound effects the game is barely interactive and you can't really shoot people or cause any damage.

It seems that Google has already cut the game's connection to Google Maps. The Google Shoot View website currently threatens that, We'll be back! Only the YouTube video is left showing what the game looked like.

Perhaps there's not enough left to wind up Keith Vaz, but you never know.

 

13th December   

Update: Playing Shuffleboard...

Australia appoints a new minister of censorship
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

jason clare Former Federal Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor, a staunch supporter of R18+ for games in Australia has been replaced by Jason Clare.

Australia's adoption of computer gaming for adults is very much still in play and open to new directions.

Last month, O'Connor released the final guidelines on R18+ for games, and said that he planned to introduce the R18+ legislation in the February 2012 parliament session.

So no doubt Australian gamers will be keen to find out of Clare will continue O'Connor's good work.

But gaming is not the only censorship issue debated at this level of government. O'Connor had put his name to the request for censorship reviews that led to the banning of A Serbian Film and Human Centipede 2 .

 

7th December   

Unconvinced by Research...

The Swedish Media Council finds no evidence that computer games cause aggressive behaviour
Link Here

statens medierad logo A new report from the Swedish Media Council comes to the conclusion that there's no conclusive evidence that there is no evidence that violent computer games cause aggressive behavior .

The Media Council is a Swedish government agency in charge of film and media classification and whose mission statement is to reduce the risk of harmful media influences among minors and to empower minors as conscious media users.

The findings are based on a review of more than 100 articles about violent games and aggression which have been published in international scientific journals since 2000. The review found that there is a clear and statistically significant link between violent games and aggressive behavior. But the review also found that many of those same studies use different methods to measure aggression, and few produced a clear connection to violent behavior. Many of those same studies suffered from serious methodological deficiencies and didn't provide sufficient evidence to establish a causal relationship.

The studies that did attempt to examine other causes of aggression found that factors such as poor physical health or family problems were factors that lead to violent behavior and a propensity to play violent games.

If research can't provide any simple answers about how games make children aggressive, perhaps we adults should stop judging the games children play based on whether they are violent or not, Media Council researcher Ulf Dalquist said in a statement.

 

6th December   

Virtual War Crimes...

The Red Cross discusses whether computer games should be subject to the Geneva Convention
Link Here

Geneva Convention Hidden Origins Cross One of the world's largest and most respected humanitarian groups in the world is showing it has a nutter side. The International Committee of the Red Cross is investigating whether the Geneva and Hague conventions should be applied to the fictional recreation of war in video games.

If they agree those standards should be applied they may ask developers to adhere to the rules themselves or encourage governments to adopt laws to regulate the video game industry.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is mandated under the Geneva Conventions to protect the victims of international and internal armed conflicts. That includes war wounded, prisoners, refugees, civilians, and other non-combatants. The question they debated this week is whether their mandate should be extended to the virtual victims of video game wars.

While the Movement works vigorously to promote international humanitarian law worldwide, there is also an audience of approximately 600 million gamers who may be virtually violating international humanitarian law, according to the event's description. Movement partners discussed our role and responsibility to take action against violations of international humanitarian law in video games.

The outcome of the discussion though has not actually been published as yet.

 

4th December   

Fifteen Years Behind the Times...

German censors pass the video game Quake
Link Here

Namco Replay Quake Jewel Case Quake , id Software's 1996 classic, has been removed from Germany's list of 'indexed' titles, a category created by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (BPjM) which makes games commercially unmarketable.

The decision follows in the footsteps of the recently rated DOOM and DOOM 2.

Bethesda Softworks told joystiq.com that the censors at BPjM allow appeals against 'indexing' after 10 years.

 

3rd December   

Update: Banging On...

Keith Vaz calls for a debate on violent computer game censorship
Link Here  full story: Keith Vaz...Keith Vaz in votes for knighthood claim

House of Commons logo Business of the House
House of Commons
1st December 2011

Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour)

Could we have a debate next week about the harmful effects of violent video games? Last week, the university of Indiana published research that showed that regularly playing those games resulted in physical changes in the brain. At a time when parents are thinking of purchasing video games for Christmas, does the right hon. Gentleman not think that it is important to hold a debate on this matter? This is not about censorship---it is about protecting our children.

