White House Calls for Research on Links Between Video Games and Violence

Yesterday, the White House unveiled “Now is the Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence.” Super good! I don’t intend to attack the the President, his plan, or even the fact that he calls for more research into any possible relationships between video games and violence. With the trauma of gun violence being so severe in American culture, encouraging research into what many citizens believe to have a causative relationship with violence, i.e. that violent video games lead to violent crime, is the right call. While it is politically unfortunate that the President seemed unable to find a place for video games in his plan than under the section to “End the Freeze on Gun Violence Research,” (page 8), I don’t think that we have much to worry about regarding any lasting effects on public opinion. We know that all good research into the topic, assuming fair distribution and reporting of research results and data, is going to show that video games and their place in society are nothing to be afraid of.

Here is my point; how do we already know that we have nothing to fear? Hasn’t research already shown that violence in video games has a lasting effect on gamers, causing them to be desensitized to violence and therefore less likely to check impulses toward violent behavior? Since video games are more immersive than other forms of media, doesn’t it stand to reason that they affect a greater ability to impact and change the human psyche? Let’s look into why not. Continue reading

Holy Bundle of Books!

With one week down and one to go, let’s look at the Humble eBook Bundle. This is the first Humble Bundle featuring e-books, and it got off to a strong start a week ago before slowing considerably. At this point it’s done over $465,000 in sales, which is a nice lump sum around $50,000 for all of the authors and nonprofits involved if split evenly. That’s nothing to sneeze at. At least, that’s what one of the men who organized it hopes. He hopes to show publishers and retailers that it is possible to make money on e-books without high prices and restrictive DRM. If things worked that way, maybe more authors would get paid for their work.

For those unfamiliar with the Humble Bundle, here’s the deal. There are five books, each book is written by a different author, and they are for sale. They cost however much money you want to pay for them. Seriously, whether you think they are collectively worth fifty dollars or fifty cents, they will take your money and you will get your stuff. The books you get will be in e-book format. They will be downloadable a limitless number of times, in several formats, and all without any security measures to control what you do with them. They work on Kindle, Nook, iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux easily. Your purchase price, by default, is split between the authors, several nonprofits, and the Humble Bundle website. The nonprofits available are: Child’s Play, which brings electronic entertainment to sick children; EFF, which seeks to protect our privacy and rights on the internet; and Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, just a bunch of obviously kick-ass people.

Honestly, from the amount I’ve gotten into each of them, these books do each look pretty good. Oh, I forgot to mention that you get a bonus if you pay at or above the average price. Those bonuses are Old Man’s War, a science fiction novel by John Scalzi, and Signal to Noise, a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean. So, that’s pretty awesome, and of course the average price seems to keep rising as more and more people make sure they get their bonus material.

You should really check it out, and pick up some books for the price you actually value them for. They’ll be yours forever. True, e-books may lack much of the romance of printed books, but this is about more than that. This is about more authors being able to get their work published fairly, and more people being able to access it fully, quickly, and affordably. That would lead to more good books for you to buy and enjoy in paper-form. I’m going to go back to reading, now.

Update: Five more e-books have just been added to the bundle. They are all compilations of popular webcomics. There are two Penny Arcade books, two Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal books, and one xkcd book.

Captain, You’re Needed on the Bridge

A few weeks ago, The PA Report posted an editorial about Artemis, a game which places you and your friends on the bridge of an interstellar spacecraft.  Check out the article HERE. If you’re a fan of Star Trek, cooperative games, or role-playing, you really need to check this out; trust me.

The game in action: