Game, set and no death-match

Screenshot from Lego Star Wars game
Lego Star Wars: the best game in the universe, ever™ (Photo courtesy of Gamespot.)

An interesting article (found via Digg.com) written by Henry Jenkins, a Professor at MIT entitled “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked

A large gap exists between the public’s perception of video games and what the research actually shows. The following is an attempt to separate fact from fiction.

The eight myths refuted (with evidence) are:

  1. The availability of video games has led to an epidemic of youth violence.
  2. Scientific evidence links violent game play with youth aggression.
  3. Children are the primary market for video games.
  4. Almost no girls play computer games.
  5. Because games are used to train soldiers to kill, they have the same impact on the kids who play them.
  6. Video games are not a meaningful form of expression.
  7. Video game play is socially isolating.
  8. Video game play is desensitizing.

Whew! I don’t play many games but I do enjoy them once in a while. Regular readers of my blog will know that the games I play most often are Star Wars Battlefront, Star Wars Battlefront II, Battlefield 2 and Lego Star Wars. I also have a few versions of Mah Jong and Chess installed.

I’m glad that there is some credible research being done in this area. It disappoints me that people are often so quick to point the finger at things like computer games, rock music and TV/movies as the causes of violence in (mostly young) people. One thing that I do agree with, however, is the age-restrictions assigned to different games — I don’t think that ten year olds should be violent playing games like Grand Theft Auto 3, even if it is ‘cartoon violence’.

One of the great things about computer games, in particular, is how easy it is now to network with other players all over the world. That kind of communication and networking has to be a good thing.

This evening I’ve been on MSN Messenger with a few folks. I’ve helped Rob out with an creative writing assignment; talked with Mike about his girlfriend; got stuck on Suzie’s English structure homework; and discussed my new blog theme with James. As it happens I’ve met 3/4 of these folks, but I could easily have been chatting with Arsi in Pakistan, Justin in England or Kira in the USA, none of whom I’ve actually met and shaken hands.

Computers are an amazing thing. The internet is an amazing thing. Life on this planet will never be the same.

New Theme-ish

Screenshot of the new blog theme
How the full MX4 theme looks on this blog, before I returned to a modded version of Kubrick.

I decided to have a bit of a change, and downloaded and installed the MX4 theme, and what a lovely theme it is too. My only gripe, however, was that the MX4 theme is only 560 pixels wide, while the default Kubrick is 760 pixels. Like myself, I prefer the wider blog … so in the meantime I’ve just gone back to Kubrick and am using the header image from MX4, which is great.

The graphic especially makes me laugh, particularly given that my blog is called “View from the Potting Shed”. I love that the shed in the image is up a tree. I always wanted a tree-house when I was a kid, we had to make do with a windowless “gang hut” made from scraps of wood, plasterboard nails ‘borrowed’ from a neighbours greenhouse (I kid you not!) and a large sheet draped over it to make it a little more waterproof (!).

Why “View from the Potting Shed”? I came up with the whole Potting Shed thing years and years ago. It’s what I wrote on the back of all my homemade cards and drawings. We didn’t have a traditional shed, just an outhouse, and Dad also promised us that we’d get one, which I thought was cool (we were easily pleased in those days). I always associated potting sheds with places that mad professors would invent cool stuff. So I created my own Potting Shed brand, to mark the stuff that I created. So now you know!