George Young (Leader of the House of Commons, House of Commons; North West Hampshire, Conservative)

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, and I know that this is an issue that he has pursued with vigour for some time. I cannot promise a debate next week. Home Office questions, I think, will be held on 12 December, but in the meantime I will draw his concern to the attention of the Home Secretary.

Last week Game Politics pointed out that the research cited was in fact supported by the Center for Successful Parenting, Indiana. This is in fact a nutter group with a website that is designed for parents to learn about the negative side effects of violent video. See article about the cited research from melonfarmers.co.uk .

 

1st December   

Update: Propaganda Battle...

Iran bans computer game Battlefield 3 that depicts a military assault on Tehran
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Battlefield 3 Limited PC DVD Iran has banned the computer game Battlefield 3 because it depicts a U.S. military assault against the city of Tehran using tanks and aircraft.

All computer stores are prohibited from selling this illegal game, said an unnamed deputy with the security and intelligence division of Iran's police in a statement carried by the Asr-e Ertebat weekly.

An unnamed shop owner told the Associated Press. that Iranian police have raided (shops) and arrested owners for selling the game secretly even before the ban became public.

The Fars news agency reports on an online petition with 5000 signatures which claims a US conspiracy. The petition reads

We understand that the story of a videogame is hypothetical ... (but) we believe the game is purposely released at a time when the US is pushing the international community into fearing Iran.

 

30th November   

Update: Censor Island...

German games censors ban Dead Island
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Deep Silver Dead Island DVD The computer game Dead Island has been banned in Germany.

Speaking to GameIndustry.biz Germany, a Techland spokesperson said that they expected this to happen:

This isn't unexpected. Germany has its unique regulations regarding video games and violence and the industry can only comply.

Germany's Federal Department of Media Harmful to Young Persons (BPJM) classified Dead Island as List B. Such games cannot be sold anywhere in Germany, and anyone caught doing so can face legal action. Importing retailers run the risk of cargo being seized at German customs if they attempt to bring the game into the country.

The BPJM also didn't explain why Dead Island was banned in the country, but that is the norm for most bans.

Publisher Koch Media avoided German restrictions to some extent by distributing the German language version of the game in Austria.

 

24th November   

Updated: Vaz Called to Nutter Duty...

Inevitable parliamentary motion to whinge at the new video game, Modern Warfare 3
Link Here  full story: Keith Vaz...Keith Vaz in votes for knighthood claim

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD Keith Vaz, perennial whinger about computer games has compiled his usual parliamentary motion call for more censorship of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

Early Day Motion 2427

Primary sponsor: Keith Vaz
Sponsors: Jeremy Corbyn, Alan Meale, Bob Russell*

That this House:

  • is deeply concerned about the recently released video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 , in which players engage in gratuitous acts of violence against members of the public;

  • notes in particular the harrowing scenes in which a London Underground train is bombed by terrorists, bearing a remarkable resemblance to the tragic events of 7 July 2005;

  • further notes that there is increasing evidence of a link between perpetrators of violent crime and violent video games users; and

  • calls on the British Board of Film Classification to take further precautions when allowing a game to be sold.

Supported by Martin Caton, Mike Hancock, Kelvin Hopkins,  Dr William McCrea, Sandra Osborne and David Simpson

Update: Counterstrike

24th November 2011. See article from parliament.uk

Counter Strike Tom Watson gamely proposes to amend the Vaz EDM by replacing it entirely.

EDM Amendment 2427A1 - CALL OF DUTY 3

Primary sponsor: Tom Watson
Sponsors: Julian Huppert, Kerry McCarthy

That this House notes:

  • that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 an 18 classification, noting that 'the game neither draws upon nor resembles real terrorist attacks on the underground;

  • further believes that the game has an excellent user interface and challenges the gamers' dexterity as well as collaborative skills in an outline setting; and

  • encourages the BBFC to uphold the opinion of the public that whilst the content of video games may be unsettling or upsetting to some, adults should be free to choose their own entertainment in the absence of legal issues or material which raises a risk or harm.

 

16th November   

Update: Peta vs a Few Brown Pixels...

