Category Archives: Perspectives

Violent Video Games Review on Kotaku

Violent Video Games Review on Kotaku

I wanted to take the time to write a bit about violent games research, as I have read a ton of the research (including most of Bushman’s and Ferguson’s works) and written numerous literature reviews on the subject. But honestly, I am sick of it, sick of having to explain it, and tired of people going crazy over violent video games. However, anyone that is interested, here is a good place to go and learn.

My opinion on the subject as a psychologist (formerly in schools) and game researcher:

Violent video games are a risk factor. Combined with a lot of other risk factors like trait hostiliy, mental illness, abuse, substance use, family problems, etc., it can contribute to violence. For the average person, it has virtually no negative effect whatsoever.

Link to article


Framing Narrative: Enhancing Player Experience

So this is from a paper I wrote a couple years ago. Its a bit rough and may not be accurate to the way I think now, but I have used the diagram from this in a few talks I have given; so I wanted to provide access to it and a bit of context to go with it. Also, I know the colors are terrible, eventually I will have the time to update it a bit.

Click below to read the rest of the paper..
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NYU Game Center » Blog Archive » Game Center Lecture Series: McKenzie Wark

As part of he NYU Game Center Lecture Series, McKenzie Wark will be giving a talk on Thursday, February 17th at 7 pm. Wark is probably best known for his book, Gamer Theory. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the New York area. Click the link for details.

NYU Game Center » Blog Archive » Game Center Lecture Series: McKenzie Wark.


Curiosity Killed the Player

So lately I have been playing a lot of Minecraft, which probably is not surprising considering its recent rise in popularity. I keep finding myself coming back to play it whenever I get some free time. However, I have had a difficult time figuring out why I keep coming back to it. For anyone that does not know, Minecraft is a game about building and survival. Sort of like a digital Lego set with some enemies that try to kill you as you build. I consider myself a somewhat creative person, so no doubt I enjoy the building aspect of the game; and exploring the caverns and open spaces of the virtual world are rather fun as well. But really, what is the point? Anything I create in the game will probably never been seen by anyone, save my wife who will just say “that’s nice”. So what am I spending my time for? Long gone are the days of my childhood when I would build Lego structures in order to pretend my constructed spaceship was a real one. I do not plan on pretending my castle in Minecraft is genuine. Let me leave this here  for now and I will come back to it.

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Vids up from Art History of Games

I am a little late with posting this, but videos are up from the Art History of Video Games Conference. There are some really great talks. I found the talks by Frank Lantz and Brenda Brathwaite to be especially good.

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Sacrificing for Immersion: User Interfaces

It seems like more and more video games are taking elements that used to be simple parts of the user interface and turning them into elaborate 3-D interfaces. This causes me to question whether or not designers’ and programmers’ time would be better spent elsewhere Let me explain what I mean.

An example of what I am talking about can be seen in Assassin’s Creed 2 and it’s armor and weapons systems. In the game, your character owns an estate called the Monteriggioni Villa. This serves as a home base and as you accomplish more in the game, the villa displays some of your accomplishments and can be upgraded with money you earn throughout the game. The Villa also has a weapon room which houses all of the weapons you own; the same goes for your armor. Whenever you want you can go to rooms and swap items from the displays. The issue that I have with this is “Is all of that necessary?”. I could just as easily play the game where I could swap items from an inventory by pressing pause or an inventory button and scrolling through what I own. Certainly having the rooms gives some eye candy and perhaps a sense of accomplishment, but how much effort had to be poured into making it. How much better could other aspects of the game been if time was not devoted to that. If you play the game all the way through, you realize that the villa is essentially pointless. It does not really matter if you upgrade it or use it at all because there are other ways to earn money.

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TEDtalk: Frank Lantz – Reinventing Gaming

For anyone who doesn’t know (which means you would probably never visit this site), Frank Lantz is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Area Code as well as being interim Director of the Game Center at NYU.

Personally, I am a big fan of what he has done with the Game Center. I have taken a couple of the classes over there and been to a lot of the talks they have had. All great stuff.

Bottom Line: Frank Lantz is always worth listening to when it comes to games.

YouTube – TEDxPennQuarter – Frank Lantz – Reinventing Gaming.