Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator for New York: Senators Clinton, Lieberman Announce Federal Legislation to Protect Children from Inappropriate Video Games

Posted by dkidwell on November 30th, 2005 — Posted in console games, parenting, pc games

Where do ya even begin…

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator for New York: Senators Clinton, Lieberman Announce Federal Legislation to Protect Children from Inappropriate Video Games

“I have developed legislation that will empower parents by making sure their kids can’t walk into a store and buy a video game that has graphic, violent and pornographic content,” said Senator Clinton.

How exactly are parents going to be empowered by that? That’s going to enable me to…think less about what my kids are doing? Empower me to be less watchful of my kids purchases? Sorry? Did I miss something here?

Oh, and later on:

“This is about protecting children,” said Senator Clinton.

Whew, cuz my elementary school kids have been engaging in unprotected video game purchases.

But wait, there’s more:

This bill requires the FTC to conduct an investigation to determine whether what happened with GTA: San Andreas is a pervasive problem. It also includes a Sense of Congress that the Commission shall take appropriate action if it determines that there is a pervasive problem.

Excellent! Because I just sat in my office reviewing the travesty of health care options I have in 2006 to adequate take care of all those kidlets and darn it, we need time and energy spent on finding out whether game developers are pervasively loading sexy easter eggs in games. Furthermore, you can’t just go digging without expectation of taking action on what you discover – cuz what kind of leadership would that be? – so create a commission if you find evidence of degenerates.

Congress reconvenes in 2 weeks they say – which is the week before Christmas and likely to be a truly productive time. Might be a good time to set 2006 resolutions – ya know – be a better parent and all that. Or maybe not – maybe Congress will just take care of that for us.

Would C.S. Lewis approve of CHEAT Codes??

Posted by dkidwell on November 29th, 2005 — Posted in ethics, parenting

Nope!

But, Disney apparently feels it’s an effective way to advertise their new game “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Heavy TV ads during the Thanksgiving weekend featured a dramatic call for youngesters to go out to the site and download cheat codes. You can find the codes at their site – a bit of deep linking, but go to “The Game” and then check out the Cheat code link.
Disney Interactive – The Chronicles of Narnia

Now, cheat codes aren’t anything new – it’s a cultural aspect of many games to mod the game in various ways. Often the developers will hide features or elements that only a special code will unlock. Most notoriously, Grand Theft Auto – San Andreas got caught with their pants down on the Hot Coffee fiasco. ‘Easter Eggs’ are occasionally used as ingenious gaming devices (Animal Crossing used it’s continuously running calendar and clock to track the passing of real time, and would reveal seasonal goodies – snow men, ghosts, fireworks, etc. Their very existence helped create a vibrant Animal Crossing offline culture.)

So, maybe gamermom is simply nit picking on semantics here. (I am, after all, a mom.) But, I think our choice of words is important. If we are becoming a ‘gamernation’, do we want to be also a ‘cheaternation’?

To so blatantly use ‘cheating’ to market a game based on the work of one of our foremost moral thinkers just seems wrong. This should be a game taking the rich narrative of Narnia and turning it into an interactive experience for children to exercise their own courage and wisdom. That should be enough to provide a very compelling platform for a truly transformational experience.

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”
C.S. Lewis

I would argue that a brilliantly designed game might to do the same. That by drawing from a rich tapestry of mythology and cultural narative, games might in their own fasion enrich our lives.

Review of Nintendogs from a design perspective

Posted by dkidwell on November 26th, 2005 — Posted in Christmas, Nintendogs, reviews, technology

Found this today on my hunt for info on Nintendogs. Had a surly experience with a very aggressive shopper at Gamestop while trying to get a Nintendogs bundle – which led to a better deal at Fry’s so all is well…

But, I wanted to find out more about the game itself and found this review. I’m sure you’ll hear more post-Christmas regarding our Nintendog journeys. This article does a great job of showing how Nintendogs tapped into a underserved need in the Japanese marketplace – dog ownership. Dan talks about this as a key element in good game design. I might extend that to a key element in good Product design – a marketing lesson for every product manager.

Lost Garden: Nintendogs: The case of the non-game that barked like a game

Does your gamer kid need glasses?

Posted by dkidwell on November 25th, 2005 — Posted in parenting

H., our oldest, notice about a month ago that he couldn’t see the overhead projector in his classroom. My immediate thoughts:

1. Your dad is nearly blind and nearsighted, so yeah, perfectly feasible.
2. Your poor teacher is using overheads? Our educational system is stuck in the 80s forever. Oh, and we’re screwed.

So, we schedule his eye exam, and sure enough – he’s very nearsighted. If he were 3 years older and going for a licenses, the Department of Transportation would mandate corrective lenses.

So, we find a wicked sharp pair of glasses – and he’s likely to look wicked smart to match.

But…..what to do with a kid who reads, and if he isn’t reading, is gaming?

The doc mentioned that H’s eyes were ‘over accomodating.’ Took her using the term 3x before I guessed that she had a different sense of meaning for the word. So I made a mental note “while the turkey is cooking and the sweet potatoes are going – look up accomodation.”

The bright folks at IBM have a nice sight on vision and computing, specifically on accomodation:

The Eye Muscles – Accomodation & Vergence

So, it seems that a direct correlation of accomodation and fatigue isn’t proven, but, comfortable accomodation is ideal for good vision. After drudging thru the site, which makes some assumptions that even a geek mom couldn’t decipher, we got the heart of it – and had a decent (meaning in this sense – fast ) lesson in optics too.

We now have science to back up an old rule:

– Look up now and then, and in natural in-game pauses, get up and look around. Maybe take out the trash or something . 🙂

Happy thanksgiving all!

Dubious Quality: Civ IV

Posted by dkidwell on November 24th, 2005 — Posted in parenting

Dubious Quality: Civ IV

Bill’s got a nice review of Civ IV – augmented by anecdots from a family that plays it. Yep, an attorney, his 2 brothers, father and a sister-in-law….terribly educated bunch too.

Don’t let those CSI guys fool ya – most of the gamers I know personally are well-educated successful sorts that find problem solving a fun way to pass the time.

Our own family hasn’t played Civ much, but were avid Age of Empires players. Would love to think once the kids are grown that we’ll still be playing…