From Tetris to Amazon


Interesting tidbits from the gaming world

Here is a humble offering of interesting stories and studies that have emerged recently.

Towering Tetris

This past Saturday, to celebrate the iconic game’s 30th birthday, some lucky gamers got a chance to play Tetris on a scale hitherto unseen: on the side of a skyscraper. The 29-story Circa Center in Philadelphia has hundreds of large LED lights embedded in its glass façade and Saturday night it was lit up allowing Tetris pieces to fall. Gamers who won the special lottery held for the event used a large joystick to play the game. Some feel that this super-sized playing of a super-sized game may be a world record.

Unearthing ET

If you’re like me, you’ve often asked yourself, “Hey, where did all those ET: The Extra Terrestrial video games go from the early ’80s?” Or maybe it’s just me. Back in the early ’80s, Atari hoped there would be a surge of interest in ET. It didn’t pan out. Actually, it completely bombed and the game garnered the title of the worst game ever made in many circles. How did Atari respond? By doing the only moral thing it could: they dumped millions of game cartridges in a New Mexico landfill in the middle of the night. Now Microsoft will be creating a documentary on the unearthing of this treasure trove. The excavation will begin on April 26. I, for one, hope that ET can simply be left to the past – it was buried for a reason.

Violent video games bad for kids

Here’s a brand new piece of information for you: kids who repeatedly play violent video games are more likely to think and act more aggressively. Another common sense study emerged in March – this one from Iowa State University – and it found a correlation between the frequency of violent video games and the type of mindset they instill into young people. The massive study (3,000 young people over three years) found that this correlation held true for both boys and girls, from grades 3 to 8.

Personally, this is just another example of where a separation needs to be in place between pastime and passion, between distraction and infatuation.

And the hits just keep on coming …

The above Iowa study comes on the heels of a study released in February which concluded that teens who play violent video games for three or more hours a day have decreased socio-moral reasoning. The reason for this, according to lead author Mirjana Bajovic of Brock University, is that teens haven’t had enough opportunities to develop higher-level social and moral reasoning, and that playing too many violent video games can detach them from the outside world, preventing them from engaging in other activities that would build perspective and empathy.

It should be noted that even Bajovic herself says that, “prohibiting adolescents from playing violent video games is not realistic.” For me, it’s all about striking balance in life.

Getting Amazon fired up

Video streaming boxes, like Apple TV, are getting to be more and more common. Amazon is jumping on board too, but there is one thing that may set theirs apart: video games. Last week Amazon announced that its video streaming box, called Fire TV, is not only more powerful than Apple TV, but that it will have the ability to play casual video games.

Many gamers may scoff at this, but I also remember scoffing at the iPad, thinking, “I can do all that on my phone.”

Now, watching a movie or, better yet, playing a casual game on a larger screen is a much better experience. Whether casual gamers will choose the Fire TV over Apple TV because of its gaming edge, I remain “iPad” skeptical.

When he’s not teaching high school, St. Albert Catholic High School alumnus Derek Mitchell can be found attached to a video game console.


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St. Albert Gazette

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