Posts Tagged ‘video game’

By Allie Torgan

At one point, Zach Wigal had 5,000 video games in his parents’ basement.

Yes, 5,000. But it’s not what you might think.

Wigal is the founder of Gamers Outreach, a nonprofit that makes sure that kids who can’t leave their hospital rooms during long-term medical treatment can play video games while they recuperate.

“We noticed that a lot of the video games (at the hospitals) were getting stuck in playrooms,” said Wigal, 29. “And because of that, there was a whole segment of the hospital population that was, sort of, limited to whatever it was they had access to their bedside environment.”

Those 5,000 games eventually made their way out of his parents’ basement and some were featured on simple, portable video game carts that Wigal’s foundation helped design and provide to more than a million kids a year.

These “GOKarts” — equipped with a gaming console and an array of video games — are rolled into a patient’s room and allow kids “a source of fun and relief during … stressful and difficult times,” Wigal said.

Some kids have seen health benefits as a result, and doctors are prescribing “video game time” for certain patients, according to Andrew Gabanyicz, patient technologist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“We’ve seen anxiety go down, prescription pain killers are being used less,” Gabanyicz said.

Wigal’s inspiration for his charity came from his love of gaming as a teen — which took an interesting turn during his junior year of high school.

He registered more than 300 fellow students to participate in a Halo 2 tournament in his high school cafeteria. He rented the space with permission from the school. He spent months organizing it.

Then BAM.

“This event got shut down a couple days before it was supposed to happen by a police officer who believed that games like Halo were, in his words, corrupting the minds of America’s youth,” Wigal said. “Everyone who had signed up for our video game tournament was a little upset.”

The cancellation sparked an idea: Wigal wanted to show authorities that gamers weren’t all bad or lazy kids — and they could do something good with their gaming skills.

So he decided to throw a new tournament. The twist: He would donate the proceeds to charity. In 2008, Wigal and his friends held an event called Gamers for Giving and raised money for the Autism Society of America.

“I thought, ‘Let’s illustrate the positive things that can happen when gamers get together around what they’re passionate about,'” said Wigal, once named to Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30.

The event continued year after year, and as it grew in popularity, Wigal’s team branched out and started working with local hospitals. In 2009, Wigal began working with the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and his team designed his portable GOKarts.

“We work with kids that can’t go on the soccer field. They physically cannot participate. But I don’t feel like they should be missing out on the values that are communicated through traditional activities,” Wigal said.

CNN’s Allie Torgan spoke with Wigal about his work. Below is an edited version of their conversation.

CNN: As a teenager, your parents’ house was ground zero for charitable operations. What was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak?

Zach Wigal: We had taken over my parents’ basement raising money for Gamers Outreach. It had become this holding area for gaming equipment that was being donated to our organization for use in the hospital environment. There was a period of time we had, I kid you not, more than 5,000 video games in my parents’ basement.

We actually had someone donate, like, 900 Xboxes that had just been sitting in a warehouse. Thankfully my parents just had the patience to be okay with all of this up until that semi-truck wanted to show up, and that was the day it was like, “It’s not going to go in the basement. You need to find a place for all this equipment.” That was the day we got kicked out of my parents’ house! Now we have a warehouse here in Michigan.

CNN: Your signature GOKarts are now serving more than a million kids a year at 50 hospitals. Why that model?

Wigal: By volunteering and visiting hospitals, we were noticing that it was difficult to bring technology into these environments. We noticed that a lot of the video games were getting stuck in playrooms. And because of that, there was a whole segment of the hospital population that was, sort of, limited to whatever it was they had access to their bedside environment if they couldn’t leave their rooms.

Sometimes you have families that can’t afford technology or they don’t have things that they can bring from home for their kids. It becomes important for technology and hardware to exist in the hospital environment to help provide some access to entertainment to patients who maybe can’t do things outside of their room.

CNN: What advice do you have for parents of patients who may be struggling with how much screen time is appropriate?

Wigal: Even if you’re not a fan of gaming or screen time or you feel it might be excessive, technology is a prevalent part of all our lives. I mean, even my mom has Angry Birds installed on her cell phone at this point.

