Good gaming Article

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Good gaming Article

Post by S7 Bullet on Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:16 pm

Very good article about kids and gaming


4 rules for creating mainstream media gaming controversies

By Ben Kuchera | Last updated April 11, 2010 7:30 PM
Several times a year, the media picks up on an event that portrays games as terrible, terrible things that will destroy the very souls of our nation's children. One game chosen from the flood released every year is held up for all to see and be properly enraged by. But many times, these stories are manufactured to create controversy, not to educate viewers about the realities of gaming.

Which is why we've decided to help. For people who don't follow the gaming industry or may not be educated on its many wiles, we offer these rules for deciding if a gaming-related story is really worth the anger, outrage, or disbelief.

The content must be accessible through standard means

The Hot Coffee debate led to controversy, lawsuits, and criticism for the ESRB, the video game ratings board. The content was included on the disc, sure, but to access the clumsy and badly animated sexual content you had to download a modification for the game on the PC, or use even more eldritch means to access the content on console versions of the game. The reporting on this issue didn't bother with such nuance, however, and parents were soon concerned that their children were buying games filled with easily accessible sexual perversions.

The truth is, to get at that content, you'd have to go well out of your way to download the needed modifications to access it. If your children have unfettered access to the Internet, they can easily see much worse things than a few pixels that kind of look like blurry nudity, and with far less trouble.

The takeaway from the scandal was that the ESRB changed the way it rates games. "Coding around scenes, images, or similar elements that might be pertinent to a rating assignment does not render this content irrelevant from a ratings standpoint. If a publisher wishes to 'edit out' pertinent content from a final product, it must remove the content from the disc altogether," the rules now state. Even if it's not accessible in the game, you must disclose all the content on the disc.

The game needs to be available

CNN has been running a series of articles about a title called RapeLay that uses sexual assault as a game mechanic, but that particular title is an odd choice for controversy. It's not available in the United States, it's years old, and there are many other games with similar content still available. So why pick this game, and why return to the same subject over and over?

Well, it gets readers, and in a note that is almost too ironic, CNN noted that all the buzz spread the availability of the game: "But the controversy that led to stopping sales of the game instead took it viral... [the game] is still readily available on dozens of Web sites, sometimes for free." 

Politicians made noise about stopping the game's sale in the US, which was an easy win: the game has never been sold in the United States.

Dr. Cheryl Olson told CNN that part of the problem in this sort of coverage is that it leads to more people playing the game, not less. "One of my concerns is that kids generally never hear about this stuff unless it gets this kind of publicity," she said. This is of course after parents were warned that their kids could be playing the game RIGHT NOW.

It's a perfect, self-perpetuating story. CNN takes a niche genre in Japanese video games, grabs a single random example, creates a sensationalist story about its dangers to children, and then, when the buzz grows, it publishes another story months later talking about how people want to play the game since everyone is talking about it.

The game must actually cause social problems

While critics may claim that gaming teaches us aggressive behavior or makes children more comfortable with violence or firearms, the numbers show a much different reality.

While concerns about violent games breeding criminals remain strong, US national statistics show that violent crimes by children have been on the decline for years while video game play has rocketed. "If there is this big causal trend you would expect to see a large leap in violent crime among kids, but there is not," said Mia Consalvo, an assistant professor specializing in video game research at Ohio University.
The issue of RapeLay has lead to much hand-wringing over how games are created in Japan, along with some broad generalizations about Japanese culture. Nogami Takeshi, a Japanese artist who has himself created hentai artwork, penned an open letter to CNN. 

"Moreover, the crime rate statistics for both general crime and sex crime in Japan are, with all due respect, several times lower than in the United States," he wrote. "Did you, for instance, fear for your safety while walking the streets of Akihabara, or Ikebukuro (holy ground of hentai books for women)? They're probably many times safer than the streets of New York, let alone those of the suburban housing districts around."

According to Kotaku, the UN reports r@pe occurrence in Japan at 1.78 per 100,000. The US is at 32.05 per 100,000.

It's a simple thing to find games and movies showing morbid acts on store shelves in the United States, much less Japan. Shining light on certain games and then saying people shouldn't be able to play it or that it's dangerous is only going to lead to publicity.

The game must not be targeted at adults

You can find all sorts of violent and sexual content in Mature-rated games, but of course those games are aimed at gamers over the age of 17. Selling these games to minors is a big no-no, thanks to the very scare-stories we're talking about here, so most major retailers can and do ask for identification when selling Mature-rated games.

It's harder for a child to buy an M-rated game than it is to see an R-rated movie, according to the FTC. If a child is playing one of these games, there was a failure at the retail or parenting level, not with the publisher or developer who put the content in a game marked for adults.

Does your story pass these tests?

If a game has content that can be found in the process of playing it, is available for purchase in our country, there is an actual danger of a negative outcome due to the availability of that content, and it wasn't marked for adult consumption... congratulations! You might just have a proper story about video games being dangerous for kids.

The media has to jump through a number of hoops to attack the well-regulated gaming industry with a solid report; few stories pass this basic test. For actual, reasonable advice for dealing with video games and your children, see our guide. 

Link for the Guide

S7 Bullet

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