contentgrrl

I am conTENT. My work is CONtent.

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

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.

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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 »

if you can’t share tacit knowledge, you must use it or lose it

Posted by contentgrrl on November 2, 2007

Somehow, geniuses and inventors may be unable to articulate or write up why they make the connections that they do, but the greatest find a way to apply and manifest their tacit knowledge into discoveries and deliverables that fill a need.

Certainly, people learn explicit things in school or in books or other media, but don’t apply it, and soon forget. Hands-on practice and shared stories and experiences and culture make up parts of tacit knowledge. They give our brains the hooks on which to hang new information. And without that tacit experience, the new information is less likely to stay.

I may have learned some basic vocabulary and syntax for Spanish and French years ago, but since I don’t read, write, and hold conversations in those languages regularly, I’m by no means fluent, much less eloquent or inspiring. No, let me just admit it: I’m almost completely incoherent outside of English, other than a few phrases like “Hola, como estas? Lo siento. Yo soy muy bien, gracias. Buenas dias…” (Hello, how are you? I’m sorry. I’m very well, thank you. Good Day…). Oh, and “Frijoles Frio” (loosely, Cool Beans).

Same goes for programming; I may have learned the basic syntax and objects of a scripting language, but if I don’t have to code real projects every week, I’m not going to get very good at it, much less create something new and elegant.

Same goes for piano; I can tell once my brain has made a more fluent connection between the notes on the page or in my head and my hand’s motions on the keys and the sound waves in my ears. But that neural connection and fluency is not something that you can transfer to someone else on paper. It takes good old hands-on practice.

Same goes for drawing animation. And selling. And negotiating. And diagnosing and treating disease.

That’s why apprenticeships, internships, mentors, and job specialization have been so important in the history of civilization.

That’s another reason why hands-on practice, varied learning methods, and experienced teachers are so important to education and training.

That’s why it’s important to create an organizational culture that encourages trust, lasting connections, and a balanced mix of cross-functional collaboration and forward-driving competition.

Links:

Posted in culture, learning, performance | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Corpse of Copse

Posted by contentgrrl on October 31, 2007

I’m looking back on a poem I wrote for a corporate contest Halloween 2006:

Homeward bound in hope and reverie and mist
Through twisted grove in twilight hallowed and shadow-tricked
The wood winds blow chill crystals from my breath
My eyes clench against a musty autumn bluster
I amble, stumbling in brambles abruptly clearing
Free to find a faery circle, the crux a primordial specter
Whose ancient shade cast a fruitless barren
But hidden by bushy locks of coal and silver
A face insinuates in petrification, there a sneer, there a brow
Wrinkle-ringed with eons to tell under a thorny crown
Limbs adorned in lichen and webs of refuse
Round a monstrous trunk worn to a pulp
A wind whispers dry admittance of former glory
Then wafts a golden amber resinous essence’s beckoning
Inexorably I am rooted, entangled and climbed
To wield a wand, then plant within my grasp
A thorn, piercing, slivering, bloodthirsty
Wending its poison’s way into atriums dexter and sinister
And I am fallen, leaves clinging with sap-strewn veins
To cloak and bury ‘til melting slushes
Wash the withered shroud from frozen bones

By TereLyn Hepple, Halloween 2006

“Too bad there wasn’t much of a challenge in the race for best poem/story,” I said, on winning the $25 prize for best poem/story. “That was right up there among the absolute worst poetry in the universe, by Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex, England. ;^) But thank all 46 fellow employees who voted!”

The worst poem in the Universe:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Neil_Milne_Johnstone

Posted in culture, grrly, humor, poetry, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »