Revealing Leap Into Avegant’s Magical Mixed-Reality World

I’m generally not the person you want testing your virtual, augmented, or otherwise “enhanced” reality technology. I am horribly susceptible to motion sickness, my presbyopia makes focusing on Google glass–like displays pretty much impossible, and even 3D movies do not make my eyes happy. Using a good virtual reality system, I can go maybe 30 seconds before I have escape to the real world; with a phone-based system, even a couple of seconds is too much.

But last week I spent at least 15 minutes (though it felt like less than five) completely engaged in a sampling of virtual worlds seen through Avegant’s mixed reality viewer. The experience was magical, enthralling, amazing, wonderful—pick your superlative. I didn’t get nauseous, or headachy, or feel any eyestrain at all. Indeed my eyes felt rested (probably because that was 15 minutes not spent in front of a computer or phone screen). Also a wonderful part of the experience: the fact that the company didn’t bother with extreme security measures or nondisclosure agreements (though executives are not talking specific technical details until patent filings are complete.

Avegant is a four-year-old Belmont, Calif., based startup. Its first product, the Glyph head-mounted display typically used for personal entertainment viewing, has been shipping since February of last year. (The name is a mashup of the names of the founders—Edward Tang and Allan Evans.)

The company announced its transparent Light Field Display technology last month. It hasn’t said when this will be ready for manufacture, though Tang points out that the Glyph’s success shows that the company knows how to design products for manufacture and bring them to market.

Avegant’s prototype mixed reality system uses a headband to position the Avegant display. It is driven by an IBM Windows PC with an Intel i7 processor and an Nvidia graphics card running the Unity game engine.

The images, explained cofounder Tang, now chief technology officer, are projected onto the retina by an array of MEMS micromirrors, each of which controls one pixel.

That, so far, is the same as the company’s Glyph system. But unlike a standard micromirror display, which reflects light straight at the person viewing it, these light field images are projected at different angles, mimicking the way light in the real world reflects off objects to hit a person’s eyes. The difference in these angles is particularly dramatic the closer someone is to the object, creating distinct and separate focal planes; the eye naturally refocuses when it moves from one plane to another.

To avoid having the eyes deal with these multiple focal planes, explained Tang, mixed reality systems like Microsoft’s HoloLens tend to keep viewers a meter or two away from objects. Light field technology, however, can use different focal planes for different objects simultaneously, so the user perceives even very close-up objects to be realistic. (Tang makes the case for light field technology in the video below.)

To date, Tang says, most attempts to bring light field technology into head-mounted displays have involved tricky-to-manufacture technology like deformable mirrors or liquid lenses, or approaches that take huge amounts of computing power to operate, like stacked LCDs.

“We created a new method,” he said, “that has no mechanical parts and uses existing manufacturing capabilities, with a level of computation that isn’t particularly high; it can run on standard PCs with graphics cards or mobile chipsets.”

The effect is designed to be natural—that is, you see virtual objects in the same way you normally see real objects, with no eye strain caused from struggling to focus. And, in the demo I was shown, it absolutely was.

I went through two mixed reality experiences in a slightly dim but not dark room with some basic furniture. The room was rigged with off-the-shelf motion tracking cameras to help map my position; the headset I wore was tethered to a PC. After a short calibration effort that allowed me to adjust the display to match the distance between my pupils, I entered a solar system visualization, walking among planets, peering up close at particular features (Earth seemed to be a little smaller than my head in this demo), and leaning even closer to trigger the playing of related audio.

Clear labels hovered near each planet, which brings up an interesting side note: I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses, but the labels, even close at hand, were quite clear. Tang mentioned that the developers have been discussing whether, for those of us who do need reading glasses, it would be more realistic to make the virtual objects as blurry as the real ones. I vote no, I didn’t find it jarring that my hand as I used it to reach for planets was a little fuzzy, particularly, perhaps, since the virtual objects were appearing brighter than real world ones. And it was quite lovely having so much of what I was seeing be clear.

