Author Archive

November 26, 2012

TED talk on video games

7 ways video games engage the brain

November 26, 2012

Games for troops

Games for troops

Pentagon and CIA enlist video games

 Hunched with his troops in a dusty, windswept courtyard, the squad leader signals the soldiers to line up against a wall. Clasping automatic weapons, they inch single-file toward a sandy road lined with swaying palm trees. The squad leader orders a point man to peer around the corner, his quick glance revealing several foes lying in wait behind a smoldering car. A few hand signals, a quick flash of gunfire, and it’s over. The enemy is defeated, but no blood is spilled, no bullet casings spent: All the action is in an upcoming Xbox-based training simulator for the military called “Full Spectrum Warrior.”

 INCREASINGLY, THE PENTAGON is joining forces with the video games industry to train and recruit soldiers. The U.S. Army considers such simulators vital for recruits who’ve been weaned on shoot ’em up games.

Even the Central Intelligence Agency is developing a role-playing computer simulation to train analysts.

“We know that most of our soldiers know how to use a game pad,” said Michael Macedonia, chief scientist at the Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation in Orlando, Fla. “Every kid figures out the controls pretty fast.”

For years, the U.S. armed forces have used big, sophisticated simulators with hydraulics, wall-sized video screens and realistic cockpits. But such gear costs millions of dollars — far too pricey even by military standards to be widely available.

And that’s why video games make sense.


“Full Spectrum Warrior” was created through the Institute for Creative Technologies in Marina Del Ray, Calif., a $45 million endeavor formed by the Army five years ago to connect academics with local entertainment and video game industries. The institute subcontracted game development work to Los Angeles-based Pandemic Studios.

The institute’s other training program, “Full Spectrum Command,” was released for military use in February.

That game, for the PC, is geared toward light infantry company commanders who lead about 120 people. Set in eastern Europe, it tests organization, decision-making and the ability to recognize threats in a peacekeeping setting.

With “Full Spectrum Warrior,” currently in testing at Fort Benning, Ga., squad leaders learn how to command nine soldiers in complex, confusing urban warfare scenarios. The game isn’t not about sprinting, “Rambo”-like, through alleys with guns blazing.

“It’s not really about shooting at things,” Macedonia said. “Learning how to shoot your weapon is easy. The challenging thing is leading.”

The game the Institute for Creative Technologies has been working on with the CIA for about a year — at a cost of several million dollars — will let agency analysts assume the role of terror cell leaders, cell members and operatives.

“Our analysts would be accustomed to looking at the world from the perspective of the terrorists we are chasing, and learn to expect the unexpected,” CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said.


Training aside, video games are increasingly viewed by top brass as a way to get teenagers interested in enlisting.

Games such as “America’s Army,” developed and published by the Army, and “Guard Force,” which the Army National Guard developed with Alexandria, Va.-based Rival Interactive, can be downloaded or picked up at recruitment offices.

“America’s Army” has been a hit online since its July 2002 release, attaining 1.5 million registered users who endure a basic training regiment complete with barbed-wire obstacle courses and target practice.

“Guard Force” has been less successful. Released last year, it features bland synth-rock music that blares in the background. Between video commercials touting the thrills of enlisting in the Army National Guard, gamers pluck flood victims from rooftops or defend a snowy base. In the training mission, gamers deploy helicopters, even tanks, to rescue skiers trapped in an avalanche.

The creators of “Full Spectrum Warrior” hope their stint with the Army will also spur commercial sales.

Pandemic is already busy creating a retail version that will add multiplayer capability, streamline the controls and dispense with such realities as death from a single gunshot wound.

“The explosions will be bigger. Smoke will develop more quickly. A squad leader could call in an F-16 strike,” said Jim Korris, creative director for the Institute for Creative Technologies. “That doesn’t happen in the real world.”

THQ Inc. is expected to release the public version early next year. An early demonstration in May at Electronic Entertainment Expo, the video game industry’s annual trade show, won “Best Original Game” and “Best Simulation” awards.

There are no plans for commercial release of the CIA game.


