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Computer Game Influence

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The Concerns and Benefits Psychological Effects of Gaming

Gaming Overview

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(pages 5 - 10)

Computer Game Genres Game Development Gaming Platforms and Environments


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(pg. 5-7) (pg. 7-8) (pg. 9-10)

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The Concerns and Benefits (i)

There are various concerns and benefits associated with gaming, a subject that has cause controversy between people who feel strongly for or against gaming. Over the years there has been incidents where people have lost touch with reality due to excessive time spend playing a game, and in the next section I will explore the psychological effects gaming can have on individuals. Although the publicity regarding games is often negative, there are multiple benefits to gaming that also include health benefits:          

Improves mental ability Improves reflexes Improves awareness of surroundings Improves knowledge Can aid in social interaction Can aid in networking Can aid a business or career Provides entertainment Can be therapeutic Provide interest in technology development

Due to studies conducted on the effects of gaming, there are various concerns associated with certain genres of video games:         

Anti-social behaviour Health issues Violence Psychological disturbance – changes in personality such as irritability/anger if disturbed Addiction to games Effects on the economy due to people not going out to work because of addiction to gaming Effects on individual’s education due to people not going to school because of addiction to gaming Alienation from family Alienation from friends and society in general Page 2 of 12

Psychological Effects of Gaming (ii)

There have been various studies undertaken over the years in an attempt to discover what psychological effects gaming can have on individuals. The following studies will display the results of two studies on how video games affect the mind, with one study focusing on the negative effects and the other on the positive effects.

Negative Study

The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviours, and school performance Authors: Douglas A. Gentile, Paul J. Lynch, Jennifer Ruh Linder, David A. Walsh This particular study documents the associations between violent video games and aggression, as well as the connection between gaming and educational performance. Evidence from the study suggests that the amount of time spent gaming directly affects school performance, whereas violent content is noted to inspire aggression.

“A number of studies have shown a negative association between amount of video game play and school performance for children, adolescents, and college students (e.g. Harris & Wiliams 1985; Creasey & Myers, 1986; Lieberman, Chaffee, & Roberts, 1988; van Schie & Wiegman, 1997;Roberts, Foehr, Rideout, & Brodie, 1999; Anderson & Dill, 2000; Walsh, 2000).” According to the studies, students who spent a significant amount of time playing games recreationally had poorer grades in English classes and poorer overall grades in general. This only applies to games that do not have an educational value for the player, since if the game is designed to be educational this would not have as noticeable an effect on grades unless played in excess. Past studies have shown that although there are a variety of gaming genres available, as many as 89% of games include violent content, with approximately half of the games including violence towards other characters in the game. The act of playing a violent video game has been proven to invoke one of the following reactions in any individual regardless of age and gender: increased aggressive behaviour, increased aggressive cognition, increased aggressive emotions, increased physiological arousal, and a decrease in pro-social behaviour. Studies have also found that people who already rate highly in hostile tendencies are more susceptible to the negative effects of playing a violent video game. The study carried out involved 607 students from 4 separate American schools, documenting the effect of violent video games on their behaviour. The results showed that 23% of students reported getting into arguments with teachers either weekly or daily, and 34% reported getting into physical fights within the year. The study showed that there were also differences between genders, with the girls being reported to be less aggressive than the boys. 17% of girls were reported getting into arguments with teachers, compared to 28% of boys. Page 3 of 12

Positive Study

Beyond Nintendo: Design and Assessment of Educational Video Games for 1st and 2nd Grade Students

Authors: Ricardo Rosas, Miguel Nussbaum, Patricio Cumsille, Vladimir Marianov, Mónica Correa, Patricia Flores, Valeska Grau, Francisca Lagos, Ximena López, Verónica López, Patricio Rodriguez, Marcela Salinas