At one point in the demo, while I was checking out asteroids near Saturn, Tang suggested that I step into the asteroid belt. I was a bit apprehensive; with my VR sickness history, it seemed that watching a flow of asteroids whizzing by me on both sides would be a uniquely bad idea, but it went just fine, and I could observe quite a bit of detail in the asteroids as they flowed past me.

The second demo involved a virtual fish tank. Tang asked me to walk over to a coffee table and look down at the surface; the fish tank then appeared, sitting on top of the table. I squatted next to the tank and put my hand into it. I reached out for a sea turtle; it was just the right size to fit in my palm. I followed it with my cupped hand for a while, and started feeling a whoosh of air across my palm whenever it swept its flippers back. I wondered for a moment if there was some virtual touch gear around, but it turned out to just be my mind filling in a few blanks in the very real scene. Tang then expanded the fish tank to fill the room; now that sea turtle was too big to hold, but I couldn’t resist trying to pet it. Then, he told me, “Check out that chair,” and in a moment, a school of tiny fish swept out from under the chair legs and swooped around the nearby furniture.

After convincing me to leave the fish demo (I was enjoying the experience of snorkeling without getting wet), Tang directed me to walk towards a female avatar. She was a computer-generated human that didn’t quite leave the uncanny valley—just a standard videogame avatar downloaded from a library, Tang said. But he pointed out that I could move up and invade her personal space and watch her expression change. And it certainly did seem that this avatar was in the room with me.

Throughout all the demos, I didn’t encounter any vision issues, focus struggles, or other discomfort as I looked back and forth between near and far and real and virtual objects.

I have not been one of the anointed few who have tested Magic Leap’s much-ballyhooed light-field-based mixed reality technology (and given the company’s extreme nondisclosure agreements, I likely couldn’t say much about it if I had). So, I don’t know how Avegant’s approach compares, though I’d be willing to put Avegant’s turtle up against Magic Leap’s elephant any day.

What I do know is that it absolutely blew me away. I’m eager to see what developers eventually do with it, and I’m thrilled that I no longer have to struggle physically to visit virtual worlds.

The Positive and Negative Effects of Video Games

Are video games good or bad for you? It can be both.

Video games are frowned upon by parents as time-wasters, and worse, some education experts think that these games corrupt the brain. Playing violent video games are easily blamed by the media and some experts as the reason why some young people become violent or commit extreme anti-social behavior. But many scientists and psychologists find that video games can actually have many benefits – the main one is making kids smart. Video games may actually teach kids high-level thinking skills that they will need in the future.

“Video games change your brain,” according to University of Wisconsin psychologist C. Shawn Green. Playing video games change the brain’s physical structure the same way as do learning to read, playing the piano, or navigating using a map. Much like exercise can build muscle, the powerful combination of concentration and rewarding surges of neurotransmitters like dopamine strengthen neural circuits that can build the brain.

According to Marc Palaus, author of the study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, there is a broad consensus in the scientific community that playing video games not only changes how the brain performs, but also its structure.

Below are the good and bad effects of video games – their benefits and disadvantages, according to researchers and child experts:

The Benefits: Positive Effects of Video Games
When your child plays video games, it gives his brain a real workout. In many video games, the skills required to win involve abstract and high level thinking. These skills are not even taught at school.

One of the main benefits of playing video games involve enhancing mental skills that include:

Problem solving and logic – When a child plays a game such as The Incredible Machine, Angry Birds or Cut The Rope, he trains his brain to come up with creative ways to solve puzzles and other problems in short bursts
Hand-eye coordination, fine motor and spatial skills. In shooting games, the character may be running and shooting at the same time. This requires the real-world player to keep track of the position of the character, where he/she is heading, his speed, where the gun is aiming, if the gunfire is hitting the enemy, and so on. All these factors need to be taken into account, and then the player must then coordinate the brain’s interpretation and reaction with the movement in his hands and fingertips. This process requires a great deal of eye-hand coordination and visual-spatial ability to be successful. Research also suggests that people can learn iconic, spatial, and visual attention skills from video games. There have been even studies with adults showing that experience with video games is related to better surgical skills. Also, a reason given by experts as to why fighter pilots of today are more skillful is that this generation’s pilots are being weaned on video games.
Planning, resource management and logistics. The player learns to manage resources that are limited, and decide the best use of resources, the same way as in real life. This skill is honed in strategy games such as SimCity, Age of Empires, and Railroad Tycoon. Notably, The American Planning Association, the trade association of urban planners and Maxis, the game creator, have claimed that SimCity has inspired a lot of its players to take a career in urban planning and architecture.
Multitasking, simultaneous tracking of many shifting variables and managing multiple objectives. In strategy games, for instance, while developing a city, an unexpected surprise like an enemy might emerge. This forces the player to be flexible and quickly change tactics.

Quick thinking, making fast analysis and decisions. Sometimes the player does this almost every second of the game giving the brain a real workout. According to researchers at the University of Rochester, led by Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive scientist, games simulating stressful events such as those found in battle or action games could be a training tool for real-world situations. The study suggests that playing action video games primes the brain to make quick decisions. Video games can be used to train soldiers and surgeons, according to the study. Importantly, decisions made by action-packed video game players are no less accurate. According to Bavelier, “Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference.”
Accuracy – Action games, according to a study by the University of Rochester, train the player’s brain to make faster decisions without losing accuracy. In today’s world, it is important to move quickly without sacrificing accuracy.
Strategy and anticipation – Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter, calls this “telescoping.” The gamer must deal with immediate problems while keeping his long-term goals on his horizon.
Situational awareness – – Defense News reported that the Army include video games to train soldiers to improve their situational awareness in combat. Many strategy games also require the player to become mindful of sudden situational changes in the game and adapt accordingly.
Developing reading and math skills – The young gamer reads to get instructions, follow storylines of games, and get information from the game texts. Also, using math skills is important to win in many games that involves quantitative analysis like managing resources.
Perseverance – In higher levels of a game, the player usually fails the first time around, but he keeps on trying until he succeeds and move on to the next level.
Pattern recognition – Games have internal logic in them, and the player figures it out by recognizing patterns.
Estimating skills
Inductive reasoning and hypothesis testing – James Paul Gee, professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says that playing a video game is similar to working through a science problem. Like a student in a laboratory, the gamer must come up with a hypothesis. For example, the gamer must constantly try out combinations of weapons and powers to use to defeat an enemy. If one does not work, he changes hypothesis and try the next one. Video games are goal-driven experiences, says Gee, which are fundamental to learning.
Mapping – The gamer use in-game maps or build maps on his head to navigate around virtual worlds.
Memory – Playing first person shooter games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield series enables the player to effectively judge what information should be stored in his working memory and what can be discarded considering the task at hand, according to a study published in the Psychological Research.
Concentration – A study conducted by the Appalachia Educational Laboratory reveal that children with attention-deficit disorder who played Dance Dance Revolution improve their reading scores by helping them concentrate.
Improved ability to rapidly and accurately recognize visual information – A study from Beth Israel Medical Center NY, found a direct link between skill at video gaming and skill at keyhole, or laparoscopic, surgery. Doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37 % fewer mistakes in surgery and performed the task 27% faster than non-gaming surgeons. Another study found that people who play video games on a regular basis are better at registering visual data and are therefore quicker visual learners. They are also more resistant to perceptual interference, and are therefore able to learn for a longer period of time in distracting environments.
Reasoned judgments
Taking risks – Winning in any game involves a player’s courage to take risks. Most games do not reward players who play safely.
How to respond to challenges
How to respond to frustrations
How to explore and rethink goals
Teamwork and cooperation when played with others – Many multiplayer games such as Team Fortress 2 involve cooperation with other online players in order to win. These games encourage players to make the most of their individual skills to contribute to the team. According to a survey by Joan Ganz Cooney Center, teachers report that their students become better collaborators after using digital games in the classroom.
Management – Management simulation games such as Rollercoaster Tycoon and Zoo tycoon teach the player to make management decisions and manage the effective use of finite resources. Other games such as Age of Empires and Civilization even simulate managing the course of a civilization.
Simulation, real world skills. The most well known simulations are flight simulators, which attempt to mimic the reality of flying a plane. All of the controls, including airspeed, wing angles, altimeter, and so on, are displayed for the player, as well as a visual representation of the world, and are updated in real time.

