Weird Games From Japan

Some weird games from Japan curtsy of Jon Tron, enjoy.

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Lack of Women in STEM

The Lack of Women in STEM.

 Marcus Seldon

 Bellevue University

 

The Industrial Revolution was an important era in determining how the U.S has evolved economically, culturally and socially. Thanks to those early advancements in technology we are able to live easier lives today. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs are the continuation of the Industrial Revolution which helped advance society. However, even with all of our advancements the problem of too many jobs and not enough people to fill them has occurred. To solve this issue we need more women in STEM.

Before we solve the issue we must first define STEM. The National Science Foundation has stated, “Education at all levels in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—STEM—develops, preserves, and disseminates knowledge and skills that convey personal, economic, and social benefits. Higher education provides the advanced work skills needed in an increasingly knowledge-intensive, innovation-focused economy and society” (Science Foundation Arizona, 2013). STEM education helps spread knowledge and allows different skillsets to collaborate. This collaboration and diversity of ideas allows for new and interesting solutions. Which begs the question why would this be useful?

In the interest of simplicity, we will focus on the Video Game Industry to answer why STEM is important. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) stated that in 2013 the industry sold “160 million games and generated more than 21 billion in revenue” (The Entertainment Software Association, 2013). To make all these games it takes artists, software engineers, level designers, programmers which means job openings. Siwek (2015) has reported in Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2014 Report that “video game companies directly and indirectly employ more than 146,000 people in 36 states” (Siwek, 2015). Those numbers are impressive for an industry that added $6.2 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012 (Siwek, 2015). The impact of STEM in the Gaming Industry demonstrates how important STEM can be to the U.S. economy. The Gaming Industry could have a larger impact but it is essential to educate those who make games.  

A programmer has a pivotal position in creating a modern video game. To be a programmer one would get a Computer Science or equivalent degree. This STEM degree would teach the student the basic fundamentals of programming and applying those fundamentals in the real world. This is important because all modern video games are made on computers and to make a game function one has to develop a program. 

Art majors, while not part of STEM, are needed to make video games. In keeping with the idea of collaborative skills, STEM integrates art with technology. Artists traditionally use physical mediums such as paint brushes and colored pencils to convey their work. Thanks to computer programs such as Adobe Photoshop, one can recreate a painting in digital form. Knowing how to use similar programs is essential to creating immersive environments in video games. Without artists, game worlds would be plain geometric shapes void of character and emotion. Ultimately, STEM is about different disciplines working together to solve a problem. When making a video game programmers and artist have to work together to achieve the end product. Each position relies on the other to succeed in making a quality game. Working together is an important skill to succeed in STEM and the Video Game Industry. But why is it that there are so few women working with men to create these games?

The general perception of video games is that they are made by and for males. Which is mostly true because games have traditionally been made for and marketed towards young males. For example, look up the cover art for Super Mario World (1990) for the Super Nintendo. It depicts Mario, with a cape, on the back of Yoshi (a dinosaur) flying through the air. This type of imagery reaches out to young boys since most want to be a super hero and like dinosaurs. Thanks to similar box covers like this, most people have associated video games as kid’s toys that are not played by adults, let alone women. But reality is much different than society’s perception. In fact nearly half of gamers, 48%, are female and those who are 18 and younger make up 36% compared to the boys 17% in the same demographic (The Entertainment Software Association, 2013). Now one may think that if half the market of games are played by females that the same would be true of those who make them. According to the International Game Developers Association as of 2009 women only made up 11.5% of developers. Despite this lack luster number, things are improving because as of 2014 women made up 22% of the developers (Tassi, 2014).

Given the contrast between how many women play games and how few make them, what prevents women from entering game development? One possible hypothesis is that many young girls are not encouraged to explore their surroundings like we do with boys. Verizon came out with a commercial last year entitled Inspire Her Mind. The ad provides snapshots of events for a young girl going from a young child to adolescents. In one section she is wondering through a creek, looking at the plants, and her mother says not to get her dress dirty. In the next section she is now a bit older and they are at the beach. She is collecting shells and examining a star fish. Her father tells her that she doesn’t want to mess with the star fish and to put it down. The next scene has the girl making the solar system out of paper mache to put on the ceiling of her room. Her mother tells her that the project has gotten out of control. The following scene has her making a miniature space shuttle with an electric drill. Her father, sounding concerned tells her to be careful and hand the screw driver to her brother.  The final scene has her walking down a school hallway were she notices a poster for the school science fair. Instead of taking interest in the science fair she just puts on some lip gloss and continues walking (Verizon Commercial, 2014).

