Category Archives: Children

WSJ: Banning Tablets Is Best for Children

Christopher Mims, The Wall Street Journal:

Friday, the American Academy of Pediatrics validated my experiment, recommending that children younger than 18 months get zero screen time, and those ages 2 to 5 be limited to one hour a day—half of its prior recommendation. The group recommended that the hour be “high quality programming” that parents watch with their children.

Later in the piece, Paul Bettner, co-creator of Words With Friends and founder of Playful Corp:

“I’ve seen from my own life and my children that there’s great social interaction, great hand-eye coordination stuff, lots of storytelling and getting involved in the narrative, a lot of learning and skill building when children play videogames alone or together,” says Mr. Bettner. He limits his children to two to three hours a day, and encourages them to play videogames rather than watch shows.

In my post Nintendo Switch and Parents, I wanted specify that while the Switch might be a boon to both parents and children, by no means should a device be used as a replacement for babysitting nor physical modes of play.

I think the title of this Mims’s piece is misleading. That said, I like Bettner’s philosophy.

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Nintendo Switch and Parents

Parents surrender their phones and tablets to their children. E.g. child clamours for device—iPhone, iPad, or otherwise—the parent surrenders said device to child. Child commences gaming and/or YouTube.

This is anecdotal, of course. My wife and I have no children. But we’ve seen this time and time again with friends and family.

And if it’s not the guardian’s own device, it’s a separate device dedicated to gaming and/or YouTube for the child.

From the POV of a parent, wouldn’t it be nice to keep your device on your own person?

From the POV of a child, wouldn’t it be nice to have your own device dedicated for gaming/YouTube without the other unnecessary calendar/email/messages/etc apps?

Enter the Nintendo Switch. A dedicated seemingly state-of-the-art-ish portable/home console multiplayer-ready uncompromised gaming device, surely ready for YouTube when on wifi (an optional data plan would be even better), by the greatest game designers on the planet, Nintendo.

While none of the talent in the trailer appear to be under the age of 20—even donning red cups at a rooftop party!—the Switch could be a game changer for the household.

Of course, it will come down to Nintendo’s ability to attract third-party devs—a feat they have struggled with since the Nintendo 64. And not just any third-party titles, but titles outside of Nintendo’s own legacy: education, infants, toddlers, etc. Lock down the third-parties with simple development and distribution, and (price willing) the Switch will be a boon for parents and children alike.

Children: here’s a device for the things you care about.

Parents: take your devices back.

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21 Percent Delta

Polygon’s Charlie Hall reporting from GDC 2015:

Rosalind Wiseman and Ashly Burch collaborated to create their survey in the spring of 2014. Wiseman, herself a teacher, educator and author, was able to deliver the survey to 1,583 students aged 11 to 18 over the course of the year. The results, the authors say, are enough to turn the games industry’s understanding of gender issues on its head.

The most compelling data point for game developers is the fact that girls in high school are far more likely to prefer to play female characters than boys of the same age are likely to prefer to play male characters.

Only 39 percent of high-school aged boys surveyed preferred to play as male characters, while 60 percent of high-school aged girls preferred to play as female characters.

That 21 percent delta, the authors say, is more than enough reason for game developers to rethink who their main characters should be going forward.

“We as developers,” Burch said, “understandably … are afraid of our games not selling.

“It’s terrifying to imagine that your game’s not going to sell. But it could be that we are falsely attributing the success of past games to things that don’t actually matter to the kids that are playing them.”

Since hearing Rosalind Wiseman on The One You Feed podcast, I’ve been an avid fan of her and Ashly Burch’s work. In case you missed it, their GDC 2014 talk on The Connection Between Boys’ Social Status, Gaming and Conflict is worth the watch.

See also: My recent breakdown of protagonist gender and video game genre from the games announced or highlighted at E3 2014.

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Madeleines

‘In loving memory of video games’ by Chris Plante, Polygon:

They’re my madeleines, you could say, transporting me back to the days my love of video games was personal and private, only shared with the neighbor kids and never ever disclosed at school, where it would have been taken for a weakness. The world has changed.

A beautiful piece by Plante.

Relinking to Why Game? by yours truly. More reminiscing can be found in Console Wars by Blake J. Harris.

