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Old August 30th, 2005   Brian LaBelle is offline   #1
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Default Brian's College presentation on video games and kids in-care

The topic I attempted to research was how to use video games as effective tools for treatment when dealing with kids in care. I believe I am personally skilled at doing this and that I have a knowledge that is often looked upon as a joke by my colleagues, my attempts to find other similar-minded individuals resulted in a lot of angry Emails! That had me doubting myself for a few fleeting moments but I know the interventions I have made because of my knowledge of video games have had a positive effect on my clients. I have continued to look for information.

Some sources I found were;
www.aap.org/advocacy/rich-videogameviolence.pdf - A speech by Dr. Michael Rich of the American Academy of pediatrics addressing the evils of violent video games during a campaign function for Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan. I believe he contradicts himself when he refers to a study done in the 1960’s that showed boys who watched television displayed more aggressive behavior by age 8 than peers who did not, a history of aggression by age 19 and evidence they were violent with their own children by their thirties. At least 1 out of 10 homes has a television yet all men with TV’s over the age of thirty do not beat their children, what gives? Could it be that males are genetically predisposed to be more aggressive in their play as a learning style? I agree with many of his arguments but he seems to be trying way too hard to make his point.

http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/...children.shtml - an excellent site for parents that states “Since video games were first introduced in the 1970s they have become a popular pastime for children and teens as well as quite a few adults. Parents should consider two basic issues when providing guidance to their children and teens regarding the use of video games. (1) Parents should be aware of the content of the games and question whether it is appropriate for the age and developmental level of their child. (2) Parents should monitor how much time their children spend playing video games as well as other activities.” Useful reading

www.childrennow.org/media/video-games/2001/ - I found an interesting study on violence in video games as well as one on gender and racial biases and stereotypes contained in games at this site. I do find some of the information hard to believe. One figure suggested that female characters accounted for only 16% of all characters in video games. I believe it would have to be closer to 30 or 40% because sex appeal is a huge marketing tool and often gratuitous sexuality is a complaint among parents of video games. It is interesting to note that when video games were growing in the ‘80’s, most involved a male character rescuing a female, usually a princess of some sort. It is now lead female characters like Lara Croft that save the day with their big guns. Pun intended.

www.cyc-net.org - an all around good site to start gathering information from

www.digifish.us a digital fish tank Great for a client who may not be ready to care for a live animal. Daily feeding and weekly maintenance are required. Free sign-up with an option to pay for extra features.

www.esrb.org - a supposedly leading entertainment rating system however, a recent article on cyc-net.org disputes that claim. I would recommend it as a loose guideline for someone who is completely unfamiliar with video games.

www.gamezone.com/news/07_03_03_06_17PM.htm Professor James Paul Gee of the University of Wisconsin actually finds use for games such a “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” A very thought provoking article that reassured me I may be on to something! I’m getting “boo’ed” for trying to use positive non-violent games in my work so I can’t imagine how this guy feels!

www.media-awareness.ca/english/index.cfm - A fantastic site for educators, care-givers and parents with resources on using any electronic media with your child and also, the importance of taking time away from them. Example: April 19-25 is Turn-off TV week!

*** www.mediafamily.org/facts/facts_effect.shtml An extremely neutral look at the pro’s and con’s of video games and probably the best site I saw for parents and caregivers to get real, useful information about video games. This organization has a “video game report card” where it lists what they believe are the 10 most positive games available and the 10 worst you should avoid! I highly recommend you check this one out!

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feat.../11/quake.html - An interesting article focused on violent games and their effects on children in the wake of the Columbine shootings.

www.neopets.com – A digital pet that requires daily feeding, cleaning, affection, exercise and more. Has a “Battle” feature that can be blocked with parental controls. An excellent option for kids in care (pets are not allowed at most group homes or businesses!) and a way to help parents gage how ready for a pet their child may be.

