Gotta catch ‘em all: videogame studies of 2011

According to my citeulike search, I have picked up 205 videogames articles published online in 2011, an astonishing increase from last year’s 133 articles. There are many explanations for this growth: better search algorithms, increasing academic attention to videogames, indiscriminate tagging where some may not be actually about videogames, expanding inclusion of certain publications, some are slated for 2012 in physical form, or possibly some are not even peer-reviewed articles (e.g. theses dissertations, conference papers, etc.). In any case, there are more papers that I could possibly read in my hectic schedule and it is a shame a small fraction of these studies are ever known to the public and gamers in particular.

On my side of videogame science, I have some projects that jumped and tripped over many hurdles and I ran across recent studies that just might explain why running participants with two versions of the same game might not generate any significant results. I have a content analysis project that once in a while doubted its importance or its methodology and yet the fuel is still going, thanks to a penguin living in Michigan. A cultural comparative content analysis of Western and Japanese characters from the top 100 selling videogames of 2010, using youtube videos as my “unitizing data”, wikis as my “recording data” and coding schemes adapted from papers I read of which I have little confidence beyond demographics. I once considered using tvtropes.org as part of my project looking at stereotypic behaviours of videogames characters, somewhat “more reliable” to have crowd-sourced data than the four-or-less team of coders. I even downloaded videogame covers (US, Europe and Japan version covers) because Melinda Burgess and colleagues did that and why can’t I or they? There are obvious and subtle differences between the cover versions and those subtle ones are quite interesting to talk about, but they can just be exceptional cases as far I can tell. Perhaps the common perception that Americans are attracted to masculinity and the Japanese to cuteness might be a reflection of cultural preferences or a normative one perpetuated by the gatekeepers called marketers, producers, executives and localizers.

It's pretty much what I've been doing for the whole year.

I can only recall one highlight for this year, as I am currently traveling away from Montreal, where Walter Boot (Florida State University) contacted me back in September to blog on an article reviewing the methodological problems in cognitive videogame research. The post appeared as if I dramatically improved my writing skills, alas he and his colleagues edited it. My posting attracted modest attention, but it was not until the university press release did it generate the expected sort of nonsensical and sensationalist journalism.

I am well on my way to accumulate data that its mass will collapse itself into a brilliant or, worse, a dark master’s thesis and hopefully by that time be offered a place in a PhD program.

That is all.

There IS a psychology lab in Canada that does research in videogame violence

An article from The Standard of Saint Catharines, Ontario, featured a Ph.D student at Brock University doing research into violent videogames. It dropped in my inbox and I am very miffed that there was a program in CANADA that I could’ve applied to. If I was offered admission there, I would’ve accepted in a heartbeat and my situation would’ve been different, dare I say better financially since I could get SSHRC funding.  I swear that Brock University was one of the potential candidate schools, I contacted one of the professors who did not reply and that prompted me to think that videogames was not in her area of interest. Well, I’m pissed!

Anyways, the article spoke of Paul Adachi, a doctoral student, and his project how he teased out the violence effect on several factors, such as competitiveness, violent content, level of difficulty and pace of action. He selected carefully two games that were similar on those factors with the exception of violent content. What the newspaper stated is that he found that both videogames elicited the same level of aggressive behaviours. It reads that he will conduct more study to play around with those factors. And I will try to contact them (i.e. that lab) and get some information out of them. Man, I’m pissed.

Am I happy at OSU? I’m leaning towards no on the basis of their quarter system and the city itself since I have Montrealer standards. But the people here are awesome.

Facepalm: Baylor University professor is exploring violent videogames (The Lariat Online, 2010)

Benjamin Sisko (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) facepalms.

When this news article from the Lariat Online showed up writing about an assistant communication studies professor studying on violent videogames, it was already losing my attention. What Dr. Daniel Shafer is looking at seems like what everyone else is doing, such as vulnerabilities (Dr. Markey?), which videogames are most apt to lead to hostility (that’s new) and multiplayer gameplay (Dr. Eastin and Dr. Mahood?). He also question whether non-violent videogames contribute to hostility,  Sestir and Bartholow (2010) got in first, a second study wouldn’t hurt.

Now you’re wondering why the facepalm? It’s the reporter’s erroneous knowledge on videogames. Here is the offending quote:

Currently, the government regulates games by labeling them with a rating, dependent on how violent the game is. Games labeled “mature” are considered the most violent and require a person to be 17 or older to purchase them.

The government (at any level) does not regulate, label nor require a person to be 17 or over to buy an M-rated videogame. The videogame industry self-regulates through the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which rates and labels on a set of established criteria. It is the retailers’ job to enforce the age purchase limit and they do a good job (see Ars Technica article) since customers are their business.

Lance Holbert who is teaching my theories class said that the OSU School of Communication is an oddity among other communications department due to the high productivity and that graduated PhDs already have a couple of publications in peer-reviewed journals. I checked the professor’s publication history and given that he got his PhD in 2009, it’s not much…

Dodgeball ban (Fox News, 2010)

It’s still too hot for me to do anything productive… I know it’s not videogames, but it’s play.

Personality VG researcher Patrick Markey posted a Fox News interview about some schools in West Virginia banning dodgeball because it’s harmful to kids. I tilted my head at impossible angles while reading the news prompts. Now you be the judge of the funny news.

I’m going to Ohio State University

I have decided to attend Ohio State University’s School of Communication. After exhaustive research and waiting, I have determined that Ohio State University will be suited to my upbringing. Despite the fact that none of the grad schools that offered admission had no funding, I had to look at other elements to help my decision.

Until the paperwork is sorted out, I’m not formally admitted and that makes me nervous.

Two schools out of seven is quite the effort.

A research career outside of academia (Nichols, 2009)

I don’t get how google alert emailed links that were several months old, some of them years. Anyways, Tim Nichols of Microsoft’s Games User Research has written in the American Psychological Association’s website about his role in video game development and his work in following the pursuit of “fun” in video games. I wonder if they’re hiring? I hope they’re in need of research assistants…

The link: http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2009/11/careers.aspx

GRE results

GRE 4 koma

The results of my GRE indicate a good performance, however I fear the analytical writing section may be disappointing. Now on to the TOEFL, because two grad schools don’t give any exemptions for a Canadian applicant.

Facepalm: TEEN GAMING ADDICTIONS ON THE RISE IN U.S. (The pinnacle schools inc., 2009)

*sigh*

*sigh*

This (troubledteenhelp.com) came in this morning in my google alert mailbox and when I read the contents, well the above image is the best descriptor. The website reports on a study that found 10% of teens (wrong!) being addicted to online and video games, the study has already been discussed more than five months ago (See Gentile, 2009).

I don’t mind the late reports since I see them quite often, but this particular report has so many faults and biases. It’s so bad that’s both funny and depressing, I have to take it apart so everyone can mock them for their apparent ignorance. Continue reading