Articles of Interest

Kim writes a thoughtful post about EA’s Battlefield: Bad Company, and the rumor that it will enable players to purchase more advanced weapons with MS points. Kim makes a comparison to paintball (i.e. some players have an advantage because they can afford to purchase more paintball pellets) that had never occurred to me.

Via Raph, news that players of Eve Online will have the opportunity to elect the members of a player council that will dictate in-game policy. Seems like an exciting experiment in MMO democracy — looking forward to hearing more about it.

I just heard about Grand Theft Childhood. which appears to be a rare, thorough, and balanced look at the issue of violence in games. And it has a great pedigree (its co-authors are co-founders of the Center for Mental Health and Media at Massachusetts General Hospital, and are also on the psychiatry faculty at Harvard Medical School.) Check out the book’s website — it’s full of interesting information that could be useful in combating stereotypes about video games.

A “Club Penguin-like” virtual world called Handipoints, which rewards kids for doing chores, was apparently launched in beta form back in November. When kids complete activities such as cleaning their room, they gain either “handipoints” that can be redeemed for real-world toys (distributed via Amazon) or “bonus points” that can be used to buy virtual items. Parents decide which type of point is rewarded. Handipoints as 150k users (don’t know what percentage of those are active), with 3.5 users per family on average.

Now this is really cool: a company called Brand Experience Lab has developed AudienceGames, which are basically advergames that get played in movie theatres before a film begins. Audience members play the game by waving their hands to the left or right; a camera captures the activity and majority rules. An AudienceGame created for Volvo enabled theatre-goers to steer a virtual car around obstacles, scoring points when they did so. (Via Ilya.)

In response to the recommendations made by a commissioned report, the UK will require all packaged games to display BBFC ratings in addition to the now-standard PEGI ratings. The BBFC ratings are described as “cigarette-style health warnings.” A step backward for the game industry, but at least the BBFC has shown itself to be a thoughtful organization in the past, re: games.

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