With Christmas approaching, video games are the one media industry that seems recession-proof, with games topping many wish lists. Parents, though, can find it difficult to tell just what they’re buying for their children. They may know about Grand Theft Auto, for instance, but may wonder what kind of sins are in Sins of a Solar Empire. Of course, nobody wants to disappoint their children: if parents decide not to buy Gears of War, will little Johnny be happy with Rock Band instead? Fortunately, there are both tools and techniques at hand to help parents identify games they might find inappropriate and also to pick appropriate games their children will like.
With the launch of the Xbox One in November, 2013 has finally finished giving birth to the newest generation of video game consoles. Wii U, PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One are sure to be on many children’s wish lists for the holidays this year, but these new consoles are anything but child’s play. Far from being simple machines for playing video games, these new consoles are more connected to the Internet than ever and have lots of new social features.
The last few weeks have shed an unprecedented light on the use of digital media to spread and inspire hatred. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the perpetrator in the attacks on Canada’s National War Memorial and Parliament buildings, appears to have been motivated in part by exposure to online postings by a self-described member of the Islamic state, and the Federal government has already stated that it intends to create tools to remove online content that promotes the “proliferation of terrorism.”
In this lesson students are introduced to the concept of “avatars” and share their experiences creating and playing avatars in video games and virtual worlds. They then create avatars using a program that is intentionally limited in terms of available body types and gender markers, first creating an avatar of their own gender and then of the opposite gender, and then discuss the program and relate it to representations of gender and body image in games and virtual worlds and in other media. Students then create avatars using a much more flexible version of the program and compare that experience to the more limited version. Finally, students use the more versatile program to create avatars that represent how they see themselves and how they would like others to see them online and reflect on the choices that went into creating them.
In this lesson, students consider the positive aspects of video games as well as the ways in which games may take time away from other activities they enjoy. Students are introduced to the idea of balancing game and screen time with other parts of their lives and learn about the reasons why they may be tempted to spend more time playing games or find it difficult to stop playing. They then keep a diary of their game play (or another screen activity if they do not play video games) that prompts them to reflect on their gaming habits. Partway through that process, they are introduced to techniques that will help them moderate their game play and deal with the difficulties they may feel reducing game time. Finally, students reflect on the experience and develop a plan to make their game play more mindful.
In this lesson, students talk about dressing up and taking on identities that are similar to or different from them. They are then introduced to the idea of avatars as a kind of “dressing up” inside video games and consider the ways in which the technical, generic and aesthetic limitations on avatar creation and customization affect their choices and their ability to represent themselves online.
The new Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum released this year by the Ontario Ministry of Education is the first major revision to the subject area in almost 30 years.
In today’s day and age, social media is everywhere. If you own a smartphone or computer of any sort, odds are you have at least one social media account and checking it is a part of your everyday routine. In high school, you’re constantly surrounded by social media! Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, high school life nowadays revolves around these three entities. It’s a great way to connect with friends, make plans, help spread information if you’re in a school club or sport, and it can even help you meet new people. Although there are many great things social media can offer, there can be a couple downsides too.