Friday, December 12, 2014

Game Consoles are more than just gaming devices

Are you considering a new game console or wondering if you should keep your old one? Game Consoles can do more than ever before. Personally, I love that we can talk to our Xbox console and it seems to listen and respond.

Our friend Andy Robertson reports for the BBC on ways that Game Consoles can be more than just the box that plays the games. In this video he talks with a group of grownups on ways to connect their consoles to the Internet for Skype or Netflix (or even facebook / twitter ) to take advantage of all the other things that consoles can do.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Linking Online Gaming and Addictive Behavior: Converging Evidence for a General Reward Deficiency in Frequent Online Gamers.

Linking Online Gaming and Addictive Behavior: Converging Evidence for a General Reward Deficiency in Frequent Online Gamers.
Do you ever worry that your kids may become addicted to video games? This research study looked at the addictive behavior of frequent online gamers. It is interesting because it highlights the connected nature of video games and the tendencies we may have going into the game play.

If you have an addictive personality then jumping into a game like World of Warcraft or other massively multiplayer online role playing game may be very addictive.

This is an important study not because it shows that video games are addictive - it doesn't say that. But it studies how some of these addictive reward systems work along with people who may have addictive personalities which leads to a discussion on how to treat addiction.  When we better understand the addictive personality and the addictive nature of those things that provide reward systems to that addictive personality the more we can provide appropriate treatments.

As a parent it is important for us to teach our kids about balancing their game play with other aspects of their life. It is important for us to watch for their overall health (physical, mental, spiritual and social). It is important for us, as parents, to watch our kids and look to see if they display addictive personality traits and help them create strategies for their life if we see that they are the kind of person that could get addicted to playing some of these games. The downside of this addiction is that they create a fantasy world for themselves that becomes more important than the real world. These games have a tremendous upside with a way for players to develop strategy building skills and other analytical skills. They also provide a different reward system than in the real world that can be a stress reliever that is definitely more healthy than smoking (I know.... that's not saying much but it is something). We just have to make sure the the fantasy world doesn't take the place of the real world.

Linking Online Gaming and Addictive Behavior: Converging Evidence for a General Reward Deficiency in Frequent Online Gamers.

Front Behav Neurosci. 2014;8:385
Authors: Hahn T, Notebaert KH, Dresler T, Kowarsch L, Reif A, Fallgatter AJ

Millions of people regularly play so-called massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs). Recently, it has been argued that MMORPG overuse is becoming a significant health problem worldwide. Symptoms such as tolerance, withdrawal, and craving have been described. Based on behavioral, resting state, and task-related neuroimaging data, we test whether frequent players of the MMORPG "World of Warcraft" (WoW) - similar to drug addicts and individuals with an increased risk for addictions - show a generally deficient reward system. In frequent players of the MMORPG "World of Warcraft" (WoW-players) and in a control group of non-gamers we assessed (1) trait sensitivity to reward (SR), (2) BOLD responses during monetary reward processing in the ventral striatum, and (3) ventral-striatal resting-state dynamics. We found a decreased neural activation in the ventral striatum during the anticipation of both small and large monetary rewards. Additionally, we show generally altered neurodynamics in this region independent of any specific task for WoW players (resting state). On the behavioral level, we found differences in trait SR, suggesting that the reward processing deficiencies found in this study are not a consequence of gaming, but predisposed to it. These findings empirically support a direct link between frequent online gaming and the broad field of behavioral and drug addiction research, thus opening new avenues for clinical interventions in addicted gamers and potentially improving the assessment of addiction-risk in the vast population of frequent gamers.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Skylanders Massive Crossover

Our friend Andy Robertson had a chance to sit down with Nigel Clarke and talk all about Skylanders. If you weren't convinced before all you have to do is see the huge smile on Nigel's face as he plays the latest Skylanders game. Check it out:

The great thing about the massive crossover where video games and toy makers collaborate is that kids can play their favorite video game for a while and then take their game play offline and let their imagination lead the way.

As a parent when I saw that a video game also had toys that could be purchased to go along with the game my first thought was "UGH" just another way to spend money. But in this case these little toys really do add to the game experience and they can end up saving a parent in the long run. The big expense is the game itself and so when a kid gets tired of a particular game they move on to another high priced game. With Skylanders they can add on a little toy or two (or three or four) and keep the interest going in that one game. It is a great way to maximize their game play experience and stay with one game for a longer time.

Happy Crossover Holidays!