Farmville Death

Just a few months back, we were horrified about how a Korean couple ended up killing their real child when they spent too much time on their virtual child.

Now, there’s another game-related death of a child. We are once again horrified by how a mother’s obsession and addiction to the Facebook game, Farmville, has led to the death of a baby.

The 22-year old mother from Jacksonville was so incensed by her 3-month old baby’s cries while she was playing Farmville that she shook him hard a couple of times, which probably caused the baby’s head to hit against something and he died as a result. Who would think that an innocuous site like Farmville could have such a devastating and deadly impact!

According to Mashable/Social Media site,

FarmVille, named one of the “worst inventions” in recent decades by Time magazine, has more than 60 million members, most of whom access the game through Facebook. Some players have found it so addicting that they’ve lost their jobs and racked up debts north of S1000.

Someone once told me that her brother was so addicted to the game that he would set his alarm clock to wake him up to harvest his crops, and that could even be at 3am in the morning!

Well, I guess losing sleep over a game is one thing, but killing a life…that’s something else all together.

Stop letting such virtual games get in the way of REAL LIFE!

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Korean couple’s game addiction leads to death of daughter

The irony of it. 

A Korean couple have been arrested over the death of their 3-month old daughter. The baby died from malnutrution due to neglect by her parents who spent more time playing online games and nurturing a virtual child! The couple doted more on the avatar child , “a virtual girl character called “Anima” in “Prius Online”, a popular role-playing game in South Korea”.

Terrible as it is, one wonders if the news is that shocking, or was it something that was bound to happen, as game addicts in society increasingly lose connections with reality and succumb to the allure of the virtual world?

This case of game addiction and its terrible consequences is not an isolated one, and alarming news of game addiction has been increasing in Korea and many other parts of the world.

Let’s hope that this latest incident would be a wake-up call to game addicts and potential game addicts. The obsession with the online virtual world does have real consequences, and in this case, the death of the baby girl is very tragic and very real.

Cyber Wellness in Gaming

On a few occasions in the past, I’ve talked about gaming and how gaming addiction can be very destructive.

This morning, I received an emailer about Cyber Wellness in Computer Gaming. It’s a talk and sharing session organised by Samsung in conjunction with the WCG coming up.

In this era of interactive digital media (IDM) and with pervasive gaming taking place, I do believe having such talks and sessions is a step in the right direction. As people are equipped with the tools and technology, they should also be equipped with the neccesary education to guide their behaviours and choices.

I’m placing the info from the emailer here – perhaps, if you have a gaming addiction, or know of someone who has it, you would want to attend the session.

Wondered why you’re hooked on computer games? Discover the reason now and get practical tips on handling common excesses in gaming!Goodie bags will be given to the first 30 sign-ups!
 
Speaker from TOUCH Community
As the Assistant Manager of TOUCH Cyber Wellness & Sports, Jiow Hee Jhee has eight years of experience in the cyber wellness arena, conducting training and designing curriculum for youths and other groups of people.
Sharing session by Top Gamer
Samuel Tan, one of the country’s Top Gamers, was previously part of Singapore’s top DotA team, Zenith. Gaming competitively since 2005, Samuel will be sharing his experiences with regard to game addiction and how he has managed to balance competitive gaming and his studies.
 
 
 
 

Miss Bimbo: Innocent Online Game or Dangerous Role-playing?

A new online game has got parents in the UK and Europe fuming. It’s called Miss Bimbo and it calls itself a virtual fashion game, where users log on to create an alter ego and compete with other players in beauty pageants.

The aim of the game is to be the coolest, richest and most famous bimbo in the world! Players go on missions to find rich billionaire boyfriends and get plastic surgery to keep up their appearances. Players also take diet pills to maintain their weight!

Interestingly, a quick check of the Miss Bimbo site shows the following statements:

As a result of this rather surprising media attention we have decided to remove the option of purchasing diet pills from the game. We apologise to any players whom this may inconvenience but we feel in light of this weeks proceedings it is the correct action to take.

We would also like to sincerely apologise to our players for the media comparison of Miss Bimbo and Paris Hilton. We feel that this does a dis-service to the players whom send their bimbos to university, tea parties or chess tournaments.

At this time we would also like to remind players that the Miss Bimbo team assume no responsibility or liability for any fashion faux pas, hair style disasters or boob jobs incurred in real life as as a result of playing the Miss Bimbo game.

 There have been many discussions online about the game. Some condemn the game for teaching young kids about breast implants and some have turned the attention on parents for their lack of monitoring of what their young kids are up to.

Nicolas Jacquart, the game creator said that he created the game to mirror life in a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ way.

That’s what’s that scaring many. Is it a matter of ‘art’ imitating life, or life imitating ‘art’? What do you think?

Happy new year 2008!

A happy new year to one and all! May 2008 be a blessed and fruitful year.

Well, apologies for the brief hiatus. For the past one and half weeks, I was cut off from Internet connection. I didn’t plan on being cut off, but I’m between broadband plans right now and in fact, still don’t have Internet connection.

While the one and half weeks devoid of all online digital contact felt much longer, going cold turkey didn’t seem all that bad after all. I survived. Of course, I was very much preoccupied by other non-virtual pursuits, which I think can be pretty healthy.