Other Benefits of Video Games:
Video games introduce your kid to computer technology and the online world. You should recognize that we are now living in a high-tech, sophisticated world. Video games make your kid adapt and be comfortable with the concepts of computing. This is particularly important for girls who typically are not as interested in high technology as much as boys.
Video games allow you and your kid to play together and can be a good bonding activity. Some games are attractive to kids as well as adults, and they could be something that they share in common. When your child knows more than you, he can teach you how to play and this allows you to understand your child’s skills and talents.
Video games make learning fun. Your kid likes games because of the colors, the animation, the eye candy, as well as the interactivity and the challenge and the rewards of winning. The best way to learn is when the learner is having fun at the same time. That’s why video games are natural teachers. Having fun gives your kid motivation to keep on practicing, which is the only way to learn skills. Video games is also capable of making difficult subjects such as math fun.
Video games can make your kid creative. A study by the Michigan State University’s Children and Technology Project found a relation between video game playing and greater creativity, regardless of gender, race or type of video game played. (In contrast, use of cell phones, the Internet and computers other than video games was unrelated to creativity, the study found).
Video games can improve your kid’s decision making speed. People who played action-based video and computer games made decisions 25% faster than others without sacrificing accuracy, according to a study from the University of Rochester. Other studies suggests that most expert gamers can make choices and act on them up to six times a second—four times faster than most people, and can pay attention to more than six things at once without getting confused, compared to only four by the average person. Surprisingly, the violent action games that often worry parents most had the strongest beneficial effect on the brain, according to cognitive neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier, who studies the effect of action games at Switzerland’s University of Geneva and the University of Rochester in New York.
Video games increase your kid’s self-confidence and self-esteem as he masters games. In many games, the levels of difficulty are adjustable. As a beginner, your kid begins at the easy level and by constant practicing and slowly building skills, he becomes confident in handling more difficult challenges. Since the cost of failure is lower, he does not fear making mistakes. He takes more risks and explores more. Your kid can transfer this attitude to real life.
Video games give your child a feeling of happiness or well-being, which is a human psychological need, according to Berni Good, a cyberpsychologist. In addition to giving your child a sense of competence or mastery when he progresses through game levels, video gaming also helps him relate to others in a meaningful way when he shares his gaming experiences with others in multiplayer gaming or in social media. It also gives him a feeling of being a master of his own destiny.
Games that involve multiple players encourage your child to work cooperatively to achieve his goals. Your kid learns to listen to the ideas of others, formulate plans with other kids, and distribute tasks based on skills. Some online games are even played internationally, and this can introduce your kid to players of different nationalities and cultures. This fosters friendships among different people.
Video games that require your kid to be active, such as Dance Dance Revolution and Nintendo Wii Boxing, and games that use Kinect, give your kid a good workout. When playing these active games for 10 minutes, your kid spends energy equal to or exceeding that produced by spending the same amount of time on a three miles an hour treadmill walk.
Video games make players’ visions become more sensitive to slightly different shades of color, according to a University of Rochester study. This is called contrast sensitivity, and observed particularly in first person shooter games players. “When people play action games, they’re changing the brain’s pathway responsible for visual processing,” according to lead researcher Daphne Bavelier. The training might be helping the visual system to make better use of the information it receives.
Video games may improve eyesight. Studies have shown that video gaming have better than average eyesight. A study performed by researchers from McMaster University has also found that playing video games could help improve eyesight by teaching the brain to spot small details, follow movements and spot subtle light changes, at least for people with visual difficulties. Another study by vision scientists at the University of Rochester and Vanderbilt University found that children with poor vision see vast improvement in their peripheral vision after only eight hours of training via kid-friendly video games.
Video games help children with dyslexia read faster and with better accuracy, according to a study by the journal Current Biology. In addition, Spatial and temporal attention also improved during action video game training. Attentional improvement can directly translate into better reading abilities.
Kids are not necessarily drawn to video games because of their violence. The attraction lies in their being rewarded by awesome displays of explosions, fireworks, and yes, blood splattering. Also, violent games have the most emotional appeal for kids. But these factors are only secondary to what kids actually enjoy in these games – the opportunity to develop and master skills and have the freedom to make choices in the game universe.
Violent video games may act as a release of pent-up aggression and frustration of your kid. When your kid vents his frustration and anger in his game, this diffuses his stress. Games can provide a positive aggression outlet the same way as football and other violent sports.
Playing video games is safer than having your teens do drugs, alcohol and street racing in the real world.
A study done by researchers at North Carolina State University, York University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology concluded that playing online games do not replace offline social lives, but is expanding it. Loners are the outliers in gaming, not the norm.
A 2013 study by the Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Human Development and St. Hedwig-Hospital found a significant gray matter increase in the right hippocampus, the right prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum of those who played Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day over two months. These regions of the brain are crucial for spatial navigation, strategic planning, working memory and motor performance. Indeed, the increased gray matter in these parts of the brain is positively correlated with better memory. Decreased gray matter is correlated with bipolar disorder and dementia. What’s also striking is that those who enjoyed playing the game has a more pronounced gain in gray matter volume. The study suggests that video game training could be used to counteract known risk factors for smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex volume in, for example, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disease.
Other studies found that playing video games change the structure of the brain. Brain regions involved in attention were more efficient in gamers, and regions related to visuospatial skills that were both bigger and more efficient.
Another study published in Scientific Reports have found that Action Video Gamers have more gray matter and better integration of brain networks associated with attention and sensorimotor function.
A Bristol University research shows that the “gamification” of learning can reduce the activity of a particular brain network which is responsible for mind wandering. When designed and developed properly, computer-based games can have a beneficial effect on learning.
A study published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology in 2016 suggests that “video game use is not associated with an increased risk of mental health problems. On the contrary, the data presented here suggest that video games are a protective factor, especially regarding peer relationship problems for the children who are the most involved in video games. Finally, video games seem to be linked to better intellectual functioning and academic achievement.”
Another study suggests that playing some video games may even overcome the cognitive skills affected by poverty like focus, self-control, and memory, and may help reduce the achievement gaps related to poverty that are seen in school.
Finally, according to a study, gamers actually tend to be more social, more successful and more educated than people who make fun of them.