What’s important is that we communicate the right values of how this technology plays a role in our life, how we balance technology with being healthy as an individual and taking care of your mental health, keeping up with schoolwork, finding a career. These are all things that can exist cohesively.

We think of the work we’re doing as an opportunity to improve a patient’s quality of life. We’re coming to provide entertainment into hospital environments. We’re helping kids to find a source of fun and relief during times where being in the hospital can be really stressful and difficult otherwise.

Want to get involved? Check out the Gamers Outreach website and see how to help.

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To donate to Gamers Outreach via CrowdRise, click here.
https://charity.gofundme.com/donate/project/zach-wigal-gamers-outreach/GamersOutreach

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/08/us/cnnheroes-zach-wigal-gamers-outreach/index.html?utm_source=The+Good+Stuff&utm_campaign=2aa589d67e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_11_14_08_33&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4cbecb3309-2aa589d67e-103653961

According to the results of a study published in Nature, gaming could possibly increase the volume of gray matter in the brain.
Researchers recently studied the insular cortex regions of frequent gamers and those who didn’t play video games as regularly.
The study found a correlation between playing action video games and increased gray matter volume in the brain.

Do you ever feel you could do with polishing up on your cognitive skills?

Well, according to the results of a study published in Nature, gaming could possibly be the way forward.

Researchers from the Chinese University of Electronic Science and Technology and the Australian Macquarie University in Sydney joined forces, and recently found a correlation between playing action video games and increased gray matter volume in the brain.

How video games stimulate the gray matter in your brain

The focus of the team’s research was on the insular cortex, a part of the cerebral cortex folded deep in the brain that has been the subject of very few studies to date.

It’s thought that a large part of linguistic processing takes place in this region of the brain, and that other processes relating to taste and smell, compassion and empathy, and interpersonal experiences are also managed here.

The study looked at 27 regular video game players described in the study as “Action Video Game experts” as well as 30 amateurs who played less frequently and didn’t perform as well in games.

The participants in the “expert” group were all recognised participants of regional or national championships of League of Legends and Dota 2. Using an MRI scanner, the scientists took detailed pictures of the participants’ insular cortices.

“By comparing AVG experts and amateurs, we found that AVG experts had enhanced functional connectivity and gray matter volume in insular subregions,” wrote the research team.

Gaming actually promotes networking within the brain

The gray matter in your brain is part of your central nervous system and essentially controls all your brain’s functions.

It follows that better connectivity in this region will lead to faster thought processes and correspondingly higher intelligence.

If you want to improve your cognitive performance, you don’t necessarily have to resort to hours of video games; sports and art-based recreation are just two among many activities that promote connectivity in the brain.

However it does mean that those who still like to sit in front of their console from time to time no longer need to feel guilty about being sat in front of a screen — after all, it is exercise — just for the brain.

https://www.businessinsider.com/video-games-may-increase-your-brains-gray-matter-2018-12


A gamer that can’t see at all has posted that he is set to hit 10000 in-game kills soon.

by Ethan Rakin

Despite the much accepted reasoning that if one might want to play a video game, they will need at the very least their five basic senses intact, a blind gamer is doing his best to prove that school of though wrong.

Reddit user tj_the_blind_gamer posted on the platform last week that he is currently at almost 8000 in-game kills in the popular game “Call of Duty: World War 2”.

According to him, “all of those kills were gained without being able to see the game” due to a condition called retinopathy of prematurity, That means he was born with poor vision and by the time he was 15, he had lost all sight in both of his eyes.

He also uploads his gameplay to his Youtube channel, which he created after noticing that there weren’t any other sightless “Call of Duty” streamers despite the franchise’s popularity.

He plays the games because he does indeed enjoy it, but he also streams himself playing sometimes so that he can raise awareness to dispel any stereotypes about the less-able being unable to play video games, Engadget reported.

“It’s just simply more fun for me, to know that I have the skill to play a game most people consider to be a visual game and still be able to enjoy that experience with friends”, he said.

How does he actually play the game, you ask?

