Pro Gamers as Athletes?

A few days ago, I came across this article on whether professional gamers should be considered athletes. While I don’t necessarily think the work “athlete” is appropriate to describe professional gamers, my reasons are nothing more than technical. Consider the definition from Dictionary.com:

“A person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.”

From my point of view, the only reason this isn’t necessarily a good word is the inclusion of “requiring”.

During the League of Legends World Championship Playoffs last week, one of the commentators mentioned the need for gamers to be physically fit, get lots of rest, avoid harmful substances, and an excess of anything that could detract from stamina, strengths, and agility. Phyiscal health has been linked to improved neuropsychological functioning in elders (Dustman et al., 1984) so it’s not hard to imagine that a healthy young adult is likely to stay more focused and endure a long bout of gaming better than one who is less physically fit.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s no such thing as an unfit professional gamer. In fact, I’m saying the opposite. While I think it is more likely that the more successful pro gamers will be more physically fit, I don’t think it’s a requirement. Of course, sumo wrestlers don’t seem the picture of health either, but what makes someone good at what they do is the directly related training specific to the sport/game. Awareness, meditation, practice, drive… these things most definitely come into play during gaming, but jogging a 5k isn’t probably going to be the make or break factor.

And no, that is not a permission slip to run out and buy a bag of Doritos a 2-liter of Mt. Dew before hunkering down in mom’s basement; we don’t want to return to that stereotype… got it?

References:

Dustman, R., Ruhling, R., Russell, E., Shearer, D., Bonekat, W., Shigeoka, J., … Bradford, D. (1984). Aerobic exercise training improved neuropsychological function of older individuals. Neurobiology of Aging, 5, 35-42. Retrieved from http://jtoomim.org/brain-training/aerobic%20execise%20and%20improved%20neuropsychological%20function%20in%20older%20adults.pdf

Ginger Rage: Cyber Bullying

The Rant…

Today I remembered just how maddening being bullied can be. Being bullied doesn’t have to be physical violence or blatantly offensive names; anything that belittles, embarrasses, or purposefully hurts in any way counts. So when someone uses Facebook comments to try to turn friends against you, it counts. So here is my take on it: social media is, among other things, a way for people to communicate in a safe environment. There are those who are socially inhibited or inept who find some measure of relief through the disinhibition being behind the computer screen affords. There are those who play games as a means of escaping the havoc of their offline lives, and experiences brief respite. Creepers, trolls, flamers, and stalkers make any situation- media or not- unsafe and downright frightening. In my example (my day… it was no bueno), when I find out that someone is attempting to turn my best friend against me, by using words (that were NOT meant for her) against me, I become afraid to say anything; to express myself. What’s more, I can’t see what is being said, or how much I’m exposing myself when it’s done with cyber stalking. So, rather than hiding, like so many others, I’m doing something about it. I’m giving her all the fodder she needs. There is a level of maturity that comes with being responsible technology users. While having freedom of speech is a right, it is also a privilege. Just because we have it, doesn’t mean we should abuse it or use it to hurt others. Just because you THINK there are no consequences to your actions, doesn’t mean there aren’t; you never know when it’s going to come back to bite you in the ass. So many of our pop culture favorites speak to this: Spider-man, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” the force in Star Wars, Thor and the abuse of his power on Asgard before his daddy reamed him… the list goes on. Just cause you can, doesn’t mean you should.

What we can do, however, is speak out against it. In the links below, I’m including a small variety of media which give examples of cyber bullying (from sexual harassment in video games to in school bullying), point to resources for prevention, and some research on the subject. Remember when you’re reading these links, that I’m in no way saying I agree with any of the bullying, regardless of whether I agree with the values or opinions of those who are being attacked. Bottom line: attacking is attacking is attacking. NO ONE DESERVES IT! Also, this is, by no means, an exhaustive list so be sure to check for yourself for more info. I hate to think Darwin’s survival of the fittest is at work with bullies too… but sometimes it’s really hard to endure being the good guy; so let’s stand together.

The Solution…

Feminist Blogger Is a Victim of a Vicious Videogame Retaliation

Ill Doctrine: All These Sexist Gamer Dudes Are Some Shook Ones

Cyberbullying: What School Administrators (And Parents) Can Do

Don’t Stand By: Stand Up Campaign

Cyberbullying Research Center

Cyberbully Movie (by ABC Family)

Augmented Reality: Don’t Worry, It Won’t Bite

Though augmented reality (AR) is becoming more and more predominate in the gaming community, it isn’t likely to replace gaming as it stands now. Henry Jenkins (2008) notes that one of the most common fears of media based companies is the advent of new media. He reminds them that new media compliments- not replaces- existing media. This, I believe, is the same idea behind AR’s place in gaming. Still to this day, games built on 64 and even 8 bit graphics are very popular. Gamers tend to be motivated by the content of the game and less by the visual appeal (Yee, 2006). That being said, and in light of the fact that this is obviously a personal preference thing, immersion is absolutely a motivational factor for game play. However, the game has to be done right. Think of it in terms of The Lord of the Rings has to have a good plot, not just good computer graphics.

