Effects Of Violent Computer Games On Children

I received a question regarding violent computer games from one of you readers:

I am a 6th Form Media Studies student, investigating into the effects of computer games, particularly violent ones on children, and if the effects are different on boys to girls? I would very much appreciate an input from your view on this question and what you feel the effects are are on the different genders (boys and girls).

Before answering to this question I really must point out that this answer is only my opinion and I won’t even try to pretend that I’d know 100% how violent video games might affect on children – so don’t count on getting facts based on research. These are only my opinions and I deserve the right to be 100% wrong on this.

Let’s move on.

I don’t know if there’s any difference on the effects depending on gender. I believe both boys and girls can feel the effects of computer violence – perhaps some individuals differently than others, but in this matter I would put boys and girls in the same basket. I think – and that’s my guess alone – that violence in games has similar impact to boys and girls.

What I think today about violent games is very different from the thoughts I had when I was a teenager. As a teenager (and perhaps bit older too) I used to say “computer games don’t create violent behavior” and “computer games might be played by violent people – but that they were violent beforehand”. Today I have a bit different opinion.

I don’t think that playing violent video games would automatically create violence. I enjoyed playing Mortal Kombat and Doom and I think they had much impact on me. I read Dalai Lama’s and Gandhi’s texts and think they make lots of sense when it comes to non-violence. But in games… sometimes it’s fun to shoot some zombies.

While I don’t think violent video games automatically turn us into murderers, they might still teach us patterns on how to behave (mafia games might suggest that revenge is okay for example). In some (rare – I’d say) cases, some kids might really model violence they see in games.

I’m bit concerned what the violent games teach us. For example: when you play any strategy game and after you’ve killed “the terrorists” you see “victory”. Ask somebody who has really been on some war, and he’ll tell you that there are no winners in wars. Splitting world into “good guys” and “enemies” (or “terrorists”) is some sort of propaganda… and we buy that. The games teach us that “it’s okay to kill bad guys” – and I’m not sure if that’s such a good lesson. Are there truly “good” and “bad” guys, or could it be that “good guys” also happen to do “bad things”? And is it really a “victory” if you kill your enemy?

There are some games that use violence only for the sake of violence. I wrote about the violence in games in the past after I played Punisher game… and to be honest: I really think that type of violence isn’t suitable for children (not sure if that’s suitable for anyone now as I think about it). Basically in that game you shoot anything that moves and if somebody messes with you – then it’s your duty to kick their heads.

There has been research made on this topic, and I recommend checking out some academic research to get more detailed and informative insight on this matter (scholar.google.com and search for “violence in video games” could be a good starting point). I believe there you can find more factual statements based on actual research – instead of some blogger’s comments. :)

Bottom line. In my opinion, I think the game age ratings are there for a reason. Parents should check out those ratings and see what games their kids play. Not everything is suitable for children, and violent video games should be supervised like any other media.

Take This Test To See If You Are a Whining Game Producer

I bet you say that you won’t whine. I bet you think yourself as somebody who is not complaining much, and definitely not whining. I don’t know if that’s true or false, and I think there might be a chance that you also don’t know that you actually are whining.

I could be wrong – but I think you need test you need to pass. It’s called a whining game producer test.

The test is extremely simple, and doesn’t require much effort. There is basically only one thing you need to do, although it helps if you have somebody to help you.

There’s one pretty simple thing you need to do:

Every time you think or say out loud that “something sucks” or “weather is bad” or “darn artists, never here when you need them”… basically complain about anything then you must draw a line (use a notepad or anything). It can be anything. If you are complaining about your children scream, draw a line. If you complain that politicians aren’t running the country as they should, draw a line. If you complain that life isn’t fair, draw a line. If you complain that your coworkers are always late, draw a line.

If possible, ask others to notify you if you are complaining (because it might not be easy to spot by yourself). Tell your spouse or coworkers (or children or anybody) to stop you whenever you are complaining. Simply ask them to remind you about drawing lines.

Do this for one week (even day or two can be enlightening…) and count how many lines you got. Feel free to use the game producer forums to tell “another line received” (here’s a thread where you mark lines), and count how many posts you end up having by the end of the week.