Anyway, a lot has happened in the world of new media. In fact, the old have come to embrace new media. Queen Elizabeth gave her annual Christmas message on Youtube, and there’s even a Royal Channel on Youtube to reach out to the digital-literate masses.

And new words have been added and recognised. For instance, the word ‘wiki’. Based on the vocab portal, Workdsmith, “wiki (wiki) noun is a collaborative Web site that can be edited by anyone”…

[From Hawaiian wiki (quick). First citation of the word in English is
from 1995, when programmer Ward Cunningham used it in naming his new
software WikiWikiWeb.] -Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

I’m sure the word “Wii” will soonmake it to our daily vocab as well. I wii-ed yesterday and it was fun! I can’t wait to wii again. Pass me the wii-mote!

So here’s to new beginnings!
 

4th International Conference on Educational Technology (ICET 2007)

These past two days have been spent at the new Republic Poly campus attending the ICET 2007. This year’s themes is “Rethinking Pedagogies: Creating Possibilities Through Digital, Interactive and Media” and the focus was on how “innovations in ICT like gaming and interactive digital media have created a new environment for teaching and learning in the new century.”

Indeed, the keynote addresses as well as the many speakers there spoke on new methods of teaching and learning such as those using game-based learning as well as Web 2.0 technologies. 

Going by the vendors there, SMART classrooms seem the way to go! Don’t think I have seen that many different types of interactive whiteboards in the same place!

Just some quick thoughts on some of the areas discussed at the Conference:

-there was quite an interesting video shown which was a video by Microsoft, a kind of “devil wears Prada” parody

-virtual worlds like Second Life and gaming such as World of Warcraft can have interesting and myriad educational benefits (hm.. while I do agree that there are some benefits in gaming, I wonder how much of the learning can be transferred to real life contexts. I mean, sure, a gamer can exhibit good leadership skills being the Guild leader and directing a raid, but can he or she also exhibit the same leadership skills in real life? I mean, how many gamers, techies, etc out there are good communicators? and gaming is supposed to cultivate communication skills…

– learning needs to be fun and engaging….hm.. but won;t it be a bore if everything is all fun and games? Also, real life is not all fun and games. If students fed on a diet of highly stimulating environments go out into the world, will they be disappointed? Worse, will they be able to cope with the mundane everyday world, where work can be gasp, actually tiresome and tedious?! 

– there’s an increasing closing gap between virtual and real worlds. Much has been done to recreate the real world in a virtual setting..with that, where is the room for one’s imagination?

– gaming addiction – incidentally, I was just watching Tab TV and the topic tonight was on cyber addiction.

Clearly, while educators explore the use of IDM in teaching and learning, let’s hope people don;t just all get carried away by the technology. As shown at the Conference too, technology can sometime let you down too. I can’t quite keep count of the number of times the Internet connection went off, or Ppt slides were not loaded properly, or files not saved properly.

But it’s good to know that questions have been raised and educators will continue to see what ways can best be used to help people learn and enjoy learning.

Cyberwellness – a cure for gaming addiction?

Gaming addiction became the centre of attention this week when Singaporean MP, Ellen Lee from Sembawang GRC, shared in Parliament how her nephew became a cyber addict and is now in ‘debt’, having lost $80, 000 of virtual currency to a bully who stole his assets after forcing him to reveal his game password. (This of course, brings forth another issue about virtual assets and if any legal protection is offered.)

Her story threw up other stories that were shared about youngsters dropping out of school and sitting in front of the computer for more than 12 hours a day, playing hugely addictive games like World of Warcraft and MapleStory.

Not only does the gaming addiction affect the lives of the players themselves, they often also destroy the lives of hapless and helpless parents who know little about the games and even much less about how to prevent or stop the addiction in their children. (Though incidentally, there was mention of a girl asking for help for her father’s addiction!)

It’s no wonder that with such destructive effects of gaming, it’s been likened to fire: “It can be a good servant or a bad master” says Mr Thomas Chong, director of education initiatives of Infocomm Asia Holdings, a leading game publisher.

The negative effects of cybergaming have made many question the benefits it’s touted to have and if those outweigh its problems. Proponents of gaming such as Marc Prensky who wrote the book, Don’t bother me, Ma; I’m learning, tout the positive educational and social effects of gaming. However, I’m sure many who know the gaming addicts would beg to differ with his views.

Thankfully, the concept of cyberwellness seems to be catching on. According to the Internet Safety Zone, cyberwellness “is a holistic term which encompasses not only concerns around safety and security online, but also considers people’s psychological and emotional well being, along with stage of development with specific regard to the range of issues that may affect children and young people in their use of new mobile and internet technologies”.

Gaming addiction prevention and cure is certainly part of cyberwellness. Thankfully, there are groups that are now forming and being set up to look into this. They include Touch Community’s Plant Crush Cyberwellness Centre and Fei Yue  Community Services Project 180.

Thanks to such centres that recognise that gaming has more than play-ful consequences, more young people can get some help before their virtual cybergame problems become all to real.

The old adage of moderation in everything certainly holds true here.