November 26, 2012

Online gaming beneficial for Kids

This can be a very controversial topic for parents. However, taken in moderation, and monitored properly, children can benefit and even learn from online games. There are many different online games for kids. For several years, parents have frowned upon the games that are available to their children. However, after many conclusive studies on gaming and children, researchers have established that online gaming may be beneficial ( The benefits range from developing social skills in the virtual environment, increasing the ability of the child to successfully maneuver around and operate a computer, increasing emotional intellect, and assisting in the academic endeavors of the child. Here, you will learn about online games for kids who are productive, and educational.

The Benefits of Online Gaming

As stated previously, there are a number of benefits when it comes to online gaming. The following represents some of the advantages that children experience when gaming:

1. Children who play games online are able to enjoy the reward and satisfaction that comes with the small goals that are often established in games. To clarify what I mean, I will take the game of “Zuma” that is quite popular on websites like Shockwave. The small goals are to clear the boards that are necessary in order to reach the end of the game.

Children who engage in playing this game can enjoy the reward of “beating” each board. In turn, this raises their confidence and also instills a sense of accomplishment. Children can learn that setting small goals can help them master much larger games – both in online gaming as well as their lives.

2. If children engage in online gaming that involves playing with other children from other areas of the world, they can benefit in that they learn the importance and fun when it comes to sharing and taking turns. In addition to this, children can learn about other people, and cultures in the world. In turn, this may lead to online friendships that can be beneficial to their social growth and development.

3. The next advantage to playing games that involve other players is that your children will learn how to cooperate in a team setting. They will start to gain an understanding that each of us has a unique set of skills and talents that are important for us to fulfill certain roles in life – both in game play, and in the “real” world.

4. There have many conclusive studies that indicate that children who play games that are video based on a regular basis have better eye-hand coordination than those children who do not play video games. This can be extremely beneficial in numerous ways to a young child.

5. There are a number of games that are available online that focus on challenging the mind of the individual who plays it. These are often referred to “logic” games. If you check out Shockwave online, a popular gaming website, you will discover several games that can actually enhance the intellect of a child.

These games can assist in teaching children the important concepts of cause and effect, and enhance the math and computation skills of a child. Games like “4 Elements”, “Super Text Twist”, “Jewel Quest”, “Bejeweled”, “Mah Jong”, “Collapse”, “Turbo Pizza”, and “7 Wonders” can challenge the mind of a child.

6. When a child plays online games, it has been found that the technology skills that are necessary to live in today’s world are greatly enhanced. Literacy in computers and the internet are quickly becoming basic skills that are required to enter the workforce today. This type of activity may very well contribute to the child’s ability to succeed in their educational career, as well as their professional career!

7. Children who play online games can learn how to multitask in an effective manner. There are many different online games for kids that will teach them this very important task. “Diner Dash”, “Cake Mania”, “Virtual Villagers”, and “Turbo Subs” are examples of these types of games.

Internet Safety

Now that you know and understand that there are numerous benefits to online games for kids, it is important that you take the appropriate steps to ensure internet safety. The following details these safety tips:

1. You should monitor the activities that your child takes part in online closely to ensure that they are appropriate, and that they are not being exposed to topics, themes, and language that is inappropriate.

2. You should advise your child to refrain from giving out personal information, such as their name, age, and location.

3. You should ensure that if your child is required to enter any game “rooms” online that they are age appropriate and carefully monitored.

By allowing your child to play games in the virtual environment, you are providing them with a fun way to grow and develop as individuals. As long as you take the appropriate internet safety tips, online games for kids can be a positive experience in numerous ways!

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November 12, 2012

Interesting Video

Fishing under ice

November 12, 2012

Games for better brain

Games for better brain

October 15, 2012

Game ideas (related to table tops)

Game ideas (related to table tops)

October 15, 2012

The economics of video games

The economics of video games

October 7, 2012

Social games

October 1, 2012

Play and cloud game

Play and cloud game

Play & cloud game (video)

September 30, 2012

Research by online gamers

Identifying protein structures using games