The Drawbacks: Negative Effects of Video Games
Most of the bad effects of video games are blamed on the violence they contain. Children who play more violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and decreased prosocial helping, according to a scientific study (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). Also according to Dmitri A. Christakis of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, those who watch a lot of simulated violence, such as those in video games, can become immune to it, more inclined to act violently themselves, and are less likely to behave emphatically.
The effect of video game violence in kids is worsened by the games’ interactive nature. In many games, kids are rewarded for being more violent. The act of violence is done repeatedly. The child is in control of the violence and experiences the violence in his own eyes (killings, kicking, stabbing and shooting). This active participation, repetition and reward are effective tools for learning behavior. Indeed, many studies seem to indicate that violent video games may be related to aggressive behavior (such as Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004). However, the evidence is not consistent and this issue is far from settled.
The American Psychological Association (APA) also concluded that there is a “consistent correlation” between violent game use and aggression, but finds insufficient evidence to link violent video play to criminal violence. An open letter by a number of media scholars, psychologists and criminologists, however, find APA’s study and conclusion to be misleading and alarmist. On the other hand, many experts including Henry Jenkins of Massachusetts Institute of Technology have noted that there is a decreased rate of juvenile crime which coincides with the popularity of games such as Death Race, Mortal Kombat, Doom and Grand Theft auto. He concludes that teenage players are able to leave the emotional effects of the game behind when the game is over. Indeed there are cases of teenagers who commit violent crimes who also spend great amount of time playing video games such as those involved in the Columbine and Newport cases. It appears that there will always be violent people, and it just so happen that many of them also enjoy playing violent video games.
Too much video game playing makes your kid socially isolated. Also, he may spend less time in other activities such as doing homework, reading, sports, and interacting with the family and friends. On the other hand, a study by researchers at the North Carolina State University, New York and the University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology points out that gamers usually do not replace their offline social lives with online game playing, but rather it expands them. In fact, among gamers, being a loner is not the norm.
Some video games teach kids the wrong values. Violent behavior, vengeance and aggression are rewarded. Negotiating and other nonviolent solutions are often not options. Women are often portrayed as weaker characters that are helpless or sexually provocative. On the other hand, a University of Buffalo study suggests that violence and bad behavior played in the virtual world may be contributing to better behavior in the real world. Gamers who play violent games may feel guilty about their behavior in the virtual world and this may make them be more sensitive to the moral issues they violated during game play.
Games can confuse reality and fantasy.
Academic achievement may be negatively related to over-all time spent playing video games. Studies have shown that the more time a kid spends playing video games, the poorer is his performance in school. (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004). A study by Argosy University’s Minnesota School on Professional Psychology found that video game addicts argue a lot with their teachers, fight a lot with their friends, and score lower grades than others who play video games less often. Other studies show that many game players routinely skip their homework to play games, and many students admitted that their video game habits are often responsible for poor school grades.
Although some studies suggest that playing video games enhances a child’s concentration, other studies, such as a 2012 paper published in Psychology of Popular Media Culture, have found that games can hurt and help children’s attention issues — improving the ability to concentrate in short bursts but damaging long-term concentration.
Video games may also have bad effects on some children’s health, including obesity, video-induced seizures. and postural, muscular and skeletal disorders, such as tendonitis, nerve compression, carpal tunnel syndrome.
When playing online, your kid can pick up bad language and behavior from other people, and may make your kid vulnerable to online dangers.
A study by the Minneapolis-based National Institute for Media and the Family suggests that video games can be addictive for kids, and that the kids’ addiction to video games increases their depression and anxiety levels. Addicted kids also exhibit social phobias. Not surprisingly, kids addicted to video games see their school performance suffer.
Kids spending too much time playing video games may exhibit impulsive behavior and have attention problems. This is according to a new study published in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Psychology and Popular Media Culture. For the study, attention problems were defined as difficulty engaging in or sustaining behavior to reach a goal.
