Sunday, December 18, 2005

Social commentary or art? Maybe both

Alex Chan, a 27-year-old Parisian of Chinese descent, lives in the North Paris suburbs rocked by the riots. He thought the coverage on the riots didn't quite capture the true essence of what was going on in his neighborhood. He decided to do something about it.

He bought the Lionhead Studio's new video game Movies and spent a week directing a 13-minute short film called The French Democracy using the video game. For $50 USD and a week of his time he was able to get his thoughts heard around the world. The return on investment can't get any better than that.

Using video games to make films is called Machinima. Chan's machinima creation may be the most well known, but the genre has been popular for quite some time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Video games helping in disaster recovery planning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding development of a series of video games designed to help prepare first responders to deal with different disasters.

The games are being developed by University of Illinois at Chicago and its The Center for the Advancement of Distance Education (CADE).

There are multiple benefits to using interactive video games for training such as this, some of which include reduced training costs, wider variety of scenarios available to trainees and better participation. The video games are not designed to replace existing training methods, but to supplement them.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Video gaming myths debunked

PBS has published an interesting essay on often cited myths about video games by Henry Jenkins, Professor of Literature and Comparative Media Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

None of the following eight myths are true according to Professor Jenkins:
  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.