If you got more than zero lines (yep, whining game producers will have one or more lines) then you are a whiner. If you complain that one should allow to have at least one line and not to be considered a whiner, that means you just earned yourself one line.

Whiners draw lines – rest of the people won’t.

One tiny note to the end. The purpose of this exercise is not to think only positive things and never notice if something goes bad. Nope. The idea is that if something goes wrong (let’s say somebody is late from a meeting), then you must realize that complaining or nagging (saying “he is always late”) won’t have any impact. Instead of complaining, you can (and should) figure out a way to solve the problem (like discuss with the guy who comes always late and explain how being 15 minutes late costs $500 to the company or whatever).

That’s what the test is all about. Draw a line whenever you find yourself complaining about anything, and replace the habit of complaining with the habit of suggesting solutions.

Ad-Free Game Producer Blog For Insiders

I’ve recently done a small change that will help Insiders read GameProducer.net without ads. Basically this means that no ads for those who subscribe to the service (current price is $9.97 USD per month or $99.70 per year).

Naturally Insiders membership still comes with all the other goodies such as the press release distribution service, private forums, special articles and so on. Detailed information about the benefits are listed here.

Halo 3 Sold $170 Million On The First Day: Tip For Product Pricing

Halo 3 sold $170 million on the first day according to Microsoft. I was bit skeptical about the Halo 3 sales estimations some days ago, since Halo 2 sold $125 million on the first day.

What’s interesting to see here, that the price of Halo 3 is almost $100 in Finland (that’s 60-70 euros) – for one game. Indies are thinking if they should sell their games for less than $20. I wonder why aren’t we (self-publishers) selling games for at least $40.

Maybe our game will get a higher price tag when the game is done…

Hilarious Peggle Zero Punctuation Video Review

I noticed a thread about funny video reviews at Indiegamer. I haven’t seen these Zero Punctuation reviews earlier, but better late than never.

Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw is doing weekly web video game reviews that appear at Escapist magazine.

He describes himself like this: “When he isn’t talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and does the occasional feature for Australia’s Hyper Magazine.” – and after watching the video, this sounds accurate…

Here’s a video review about Peggle game by PopCap. Watch it – it’s hilarious.

See more of these reviews here: Zero Punctuation at Escapist magazine

Kudos: Rock Legend Sales Stats

Cliff Harris from Positech Games offered sales stats of his latest game Kudos: Rock Legend.

Rock Legend is a sequel of Kudos game. Te game is part RPG, part life-sim, part Tycoon game. You are a struggling rock singer who puts together their own band, and tries to achieve fame and fortune, from humble beginnings as a starving garage-band. Pick your band-members, choose the band name, write the songs, play the gigs – and make it to the top.

Here are the game sales statistics, with some comments and comparison to Positech’s Democracy game.

Title: Kudos: Rock Legend
website: www.rocklegendgame.com
Developer website: www.positech.co.uk
Team size: 1 (me) plus 1 artist, 1 musician and 1 vocalist working on
Price: $22.95 through BMTMicro
Start of game development: November 2006 (approx 6 months dev time)
Launch date: May 26, 2007
Direct sales to date: 1,088 copies
Adwords Expenses: approx $480
Other expenses: approx $1,200 for music, maybe $200 other sound effects, approx $1,600 in artwork.
Rough total expenses: $2,600
Rough total income: $22,500

Earnings per month on sale: approx $5,600
Profit per month based on earnings to date and dev time: approx $3,300

Comments by Cliff:

Not as good a seller as I had hoped, but will probably continue to sell in
the long term. Portal sales unknown as yet. The game continues to sell quite
steadily, and my games have seen very long life spans. Democracy has sold
hundreds of copies over the same period, and that’s very old. Also there are
additional Mac sales, which I have not listed.

Discuss this entry: Rock legend sales stats forum thread.

Post Your Jobs For Free At the Game Producer Forums

Game Producer forums have been open for some time and couple hundred members are already discussing various topics related to producing games. For those of you who haven’t checked out the forums yet, I want to introduce the ‘Jobs’ section at the forums.

Basically all registered users can post their job announcements 100% free (at least at the moment) to the jobs section. Ben from posted a job thread titled: Stainless Games is looking for an assistant producer.