Animal activists PETA launch campaign against Super Mario's raccoon skin.
Link Here  full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

mario kills tannoki logo In a bizarre overreaction, the animal rights campaigners of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) have launched a campaign against Super Mario games.

They are taking issue with a magic skin of a raccoon used occasionally in the games.

Peta write:

When on a mission to rescue the princess, Mario has been known to use any means necessary to defeat his enemy---even wearing the skin of a raccoon dog to give him special powers.

Tanooki may be just a suit in Mario games, but in real life, tanuki are raccoon dogs who are skinned alive for their fur. By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur.

Anyway Peta have published a flash game to highlight the issue of raccoon dogs being slaughtered for their fur.

Update: Nintendo reply

16th November 2011.  See  article from  gamepolitics.com

Speaking to Eurogamer, Nintendo commented on PETA's claim that Mario is pro-fur.

Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games. These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself. These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play.

The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves.

 

8th November   

Update: The BBFC Duty to Deflect Nutters Calling for a Ban...

The BBFC gives Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 an 18 classification
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD The video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has been given an 18 classification by the BBFC. The BBFC is aware that some comparison has been drawn between the action in the game and terrorist attacks on the London Underground in July 2005. However, a full examination of the game makes clear that the storyline is far removed from these real events.

The game is a continuation of the Call of Duty Modern Warfare franchise, with characters returning from the previous instalment in a continuing narrative. The game includes a level set in a fictional London in which Special Forces soldiers chase enemy Russian mercenaries through London Underground tunnels as the mercenaries attempt to escape on a train. The train, which contains no civilian passengers, crashes beneath Westminster Underground Station and the battle continues through the station up to street level.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC says, In reaching its decision the BBFC has given careful consideration both to the depiction of action on the Underground and elsewhere in London and the context in which that action takes place. The game neither draws upon nor resembles real terrorist attacks on the Underground. Nevertheless, the location of the action in familiar London settings, both above and below ground, establishes a context within which the tone and impact of the work may, for some, be more unsettling, and upsetting, than in previous games in the series. The Board's decision to restrict the game to adults primarily reflects some moments of strong violence, but also takes account of these contextual elements.

The BBFC is satisfied that Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 3 contains no material that requires restriction beyond the 18 classification. The Guidelines at 18 accept the principle, repeatedly endorsed by the public, that adults should be free to choose their own entertainment in the absence of legal issues or material which raises a risk of harm. The BBFC has no legal power to refuse classification solely on the grounds of offence.

 

8th November   

Update: Ratty Comments...

Animal activists PETA complain about the killing of rats in the Battlefield 3 computer game
Link Here  full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

Battlefield 3 Limited Xbox 360 Electronic Arts' recently released Battlefield 3 allows players to shoot hundreds upon hundreds of human characters but it also features the horrific and brutal snuffing out of a small and innocent life.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have issue a press release in Germany saying:

The realistic computer game Battlefield 3 treats animals in a sadistic manner. The game gives players the option to kill a rat with a combat knife in the back in order to then lift it by its tail, then toss it away.

Killing virtual animals can have a brutalizing effect on the young male target audience. There have been repeated cases of animal cruelty in Germany, where young people kill animals. Inspiration behind these acts often came from movies and computer games.

 

7th November   

Update: Gamers Going Down the Tube...

Modern Warfare 3 passed 18 uncut despite a few trivial nutter whinges
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD The BBFC has given Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (MW3) , which is released, tomorrow, an uncut 18 certificate.

The BBFC states that the game, which involves chasing armed mercenaries through London Underground Tube carriages, establishes a context which may be unsettling and upsetting .

BBFC director, David Cooke, said they would not be restricting the game's London scenes. The board's decision to restrict the game to adults primarily reflects some moments of strong violence, but also takes account of these contextual elements.

When news of the game's content leaked earlier this year, it was panned by the nutters of Mediawatch-UK for being in incredibly poor taste .

Some bloggers have also reacted against a teaser trailer released late last week by the game's creators, which include gaming publisher Activision, stating it is heavy-handed and gratuitous .

