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09/07/2004

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Matt

Thanks for the heads up. I caught it tonight.

At times it was delightful, other times it was annoying. For instance, when they started talking about games designed for girls, we got some Nancy Drew game, and--No, that was it, girls. Nancy Drew. Enjoy!

Mostly, it seemed directed toward people who don't have any idea of the history or current state of the industry. I think it probably did a decent job for them.

I was a little disturbed at the (no, not the violence, which they touched on but mostly dismissed) whole MMOG addiction angle they tossed in at the end. I wondered if they know the impact it's going to have on the audience of uninformed parents when someone with "Dr." in front of her name says flat out, "I won't let my child play MMOGs." It struck me as being today's specious dig at gaming.

All things considered, I think it was very informative, and almost fair, which is more than I'd have expected. It's definitely worth a watch, if only to cheer for the game footage, and the dorks in situ.

Also, the poor poor tin monkey guy. Will he ever live that down? God love him.

Cog

Did anyone watch this? SO well done! I ordered the DVD. I HIGHLY recommend this show to any gamer. The gent from MIT was just amazing!

Chris

I'll have to catch the documentary when it airs at 1AM on Sept 11th here in NY - I'm curious to see how it compares to the Discovery Channel's documentary "Gameheadz", originally aired on TLC in 2003.

Unfortunately, the only DVD I've seen being sold is crazy expensive.

RichM

On balance, I thought the show was pretty strong. I'd just read Rusel DeMaria's "High Score," so most of the gaming history was review. But the program worked hard to strike a balance between divergent viewpoints on the hot-button issues - especially the game violence controversy, which rarely is presented fairly on television.

I agree with Matt's point about the "gaming addiction" segment, which I found to be heavy on speculation and light on facts.

Significantly, I think it presented information that might help parents understand why these games are compelling for their kids, and how gaming's interactivity and problem-solving sets it apart from passive TV viewing. Lots of parents who are fearful about games miss this entirely, and think of gaming as non-productive time.

Elusive Spoon

I really enjoyed how when they were talking about older video games, they would show a modern version of the same franchise, or a completely unrelated game. Who wants to see those old, boring, crappy games anyway? And it's not like this was a show about the history of video games, meriting a glance at what earlier games looked like.

But seriously, the show was ok. I thought the depth of information was shallow, but I always think that about these shows. They could fit so much more information in if they only stopped talking to breathe. At the end of the show it did get a little better as it talked a little more on the effects of games, though there definitely needs to be more in depth discussions of game addiction/obsession. It's good to know Sid Meier is thinking about this problem, considering that my first experience with Civ was playing a demo till I noticed it was starting to get light out, and quickly hopping into bed to try getting a little sleep before class. It will be interesting to see if there are at least some user initiated playing restrictions to combat obsessive playing in Civ 4.

linc

Yes, they were very one sided on girls. I think many girl gamers would laugh to see Nancy Drew games being presented as what girls need or want from gaming. It nice that those mother and daughters were getting together to play, but it seemed a bit crazy that they didn't once juxtapose that with one of the gilrs OBVIOULSY went to the GDFest...I saw girls walking in teh door where are their interviews. To be honest I have never heard of Gamer Depot so I'm not sure it is even worth worry about not showing the girls there.

Linc

The real star of the show was the researcher who could not for the life of him control his child at all. That kid like so many young children of very old parents was a bit messed up & hyper. With that said, that kid's main issue wasn't his desire to play games, it was his CRAZY parents who think having rules will hurt him. That kids needs a some rules with consequences imposed...he'd be happier for it too.

Also, that Programing Camp was run by loseres. If you make a rule and then just ignore them you teach children nothing and you lose control. Saying, "You have five seconds to compley..." means you just lost an argument to a child. No means NO, off means OFF NOW. You need only make and example of one child at the start to make your word LAW in most cases. I bet the entire camp was a week of those kids stepping all over the adults so nobody learned a damn thing.

CFoust

It was very fair and unbiased: as I always expect from PBS. Very good as an introduction to games for people who have never taken a look at this culture. As someone well-versed on this subject I didn't learn much; in fact a few parts made me cringe at how dumbed-down it was. While talking about consoles, there was a halfway explanation that went something like this: "bit stands for binary digit. More bits means more power, got it? (now don't ask any more technical questions)"

I certainly didn't see anything I found really offensive. The pack of girls baking cookies and playing Nancy Drew games was somewhat laughable, though.

Linc: it certainly is annoying seeing someone fail to control their children. At that age, though, I think most kids will try and push their boundaries, no matter how strict their parents are. If I was in charge of that camp, I would have simply switched off net access if the kids stopped following the rules.

Henry

I watched it and loved it. I even recorded it.

If you missed it and want to see it, email me and I'll give you my address to send 3 dollars (cover tape cost and shipping. No profit) for me to copy it and send it to you.

The documentary though, was awesome. It hit almost every aspect of gaming. Very welll done.

LonelyBob

Overall the show was good. The first half was about the history of games up until current. They covered the first console games well but skipped over the many messy Sega console releases (SegaCD, 32X, Saturn, Dreamcast) leading to Sega departing from the hardware market. The people that they spoke with on the subject of game addiction were either on one side or the other as were the people they spoke with about game violence. But I think they did a fairly good job showing both sides of the arguments on the issues of game violence and game addiction. If you get the opportunity it's worth the 2 hours to watch for the nostalgia of the older games, good interviews with lead game developers, an seeing a whole bunch of game footage/gameplay from the pong era progressing to the present.

Chris

The big gap I saw, that was alluded to above, was the lack of a rounded discussion about online gaming, especially considering that's where the doc identifies gaming as going. I would have loved to see a deeper discussion here, something with gamers involved, but I would venture to guess that would be the hardest part of putting the doc together.

It's much easier to cover trends that have clearly developed than those that are developing and, although they could go to established online games, it seemed they wanted to make clean conclusions, which is relatively hard to do about newer forms of online gaming, as they are still developing. It would be interesting to revisit this topic, as I'm sure will be done, in five to ten years or so, as there will be far more "data" about online gaming then.

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