Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Problem With Media Reports On Studies About Video Game Violence

We've all read the headlines. "Video Games Lead To Violent Behaviour." "Video Games Cause Immoral Behaviour In Teens." "Video Games Lead To Aggression." The question is, are the conclusions drawn in these reports backed up by the science they are reporting on? My contention is that they absolutely are not and I will use a recent study to demonstrate where they are going wrong.

The study in question, conducted in Italy and published in the online journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, looked at how violent video games influenced post play morality in teenagers. The researchers recruited 172 high school students (aged thirteen to nineteen) and separated them into two groups. The first group was tasked with playing a violent video game. The second group was given nonviolent games to play. After both groups played the games, they were directed to complete a logic test, and every time they achieved a correct answer they were allowed to remove a raffle ticket from a bag. The teens were left alone in a room to do this, and upon completion of the study the researchers found that those who had played violent video games prior to taking the logic test were eight times more likely to remove more than the one raffle ticket from the bag when they correctly completed a section on the logic test.

The authors noted that the teens who showed signs of 'moral disengagement' were the most affected by playing violent video games. Moral disengagement is the ability to remove oneself from the normal rules of morality in certain situations because, in the view of the people who show this trait,  morality does not apply in certain situations. The teens with this trait were much more likely to steal after playing a violent game. A nonviolent game did not trigger as large a discrepancy between the two groups.

A study like this is perfect fodder for one of those media frenzies mentioned earlier. According to the study, the teens, especially those who score highly on "moral disengagement" scales were more likely to take extra raffle tickets; to steal, essentially. At the very least, to cheat. Not good, right? Obviously the violent video games are having a negative effect, one that was not seen to the same degree in the group that played non violent games. Seems like an open and shut case on the face of it. Except it's not. At all.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Explosions Look Like Pizza: A Mighty No. 9 Review

As you likely know, Mighty No. 9’s development has been controversial and tumultuous. The Kickstarter campaign was a success and fan enthusiasm was high. This was short lived, however, as delays, mixed messaging and awful trailers followed. And now, amidst further controversy, regarding some comments allegedly made by developers of this game, Mighty No. 9 has been released. And it' know.

The layout of the game is straightforward: There are eight levels, each of which is presided over by one of the “Mighty Numbers” (Robot Masters)- bosses whose abilities you (Beck) can absorb after defeating them. Do this and by the end you're putting together an ever growing list of skills in order to get through constantly evolving, tougher challenges. It's a tried and true formula for a reason: It works and it pushes, challenges and yet empowers the player.

As far as the level design goes, it’s standard stuff: tricky jumps, tight quarters, evolving enemy patterns. Clear, concise, constant difficulty progression. Rewards for exploration (with a few red herrings thrown in for good measure, a la Ninja Gaiden (NES)).

So far so good.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Taking Reality for Granted?

Taking Reality for Granted?

We all have senses, and we use our senses to perceive the world around us. The sum total of our sensory perception is the input to which we ascribe the characteristic of reality. When we do this, we are effectively saying that what we sense around us is what exists around us, and we use this information to guide us as we move about the world in which we live. However, there is a problem inherent within this methodology, as philosophers have been noting for millenia: We cannot be certain that reality is as we perceive it, since the perceptions that we cite as evidence are necessarily subjective, and are devoid of external, independent confirmation of their accuracy. Or are they? This is the question I'd like to address.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Parenting: On Yelling and Hitting

My daughter is 7 now and I can count the times I have legitimately yelled at her on one hand. I have always talked to her, reasoned things out, etc. I prioritize her psychological health over anything else- us being late, me being tired, whatever. And I NEVER hit her. Or "spank" her (which is hitting, stop pretending otherwise).

I have always had a policy of "treat her like I'd like to be treated." No one would want to be yelled at or hit by someone six times their size, so why would we expect fragile little children to tolerate that? It's totally unfair (but I get it!!!! they don't understand our job and how they unintentionally make it harder and what we feel/go through, especially as single parents; we're tired, stressed, dissatisfied, etc....I do get it!).

People around me try to convince me to "toughen up" as they think sometimes things "take too long" (just yell and she'll do it right away, they say) but again my priority is her not me or them. Everyone always uses the running on the road example (what if she ran onto the road without looking, you're going to "talk" it out?) but she never does anything like that and she listens very well. She respects me because I treat/see her as a real person and I make sure to care about how she is feeling. In turn she doesn't want to disappoint me so she tries her best to be a helpful girl.