This ad explains probably the biggest reason why there are so few women in STEM. Why would anyone want to be in any a particular field of work when the people around you say you shouldn’t? It appears that this concept may hold some truth because according to a Washington Post article, from 2004 to 2014 fewer women are getting STEM degrees. The article shows a graph showing that women who got engineering degrees have gone down from 20% to 19%. In computer science it has gone from 23% to 18%. Mathematics has also gone down from 45% to 42% (Rampell, 2015). 

Despite some of the social barriers to get in the Video Game Industry, why should women develop video games? One obvious reason is that half the people who play games are women. From a business stand point, it would make sense to make a game that is more enjoyable for half of the entire market. Though to make a game that caters towards women one would have to hire women to make it. Who better to make a game marketed towards women then a game made by women? Having more female developers gives game studios a different perspective on how to make games. This new perspective would allow them to try new things and reach a much larger audience. By reaching a larger audience they would widen the pool of potential customers. Thus making more money, which is something every business wants to do. When the business makes more the employees make more. “In 2012 the average annual pay including: wages, salaries and employer contributions for pensions, insurance, and government social insurance was $94,747” (Siwek, 2015). If the large pay check is not enough to convince you to do STEM then maybe President Barack Obama can. On February 2013, the President said “One of the things I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population, that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent…not being encouraged the way they need to” (Women in STEM, 2014). If the leader of the free world says that it is an issue then it must have some merit. But how do we fix this problem?

 For us to improve the number of women in STEM we have to start early. That means that parents and schools need to work together to help motivate young girls. That means encouraging them to explore the world around them. If they take an interest in a particular subject help them learn about it. Schools have to make the learning of math and science fun and engaging. Once we are able to get young girls interested in these fields we have a chance of improving the amount of women in the Game Industry.

STEM programs are important to the continued advancement of the United States and the world. Without these programs we would not be able to live such comfortable lives. By having more women in STEM we are able to have more diverse points of views. Having different people with different backgrounds allows for multiple ways to solve a problem. With the constant changes of the world we need people able to solve the new problems of tomorrow. 

 

 References

Engaging Girls in STEM. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://www.ngcproject.org/engaging-girls-stem

Industry Facts – The Entertainment Software Association. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://www.theesa.com/about-esa/industry-facts/

Rampell, C. Women falling behind in STEM bachelor’s degrees. (2015, January 27).  Retrieved   February 13, 2015, from http://www.washingtonpost.com

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Education for Global Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://www.ed.gov/stem

Siwek, Stephen. Video Games in the 21St Century: The 2014 Report. 1st ed. Entertainment Software Association, 2015. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Tassi, P. Female Game Developers Have Doubled Since 2009, Men Still     Dominate Industry.     (2014, June 25). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com

Verizon Commercial 2014 | Inspire Her Mind – Extended | Verizon Wireless. (2014, June 2).          Retrieved February 13, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP3cyRRAfX0

Why STEM? What is STEM? – Science Foundation Arizona. (2013, December 17). Retrieved        February 13, 2015, from http://www.sfaz.org/stem-stem/

Women in STEM. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/women

2014 is Coming

So now that I am over my X-Mas bliss, improved my gaming set up majorly, I started to think about 2014  and the games that are to come .  In my personal opinion 2014 will be the best gaming year to date. An I feel that Ubisoft is going to have a huge year with all their titles that got delayed to next year. The Division and Watchdogs are the two biggest games  that I am most excited about but they are not supposed to come out till mid to late next year. So in the mean time I  am going to fill my time with BF4 and Titanfall when it drops in March. But since there are just so many games coming out next year I think I leave these two videos for you to watch to see what is to come in 2014.

