Kids and Gaming

The debate about kids and video games has been going on for decades now. Thanks to Mortal Kombat we now have a rating system that tries to prevent younger gamers from playing the more violent/adult content heavy games, and we now have people advocating for minimal screen time for kids. I want to go on the record as saying that ratings and moderation are not a bad thing, but also I want to say that every kid is different and that you the parent should decide what is best for their kids.

Back in June of 2014 Medical Daily did a write up of a study done by researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore that studied if certain mobile games could improve memory and problem solving skills. The study showed that, “while some games may help improve mental abilities, not all games give you the smae effect.” It showed that after people played “Cut the Rope” for 20 hours, they were able to “concentrate 60 percent better, and switch between tasks 33 percent faster, and adapt to new situations better.”

In October of 2014 the University of Toronto set out to find if playing video games would improve sensorimotor skills. The performed a series of tests between regular gamers and non gamers. Graduate student Davood Gozli said the purpose of the tests was to, “…understand if chronic video game playing has an effect on sensorimotor control, that is, the coordinated function of vision and hand movement.” The tests showed that while gamers did not show improved sensorimotor skills, it did show that gamers were able to recognize the patterns of the tests faster than the non gamers.

Gaming also leads the way for kids to be interested in the tech world. One day after playing some games on his Nintendo 2DS, J came up and asked my wife and I how video games were made. My wife pulled up a video on how motherboards are made, and J thought it was amazing. I thought we could even go deeper and check out code.org to intro him into the world of coding. Talk about an amazing resource, if you click here you will be taken to a game that has Anna and Elsa from Frozen teaching your kids how to code. Click here and your kids will learn how to code their own little game with Disney Infinity characters.

Technology is the business of the future, and our kids need to be tech literate if they are going to be successful. Yes moderation is necessary, but we the parents need to decide how much is too much for our own kids. We also need to realize that playing games with our kids can be a great bonding moment. Maybe not while getting yelled at by random 12 year olds on Call of Duty, but maybe by taking down some Frost Giants together in Disney Infinity 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes. It doesn’t even have to be video games. If you are a board game person, find a game that you and your kids will enjoy together. If your kids like RPGs, maybe you should look into something like Dungeons and Dragons and get their imagination going. It doesn’t matter what kind of games you play with your kids, just take some time and play.

***Salt Lake Gaming Con is just around the corner.  I have 6 tickets to Salt Lake Gaming Con that I will be giving away on Monday August 3rd at 6:00pm, so make sure you stop by my Facebook page, because***

What games did you like to play as a kid that you would pass on to future generations?

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Ant-Man

Not a lot of people were excited when Marvel announced Ant-Man, I honestly was on the fence about the movie. When the first teaser hit the internet, I thought that this movie was going to be amazing and in my eyes this movie was more than I thought it was going to be. Ant-Man has a script that is funny, smart, and the actors did an amazing job bringing the script to life.

Michael Douglas did a fantastic job of bringing Hank Pym to the big screen, although I was a little weirded out when they digitally removed about 30 years from his face.  Evangeline Lilly was amazing and made Hope van Dyne a strong female character for girls to look up to and to look forward to in future Marvel films (wink wink). Paul Rudd did what critics thought he wouldn’t be able to do, and he became Ant-Man. I am excited to see his Ant-Man progress through the MCU.

Michael Peña, T.I. (yes the rapper), and David Dastmalchian were the perfect supporting cast to Paul Rudd and IMO are probably the best supporting cast in the MCU. All three were hilarious and almost stole a few scenes throughout the movie. I also can’t leave out Abby Ryder Fortson. She plays Paul Rudd’s daughter and she also did an amazing job in the movie.

The movies is filled with easter eggs, so make sure you pay attention. Also if you haven’t seen Age of Ultron, you should because there are a few AoU references in Ant-Man. You also get an Avenger cameo, a mid credit scene, and an after credit scene, so stay in your seat until the very end. If you can, see it in IMAX 3D and/or ATMOS. There are so many audible and visual treats in Ant-Man that you really don’t want to miss out on. If I were to grade movies on the regular, I would give Ant-Man an A. It’s in between Age of Ultron and Guardians of the Galaxy on my favorite Marvel movies list (Guardians being #1 of course).

GO SEE ANT-MAN!!!!   

Pixels

I can’t tell you how excited I was the first time that I saw the teaser for Pixels. Then the official trailer came out and we saw that it was going to be an Adam Sandler/Kevin James movie. I thought that there might be a few scenes that would be “pushing the boundaries” so it could get that PG-13 rating, when this really could have been a fun movie even with the PG rating.

There were scenes that felt like they were uncomfortable to shoot, which made them uncomfortable to watch. Specifically a scene between Kevin James and Jane Krakowski that takes place in a bakery. I didn’t buy their relationship, and it looked like neither of them wanted to even shoot the scene. There were also problematic scenes where female characters as trophies, and seeing those scenes made me shudder in my seat. That being said, there are some reasons that I think you should take the kids to see the movie.

All of the scenes with the video game characters were amazing. From Galaga to Donkey Kong, those 8-bit looking killing machines looked amazing and those scenes kept J on the edge of his seat. Q*Bert was amazing and was also J’s favorite character…until the end. The opening and closing credits both were really fun to watch as well. 

If I had a grading scale for movie reviews, I would give this one a C. The concept was good, but the delivery could have been better. As J put it, “I liked the movie, but not the whole movie.”  This is not a movie that I would rush to the theaters on opening night for, but it is one that I would say to watch during a matinee or if your local theater does a $5 Tuesday. If you do decide to watch this movie, watch it in 3D. 

Merchandise Equality

It’s been awhile since my last post, I apologize. I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. Partly because I haven’t wanted to step on any toes of the voices already out there. I also wasn’t sure that I had the right words to say at the time, and finally because I think this is a topic that can’t just go away. This is something that we need to keep talking about, and working together to find a solution.

Geek culture is filled with strong women. We see them in movies, cartoons, comic books, and TV shows, yet we don’t see a lot of them in toys. Some “insiders” say it’s because geek culture is male dominated, and that this male dominated culture only won’t pay for products with these strong female characters. But are those people wrong?

Since starting this blog, I’ve seen a few instances that show these “insiders” may in fact be wrong. People lost their minds when the Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise starting hitting the shelves. Not only were Gamora figures scarce, but companies who bought the merchandising license from Marvel/Disney removed Gamora from all packaging and clothing. When Star Wars Rebels toys started hitting the shelves, Sabine Wren and Hera figures were no where to be found. Even Avengers: Age of Ultron came under fire for their lack of Black Widow and Scarlett Witch merchandise. There was even more hot water when Black Widow was replaced by Iron Man on a toy thats literal concept came from a scene in the movie.

So what can we do? It’s simple. We have to stop talking with only our keyboards and our smart phones. We also need to start talking with our money. When you see merchandise with these strong female characters, buy it and share the purchase on your social media pages. Don’t only look in big box stores, search your local comic book store, or even the parent company’s online store. Show these companies that you really want these figures, don’t just tell them.