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Love is Strange

Ryan Gilbey, The Guardian:

They have decreed that Love is Strange should have the same rating as Saw III (“strong grisly violence and gore, sequences of terror and torture, nudity and language”), My Bloody Valentine (“graphic brutal horror violence and grisly images throughout, some strong sexuality, graphic nudity and language”), and the new Sin City film (“strong brutal stylised violence throughout, sexual content, nudity, and brief drug use”).

It’s an insult to anyone’s intelligence to find that Love is Strange received its R for nothing more than “some strong language”. What – not even a teensy-weensy bit of terror and torture? No grisly images or graphic nudity? I wonder if the director, Ira Sachs, feels a bit like the faithful spouse accused erroneously of adultery: if he is going to be pilloried anyway, maybe he should have committed the crime for which he is being punished and thrown in a few chainsaw murders just for the hell of it.

Two nights ago, my fiancée and I watched Captain American: The Winter Soldier. Mid-way through the action packed, gunplay heavy film, she looked over at me and said, “it’s amazing they blame video games for gun violence.”

She echoed my thoughts exactly. I felt that I had seen more violence in this semi-children’s film than any video game I had played over the past year. There was something unnerving about the amount of bullets spraying into the air, masses of headshots, and deadly explosions. Something Polygon brought to light after this years E3 Expo. It was a feeling I’d also experienced weeks prior at a showing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Both films are rated PG-13.

I’m not saying that overboard gun violence shown in films is a problem; though, I am now easier unsettled than I when I saw The Matrix in high school. All I’m saying is that if violence isn’t the reason for an R rating, then we need to reevaluate the measure of two f-bombs (something kids are prone to hearing multiple times per day on streets, schoolyards, and homes) and/or expressions of sexuality or acts of sex that are completely natural landing R ratings. If a 13-year-old, nay the swaths of  children that watched Captain America: The Winter Solider and/or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, can handle lengthy gun battles and on-screen death, then a bit of language and sexuality is not going to hurt any.

Update: Ghostbusters, rated PG. Kids of the 80s sure turned out rotten.

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Influenced by Divorce

Joe Russ, developer of Jenny LeClue, as quote by Polygon:

Growing up in a family of divorce is all about choices, and how your parents’ choices can greatly affect you — at least as much as them. It’s about accepting that sometimes the right choices have tough consequences.

These are the things I want players to be able to explore in the game and be part of in writing the narrative with us. Growing up is about making these choices and learning to live with the consequences. Becoming an adult is, for me, about understanding that you have responsibility for your actions.

Divorce is an interesting well of inspiration. This concept sounds intriguing. Looking forward to playing Jenny LeClue.

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Game Less Than One Hour Per Day

Pediatrics:

Low levels (3 hours daily) of game engagement was linked to key indicators of psychosocial adjustment. Low engagement was associated with higher life satisfaction and prosocial behavior and lower externalizing and internalizing problems, whereas the opposite was found for high levels of play. No effects were observed for moderate play levels when compared with non-players.

It took me a second to wrap head around this. I wish the clearly defined moderate play. My interpretation:

– Less than 1 hour of play (low): Positive effects

– 0 (non-players) or 1-3 hours of play (moderate): No change

– More than 3 hours of play (high): Negative effects

Update: The BBC offers more clarity.

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League of Lessons: Why Gaming Matters

Great read on connecting from Wiseman.
Rosalind Wiseman, Anti-Defamation League:

Young people who game know our bias and the ignorance this bias comes from. It’s this reactivity about games that can make it much more difficult for us to develop strong relationships with young people. It’s also undeniable that gaming is an essential part of many students’ lives. We have an obligation to know about this incredibly diverse world so we can effectively help children and teens navigate it with informed, constructive guidance.

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More on Minecraft

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

It’s almost impossible to overstate just how big a deal Minecraft is for my son and his friends.

The popularity and power of Minecraft continues to amaze me. Players tend to remain glued to the game/simulation for hours on end, not just playing but creating, experimenting, collaborating, sharing and learning.

Here’s a relink to Polygon’s piece on how the United Nations is utilizing Minecraft.

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War Ensemble

This is enough to sell me on Rocksmith 2014.

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