Sexism In Gaming (Female Comments Wanted Please)

Lately I have noticed that sexism has been brought up more and more in conversations when it comes to gaming. Though I am not too surprised because for many gamers and non gamers video games are still an all boys club. An I feel that it is true because it is ingrained in to the stereotype. An this is something I can personally relate to because being a young black male one might assume that I only listen to rap music and dress like a thug. An they would think that if they believed one of the many stereotypes about black people.

Though despite the fact that stereotypes are based on some truth, one should not use that as a blanket statement to describe any one person. In the world of video games sexism comes in two flavors, female characters and female gamers. There are a large number of games where if there is a playable female character, more than likely she will be wearing something impractical. I feel that Japan is one of the worst offenders especially when it comes to RPG’s. But American publishers, at times, are a close second.  An here is a visual just in case who have been living underneath a rock for a while.(picture is of Tera Armor)

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This is just one of the many examples of were females are sexualized in video games. An if they are not sexualized they tend to be the damsel in distress. But the reasoning  behind this is usually an easy plot device. Which is understandable when you realize who  these game developers are making games for. They make them for males 18-30 years of age. Now put your self in the shoes of the  developers. If you know that young males are buying your games, would you not want to appeal to there interests? Cause I don’t know about you but if you show me a pair of boobs that will at least get me through the door.

Now this were I think the heart of the problem lies. That game developers still make games primarily for males. But according to the Entertainment Software Association 45% of gamers are female. Almost half of gamers are females yet we still have so much over sexualization of women in games.  Which in my opinion is more of a cultural issues than just a gaming issue, but that just me. Though at the same time I can not explain why there are so many female gamers despite so many games geared towards males.  It could be just that they don’t play games with lots of misogyny or they just don’t care. I honestly don’t know since I am a guy.

The second issue I noticed is that female gamers are sometimes seen as not real gamers. Or they just say that they play to get attention.  And here is where I think the stereotype that only guys play video games really comes into play. Cause if you ignorantly believe that only guy play video games then you are just stupid. But since we live in the age of the Internet it has become easier to say that you are a girl gamer and then get trolled by a bunch insecure men. An this type of behavior will continue as long as we have assholes. Also as a side note I don’t care for the term “girl gamer” but just gamer. And I feel this way because I don’t want to just be seen as a black man but simple as a man, but more specifically by my name.

Over all I feel this issue is not just a gaming issue but a cultural issue. An  until we change as a people or all assholes disappear then this will continue for as long as humanity lives. Though in the meantime we can win small battles by informing people to reduce their ignorance.  But  I would honestly like to know the female perspective on this so if you are a female and play video games please leave a comment.

 

Dream DLC

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Last night I had a had a fairly odd dream. My dream was of a new DLC for Saints Row 4 and added a variety of new enemy types. [Small Spoilers]From what I can remember is that my Dream DLC started as if the Earth was some how re-made. You as president go back to ruling the known free world as if nothing had happen. An before you go talk to the press about some boring issue you are attacked by aliens, again. (I know it’s not very original but keep with me) Though this time you are attacked by multiple alien species that are similar to enemy types found in Halo and in movies like District 9 and Alien. An  you being pocish rouge just sees this as another day at the office since you have the full might of the former Zyn Empire at your back.  So long story short you kill a ton of enemies, get new crazier weapons, and expand your empire.

Now I know my Dream DLC is not exactly ground breaking but I am pretty sure some one will make a mod or mods that are somewhat similar to my ideas. I personally would just like to see what people come up with in the months to come.

 

Saints Row 4 Midnight Release

As of right now it is 5:04 Central  time on August 19. An at midnight I will be receiving my copy of Saint Row 4 . Probably one of the most played games before it is officially released, just look around YouTube for game play footage. One of the few reason I am sad that I am not high profile game news site, oh well. With that being said GamesCon starts on the 21st in Germany so that leaves me in a dilemma. Do I report on GamesCon or do I play Saint Row 4? Thankfully the answer is clear for me since I do not have a passport or the money to fly to the nearest airport to me. So in the event I take a break from playing I will tell you all how fun it is and possibly find interesting  news from GamesCon.

