The NSA could not get enough information from cable hacks and other means. So they decided to use a new technique, invading video games and spying on players.
The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which has more than 48 million players. Real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life. There were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games’ tech-friendly users.
Online gaming is big business, attracting tens of millions of users worldwide who inhabit their digital worlds as make-believe characters, living and competing with the avatars of other players. What the intelligence agencies feared, however, was that among these clans of elves and goblins, terrorists were lurking
OBJECTIVE. Suboptimal adherence to self-administered medications is a common problem. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a video-game intervention for improving adherence and other behavioral outcomes for adolescents and young adults with malignancies including acute leukemia, lymphoma, and soft-tissue sarcoma…
CONCLUSIONS. The video-game intervention significantly improved treatment adherence and indicators of cancer-related self-efficacy and knowledge in adolescents and young adults who were undergoing cancer therapy. The findings support current efforts to develop effective video-game interventions for education and training in health care.
Journal of the American Society of Pediatrics
LONDON—At the ripe old age of 28, Patrik Sättermon considers himself over the hill as a professional videogame player.
“For some games you have to be super fast, and at 24 or 25 you’re past it, you’re a veteran,” says Mr. Sättermon, a former world champion in the game Counter Strike. “You don’t realize your reflexes start to disappear, but you see it on the scoreboard.”
So Mr. Sättermon—a Swede who is the Chief Gaming Officer at Fnatic, one of the world’s top pro gaming teams—is out to groom the next generation of screen jocks.
At the Fnatic Academy he runs in London, he accepts just six teens a year. Eventually, he hopes they will become not just professional players, but stars.
“The peak age for a gamer will be 18 or 19,” says Mr. Sättermon. “That’s when you have the right balance between reflexes, the ability to understand the game and also enough maturity.”
The teen recruits must eventually leave their families to live with their teams, spending 12 hours a day in training and up to 250 days competing and traveling away from home. The pro gaming teams pay for players’ travel, gear and accommodation, as well as a base salary and performance related bonuses. In return, the team takes a cut of winnings. Top players can ultimately take home $18,000 a month or more.
via Videogame Champ, Past His Prime At 28, Grooms Next Screen Jocks – WSJ.com.
HOW EVIL SHOULD A VIDEO GAME ALLOW YOU TO BE?
POSTED BY SIMON PARKIN
It was Vladimir Nabokov’s wife, Véra who rescued the manuscript of “Lolita” from a back-yard incinerator at Cornell University. Beset by doubt over the book’s subject matter, Nabokov hoped to burn the novel before it reached the public. Likewise, the American literary critic George Steiner had second thoughts on the publication of his 1981 novella, “The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H.,” in which Adolf Hitler survives the Second World War and is given the opportunity to defend his crimes. Steiner had the book recalled and pulped.
The question of whether—or to what extent—literature should allow readers into the minds of terrorists, murderers, and abusers both fictional and historical is one that continues to trouble authors. But if video-game creators share such qualms it hasn’t stopped the production, in the course of the past forty years, of games that ask players to march in the boots of legions of despots and criminals, both petty and major. Long-time video-game players are guilty of innumerable virtual crimes, from minor indiscretions like jaywalking, in Atari’s Frogger, and smoking indoors, in Metal Gear Solid, to more serious outrages like driving under the influence, in Grand Theft Auto; gunning down an airport filled with civilians, in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II; and full-scale genocide in Sid Meier’s Civilization series.
A 2011 Supreme Court ruling recognized that video games, like other forms of art and entertainment, are protected by the First Amendment as a form of speech. “For better or worse,” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the decision, “our society has long regarded many depictions of killing and maiming as suitable features of popular entertainment.” As such, Rockstar, the developer of Grand Theft Auto V, the latest entry in the long-running series, which was released today, could include a prolonged interactive depiction of torture without fear of censorship. Nevertheless, the “24”-esque scene, which requires players to rotate the game controller’s sticks in order to tug out the victim’s teeth with pliers, has inspired debate—not only over its artistic merit but also over whether such distressing interactions have any place in video games.
via Grand Theft Auto V’s Torture Scene: How Evil Should a Video Game Allow You to Be? : The New Yorker.
