Summary of “What do we actually know about the risks of screen time and digital media?”

Recently, PNAS took a look at what we actually know about these risks, publishing a series of papers focused on “Digital Media and Developing Minds.” Collectively, this work explores the current state of research on this broad question lingering in the back of many minds: what impact do screens have on our brains, especially the developing noggins of everyone from children to young adults?
The new series of papers includes a look at childhood screen use and ADHD, the effects of media multitasking on attention, and the link between violent video games and aggression.
The separate papers are a good reminder that these are really separate issues; even if screen time ends up being problematic in one area, it doesn’t mean it can’t have a positive effect in another.
For Jay Hull, one of the authors of the headline-grabbing paper, video games and violence wasn’t a primary research interest.
The meta-analysis showed an effect: the more violent the video game play, the more the aggression.
Relative risk might be better, they suggest-how much more likely is your kid to be aggressive with access to violent games? A previous study of Hull’s found that kids with high exposure to mature games got sent to the principal’s office for fighting twice as much as those with low exposure-but even then, the rate was approximately ten kids out of every thousand, compared to five out of every thousand.
Markey, who is highly critical of the idea that games lead to violence, thinks that the analysis is sound but has bones to pick with the way the research is presented in the paper and the media.
“All this focus on video games! Meanwhile we’re not worried about things like gun control, economic issues, or media portrayals of. If we become distracted with things like video games, it takes our eyes off what might be a bigger issue.” That’s where the practical significance of the finding looms large: if video games explain only a tiny portion of aggressive behavior, other factors should probably be getting a lot more airtime.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How employers have gamified work for maximum profit”

Gamification’s trapping of total fun masks that we have very little control over the games we are made to play – and hides the fact that these games are not games at all.
The Egyptian board game senet represented the passage of the ka to the afterlife; its name is commonly translated as ‘the game of passing’.
We don’t see the emergence of anything analogous to modern gamification until the 18th century when Europe underwent a renaissance of games and game design.
The spread of ombre coincided with a boom in games and game culture in Europe.
Game development corporations seized on a booming market, cultivating gamers as a distinct category of consumer, and focusing on white, adolescent and teenage boys.
The US ice-cream parlour chain Cold Stone Creamery marshalled the power of games to teach workers how to be expert ice-cream mixers with the game Stone City, which uses motion controls to teach people how to ‘feel’ out the correct scoops.
The game calculates how large the scoops are in relation to the optimal sizes, and then tells the players how much their over-scoops cost the store.
‘ The gamified workplace is not a game in the original sense, nor does it cultivate playful ends.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Scientists Have Connected The Brains of 3 People, Enabling Them to Share Thoughts”

Neuroscientists have successfully hooked up a three-way brain connection to allow three people share their thoughts – and in this case, play a Tetris-style game.
The researchers behind the new system have dubbed it BrainNet, and say it could eventually be used to connect many different minds together, even across the web.
Apart from opening up strange new methods of communication, BrainNet could actually teach us more about how the human brain functions on a deeper level.
“We present BrainNet which, to our knowledge, is the first multi-person non-invasive direct brain-to-brain interface for collaborative problem solving,” write the researchers.
In the experiment set up by the scientists, two ‘senders’ were connected to EEG electrodes and asked to play a Tetris-style game involving falling blocks.
Receivers were able to detect which of the senders was most reliable based on brain communications alone, which the researchers say shows promise for developing systems that deal with more real world scenarios where human unreliability would be a factor.
The same group of researchers has previously been able to link up two brains successfully, getting participants to play a game of 20 questions against each other.
“Our results raise the possibility of future brain-to-brain interfaces that enable cooperative problem solving by humans using a ‘social network’ of connected brains,” writes the team.

The orginal article.

Summary of “There are too many video games. What now?”

Like a lot of game developers, de Paco sees the daily avalanche of games crashing onto online marketplaces such as Steam as a severe threat to his livelihood.
A saturated market Over the past decade and change, the number of video games on the market has increased exponentially.
The weekly trickle of games flowing into Steam has surged into a roaring river, with the number of games on the platform nearly doubling every year from 2014 to now – 1,772 that year, 2,964 in 2015, 4,207 in 2016, and 7,672 in 2017, according to Sergey Galyonkin of SteamSpy, a site that uses a quickly vanishing trove of public data to estimate the sales of games on the platform.
While the studio succeeded in capturing the spirit of the arcade – even roping in twin-stick pioneer Eugene Jarvis for the ride – Haveri says that there are simply too many small developers churning out quality games in that style and genre for Housemarque’s neoclassical approach to support a studio of its scale.
In a climate where every game is stuffed to the gills with five tiers of colored loot, massive open worlds, reams of optional content and a dozen content patches lurking on the schedule before the core package even hits store shelves, it seems that game developers are battering each other harder than ever before to compete for the attention of games worldwide.
“And if you’re spending 10 of those in a PUBG, or a Fortnite, what does that leave for the rest of us? It’s true that timing of release is critical, sure, and I don’t think that single-player, smaller-scope games are going to go away; there’s always going to be room for that. But time is something that you really can’t move, and you have to account for that when people move into these long-term relationships with games.”The crunch is actually worse than you might think, because it’s not just the number of games that are increasing; the number of actual gaming hours out there could be shrinking, too.
Though Valve’s “curators” program has failed to totally stem the tide of game makers and players alike complaining of issues discovering games that appeal to them, the eShop has even fewer options than that.
“In Spain, the ones who are making money in video games are the schools, not the developers.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Can you fall in love with a scripted robot? A growing number of app gamers are”