Good vs Evil

Disclaimer: This is a semi organized thought on good vs evil in general and how it applies to video games. If the ideas seemed scattered that means they are cause I just wrote what came to mind.

good-vs-evil

In just about any form of entertainment be it books, a movie, or video games there is conflict. An for the most part the conflict is between good and evil. Sometimes its the hero against their arch nemeses or the protagonist against their dark side.  An at he end of the story “good” over comes “evil.” That is basically the classical  textbook form for any form of entrainment. An we as the human race do this to escape reality because we all know that the good guy does not always win. We all know that life is hard but still like to cling to hope that things can be better.

Video games are a form of entertainment, that I am sure that we all can agree on, that immerse the player more than any book or movie can. Cause with a video game one spends hours upon hours with these characters. An depending on how well the story is executed people start to form an emotional attachment to these fictitious characters. To give a popular example think of the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones. When I saw that I was actually sadden, I even teared up a little bit. Now a popular video game example would be The Last of Us. Though I have never personally played it I have heard that it is a bit of an emotional roller coaster. An with this level of immersion we as players will tend to route for the “good end” and cringe when we get a “bad end.”  But despite this immersion I still have one issue with playing the good vs evil card.

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Though let me be clear. Most games need to go with the good vs evil or else you have no reason to play. Without conflict you have no motivation to play, for most games. But my biggest pet peeve is in games like Infamous and Kotor  where when you choose to be evil your appearance makes you ugly. Now I now this issue is more of a visual issue than a game play issue, in most respects, but it bothers me none the less.  Just because in this particular play through I want to be a total asshole to everyone in the game does not mean my character should look like a ghostly demon. For me this is an issues because many new games are trying to be “realistic” but still do some unrealistic things. Cause in reality the bad guy does not always wear all black with a curly mustache.  The bad guy is not always the one that would shoot their own mother if it meant they would win.  More than likely the bad guy is the person who seems like a really nice person that you would want to go the game with until they slit your throat.

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On the flip side of things I understand why people characterize villains like this. It makes a clear distinction between good and evil. Though in my short life, time more and more forms of entertainment in general  are aiming for a more moral gray story. From what little I played of Witcher 2 or anything made by BioWare, they do a very good job of this. For me personally Bioware has really come far when it comes to making a decision in a game. For example when I played Jade Empire(April 12, 2005 release) the decisions where fairly straight forward. You had the “good”, “bad”, and “neutral” decisions.   An after each one you kinda knew what would happen after words. Fast forward to Mass Effect and you might think you are making a good decision but the unintended consequences are horrible. Same goes with the Witcher series but goes into more shades of morally gray that most average people never have to deal with thankfully.

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I personally feel that humanity is neither naturally good or evil, we just are. Though I do believe that most of us try to be good because it makes us feel good. Most people love to cheer for the underdog because most of feel like one. And we tend to gravitate  to things where good triumphs over evil to make us feel better, unless you want evil to win. In the end good vs evil is a part of the human condition and will stay with us until we no longer exists.

Thank you for reading.

Skyrim + Mods = Where did my week go?

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So you might be wondering (or not) why I have  not posted in a while. The reasoning for my absence is mainly because I got back into Skyrim and this time with Skyrim Nexus.  I have used the site before but just recently I really started to dive deep into what the nexus has to offer. Now one my might be asking why I am playing a game that is almost two years old? To answer that question I did not get it till last December when it was on a sale. An in that time I have beat the game twice in and as of today have logged 131 hours. Though I do have to admit that I am a cheater, used a crap ton of console commands, but if you aint cheating you aint trying. An at this point and time I have put more time and effort into playing than I have with some other projects. For example I have several pages of id codes for things like Ebony ingots and Leather.

Though at this point this has come a bit of an addiction that lasts for about two weeks then I get back to reality. So probably around Tuesday or so I will actually have a real post instead of this fluff. But in the mean time I will go wander around Falskaar for a bit. An if you do not know what I am talking about then who you just did not pay attention to probably the worlds most public resume.