contentgrrl

I am conTENT. My work is CONtent.

Posts Tagged ‘community’

update: parent game review site launched today: WhatTheyPlay.com

Posted by contentgrrl on November 12, 2007

A few days ago, I wrote about an interview I did with an LA Times technology reporter, “scoop on new parent site on games the kids are playing“. Here’s the LA Times article where I’m quoted:

But for games, there are few places for parents such as TereLyn Hepple to turn to that don’t have social or religious agendas.

“In cases where I’m looking to see if there’s objectionable content, I just don’t see many reviews talking about that,” said Hepple, a mother of two in Fort Worth. “I would love a place that actually has all that information in one place and has a real community feature where parents can contribute and get advice and recommendations.”

I’m not sure where the reporter (Alex Pham) got the social and religious agendas. I don’t disagree. I am skeptical of social and religious agendas. I might not see myself as the voice speaking for people looking for objectionable content. Of course, mentioning that I’m from Fort Worth places me squarely in the Bible belt. And while she misquoted me a bit, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and blame it on her editors.

I would have said,

“Oh, there’s a lot of information out there about video and computer games, along with hacks and cheats. And there’s that ESRB label on the retail box. But when it comes to objectionable content and the details I want to make good decisions about the games to buy? Those details are certainly not all in one place. And it’s not necessarily in the places that most parents — and aunts, uncles, and grandparents — would look. “

So I added these words to the launch feature’s comments.

What They Play

Here’s the actual parent game search site, launched today: http://www.whattheyplay.com/. There’s a gentle glossary, some excellently written reviews from what I’ve seen so far, and an easy way to comment or add a review yourself. Here’s an example of a review with which I would definitely agree: Oblivion.

I was slightly wrong about the founders of the new site. I originally thought it was a Ziff-Davis company, which hardly seemed odd since ZD already has so many great gaming resources.

Today I confirmed they are ex-ZD. Co-founder Ira Becker is indeed from Ziff Davis’s 1up.com. I found a news release of his appointment March 6, 2006, to SVP/GM on ZD’s 1Up.com. He and co-founder John Davison, left Ziff Davis’s 1up.com and helped to fund the project. I’m adding these guys to my list of heroes.

Posted in community, culture, games, heroes, marketing, persuasion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

scoop on new parent site reviewing games kids play

Posted by contentgrrl on November 9, 2007

Yesterday, LA Times reporter Alex Pham asked (LinkedIn members click here for all answers), “As parents, do you ever wonder what exactly is in those video games your children are playing? How do you go about finding whether a game is appropriate for your child?”

I responded as follows:

I wouldn’t leave my kids completely alone to do whatever they wanted on their computers. Parents are responsible for their children’s welfare, offline and online.

There are cyberstalkers who may show up in online games sometimes known as massive multi-user games (MMUGs), which include online chat functions. Some of those deviants can persuade a child or teen to reveal information that could result in dangerous consequences.

Also, keep in mind that in addition to whatever the original game designers released, there are folks out there who offer skins, hacks, and cheats for download. I remember one first-person shooter where you could change the monsters into snacks like ice cream cones. I think I remember a story about another hack that allowed the San Andreas guy to see more skin than clothes on his “dates”.

Otherwise, I agree with most of these comments: Read others’ reviews, check the ESRB rating, and play it, or at least watch while your children do so. I rely heavily on Amazon.com’s reviews, as well as Gamespot.

Pham followed up with a few questions:

Q: Do you think that there are adequate resources out there for parents to make informed decisions about games their children play?
me: For all the games on the market, there are a multitude of resources. Perhaps not all in one place, which may make it difficult for parents. Opportunity may knock here.

Q: Do the ESRB descriptors tell you much of what you need to know as a parent?
me: I wouldn’t rely wholly on ESRB. ESRB is not likely to review anything outside of the game per se. But since cheats, hacks, and skins are not always tied to the game producer, it’s difficult to monitor them to standards. There is a lot that remains out of the control of the ESRB.

Q: Are traditional game reviews informative in that regard?
me: To an extent. Most reviewers follow a certain structure of software or game review, and most modern review sites offer community features such as user ratings and comments.

After that, it turned into a phone interview for an article on a site Pham said was called What They Play (I now have the link), to be launched Monday by (correction: former) executives of Ziff Davis.

I’m a long-time fan of ZDNet’s reviews for all sorts of software and technology products. They already have a site, 1up.com, that includes the latest game reviews, news, previews, codes, cheats, contests, guides, and q&as. But 1Up is mostly geared for the gamer.

