Have you heard of Project Sanitarium [official site]? It’s a game designed by a group of Scottish university students which makes it possible for players to virtually test treatments for sufferers of tuberculosis. Here’s how it works:
RPS Feature APAlling
Edit: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the open letter was in response to the APA’s latest publication. It has been updated to be more accurate.
Despite a coherent effort by academics to stand up to the bad science about video games being spread by the American Pyschological Association, they have released another study making all the same mistakes. Unfortunately, the APA has a history of taking a deeply skewed and unscientific approach when it comes to data on this subject, as we reported in 2011. In 2013, 230 academics and scientists signed an open letter stating their objection to the claims being made by the APA, calling them “misleading and alarmist”. It didn’t seem to make a difference.
RPS Feature For Science
A paper published this year (pdf) by the University Of Glasgow (and only just spotted by us and everyone else) looked at whether playing videogames at 5 years old brought about any behavioural changes by the time the subjects were 7. And found there none. In fact, it found that while they could measure an extremely small difference when it came to more time spent in front of the television, perhaps surprisingly, the same wasn’t shown to be true of gaming. Of course, as is always the case, it’s well worth asking “why?” before marching down the street sounding trumpets. Let’s take a look.
RPS Feature A Desire For Truth
In the wake of the terrible shootings in Washington on Monday, today’s Mirror front page looks like this. Call Of Duty blamed. And the paper is certainly not alone. Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago we were hearing how gaming improves multitasking skills, keeping our “brains younger”. Except last week we were told that multitasking is bad for us, and “computers weaken our brain”. However it’s approached, the mainstream media really doesn’t seem to know what to do with gaming.
For someone like me, a history buff who hasn’t done anything scientific since setting fire to his school tie with a Bunsen burner, the Royal Society is pretty much a mythological institution. Its presidents have included Christopher Wren, Samuel Pepys and Isaac Newton, and the current holder of the position, Paul Nurse, is both a Nobel Prize winning geneticist and a believer in strong public discourse about scientific matters. In May, preceding its Summer Science Exhibition, the venerable institution will host a gamejam, teaming developers with the scientists behind the exhibits that showcase the best of current research and technology in the UK. Pepys would have approved. All the details, including how to enter yourself for consideration, are below.
RPS Feature Graphs reduce happiness
Polygon reports news of a study mentioned in the New York Times that says it demonstrates the rise in sales of violent videogames does not cause a spike in the rates of violent youth crime. In fact, they say, it may even lower it. Hurrah! you might cry. But let’s stop and do some science.
Sitting and playing the nonsense of Black Ops 2, it’s hard to imagine that your brain is improving in any way. Turns out, it’s improving in lots of ways.
Goodness, some positive, intelligent science regarding health and videogames. With cathartic ease, cognative researcher Daphne Bavelier discusses how their research has shown that even hardcore FPS games have positive effects on the brain. In fact, especially hardcore FPS games.
RPS Feature Out Of This World
Waking Mars is pretty special game. Part-Metroidvania, part-Mars-gardening-simulator, it’s certainly not Just Another iOS Port. As Rab pointed out, it’s got enough ambition to make countless triple-A sequels blush, resulting in complexity that punishes impatience, but never without reason. But where did it come from? How on Earth does one dream up Mars gardening? According to Tiger Style’s Randy Smith, it all started with National Geographic. And from there, well, things ended up in a very, very different place.
RPS Feature To Science!
The presence of videogaming matters in scientific papers has, of late, become a somewhat depressing prospect. With both formerly respectable/respected scientists making unsupported claims without evidence, and published papers basing conclusions on woeful errors and contradictions, the one place where you’d think you could look for balanced, reasoned thought on a subject sometimes seems to have abandoned us. But there is light. Nature, surely the most respected and popular scientific journal, has published a “Viewpoint” discussion on the subject of gaming’s effect on the brain in its Nature Reviews Neuroscience journal. Brains On Video Games is a collection of leading experts looking at the published material and discussing the matter with open minds.
COMPUTER games and Facebook can addle kids’ brains, a top scientist warned yesterday. Baroness Greenfield said they may lead to temporary “dementia”.
It’d be great to think this was just the tabloid rag taking Greenfield’s words out of context, but sadly she has a record of saying unfounded things about the “negative” impact of technology. Not that I deny that kids should be going out and playing in the fresh air, Baroness Greenfield, it’s just that they’re probably not going to end up demented (temporarily or otherwise) if they stay in all the time. They’ll just be a bit sad.
There’s some wobbly reporting going on today, with yet another study claiming to demonstrate a link between a young person’s viewing violence, and being more tolerant of violence. Which is discussed as being about videogames. Which is a peculiar way of viewing a study that shows images from films to 22 teenagers, and demonstrates that as the clips progress their brain reacts less intensely, and not surprising since the study’s authors also make the same wild leap. However, it’s still an entry into the argument about whether violent images beget violence.
The real purpose of press releases is to issue outrageous statements to as many journalists as possible in the hope they’ll namecheck you when they inevitably repeat it. And hey, it works. Popcap send me a release saying stuff like “Bejeweled 2 and Peggle were shown to reduce anger by 65% and 63% respectively” – of course I’m going to post that.
It’s all part of a study (involving 132 subjects) by East Carolina University as to the positive effects of playing casual games. Test subjects were given a raft of Popcap games to play, so, quite understandably, Popcap is now giving props to itself.
This is, however, actualish science, not spurious “our tealady only smiles when playing Chuzzle” stuff.
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