January 6th, 2006

Brain Doc Talks About Video Games

Video games are a mindless activity - at least that's what many non-gamers believe.

But in a far-reaching interview with Dr. Jay Giedd, Earth & Sky Radio gets a scientific opinion on the benefits and pitfalls of gaming. Dr. Giedd, chief of brain imaging in the Child Psychiatry Branch at NIMH, has studied adolescent brain development since 1991. With new scientific evidence showing major spurts of brain development occurring during the teenage years, the impact of video games has become an issue in the scientific community. Here's what Dr. Giedd had to say:

Interviewer: Will playing a lot of video games turn out to be helpful, harmful or benign for the future? Probably it wouldn't have helped my grandmother be more successful in her world...

Giedd: She didn't need keyboarding skills, and those sorts of skills that in the future may be actually quite valuable for understanding complex systems. Some of the games are quite complicated, many of the games require competition against other human users.

I often think that video games are like fire, or any other powerful tool. It can be used or misused or abused. It's very easy to make a sweeping statement that they're bad, they're a waste of time, but I think it all depends of the specifics of the game. Because there's software that helps kids read earlier, they can achieve math skills at earlier ages. It can really be an amazing way to captivate children's imaginations and thinking. Or, software can be totally driven by sex and violence, and kids can spend hours and hours a day not interacting with other people because they're wrapped up in the worlds of the video games. The difficulty is that the marketplace rewards the sex and violence more than it does the creative and intellectual type of programs.
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Philadelphia Anti-graffiti Group Celebrates Win Over Sony PSP Ads

SCRUB 1, SONY 0

GamePolitics recently reported on hard feelings caused in Philadelphia by Sony's underground street art campaign designed to promote the PSP.

Last evening we received a copy of a celebratory e-mail sent out by a prominent Philadelphia anti-graffiti activist. Mary Tracy is a member of the Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight (SCRUB). Tracy's e-mail celebrates the painting over of PSP wall ads in Philly. It reads, in part:

"SCRUB is pleased to report that Sony's graffiti-inspired ads have been eradicated from Philadelphia... I want to express our thanks... to Mayor John Street... our officials took the matter seriously and took Sony to task for this brazen attempt to circumnavigate our laws... Sony has remained silent, not responding to... Philadelphia's 'Cease and Desist' order... you may not be aware that this became an international story... as far away as London, India and Australia."
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Missouri Democrats Plan Video Game Bill

Less than a week into 2006, we've already reported on proposed video game legislation in Maryland and Indiana, as well as on the federal-level efforts of a Utah congressman. Will Missouri be the next venue to consider a game content law?

Could be, based on an Associated Press report outlining legislative plans for the coming session of the Missouri General Assembly. House Minority Leader Jeff Harris (D-Columbia) includes a proposed law prohibiting the sale of violent or explicit video games to minors among his party's priorities for the 2006 session.

It's an important year in Missouri politics, with every seat in the House and half of the Senate up for election in November.

"In this election year," said Republican House Speaker Rod Jetton, "the temptation for all of us to put politics and party above good policy will be strong... The need to have a bill passed with your name on it to help your re-election will be hard to resist."

Doug Lowenstein Edges Out "Nobody" In GP Reader Poll

In a controversial New Year's Eve selection, GamePolitics gave the nod to California Assembly Speaker pro tem Leland Yee as 2005 Person of the Year in the realm of video game politics.

But here at GP we're big fans of the democratic process, so readers had a chance to vote for their choice in an online poll that has been running all week. With over 500 votes cast, ESA honcho Doug Lowenstein has emerged - barely - as the GP Readers' 2005 Person of the Year.

Lowenstein, the video game industry's point person in the political arena, scored 27.8% of the reader vote, followed closely by "No One Deserves It," which received 27.4%. ESRB president Patricia Vance was the third leading vote-getter (9.3%), while game industry nemesis Jack Thompson was a surprisingly high fourth-place finisher as a write-in choice with 7.4%. GP's official 2005 Person of the Year, Leland Yee, was fifth in the reader poll (5.6%)

Here is a listing of all vote recipients, including write-ins:
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