I know it's tough. We're tired, we're frustrated, the list of things to do never ends. But you have to keep in mind the nature of children, understand it and work with them- don't hold them responsible for their nature (they had nothing to do with it). Ask yourself why you yelled or hit and you'll realize your answers don't actually justify the response. It's always "we were going to be late or I said it four times already!" which really means "it didn't happen when I wanted it to" which is never worth even a minuscule amount of fear, anxiety, or hit to self confidence that they can (and do) experience. They are fragile and they need us to be on their side.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Muramasa Rebirth Review

Muramasa Rebirth is an enhanced port of a 2009 Wii game entitled Muramasa: The Demon Blade which was an excellent 2D side scrolling action role playing game that starred 2 characters: the princess Momohime and Kisuke, a ninja with, wait for it…..amnesia! Yes, amnesia, that old video game trope (I’ll save you the hassle of searching for the story section of this review and just tell you right now that if you are playing this game for the story you’re barking up the wrong proverbial tree).

When you begin the game you are tasked with choosing one of two stories to play through. Momohime’s  or Kisuke’s. Depending upon which choice you make you’ll either be travelling east or west; if you choose Momohime you’ll play as a princess possessed by a vengeful spirit in search of 108 legendary demon blades. Choose Kisuke and you’ll play as a ninja with amnesia……in search of 108 legendary demon blades. The stories both evolve (some might say devolve) from there but frankly, I paid very little attention. What did get my attention, however, was both the audio/visual presentation and the gameplay. The game is simply gorgeous, the music is great and it plays like a dream.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sit a Lot? Have Pain? This Post is for You!

Any of you, like myself, who works in an office type environment knows that we sit. A LOT. I work 4 11.5-12 hour shifts per week and at least 5 of those hours are spent sitting. If I wasn't dealing with patients I'd be sitting for the whole thing (used to do that when I was on the analysis side of things) and if you aren't yet aware of this fact become so now: SITTING IS DEATH.

I'm in medical but I ain't no doctor so I'll save the nitty gritty for someone else but the basic idea is that the angle of our hips is not set but actually fluctuates based on the activation (or lack thereof) of attached and surrounding musculature. What effects that is the positions we take during the day- how we sit, stand, kneel, squat, etc. Sitting forces the hip into an unnatural angle and since we are often hunched over computers we also end up overusing some of the muscles in the shoulders, mid and upper back and underusing muscles in the chest and abdomen (as well as legs for both over and underuse). You end up with a whole bunch of misaligned, over used, underused etc muscles and these imbalances lead to injury and chronic pain. Not to mention that horrible hunched over 90 year old posture with the rounded shoulders and back and forward head.

Over the last 1.5 years or so I have been developing back, hip and neck pain and I have been becoming more and more acutely aware of my posture and how tight some muscles of mine are (and how weak others are). I have also started focusing on how much I sit and taking measures to mitigate the damage done every day.

So what have I been doing/should you be doing? Glad you asked  :lol: (but wait, there's more!)

1) Work out. Focus on your core especially.

2) Stretch your chest, hip flexors, shoulders, back and legs (quads, calves and hamstrings). You can google around to find out what stretches are for what if you don't already know.

3) Sit straight. Google proper sitting posture and try to adopt it. Stand straight. Shoulders down and back (ears and shoulders aligned); chin up. Try to lead with your qroin and keep your neck exposed. "beta" hunching posture is all about protecting the neck and balls. Strut that shit.

4) Take sitting breaks as often as possible. I will get into the "third world squat" position and hold it there for 30-60 seconds, or walk around, or do other stretches (or all of the above).

The basic idea is to open the hips, strengthen the back, stretch the chest and legs (and strengthen those hammies), sit and stand straight and allow the body to hold the positions it "likes" best.

Yoga is brilliant for this shit and if you like to smoke/vape/eat/drink/whatever the fuck marijuana good LORD does it enhance things.

Good luck and let's all strive for as little pain and damage as possible as we age. These new kids coming up are FUCKED because of how much they sit and hunch over screens. Text neck indeed.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

I Had a Religious Experience Thanks To A Tennis Ball, Pot and Some Stretching

Yesterday I did 90 minutes of stretching and intense myofascial release via tennis ball solely focused on my lower right side- adductors. psoas, iliopsoas, tensor fasciae latae, iliotibial band, etc after eating an edible a friend gave me and I had a goddamn religious experience. I have always heard about how intense stretching can lead to psychedelic states but until yesterday I never really went to the heights I achieved. I almost don't believe it myself (I wouldn't if I wasn't already intimately familiar with how edibles affect me; I'd just chalk it up to that) but I swear I felt like I was 20% in this world and 80% one with the universe. Pain and pleasure started to mix together with the world around me until I was swimming in sensations. I can't explain it, it was completely bananas. All I know is muscles that have been tight for like 20 years screamed at me and then released under my relentless stretching and when they did my whole body orgasmed.

I have been flirting with this stuff for a while now but I am definitely 100% on board. You all haven't felt pleasure until you release a muscle 20 years into tightening. You just have to fight through some pretty intense pain first (I had my head tilted back moaning in pain a few times).

Fuck that was amazing.