“The Last of Us” is a video game, a work of interactive art, and a question will arise in the back of your mind while playing, “What would I do in this situation?” and the answer will make you feel emotions no other art form can elicit.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic United States, 20 years after the fall of mankind, in a world nature has mostly reclaimed, where resources are few and trust is scarce. Hope is the commodity in shortest supply. Most everyone has given up on rebuilding the old world. This is just how it is now. Every encounter with strangers pings that most primal of judgments under uncertainty: “Is this a potential friend or foe?”
Familiar? Sure, it’s a theme being explored all over in fiction. Something in the zeitgeist has us fretting over these things again, but in a game you have the opportunity to actually test yourself in a virtual reality, to see what you would do when the stakes are as high as possible. Would you trust others? Would you help strangers? Would you kill to survive?
In addition, “The Last of Us” explores something the gaming world calls ludonarrative dissonance. Many modern games have detailed stories with great writing and well-acted scenes interspersed between what amounts to bursts of mass murder. It can make a player feel like his or her agency in the world has been stolen by the storyteller, that the characters you are asked to portray live in two realities, one you control and one you do not. This can feel really off-putting when the characters are jaunty, smarmy, and noble in the cutscenes, but then you are asked to use those people to do terrible things. In an effort to solve this problem, Naughty Dog, the developers of “The Last of Us”, crafted an experience where you and the character feel justified when pushed to do harm, but afterward you, the gamer, feel disgusted with yourself and horrified by the power of the situation to change your behavior and shift your moral center. You find yourself quickly learning to avoid violence – a behavior I was astonished to see evoked in myself inside a game world, and was thrilled to experience. That’s something you won’t get watching “Breaking Bad.”
via YANSS Podcast – Episode Eight « You Are Not So Smart.
Ten years ago, Kevin Roberts suffered from an addiction that took over his life.
Roberts, now 44 years old, would sit eight to 12 hours a day in front of the pale blue glow of his computer, playing a videogame. During holidays, he “binged,” spending nearly all his waking hours at his keyboard. Finally, a friend who had been through Alcoholics Anonymous told him he displayed all the same characteristics of an addict.
“Like most addicts, I went through a series of self-deception,” said Roberts, who documented his struggle with addiction in his book, “Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap.”
The story of Roberts, who came to grips with his addiction through years of therapy and spiritual retreats, is not unique. Treatment facilities have sprung up in recent years, but a psychiatric hospital in central Pennsylvania is now set to become the country’s first facility of its kind to offer an inpatient treatment program for people it diagnoses with severe Internet addiction.
via Pennsylvania hospital to open country’s first inpatient treatment program for Internet addiction | Fox News.
Rejoice, girl gamers on Xbox Live! In an industry first, the sexist behavior that kept you from using your mic all these years is now being publicly decried on record by video game developers.
In an interview with Gamespot ahead of the release of the widely anticipated game Halo 4, 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross and Halo 4 Executive Producer Kiki Wolfkill both strongly denounced the rampant misogynistic slurs and bullying that happen on Microsoft servers. “This is behavior that is offensive and completely unacceptable,” said Ross. In fact, they say that Microsoft bans for life anyone caught engaging in such derogatory behavior.*
via Halo 4 release: 343 Industries’ Bonnie Ross and Kiki Wolfkill decry sexist behavior on Xbox Live..
Shapes fall from the sky, all you have to do is to control how they fall and fit within each other. A simple premise, but add an annoyingly addictive electronica soundtrack (based on a Russian folk tune called Korobeiniki, apparently) and you have a revolution in entertainment.
Since Tetris was launched on the world in 1986, millions of hours have been lost through playing this simple game. Since then, we’ve seen games consoles grow in power, and with it the appearance of everything from Call of Duty to World of Warcraft. Yet block and puzzle games like Tetris still have a special place in our hearts. Why are they are so compelling?
The writer Jeffrey Goldsmith was so obsessed with Tetris that he wrote a famous article asking if the game’s creator Alexey Pajitnov had invented “a pharmatronic?” – a video game with the potency of an addictive drug. Some people say that after playing the game for hours they see falling blocks in their dreams or buildings move together in the street – a phenomenon known as the Tetris Effect. Such is its mental pull, there’s even been the suggestion that the game might be able to prevent flashbacks in people with PTSD.
via BBC – Future – Health – The psychology of Tetris.