According to Catherine Steiner-Adair, a Harvard-affiliated psychologist and author of the best-selling book “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationship in the Digital Age”, if kids are allowed to play “Candy Crush” on the way to school, the trip will be quiet, but it’s not what kids need. “They need time to daydream, deal with anxieties, process their thoughts and share them with parents, who can provide reassurance.”
Recommendation for Video Games
Monitor video game play the same way you need to monitor television and other media.
If you think your child is addicted to video games or plays it compulsively, find ways to treat it. Read this article for ways to treat your child’s video game addiction.
Be a loving, attentive parent who disciplines your child well. An aggressive child is more a product of dysfunctional parenting than anything else, including violent games and TV. According to Los Angeles-based psychotherapist Robert Butterworth, PhD, dysfunctional parenting, children with little guilt, and accessibility to firearms with little parental supervision can create violent children. “Most children who commit violent crime show an early combination of personality and family factors that include having trouble getting along with playmates in preschool,” Butterworth says. “By second or third grade they’re doing poorly in school, and have few friends. By the age of 10 they’re picking fights and getting labeled by their peers as social outcasts.” What’s more “they typically come from families where parents are poor at disciplining because they are indifferent, neglectful, too coercive or they use harsh physical punishment with little love.”
Although playing video games can be a learning experience, give your kid a variety of entertaining things to learn from, so your kid will not be addicted to just one thing. Be sure to make him read books, play sports, interact with other kids, and watch good TV. Everything should be taken in moderation. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children not spend more than one to two hours per day in front of all electronic screens, including TV, DVDs, videos, video games (handheld, console, or computer), and computers (for non-academic use). This means seven to fourteen hours per week total.
Consider limiting your child’s video game playing to an hour a day. A study by Oxford University in fact suggests that children who play video games for up to an hour are happier, more sociable and less hyperactive than those who do not play at all.
Monitor the effect of video games on your child. Observe his behavior. If it appears that he is becoming more aggressive with his siblings or friends during the period that he is playing violent games, stop him from playing the games. If he becomes interested in history after playing historical games, then the game is beneficial to him.
Limit your child’s video game playing when you see him spending less time doing homework and that he is getting lower grades.
Limit your child’s video game playing when you observe him having a sedentary lifestyle, and not engaging in sports and exercise. You can let him play video games that require physical action as there are a number of games that can be as physically intense for younger gamers as playing outside. But this shouldn’t take replace his actual engaging in outdoor play and exercise.
Limit your child’s video game playing if he displays sign of addiction and experience “video game withdrawal”.
Instead of letting your child indulge in watch TV, let him play a good video game instead on the console or the tablet. For young children, playing video games is better than watching TV, according to Queensland University of Technology Games Research and Interaction Design Lab. Some games encourage kids to be moderately active, and some also exercise kids’ cognitive skills. According to Dr. Penny Sweetser, such games “can improve academic performance, social skills and self esteem”. He recommends, though, to let your kid play with parental interaction and supervision.
Use the video game ratings to determine the violence and adult content of the game.
What to look for in choosing a video game
Decide what is acceptable in your home and if you think violent games are not acceptable, explain to your kid the reason why it might be bad for him.
Check the Ratings of the game before you buy it or allow your kid to play it. Check its rating which is indicated in the box. Note the title and cover picture. If they have themes of sex and/or violence, then these themes are in the game. If possible, be familiar with the game or read its reviews in the internet. Sometimes, the “bad” part of the game is hidden in the higher levels. Do not neglect supervising your kid as a parent.
Consider your child’s maturity level to determine which games are suitable for him. Chronological age is not necessarily a measure of maturity.
Pick games that require the player to come up with strategies, and make decisions in a game environment that is more complex than punching, stealing, and killing.
Look for games involving multiple players to encourage group play.
According to Los Angeles-based psychotherapist Robert Butterworth, PhD , you should “evaluate the shows and games not just in terms of violence or obscenity, but in terms of the mental engagement that they require. Boys need to slay dragons and play games with action figures of cowboys and Indians,” he says. “They need to be in a fantasy where they are conquering heroes; suppressing this may have long-term effects that may not be good.”