If you are after (producer – or other) jobs, remember to bookmark the jobs section. It will get more job offers as time goes on.

If you want to announce a job, please post your job for free at the forums.

Joy of Game Development

Game development is basically very similar to any IT project work, with one exception: finished project is supposed to be used for entertainment. Not for business, but for people to use the product just for fun.

There are amazingly many elements in game development that can be fun. I personally enjoy small things such as seeing game characters moving and doing things I wanted them to do (“God syndrome” perhaps…). I find joy in getting pieces together and seeing them finished. I enjoy breakthrough – those “heureka!” moments – when something very complex gets solved. I enjoy listening to new sounds or music, and enjoy seeing 3D art done by artists.

And I enjoy writing about what I enjoy ;)

Sure, there are things that aren’t so “nice” such as team member leaving, art pipeline problems, not having “enough time” and so on – but these are factors that can make game development even more enjoyable. After all, if there would be nothing else but roses and sunshine, wouldn’t it be bit boring? It is the challenges that can help us find more joy in game development.

If you are enjoying game development, then you are quite likely doing what you were meant to do. If game development starts to feel more like work and you aren’t finding joy… then perhaps you need to stop and reflect your situation.

After all, if making games isn’t fun – why make them at all?

GarageGames Is No More Independent – So What?

GarageGames (GG) – a game house behind Torque game technology and several games has been one “issues of the day” recently. Interactive Corporation (IAC) purchased a major part of GG stocks, and thus became big owner. This story has been covered on several sites such as game producer forums, Russell Carrol’s (Reflexive) blog, Gameset watch, indiegamer forums to name a few.

Basically this means: GG is no more independent game maker. There’s somebody else who makes the final decisions about the business and direction.

Will this mean GG is only a puppet serving its master?

No. Josh Williams clears the air by saying that “I want everyone to know that our deal with IAC was and is fundamentally compatible with our philosophies at GG, and the internal plans we had in place.”.

It’s pretty common that businesses change owners. It’s no big deal. I doubt IAC would want to somehow takeover GG just to drive their vision alone. I believe these guys noticed that GG has been doing fine stuff so far and it would make sense to partner with them. Sure, anyone who takes money from investors cannot be said to be independent – but it doesn’t necessarily mean they couldn’t continue doing what they’ve done so far. GG is one of the most well-known indie gaming companies in the world, and it would be waste of time and money to try to bend them to something else.

GG and selling games
Russell Carroll made points that GG hasn’t established an indie portal, and I agree with that. GG site isn’t the site for those who play games, but for those who make – and I don’t see a problem with this. Today’s indie needs to use all the distribution channel they have. GG is one option, but that doesn’t stop people going to sell through Reflexive, BigFishGames or Steam.

I think it all boils down to this: IAC wanted to pour money in the indie gaming field and help funding game development.

How bad that can be?

Halo 3 Leaked Before Launch – Was It On Purpose?

Halo 3 has leaked and before proceeding I must point out that.

Halo 3 leak has been discussed on several sites. Gameindustry.biz reports that the game can be illegally downloaded from the net and can be played on modified Xbox 360s. Theinquirer had another story (from April) about the leak that contains a video about the gameplay (I’ve embedded the video on this post).

Was the leak done on purpose?
I doubt that Microsoft would help getting pirate version, or gameplay video about – but a paranoid in me still asks if this was done on purpose. Simply watching the stats of the video: 2,855,425 views. Almost 3 million people have watched the video (which shows beta play) at the time of writing – and that’s pretty darn good free publicity.

How much would it cost to get thousands and thousands of websites and magazines to write about the gameplay video? I bet it would cost a lot… unless it was “leaked” – which makes a great story in itself.

I doubt that the illegal pirate version of the game was leaked on purpose (actually I’m not even 100% sure that there is a leaked version. Who knows – perhaps this was just another marketing trick), but who knows.

Whatever is the truth, one thing is for sure: Halo 3 launch happens on next Tuesday and at the moment pretty much every game magazine are writing about it. Thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of websites are writing about Halo… for free.

Here’s the April video showing gameplay from a beta version of Halo 3.

Creating buzz by leaking (or “leaking”) stuff sure seems to work.

Update: Messed up with some dates – the gameplay video is actually several months old.