News Update: Representation, Violence, Addiction, Minecraft, Awards and Events

Welcome to our latest instalment of fortnightly gaming news, where we seek to roundup recent stories from the media and elsewhere that are relevant to the Gaming Horizons project vision.

Firstly, in an article on the concerning lack of diversity of representation in video games, Waypoint noted that, where race is concerned, ‘white is still seen as a kind of default’ for video game characters. Also with regards to representation, this time in relation to gender, Polygon provided a detailed insight into the design decisions that went into making the multi-platform indie game ‘Shovel Knight’.

There have been a number of articles over the past few weeks relating to the impact of video game play on players. For instance, Gizmodo reported on a recent study around video games and empathy. They noted that this long-term project found that video game play was not linked to changes in levels of aggression or empathy, therefore suggesting that any ‘desensitising effect’ arising from gameplay is likely to be short lived. The researchers advocated more long-term study in this area. The Guardian, meanwhile, explored motivations for ‘getting hooked on technology’ in a recent long-read article, whilst Andrew K Przybylski blogged for the ESRC on the (lack of) crisis around games, drawing on a recent Understanding Society survey.

With a focus on the impact of one game in particular, Polygon report that Minecraft is more popular than ever, having now sold a reported 122 million copies across different platforms, with an ever increasing number of active monthly players. Such popularity perhaps helps explain the existence of Microsoft’s recently released Education Edition of the game.

Leading up to awards season, The Guardian report on the forthcoming Bafta Game Awards, whilst the finalists have also been revealed for the International Games Festival Awards, to be held in San Francisco.

In Nottingham, UK, The National Video game Arcade have announced their Playful Writing Group, that aims to ‘build a better world with words’. Registration is also open for the Games for Change festival in New York, which seeks to explores the ‘positive power of digital games and virtual technology’.

Finally, Gizmodo report that the classic arcade machine is soon to become extinct, due to a lack of availability of CRT screens, serving as a reminder that the ways in which we play games is evolving, alongside the nature and complexity of the games themselves.