The primary aim of Mystic Messenger is to pursue a romantic relationship with one of a number of characters in the game, one of whom is Saeran.
The most dedicated romantic gamers do not see their interactions with virtual characters as a substitute for human companionship, but as a new type of digital intimacy.
Following the widely reported story of Nene Anegasaki – the man who married his favorite character from the dating sim Love Plus – an article in the New York Times Magazine described these games as a last resort for men who needed virtual women as a “Substitute for real, monogamous romance”.
In China, where a dating sim called Love and Producer was downloaded more than 7m times in its first month, media reports about the game have been mostly negative, if not alarmist.
“A lot of gamers in Japan could be very angry, but they’re not,” he said.
Not all gamers who play dating sims feel that they are part of a “Love revolution” or ushering a new era of digital intimacy.
There are lots of dating sims players who find the idea that they are somehow falling in love with the characters in the game slightly perverse.
In February, Pape Games, the developer that made Love and Producer, released an ad that portrayed a young woman telling her mother that she had finally found a husband, but that the husband was a character in the game.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The rise and fall of the company behind ‘Reader Rabbit’ and all your favorite educational games”

Both Reader Rabbit and Cluefinders were the work of The Learning Company, a dominant player in the realm of educational software during its peak in the late 1980s and ’90s. At a certain point, TLC owned pretty much every computer game that mattered to millennials: The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, even Oregon Trail.
The company was in financial shambles – and, in what was labeled one of the worst business deals of all time, almost took a Fortune 500 company down with it.
An elementary teacher’s aide, Grimm had first-hand experience with some of the earliest educational software made by textbook companies.
So when the school secretary mentioned a new company up in Portola Valley that was working on educational software, Grimm decided to give McCormick a call.
Jan Davidson, co-founder of educational software company Davidson & Associates – best known for combining aliens and addition in Math Blaster – stepped down as president because she believed the new owners were privileging profits over quality.
By the ’90s, with his company floundering, O’Leary redirected his energy towards the flourishing educational software industry.
Rather than investing heavily in research and development his strategy involved buying up existing software companies and touting their already-popular games at big box stores like Best Buy and Costco.
The Learning Company became a business version of hot potato, its intellectual property tossed from one company to another.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Pokémon: The 20-year fad”

Pokémon is a fad. It has been for 20 years now.
“Pocket Monster seizures” had become a meme both online and off by the time the games arrived here a year later, under the catchy name Pokémon.
The games were still burning up the Game Boy sales charts when The Simpsons aired its 1999 episode “30 Minutes Over Tokyo,” in which the entire family was rendered catatonic by a popular Pokémon satire, “Battling Seizure Robots.” A few months later, South Park took its own swing at Pokémon with the episode “Chinpokomon,” in which the community’s parents fretted that their kids had become swept up by a Pokémon-inspired fad. Meanwhile, major publications like Time and Newsweek explored the Pokémon phenomenon in alarmist terms, ultimately assuring parents that it would all go away on its own.
The initial release in each of Pokémon’s seven generations of games ranks among of the 50 best-selling games of all time.
Pokémon came into being as an intimate, intricate labor of love Pokémon also taps into the social aspect of gaming at every level.
The game’s lead designers, Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori, conceived of Pokémon as an attempt to translate their own enthusiasm for competitive bug collecting into a video game concept that would take advantage of the Game Boy’s link cable connection.
Pokémon didn’t debut in Japan until 1996; Tajiri and Sugimori’s studio, Game Freak, spent all that time defining and refining the game to make sure it lived up to their dreams and expectations.
Pokémon Go, fad that it is, makes the journey to capture Pokémon literal.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Russia’s Vostok War Games Aren’t As Large as Putin Says”

We’ve seen this kind of undiplomatic diplomacy at work in Europe, where Moscow has responded to debates in Sweden and Finland about joining NATO with war games simulating Russian invasions.
In last year’s Zapad war games, Moscow low-balled the number of soldiers participating.
More to the point, as defense analyst Michael Kofman has noted: If even, say, only one regiment of a brigade is actually involved in Vostok, then Russia will include the entire brigade in its tally.
This helps explain how the Russian army was able to reassure a population angry over proposed pension age hikes that no extra money would be spent on the war games.
The bottom line is that Russia lacks the cash and the transport capability to move this many troops without causing disruption.
Russia is happy to see the world swallow that 300,000 figure because, like an animal puffing out its fur and baring its teeth when faced with a predator, it wants to look as formidable as possible.
Putin is aware that the objective indicators do not help him make his case that Russia, with an economy smaller than that of Texas, should be treated as one of the great world powers.
The pictures we’ll soon see of tanks rumbling across the steppe, as rockets, drones and gunships roar overhead, are part and parcel of a campaign to make Russia great again.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Behave at Your Kid’s Big Game”

Your little point guards, goalies and shortstops don’t need another coach.
You know who’s a good model of this? Grandparents.
In The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, author Jessica Lahey points to a survey of adult athletes, who were asked about their favorite and least favorite part of playing youth sports.
Their favorite? When their grandparents watched them play.
Grandparents don’t criticize or micromanage in the moments after the game.
Grandparents don’t critique the coach’s strategy or a referee’s call.
Even in the face of embarrassing failures on the field, grandparents support their grandchildren with no ulterior motive or agenda.
So if you want to become the kind of person your child wants to be around after the big game, act more like a grandparent.

The orginal article.