The trailer shows a parked truck full of explosives vapourising next to a mother and child. It's a somewhat heavy-handed approach to get some shock value out of the game's story, said Pete Davison, contributing editor at gaming website GamePro.com

 

30th October   

Offsite: Right Hand Free Mode...

Japan Loves Erotic Games: What's The Problem?
Link Here

right hand free mode gameLast week, Japan saw the release of an erotic indie game called Kawaii Imouto ni Rizumu ni Awasete Koshi wo Furedatte (So I heard I Can Make My Little Sister Swing Her Hips to The Rhythm!)

The internet community was shocked and amused by the game, which boasts a right hand free-mode feature, blatantly proclaiming to the world, that anyone buying this game will probably want to heh hem...pleasure themselves with one hand and play with the other. But of course, an erotic game would fail as an erotic game, if you cannot fap on it, or so I read on an erotic gamer's blog. Needless to say, the release of the game was big news on Japanese Twitter that day.

Erotic or R18 games refer to games with sexually explicit contents. Games that depict violence and or politically/culturally sensitive topics are not called R18, if they do not center on love simulation with sexual themes.

Erotic games started in the 1980s, but quickly expanded to the variety we know today. There are a lot of variations in erotic games, from simple hardcore porn, where the aim of the game is to have sex with your targets, to the beautifully planned love simulation RPG games, which have a proper plot and sex with the targeted character forms only a small highlight part to prove the characters' eternal love. Most erotic games use anime style graphics, but cover all genres, including simulations, RPGs, shooting games, rhythm games, you name it. I think I can guarantee that there's an erotic game for almost every existing genre.

So even though I've heard about these games before I came to Japan, I didn't realize how many there were or how popular they are. The sheer variety means guys could never feel they're lacking in porn games. My initial thoughts were that if most erotic games use animated cartoon-style graphics for their characters, it's not really harming anyone, but then I began to wonder.

...Read the full article

 

30th October   

Research on a Downward Spiral...

Preference for Violent Electronic Games and Aggressive Behavior among Children: The Beginning of the Downward Spiral?
Link Here

media pschologyAbstract

A one-year longitudinal study with 324 German third and fourth graders was conducted in order to find out whether a preference for violent electronic games socializes children to become more aggressive or whether aggressive individuals tend to select this type of game.

Cross-lagged panel analyses suggest that children who were rated as openly aggressive at Time 1 intensified their preference for violent electronic games over time. We determined that it could be ruled out that this selection effect was due to a number of underlying variables ranging from ecological variables (neighborhood) to family variables (migration status, older brother) and child variables (gender, self-esteem, level of achievement).

Press

Based on article from monstersandcritics.com

The research suggested there was a risk that this preference for violent video games would become entrenched in these children. However, the researchers found no evidence in the group they studied that violent computer and video games led to increased aggression in real life.

This is the good news from our study into the educational effects of media, said Jens Vogelgesang of Hohenheim University: But it should be noted that this applies expressly only to the group of 8-to-12 year olds that we looked into in a study on the effects.

One of the researchers seems disappointed that results don't support the concept that games cause violence. The research team leader Maria von Salisch throws in a totally out of context comment:

In the case of older children, the negative effects from violent games on their behaviour has already been documented and this remains a cause for concern.

We are unable to rule out the possibility that an entrenched preference for violent computer and video games might over the course of a game-playing career lead to greater readiness to commit acts of violence.

What sort of researchers title their supposed scientific study with nutter phrases like 'downward spiral' anyway?

 

21st October   

Aggressive Claims...

Mormon University finds that strong language on TV is the first step on the slippery slope to aggressive behaviour
Link Here

Brigham Young UniversityBeing exposed to strong language on TV as well as playing video games are linked to aggression in teenagers, a university report shows.

A US study in the medical journal Pediatrics appears to be the first to examine the impact of strong language.

To explore the issue, scholars at the mormon Brigham Young University in Utah gathered information from 223 middle school students.

Family life professor at the university, Sarah Coyne, explained that the findings revealed that exposure to bad language is associated with acceptance and use of similar language, which in turn influences both physical and verbal aggression. Professor Coyne said:

On the whole, it's a moderate effect.

