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Educational Responsibiltiy and Games Consoles

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Michael Wilkinson
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« on: March 22, 2008, 01:15:48 PM »

In a time where we look towards the impact of consumer electronics to support teaching and learning i.e. engaging in learning via the Wii, Playstation, Xbox, PSP, Nintendo DS etc – why is it that our TV’s now advertise a new computer came called ‘Bully: Scholarship Edition’ a game where you actually play a bully in a school! Firstly, who designed this game and why the Hell were they not sacked before the idea became a reality! Also, as the likes of Sony begin to enter the education market, is there no-one who feels they should have some level of responsibility for the impact of computer games on today’s learners. There has obviously been debate in the past as to the nature of violent games with an increasing focus on war, violent behaviour etc – however, these such games tend to be far fetched and move the player beyond the obvious realities. A game situated in school with a student who bullies other students and is abusive towards teaching staff actually sets a scene not so dissimilar to the everyday lives of our learners and surely this has to have an impact!
Perhaps I am just getting old! but just wondered what other people’s thoughts were especially as schools begin to provide or encourage use of the very same infrastructures for teaching and learning.
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2008, 06:48:05 PM »

Hi Michael

I don't think you're getting old but perhaps you're taking the game title too literally.

Have you played it?

I suspect from your post that you might not have because if you had you'd have probably discovered that Bully is actually a hilarious romp that has more to do with a "Home Alone" meets "Just William" motif than what you might expect would be "Grand Theft Auto" set in a school.

To be on the safe side the game is, in fact, rated 15 but having played the game myself I didn't find anything in there that would remotely encourage bullying at school nor anything that you wouldn't have found in the late lamented Grange Hill television series. But have a look for yourself:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/jDypKP2ek_E&amp;rel=0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/jDypKP2ek_E&rel=0</a>

The interactive entertainment industry is regulated and titles, like DVD's etc., are age certified with regulatory bodies including ELSPA, PEGI and BBFC.

From the ELSPA site:

Over the years, there have been over 3,500 research studies into the effects of screen violence, encompassing film, TV, video and more recently, computer and video games. This is according to a report commissioned by the Video Standards Council and undertaken by Dr Guy Cumberbatch, Chartered Psychologist and Director of the Communications Research Group, based in Birmingham, who has specialised in the study of media violence for over 25 years.

His Report, published in 2001, has concentrated on the more recent epidemic of research, referring to 52 studies, the vast majority of which are within the last two decades, with strong concentration on the most recent, in which computer and video games featuring strongly as the subject matter.

He states in his Conclusions to the Report, "The real puzzle is that anyone looking for research evidence could draw any conclusions about the pattern let alone argue with such confidence and even passion that it demonstrates the harm of violence on TV, in film/video and in video games. While tests of statistical significance are a vital tool of the social sciences, they seem to have been more often used in this field as instruments of torture on the data until it confesses something that could justify a publication in a scientific journal. If one conclusion is possible, it is that the jury is still not out. It's never been in. Media violence has been subjected to a lynch mob mentality with almost any evidence used to prove guilt". 

Child psychologist, Dr Tanya Byron, has been commissioned by Gordon Brown to research this area of technology use by young people and look into violence and ratings issues. The report will be published this coming Thursday 27th March which I'm sure will make interesting reading!

An early interview with Tanya concerning the report can be found here. A video interview with Tanya courtesy of Alex Rombas of Shiny Shiny:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/-YDtoyCledQ&amp;rel=0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/-YDtoyCledQ&rel=0</a>

A speculative article on what the Byron Review might contain was published in the Telegraph newspaper today here which suggests the report will emphasize parental responsibility and ratings. Tanya has also been invited to speak at this years Handheld Learning Conference.


« Last Edit: March 23, 2008, 12:09:37 PM by Graham » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2008, 11:20:07 AM »

The Daily Mail (On Sunday) have entered the debate in preparation for the release of the Byron Review with the headline that "Parents shouldn't let children play video games in their bedroom" and urges parental surveillance and monitoring here.

On this basis it might be sensible to keep reading books, comics, the use of home science kits, arts and crafts (scissors and needles) doing their revision, etc all on the kitchen table or in the living room. After all, young people should probably become accustomed to accepting a lifetime of surveillance. It's a shame that, particularly in the inner cities, it is no longer regarded as safe for children to play unsupervised in our parks or streets. Games provide hours of safe social engagement and amusement for children at home rather than sitting passively in front of TV re-runs and force-fed cartoons from state licensed merchandising portals.

I wonder what parents used to do before without the government prescribed user manual for bringing-up kids  Grin

A further article in the, inappropriately named, Independent paper can be found hereWink

I doubt anyone would disagree that a clearly understood certification for games as in films is necessary (although there has been one for years!) but I do believe that parents aren't as daft as this government and some sections of the media would have you believe. Given that the traditional "hardcore" gaming demographic is 18-34 year-old males much of this reporting is simply good for selling newspapers and stimulating moral panic amongst those who have yet to enter the 21st Century. The success of new gaming software that has found new audiences amongst much younger and older generations has demonstrated that not everybody is interested in beat 'em up's or first person shooting games.

« Last Edit: March 23, 2008, 11:43:46 AM by Graham » Logged
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