Apparently, What They Play is for the parents. I’d say it’s also good for grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, and other caregivers. Anyone who may be concerned about objectionable content and other details that would help them make decisions about whether to buy a particular game for a child. Anyone who wants more detail than what they find on the ESRB label on the retail box.

I’m hoping it will include information about the educational value of certain games. Sure, I’ll watch for objectionable content for my nephews aged 8 and 12, but more importantly, what will they learn? Will I find everything I need to make a decision in one place? Will games be filtered or categorized according to content appropriate for different age groups? Will that be more detailed than E for everyone, T for teen, and M for mature?

I’m also interested in more specific violence statistics or descriptors. On Buffyverse‘s episode synopsis, you could see how many humans, vampires, and demons were killed, as an indicator of just how violent Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel the Series was. I know that a game is not that static, but some kind of rating for each kind of violence would be helpful. Assume it’s more disturbing to see a human killed than a big Bad. Is bad behavior rewarded in various quests, as in Grand Theft Auto, Thief, and Oblivion? Or is heroism rewarded, as in Spider-Man and Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Is it easy to find games that encourage reading, moral decision-making, applications of what you learn in school, creative problem-solving, environmental stewardship, and political activism?

I wonder, who else has heard of What They Play? I’m looking forward to the launch, and to the LA Times story on Monday.

Posted in community, culture, games, heroes, heroines, learning, persuasion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

SongMeanings

Posted by contentgrrl on October 29, 2007

I regularly look up lyrics online, and I just came across a great site: SongMeanings.

It’s the first site I’ve seen that lets people contribute not only the lyrics of songs, but also a discussion of what the songs mean.

For instance, in Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, “I see my reflection in the snow covered hills” someone thought it had to do with Stevie Nicks’  father or grandfather, another thought it was turning to a mountain of cocaine, another thought it had to do with being precariously perched on a pedestal, another reported it had to do with an ultimatum from her father after Lindsay Buckingham left her in Aspen, Colo.

Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham are some of my heroes/heroines in the music world.

Posted in community, culture, grrly, heroes, heroines, music, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

starting and running a reading group

Posted by contentgrrl on October 29, 2007

After I graduated Baylor into my adult life, I no longer had to study all night between my internship, my student teaching, my community service, partying, and classes. I also no longer had most of those activities to fill my time. When I started my first full-time job, I would plop down on my couch, and stare at the wall. Eight hours in one place was exhausting. Those were the days.

Eventually I found a restaurant (Max’s) that welcomed poetry readings, and of course there was Barnes & Noble and a couple of new friends in the office. We started a book group, where we met weekly over Mocha Valencia Grandes. We would each bring one question, comment, or passage for the group to discuss. We did Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, where I marveled over the recurring antiseptic theme, and then my very religious colleague made it obvious that C.S. Lewis was writing about Armageddon at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia, and then my activist colleague had us reading about life in the inner city, which made me so angry that I have blocked out the author and title (I still feel impotent about the rampant homelessness, drug abuse, child abuse, gang violence, and inequalities for which I can find no solution). Sometimes, just catching up would take us hours, but we had flexibility back then. If I hadn’t relocated to another city, I might still belong to that book group.

Then again, I might not. I appreciate the broad range of perspectives in that particular gaggle of gals. We were certainly not of one mind. On the other hand, I think I might be interested to find people who share more of my interests and values.

If you’re starting a book group, BookMuse has some great resources for starting and running a book group, including groups for kids, recommendations and reviews. I wish I had a reading group when I was younger. A kid’s reading club, around a neighborhood, would be a great opportunity for socialization and for learning new things.

My friend Karmon (one of my unsung heroines) was a big proponent of The Reader’s Place, which has an excellent forum for online reading groups, lists, and polls. Also through Karmon, I’ve found Reader2, where you can build your personal reading lists, export your latest read books or recommended books to your site or blog, find readers with similar interests, and track friends’ readings.

Of course, I rely heavily on Amazon’s customer reviews, Listmania, and So You’d Like To… . And they’re starting topical community forums, which you can find if you scroll down on some book pages. So far, Amazon’s forums remind me of only slightly more well-read versions of the message boards on IMDB.com (Internet Movie DataBase). There will always be trolling idiots.

I’m currently reading a public relations writing book, a couple of parenting books, and a couple of religious history books. I’m still recovering from devouring two Robin Hobb epic fantasy trilogies. If you’ve gotten this far on my blog, maybe I’ll see you around!

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