I was amazed at the number of CYCW’s that responded to me quite upset, as if playing video games with kids was some unholy activity that fits in-between devil-worship and intentionally inflicted abuse! I received Emails telling me “the kids should be interacting with other young people at the mall or watching movies not playing video games.” That was interesting because I personally do not consider loitering at the mall or completing an introspective analysis of a film (as a group) to any more of a useful social interaction than playing a game and find it interesting that many CYCW’s did not share my opinion. What I found more interesting was that mother’s with CYC training replied to share their opinions on how they use video games with their children at home but are reluctant to implement the same strategies at work because of co-workers opinions and a desire to respect that. Why would you prevent yourself from helping a client?

I am not arguing we need to develop treatment systems based solely around the actual playing of video games, I am suggesting as a group we are fairly ignorant to the positives and peripheral benefits they may provide and shun them and say things like “let’s get back to the basics.” If I’m not mistaken, at a fairly basic point in history, girls as young as 13 were married off for dowries of cattle and land. If “getting back to the basics” were that easy I could effectively close all female treatment Centers, solve the overcrowding in schools problem AND the mad cow crisis by marrying every girl in-care 13 years old or older, off to a farmer in a rural area for a bunch of cows and throw a rockin’ barbeque for all the out-of-work teen pregnancy counselors! Back to the Basics… who knew it was that easy?

I believe my efforts have been hampered by the fact that video games have been given a bad reputation by the media and that the words “video game” seemed to automatically invoke an image of killing or fighting for some people. Although there is a market for those games I am 99% against them. The only 1 useful example of a “war” game I can think of is “Soldier of Fortune.” I would HIGHLY recommend this game for any student struggling particularly with World War 1 and 2 sections of their Social Studies classes in high school. This game uses news clips and actual stories from the war within the game and I guarantee most 15-17 year old boys would MUCH rather get the same information from that game that they can from their Social 10-20-30 textbooks! The levels contain historically accurate battle campaigns on the days they began which may help with memorization of those dates. (For those that attended the Holland exchange, there is a level containing the “Battle for Nijmegen Bridge!”) Although this is a killing/fighting game, I believe it is no more damaging than viewing an actual clip of the REAL horrors we inflicted on each other during that time. A failure to help a child fully comprehend those same images in a movie, television show or textbook (even if the chapter IS several months away) is just as neglectful as allowing them to play a video game modeled after them without proper supervision and/or debriefing. I was repulsed by all the reports of parents being upset with the violent games their children are playing, not by the games, but by the fact that kids are not spending $50-$80 on these games with change they found walking home from school. Someone else is purchasing the game and THEY need to be held accountable for their poorly-informed consumer choices! The more background and storyline information we have on the games our children or client’s are playing, the more tools we have to work with their interests to meet their needs.
 
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Old August 30th, 2005   Brian LaBelle is offline   #2
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I was not able to find any specific examples of treatment plans developed around a video game similar to the Pokemon one I had created and described in my postings. I would still like to find out if I was out to lunch when I created it and see what other workers have also created. CYC mom’s practice the same tactics at home but my posts have made it obvious why mentioning it at work might raise a few eyebrows! I was told of a study that apparently details how long-term exposure to video games can actually alter the make-up of a child’s brain and create more intense feelings of hostility. I am curious as to whether or not that is because of the types of games they were playing? Were they all fighting, shooting and killing games as are the most popular in North American culture? Puzzle and strategy games are much more popular in some Asian countries, Japan especially (which routinely places ahead of Canada and the USA in terms of childhood achievement tests). Could puzzle and games that encourage critical thought and problem-solving enhance that section of the brain? I would like to read that study for myself and compare it with similar international tests. I am now left wondering, what is the best way to share the information I have and how to influence what seems to be a fairly common attitude within our profession. I believe the attitude is based on a lack of knowledge and my best efforts would be spent attempting to raise awareness! I think I have done that to some degree by posting my information on CYC-Net.

I believe there are a lot of opportunities for us as professionals to use video games that our client’s are already interested in to help them overcome the issues they have sought our help for. I also believe that many opportunities are wasted because workers have all the skills necessary to use the game but not the knowledge of the game itself. The fact that many people automatically responded with the assumption that all video games are about violence and killing made me think a massive awareness campaign about some of the sites I’ve listed above is extremely necessary! There are all types of games out there, I personally enjoy sports and role-playing games far more than shooting and fighting games, parents and caregivers should know the difference the same way they know the difference between G and R on a movie poster. As I am finishing this I have finally received some positive responses from my posting in CYC-Net from people who seem to understand what I am talking about and the use for video games as more than entertainment. There is a real lack of resources in this area and I believe it’s something that hasn’t really received a lot of attention because of the perceived silliness of them and the negativity surrounding the violent games that dominate the headlines. If I were ever to pursue a doctorate, I would be the perfect Dr. Video Game!