A good example of this is the  Spider-Man AR app. There are levels/missions that can be unlocked and achievements to be had by going through a variety of activities. Some of these activities involve computers, and some involve going to stores to interact with merchandise; a brilliant way to create consumer loyalty, resonance, and solidify brand identity. Though this game appeals to a variety of motivational types in gaming, (including immersion and achievement), it doesn’t quite fulfill all of them. We’ve seen how a variety of gaming styles, platforms, and media can be- and often are- used simultaneously or thoughtfully chosen between. The Wii didn’t bring an end to controllers and neither did the Kinect. The PS2 didn’t cause every N64 to evaporate off the face of the earth. Similarly, there are still several reasons why someone would choose the XBox 360 game over the AR app; not the least of which is the desire for escapism. Let’s be honest, combining your world with a different world doesn’t exactly let you ESCAPE your world, does it?

Don’t get me wrong, being able to put a contact lens in my eye in order to apprehend the Second Life style bad guy who happens to be running through the super market as I go shopping doesn’t sound like a terrible addition to my sometimes mundane life. But history has told us that retro never goes out of style with gaming, and sometimes you need the click of the mouse, the mashing of the a, b, x, and y buttons, or the “strumming” of the fake guitar to wash away your IRL blues.

References:

Jenkins, H. (2008). Convergence culture where old and new media collide. New York; London: New York University Press.
Yee, N. (2006). Motivations for play in online games. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9(6), 772-775.

Research Article #2: Motivations for Play in Online Games

In this article by Nick Yee (2006), a questionnaire is used to determine whether Bartle’s Player Types (Bartle, 1996) translates from MUDs to MMORPGs. The results are something to get excited about (for me, at any rate), however not surprising.

“… Bartle’s Player Types is a well-known player taxonomy…” that needed to be, “… validated with and grounded in empirical data.” This is exactly what Yee set out to do with his research.

Yee sent out these 40 questions to MMORPG players via online groups for players of EQ, SW Galaxies, Ultima Online, and Dark Ages of Camelot (the last of which I’ve never even heard of). I wonder if the results would be the same for exclusively WOW players. Also, I wonder how the WOW players’ scores would compare with people who play primarily games that are not MMORPGs.

You know I HAD to look it up...

It is well assumed that there are a variety of reasons that people choose to game. Furthermore, there are a variety of reasons people choose the platforms and types of games they do. While it stands to reason that this would be the case, there are those (myself included) who love seeing empirical data suggest what they already feel is a safe assumption. Social psychologists would argue, I suspect, that often the things we take for granted as being truth is, in fact, closer to the opposite of what we suppose. A good example of this is the supposition that people would get off the phone quicker if they knew someone was waiting to use it. Those who are naysayers of the kindness of the entire human race, of course, know differently. We’re greedy, and we like having things that others don’t have.

Back to the topic at hand, though. Yee’s research is, as a matter of fact, the study that I’m hoping to replicate in my next at bat. His procedures provide me with a set of guidelines, and the findings give me an idea of what I’m looking for.

In Table 1 of the article, Yee displays the “Subcomponents revealed by the factor analysis grouped by the main component they fall under”. The main components are bolded, with the subcomponents and examples of them following:

Achievement

Advancement

  • Progress
  • Power
  • Accumulation
  • Status

Mechanics

      • Numbers
      • Optimization
      • Templating
      • Analysis

Competition

      • Challenging Others
      • Provocation
      • Domination

Social

Socializing

      • Casual Chat
      • Helping Others
      • Making Friends

Relationship

      • Personal
      • Self-Disclosure
      • Find and Give Support

Teamwork

      • Collaboration
      • Groups
      • Group Achievements

Immersion

Discovery

      • Exploration
      • Lore
      • Finding Hidden Things

Role-Playing

      • Story Line
      • Character History
      • Roles
      • Fantasy

Customization

      • Appearances
      • Accessories
      • Style
      • Color Schemes

Escapism

    • Relax
    • Escape from Real Life
    • Avoid Real-Life Problems

Review: Mount and Blade With Fire and Sword

Check out my latest review on Level Up Times.

Mount and Blade With Fire and Sword