The primary objective of the study was to evaluate the effects of educational videogames in an educational environment (a classroom), focusing on learning, motivations and classroom dynamics. The effects were studies using a sample of 1274 students from disadvantaged schools located in Chile, with the games specifically designed to address the needs of young students, focusing on mathematics and reading comprehension. The participants of the study were divided into three separate groups; experimental groups (EG), internal control groups (IC) and external control groups (EC). The students allocated to the EG group were assigned to use the experimental video games for an average of 30 hours over 3 months, after which point they would be then evaluated on their reading comprehension, spelling, and mathematical skills, as well as their motivation to use video games. The expectations of the teachers concerning any change from using educational video games, technological transfer, and handling of classroom dynamics was also assessed through tests and classroom observations. The results of the study showed a significant difference between the EG group and the IC group in relation to the EC group in math, reading comprehension and also spelling. However no significant difference was found between the EC and IC groups in relation to the same aspects. The teacher reports and classroom observations confirmed an improvement in the students’ motivation to learn, as well as a positive technological transfer of the experimental tool. Although future studies concerning the effects of learning through the use of educational video games are imperative, positive results in both motivation and classroom dynamics indicate that the introduction of educational video games can indeed be a useful tool when used to promote learning within an educational environment. Therefore this study shows that regardless of the negative publicity that video games receive concerning raised hostility levels in individuals, educational games can also provide a benefit to students with learning mathematics, as well as improving motivation, reading comprehension and spelling.

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Computer Game Genres (i)

There are multiple genres associated with gaming in order for the industry to be able to appeal to a wide variety of the gaming community. Some of the most popular genres include:  

RPG / MMORPG – Role Playing Game/ Massive Multiplayer Online RPG: RPG and MMORPG are one of the most popular gaming genres, with a large community dedicated to spending time playing their games both online and offline. A typical RPG game is one that can be played on a gaming console or a computer, whereas an MMORPG is a game specifically designed to be played online. An example of an MMORPG could be World of Warcraft - a vastly popular game and well-known name throughout gamers and non-gamers alike. A regular RPG game could be one such as Dragon Age: Origins, which is a game designed to play offline as the character the player creates when the game first starts. With both types of game the player customises their character however they wish and then begin playing through a completely unique world. This is somewhere players can interact with computer-generated characters, or people from all over the world depending on whether the game is played online. RPG style games tend to create a personal experience for the user since they can customise a character, as this is a way for the player to implement themselves into the game and play their character as another representation of themselves.

FPS – First Person Shooter: FPS games are another very popular gaming genre, with familiar names such as Call of Duty being just one example to name. FPS games are action-orientated style games since the player will play as the main character, involving plenty of battleaction and fighting scenes that will test co-ordination and reaction skill throughout the game. The name FPS is applied to this genre since the gamer will play the game through the eyes of the protagonist of the story, and as the character they will be fighting using projectile weapons such as guns and knives hence the term ‘First Person Shooter’.

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Adventure: Adventure games are another popular genre of game, since the player can immerse themselves in the story of the particular game. In general adventure games are not designed to be multiplayer since the games tend to focus heavily on the storyline and immersing the player into the game. Adventure games generally consist of puzzle-solving and other challenges that require the player to figure out the ‘answer’ in order to progress forward – in contrast to game genres such as FPS there is rarely violence and fighting involved unless the game is of the combination ActionAdventure genre. Adventure games are mainly focused on exploring a world, puzzlesolving, and function within a narrative framework to relay the story to the player as they progress through the game.

Fitness: Fitness games have become very popular in the recent few years with the introduction of the Nintendo Wii and later the Xbox Kinect. Fitness has been a main focus of the media industry due to the obsession with healthy eating and fitness because of the rise in obesity throughout the UK, leading to game developers realising they can market new products designed to encourage fitness at home through a fun workout. Games such as Wii Fit Plus and Zumba are designed to encourage the user to workout at home without focusing on it, since the games are still designed to be fun and interactive for the player so they will be able to enjoy getting fit.