We even ran the statistical model the opposite way to test if the violent kids used more profanity and then sought it out in the media, but the first path we took was a much better statistical fit even when we tried other explanations.

Profanity is kind of like a stepping stone. You don't go to a movie, hear a bad word, and then go and shoot somebody. But when youth both hear and then try profanity out for themselves it can start a downward slide toward more aggressive behavior.

 

19th October   

Pixel Fixated Censors...

ASA whinges at Duke Nukem Forever advert featuring pixellated cartoon strippers
Link Here

duke nukem forever video A TV ad, for the computer game Duke Nukem Forever , seen in June 2011, featured animated scenes which included naked women pole dancing in a strip club and a full frontal view of a woman wearing only thong-style pants. Pixilation obscured the women's bottoms and nipples. It also showed two girls in the club, who were dressed in school uniform and had their hair in bunches, and were about to kiss. Those scenes were intercut with quickly edited scenes of action, including aircraft firing weapons over a blazing city, a character being punched and a robot marching through a street. Issue

Thirty-four viewers, who saw the ad after 9pm, challenged whether it was offensive and irresponsible, because it was sexist, violent and overly explicit and included imagery which was likely to harm children and vulnerable people.

Take Two said that Duke Nukem Forever was a cartoonish, over-the-top, humorous take on the first person shooter videogame genre and deliberately distanced itself from the ultra realistic, graphic modern war games that dominated the field. They said any sexual content and violence was presented in an exaggerated, non-realistic way, by animated characters, in an attempt to send up the main protagonist Duke Nukem, who could be seen as something of a 1980s, muscle-bound, ultra-macho figure of fun. They said that all content was actual game footage and the game had been rated 18 by the BBFC.

They did not believe the ad contained any content that would cause the type of harm referred to under the Code, nor content that would cause serious offence. They said the content was clearly fictional and the ad used computer-generated characters from the game's storyline and from game play. They felt that the combat scenes were no more violent than viewers would expect, or those from action films broadcast at that time.

Clearcast acknowledged that the ad contained sexual imagery and violent images but felt the content was of a level similar to that approved for other video games, film trailers and similar ads. They felt the violent scenes were relatively restrained and were no worse than many others in that category. They believed the post-9pm timing restriction was appropriate given the content and felt it would keep the ad away from most young viewers.

ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld

Duke Nukem Forever PC DVD Although we understood that neither the game nor the ad would appeal to all tastes, we noted the scenes were representative of the game's content and did not consider that the violent imagery was overly graphic for broadcast after 9pm. We therefore considered that the scenes featuring action and violence were not at a level likely to distress or cause harm to children or vulnerable people.

We noted that the ad also contained several scenes in a strip club, featuring women who appeared naked, or nearly naked, pole dancing and gyrating. We noted that some pixilation obscured the women's bottoms and nipples, but nonetheless considered that the presentation of the women's naked bodies and their very sexual movements and gyrations were overly sexually explicit for an ad with a post-9pm scheduling restriction. We also noted that the ad featured two girls in school kilts and bunches about to kiss, and considered that, in the context of other scenes with sexual content, the ad appeared to link teenage girls with sexually provocative behaviour.

On that basis, although we did not consider that the images of violence were likely to distress or cause harm to children or vulnerable people and although we did not consider that the portrayal of the women in the ad was overtly sexist, because we considered that the sexual imagery and content in the strip club scenes were overly explicit for broadcast at that time, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence when broadcast before 11pm.

The ad breached BCAP Code Rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising), 4.1, 4.2 and 4.9 (Harm and offence).

 

19th October   

Tree Hugging...

Baroness Susan Greenfield calls on kids to climb trees rather than play video games
Link Here

Tomorrows People 21st Century Technology Changing Baroness Susan Greenfield, the former director of the Royal Institution, said spending too much time staring at computer screens can cause physical changes in the brain that lead to attention and behaviour problems.

She told the Daily Telegraph:

The human brain has evolved to adapt to the environment. It therefore follows that if the environment is changing, it will have an impact on your brain.

If you play computer games to the exclusion of other things this will create a new environment that will have new effects ... every hour you spend in front of a screen is an hour not spent climbing a tree or giving someone a hug.