Top Schools for Video Game Programming and Development

Earning a degree in game programming and development should be considered by individuals who have a passion for gaming, and learning how games are created. Courses involved in these type of degrees usually include gameplay design, 3D graphics, stereoscopic computer graphics, contemporary video game platforms, multiplayer game design, and game physics. Having a computer that can handle the necessary components involved in video game design and development would also be very helpful. The following list includes some of the top schools where students can earn this degree, and other related degrees to help them enter the video game creation field.

University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
• Rated by the Princeton Review multiple years in a row as having the #1 game design program in North America.
• Students can study programs in Interactive Entertainment, Animation & Digital Arts, Cinematic Arts, Film & Television Production, Interactive Media, and Science Visualization.
• USC is not predominantly a design school; they also offer many other degrees you would find at most traditional colleges.

Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
• Carnegie Mellon is a world leader in robotics
• Students can earn a Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts, which will allow students to enter fields such as robotic art, game design, and computer animation.

Savannah College of Art and Design
Savannah, Georgia
• Students can choose to earn degrees, certificates, major in, or minor in programs such as Interactive Design & Game Development, Interactive Design, Themed Entertainment Design, Motion Media Design, Animation, and Visual Effects.
• Other related programs include Illustration, Film & Television, Illustration Design, and Cinema Studies
• Some programs can be completed at the school’s other campuses in Atlanta, Hong Kong and Lacoste, France.

Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, New York
• All programs offer both unpaid and paid internships.
• Students can earn a BSc in Gaming Design & Development or New Media Interactive Development. Other programs include an MSc in Gaming Development & Design, Game Development & Design minor, or a Game Design minor.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, New York
• Programs offered include Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences, Electronic Arts, Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication. Certificates in Graphics and Communication design are also available in addition to earning a degree.

DigiPen Institute of Technology
Redmond, Washington
• Additional campuses in Washington, Spain, Bilbao, and Singapore
• Students may earn a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Game Design, Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation, Digital Art and Animation, or Game Design. Master’s programs are available in Digital Arts and Computer Science.

A New Season in Gaming

A recent study in the U.S. revealed that of the 31.4 million gaming fans, only 30% are female. As a full-time streamer on Twitch, Autumn Rhodes has made a name for herself in the male dominated gaming world. This Toronto based streamer, who started playing games with her dad at a young age, talks about her experiences in an industry not always open to the fairer sex.

1. How did you get into eSports?

I started playing video games at a very young age because of my father and my brother, and ever since then I’ve never been able to stop. When I was introduced to the eSports world I was astonished about how it all worked. Being a very competitive person, I decided it was time to take my love for gaming to the next level, and when I discovered and all the amazing possibilities I had in front of me.

2. What exactly do you do in the eSports arena?

I am a full time streamer on Twitch. I play games such as CS:GO, CoD, LoL, and so many more. I dedicate hours and hours a day to these games, always practicing, and always trying to be the best I can be. I’ve played competitively in many games and I always have such a great time doing so.

3. What do you think of women in eSports, specifically in your region?

I think the women involved in eSports around my region, which is Toronto, give a good name for all of us. They know how difficult it can be in this industry as a woman, and they work hard to maintain their image as not only a serious competitive player but as a woman who can play just as well as any man. Because Toronto has such a high population there is so much competition in the eSports world.

4. What has been some of your experiences of being in a field that has been dominated by males?

Some of my experiences in this field haven’t always been great, but other times they’ve been fantastic. I remember being in the Cineplex World Gaming CoD tournament last year, and as I walked into the theater the men were just shocked as to why I was even there. The male I faced was so terrified because he never had to play against a girl before and he didn’t know what to expect; it made him so nervous. Meanwhile, some other men at the tournament figured because I am a woman that I would easily be beaten because there’s no way I could be good at any games. Being in an industry where we’re told we “can’t possibly play video games because we’re women” is really disappointing in today’s society. There are just SO many men who hate on women who are involved in the gaming industry, and I don’t know if this is because society has taught people that ONLY boys can play video games or if some of them are just too ignorant to realize that our sex has absolutely nothing to do with our capability of being great at something.

5. What is your favorite thing about being part of the eSports community?

My favorite thing about being a part of the eSports community is how well we all understand each other. It’s such a great feeling going to competitions and events and having so much in common with everyone. We all can relate in one way or another.

6. What is the most difficult part of being in eSports?

The most difficult part about being in eSports as a woman is how so many men look at us. They rarely take us seriously and it’s quite annoying because we’ve worked just as hard as them or harder to get where we are in the gaming industry.

7. Why do you think it’s so important that women be represented in eSports?

I think it’s very important that more women are represented in eSports because we need to break the stereotype that it’s only a man’s world. SO many women avoid the gaming industry because of the fact that so many get harassed and bullied for showing an interest in gaming. It’s nice to see that people are finally starting to shed light on this topic and speak out about it.

8. What are your hopes for women in eSports?

My hope for women in eSports is that one day men won’t judge us for being a part of the gaming community and that they will realize we can play games just as well as them and even better. I can tell over the past couple of years more and more people are opening up to females in the gaming world, which is such a relief because it isn’t fair to the women such as myself who put so much time and dedication into competitive gaming to just be shut down because society says we can’t be good at games.