Family: Family games have also become popular in recent times with games such as Wii Sports Resort being introduced with the Nintendo Wii, advertised with many multiplayer mini-games that can be played with up to 4 people. This game as an example enables families to play together, or play against each other in fun matches and competitions. While encouraging time with family members games such as this also encourage fitness, since the family is not sitting on the sofa watching television but instead simulating bowling or playing table-tennis, both of which encourage the player to stand up and move around.

Other gaming genres include –    

TPS – Third Person Shooter Sport Racing RTS – Real Time Strategy Page 6 of 12

       

Puzzle Arcade Horror Fighting Platform Indie Music Simulation

Game Development (ii)

There are various people involved in game development in order to create a successful and interactive game, one that ideally will become popular with the general audience the game is targeted towards. Some of these include: Lead Programmer: The lead programmer is responsible for ensuring that the programming for the game is all working, and that the programming teams have coded all the necessary aspects of the game and that everything will progress smoothly. The lead programmer is essential to the overall development of the game, since they have to basically create the code that enables the game to exist and run and incorporate all the characters, weapons and voices that have been created by the other development teams to create an interactive game. Weapon Artist: The weapons artist is a group or person assigned to solely designing the weapons that are to be used in the game; this is through the use of editing software and 3D modelling. The weapon artist team is required to work closely with the character artist team, since they are designing the weapons that the other team is creating characters to hold. Weapon artists have to work to specific standards in order to ensure that the weapons they create are in lifelike proportions to the characters in the game, and that they have all the function designs available that are intended, such as a weapon upgrading to a better version of itself. Character Artist: The character artist team are designed to create the characters that are going to be used in the game, and similarly to the weapon artist team they will require the use of editing software and 3D modelling in order to create a realistic character suited for the game. The character artist team is responsible for making characters efficiently and that function without problems, so that any players do not have Page 7 of 12

issues with missing pixels for example. As well as designing the main characters for the game, the character artists are responsible for designing other non-main characters such as people the player passes by when exploring or an opponent they have to fight. Senior Producer: The senior producer is responsible for ensuring that everything runs to plan, they are responsible for the teams and departments that are working on development as well as interacting with the marketing and HR departments. The senior producer needs to ensure that the development runs on track and that deadlines are met, as well as making sure that each individual development team is communicating efficiently. The senior producer would also be responsible for getting the drafts from the designer for the advertisement of the game, ensuring that all departments are getting the necessary information from each other. Senior Designer: The senior designer is responsible for combining all the characters and weapons and backgrounds to create a draft of what the game is going to look like. The senior designer needs to check that all of the individual aspects that have been created by each team can join together and function correctly in game, as well as ensuring that all the textures, backgrounds and other aspects required are there and that nothing is missing from the design. Script Writer: The script writer is responsible for designing the storyline that the game will play out to, so they would be the writers of the character’s dialogue as well as the overall narrative/plan for the game. Script writers are particularly essential when creating an RPG style game, since they are responsible for ensuring a logical play-through for the player, as well as providing any alternate endings to ensure that the game is an interesting experience. Script writers essentially provide the guidelines for the overall game, as well as write out the dialogue for the voice actors. Voice Actors: Voice actors are responsible for talking through the dialogue designated to each individual character, including any of their character’s sound effects and the dialogues assigned to alternate endings as well as the generic dialogue within the game. Voice actors are particularly important in many RPG games since these games focus primarily on the player having an experience in a virtual world, which requires voices for characters regardless of whether they are one of the main characters or just a random person they walk past.