In the 1950’s our government and the US spent a LOT of money producing a public awareness campaign on the “Evils of comic books!” The fact that children were spending their allowance on reading books with pictures when they could have been getting into trouble… it still drives a shudder up my spine today, 50 years later! Well, not really. It has taken some time but some comics have actually managed to become acceptable and today educators aren’t saying “He’s rotting his brain with that comic!” They’re saying “I wish he would read more, even if it was just comics!” I have to point out that my teacher let me know I was one of a handful of people in my school in English 30 who knew that the title character in the short story “Thus I refute Beelzy” on our diploma exam, was referring to Beelzebub, another name for the devil. He thought I must be very religious or was reading some kind of advanced literature. He was floored when I let him know that the “Silver Surfer” fought Mephisto (the devil) on a pretty regular basis. I read an issue when I was a kid where someone referred to him as Beelzebub and it always stuck in my head because it was so ridiculous sounding (to an 8 year old!) The story read like Beelzy was a pretty bad guy and I took a chance that Super-Heroes wouldn’t steer me wrong. A whole year in his class didn’t give me the information I needed to be successful on my diplomas, spending 15 minutes reading as a child did. I think fifty years from now video game-like programs and simulators will be used in classrooms on a daily basis because of the benefits of supervised, concentrated, interactive media on the student. The new technology of that time will be responsible for all the problems video games are today and TV and comic books were 50 years ago. I hope that workers will be able to use that technology to better ends than we are currently doing with the technology kids are bringing into our homes.
 
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Old October 13th, 2005   Brian LaBelle is offline   #3
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Nobody had any thoughts on this?

Show it to somebody you know who works with kids, they might dig it.

 
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Old October 13th, 2005   Formerly Speedy is offline   #4
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I plain too....
 
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Old October 13th, 2005   sikkbones is offline   #5
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this was very interesting both as a father and a CYW.
pm me if you'd like to see some of my writings on children in care and the child welfare sector etc.
 
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Old October 21st, 2005   Brian LaBelle is offline   #6
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this was very interesting both as a father and a CYW.
pm me if you'd like to see some of my writings on children in care and the child welfare sector etc.
ddf
sikkbones
I'd love to!

And on that note, I am actually in the process of writing another paper on using video games to help establish a therapeutic milieu (environment)

I'd would love to hear any posters opinion! Thanks in advance!!!
 
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Old October 21st, 2005   John Hays is offline   #7
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Brian,

If you have time, take a look at my masters thesis I wrote while at the University of Florida. It's about applying narrative schema to my advisor's computer research area, but I have a good bit of info about the history of narrative schema in there, with some really good references.

If you'd like to quote anything from my thesis, just be sure to properly add me to your list of references (see my thesis's list of references for how to do that properly if you're not sure. That's not me being c0cky, I had to actually get the freaking thing published, and so it all had to be done to extremely high standards....I did MANY edits just on the formatting...ugh)

If you don't care to use anything from it, still check out my references for some other good source materials. One of my other thesis advisors is one of the few at the top of her field, hypertext and interactive narrative, and I took an excellent course with her where we got to play computer and video games that were rich in these areas, and then discuss their strengths and weaknesses and such. Fascinating stuff.

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Old November 10th, 2005   CD3 is offline   #8
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used towork in a a group home for adolescents on probation or caught up in the DSS. Video games are a great tool to interact with kids and get them to open up and trust you. WHen they first come in they dont trust anyone and are defensive , but just chilling and playing video games with them gets them to open up. It's also a great way to spend time instead of drinking, gettiong high or getting into trouble. Also it can be used so they learn monetary decisions if tehy want to save up for a game they liked

But man except for the sports games, I used to get my butt whipped...lol


oH, my uncle is a psychologist and also uses viseo games to break the ice and get kids comfortable about talking....
 
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