Monday, December 31, 2007

Child's Play Charity raises over $1M for children's hospitals across the world

Child's Play Charity raised over a $1M USD for children's hospitals across the world this year.

The charity started by gamers and taking in cash and goods donations overwhelmingly from gamers has been a phenomenal success. This year more so than ever before.

Well done gamers everywhere!

Monday, December 24, 2007

US Marine rehabilitating from Iraq war wounds with an XBox 360

Lance Cpl. John McClellan was shot by a sniper in Haditha, Iraq. The bullet damaged the part of his brain that controls movement in his left hand and leg.

John used to play a lot of video games before and during his tour of duty in Iraq and he figured he could use video games to get movement back in his hand better than by following the Veteran's Hospital doctors' advice. So he bought an XBox 360 and got some games for it.

John says his hand is now much better thanks to the video games.

The town of Guelph, ON, Canada uses GuelphQuest Online to educate residents about city planning

The town of Guelph, ON, Canada is growing fast and is facing some city planning challenges in the future in dealing with the population growth.

The town has turned towards games to educate its residents of policy choices dealing with city planning and the consequences of those choices. They've commissioned a Flash-based game called GuelphQuest Online.

The game asks players to plan the next 35 years of the town's growth. The game asks the players to prioritize the choices the town has to grow with a series of questions and then presents the player with how the future would turn out given their choices in a time-lapse animation of the city map as well as how things like commute time and air quality would be effected.

In my practise game I managed to reduce the eco-footprint of the city by 30%, but also increased commute time by 20%.

Earthquake in Zipland helps children deal with divorce

Zipland Interactive has produced a game called Earthquake in Zipland to help children deal with divorce or separation of their parents.

The game has been produced with the help of a professional family therapist Chaya Harash (M.S.W.) and is aimed at kids between the age of 9 and 12.

The game is designed to help children deal with issues like guilt about the divorce, blame and responsibility for the loss of the old family structure, being torn between two households, exploring the fantasy of bringing the parents back together again among other psyhological effects of divorce of children.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A study claims ESRB ratings system better than most

Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government, has released a study on entertainment ratings systems in the United States.

CEI being a pro free markets and against big government type of an organization obviously has an agenda to promote market driven approaches against those provided by the Government, but the study is still an interesting look into the ratings systems used to rate entertainment products in the United States. Of particular interest to The Pixelantes is the study's conclusions about the effectiveness of ESRB, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which rates video games.

The study documents the evolution of the ratings systems for movies, comic books, music, television, radio and video games. It studies their effectiveness and usefullness and finally tries to draw conclusions on how a good ratings system should operate.

The study's conclusion is that the ESRB system works better than others. The study states:

The ESRB system is by far the most descriptive and comprehensive ratings system for any medium today. Indeed, it is one of the few that contains all relevant information on the products themselves.

The study also lists what they think are best practises for ratings systems:

...the best rating systems have three attributes: They attempt to describe, rather than prescribe, what entertainment media should contain; they are particularly suited to their particular media forms; and they were created with little or no direct input from government.

The study finishes by underlying that ratings systems are mere tools and should never replace good parenting:

Well thought-out ratings systems, particularly those shaped through market forces rather than government mandates, can prove a valuable tool for parents, but they are just that—tools. No ratings system can replace good parenting.

We couldn't agree more.

The study is available as an PDF download.