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Gaming Platforms and Environments (iii)

There are multiple gaming platforms and environments available, since the gaming industry wants to be able to provide entertainment to as large a proportion of the general public as possible. With this in mind, games tend to target 4 main platforms:    

Web/Online Mobile devices Arcade machines Consoles

Often games are designed for one specific platform out of the 4 listed above, but as the game progresses and if it proves popular with people, often the developers will go on to provide different means for the players to play the game. This can include a PC game going on to develop a console version, or a console game to develop a ‘lighter’ version for a mobile device, as two examples. Gaming companies tend to focus mainly on console games and online games, since these are the two most popular platforms used by gamers as they allow for a smoother play-through and more complexity in games. With console games and online games the user is able to play games that take up more storage space on hard drives and require a minimum amount of power to run efficiently. These sorts of games will often contain plenty of small details, are more complex with the storyline and can provide different endings for the player, and are overall created for a different purpose compared to games created for mobile devices and arcade machines. Gaming consoles have been designed over the years to also be multipurpose so that owners can also play DVDs, CDs and even Blu-ray discs on their console as well as connect it to the internet. This functionality with gaming consoles means that they are valuable assets to many gamers, as the internet connectivity also enables the player to play online against others on their console instead of using a PC. PC gaming is still popular, but many people choose consoles for the ease of use since a gaming console is still primarily dedicated to playing video games. PC’s are designed to function as a computer and enable the user to carry out multiple functions, so if the gamer does not have a high-spec PC then the game may not be able to be played as efficiently as if it had been on a gaming console. Computers that cannot fully provide the requirements for a game can cause delay in the player’s movement in-game, and can cause frustration as well as cause the player to lose more often than if they had been able to interact with the game properly. With a gaming console this is not the case since the console is designed to run games efficiently and enable the user to interact with them easily at all times,

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although occasions do happen when consoles can crash or freeze and the player will need to restart. The problem with gaming platforms such as mobile devices and arcade machines is that they can only allow a game with a certain amount of detail, since otherwise the technology cannot keep up and enable the player to play the game as efficiently as would be possible on other platforms. Mobile devices are intended for other uses than simply gaming, and as they are small and portable they are useful for simple games that incorporate the limitations of a mobile device and use that to create a fun and successful game. Angry Birds is an example of a successful mobile device game, which has now been integrated into an online game as well, since although with the game’s simple design it is still interactive and fun for the player. Mobile device games are designed to allow the user to play them while on the go, and not encourage the user to have to sit through story cut-scenes and fight hour-long battles to get to the next level. The games designed for this platform enable the player to simply pick up the game when they want to play, and be able to put it down when they are done. A similar problem is faced with arcade machines, since they are limited on their capacity due to the fact they are designed for only one game, whereas other platforms are capable of playing multiple games at the user’s whim. Arcade gaming machines are somewhat out-dated gaming technology, since with the introduction of home gaming consoles and online games, there has been practically no need for players to go out and play one game on an arcade machine when they can play multiple games at home. One of the most popular and famous arcade games was Pac-man, which at its peak was one of the most-played arcade games throughout all of the gaming cafes. Unfortunately with the introduction of video gaming consoles arcade games were no longer in such high demand; and at the current time there are not many machines still seriously used to play other than for the novelty value.

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Adventure Gamers (2002) What are adventure games? [Online] Available from:,149 [Accessed 29 September 2011]

Douglas A. Gentile, Paul J. Lynch, Jennifer Ruh Linder, David A. Walsh (2004)

The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviours, and school performance [Online] Available from: [Accessed 17 October 2011]

Ricardo Rosas, Miguel Nussbaum, Patricio Cumsille, Vladimir Marianov, Mónica Correa, Patricia Flores, Valeska Grau, Francisca Lagos, Ximena López, Verónica López, Patricio Rodriguez, Marcela Salinas (2003) Beyond Nintendo:

Design and Assessment of Educational Video Games for 1st and 2nd Grade Students [Online] Available from: d_Nintendo_Design_and_Assessment_of_Educational_Video_Games_for_1st_ and_2nd_Grade_Students [Accessed 21 October 2011]

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Jordan Kennedy's eBook  

Assignment 1 eBook on the impact of Video Games in Society

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