Giving a speech earlier yesterday about the addictiveness of screen technologies at the opening of a new science centre at the private Sherbourne Girls' school in Dorset, the Baroness urged pupils to be outside, to climb trees and feel the grass under your feet and the sun on your face .

Screen technologies cause high arousal, which in turn activates the brain system's underlying addiction and reward, resulting in the attraction of yet more screen-based activity, the Baroness said.

 

18th October   

Desensitised to Emotional Research...

Brain activity patterns found to differ between gamers and non-gamers
Link Here

biological psychologyResearchers from the University of Bonn have found brain activity patterns in heavy gamers that differed from those of non-gamers. The study's results have just been published in the scientific journal Biological Psychology.

Psychologists, epileptologists and neurologists from the University of Bonn studied the effect of shoot em up game images and other emotionally charged photos on the brain activity of heavy gamers. Compared to people who abstain from first-person shooters, they show clear differences in how emotions are controlled, reported lead author Dr. Christian Montag from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Bonn.

21 subjects ranging in age from 20 to 30 years played first-person shooters for about 15 hours per week on average. During this study, they were shown a standardized catalog of photos that reliably trigger emotions in human brains, using video glasses. At the same time, the researchers recorded the responses in their brains using one of the brain scanners at the Life & Brain Center of the University of Bonn. The images included photos as they are used in the violent games, but also shots of accident and disaster victims. This mix of images allowed us to transport the subjects both to the fictitious first-person shooter world they are familiar with and to also trigger emotions via real images, explained Dr. Montag. This catalog of photos was also shown to a control group of 19 persons who had no experience with violent video games.

When the subjects regarded the real, negative pictures, there was greatly increased activity in their amygdalas. This region of the brain is strongly involved in processing negative emotions. Surprisingly, the amygdalas in the subjects as well as in the control group were similarly stimulated, reported Montag: This shows that both groups responded to the photos with similarly strong emotions.

But the left medial frontal lobes were clearly less activated in the users of violent games than in the control subjects. This is the brain structure humans use to control their fear or aggression. First-person shooters do not respond as strongly to the real, negative image material because they are used to it from their daily computer activities, Montag concluded: One might also say that they are more desensitized than the control group.

On the other hand, while processing the computer game images, the first-person shooters showed higher activity in brain regions associated with memory recall and working memory than the control group members. This indicates that the gamers put themselves into the video game due to the computer game images and were looking for a potential strategy to find a solution for the game status shown, said Dr. Montag.

One question raised while interpreting the results is whether the users showed altered brain activity due to the games, or whether they were more tolerant of violence from the start and as a consequence, preferred first-person shooter games. The researchers from the University of Bonn were able to suggest an answer to this question based on the fact that they took into account various personality traits such as fearfulness, aggressiveness, callousness or emotional stability. There were no differences between the subjects and the control group in this area, reported Dr. Montag: This is an indication that the violent games are the cause of the difference in information processing in the brain.

 

16th October   

Update: Game Over...

Austrian politician cleared of incitement over anti-mosque game
Link Here

morchee babaA right-wing Austrian politician has been cleared of incitement after he created a simple anti-mosque flash game as part of an election campaign.

Freedom Party deputy Gerhard Kurzmann used the game in his failed bid to become governor of the south-eastern province of Styria last year.

Players of Moschee Ba Ba (Bye-bye, Mosque) had to shoot at Muslims and mosques as they emerged from a rural scene.

The game sparked inevitable criticism from other parties and religious groups. Judicial authorities forced the Freedom Party to take down the game and Kurzmann was later charged with inciting religious hatred and defaming a religion.

But on Friday a court in Graz cleared Kurzmann. It did not reach the threshold of incitement and I would also say this was not the intention, Judge Christoph Lichtenberg said, in remarks carried by the national APA news agency.

The prosecution said it would lodge an appeal.

 

4th October   

Diablo III...

Much anticipated computer game passed by the BBFC
Link Here

Diablo III PC Mac DVD The BBFC have passed the computer game Diablo III as 15 uncut.

The consumer advice is:

  • Contains moderate bloody violence

The BBFC also noted that the game contains 32:00s of cut scenes or video footage inserted into the game.

 

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