First-person shooters like “Call of Duty” normally require quite the amount of concentration to succeed, and he uses the sounds made by footsteps in the game to listen for other players.

He uses surround-sound headphones, dials down the background music and chooses in-game perks that enhance audio feedback to track down his enemies.

To get around the map, he shoots ahead to determine if he is hitting a wall or the ground as the sound would be different, which is similar to how a bat navigates itself.

Of course, he still has troubles with the game like hitting enemies from far away or getting around those pesky landmines, but even that doesn’t discourage the man known to his subscribers as TJ from getting to his goal of ten thousand in-game kills – an impressive feat for anyone.

He said: “I do my best to show everybody that even though people with disabilities may not play video games as often as people without disabilities, we still do.”

https://www.businessinsider.sg/this-call-of-duty-player-has-racked-up-thousands-of-in-game-kills-despite-his-blindness-heres-how-he-does-it/

If you’re between 55 and 75 years old, you may want to try playing 3D platform games like Super Mario 64 to stave off mild cognitive impairment and perhaps even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

That’s the finding of a new Canadian study by Université de Montréal psychology professors Gregory West, Sylvie Belleville and Isabelle Peretz. Published in PLOS One, it was done in cooperation with the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM), Benjamin Rich Zendel of Memorial University in Newfoundland, and Véronique Bohbot of Montreal’s Douglas Hospital Research Centre.

In two separate studies, in 2014 and 2017, young adults in their twenties were asked to play 3D video games of logic and puzzles on platforms like Super Mario 64. Findings showed that the gray matter in their hippocampus increased after training.

The hippocampus is the region of the brain primarily associated with spatial and episodic memory, a key factor in long-term cognitive health. The gray matter it contains acts as a marker for neurological disorders that can occur over time, including mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s.

West and his colleagues wanted to see if the results could be replicated among healthy seniors.

The research team recruited 33 people, ages 55 to 75, who were randomly assigned to three separate groups. Participants were instructed to play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, take piano lessons (for the first time in their life) with the same frequency and in the same sequence, or not perform any particular task.

The experiment lasted six months and was conducted in the participants’ homes, where the consoles and pianos, provided by West’s team, were installed.

The researchers evaluated the effects of the experiment at the beginning and at the end of the exercise, six months later, using two different measurements: cognitive performance tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure variations in the volume of gray matter. This enabled them to observe brain activity and any changes in three areas:

the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that controls planning, decision-making and inhibition;
the cerebellum that plays a major role in motor control and balance; and
the hippocampus, the centre of spatial and episodic memory.
According to the MRI test results, only the participants in the video-game cohort saw increases in gray matter volume in the hippocampus and cerebellum. Their short-term memory also improved.

The tests also revealed gray matter increases in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and cerebellum of the participants who took piano lessons, whereas some degree of atrophy was noted in all three areas of the brain among those in the passive control group.

What mechanism triggers increases in gray matter, especially in the hippocampus, after playing video games? “3-D video games engage the hippocampus into creating a cognitive map, or a mental representation, of the virtual environment that the brain is exploring.,” said West. “Several studies suggest stimulation of the hippocampus increases both functional activity and gray matter within this region.”

Conversely, when the brain is not learning new things, gray matter atrophies as people age. “The good news is that we can reverse those effects and increase volume by learning something new, and games like Super Mario 64, which activate the hippocampus, seem to hold some potential in that respect,” said West. Added Belleville: “These findings can also be used to drive future research on Alzheimer’s, since there is a link between the volume of the hippocampus and the risk of developing the disease.”

“It remains to be seen,” concluded West, “whether it is specifically brain activity associated with spatial memory that affects plasticity, or whether it’s simply a matter of learning something new.”

http://nouvelles.umontreal.ca/en/article/2017/12/06/some-video-games-are-good-for-older-adults-brains/

Two men in their early 20s fell an estimated 50 to 90 feet down a cliff in Encinitas, California, on Wednesday afternoon while playing “Pokémon Go,” San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Rich Eaton said. The men sustained injuries, although the extent is not clear.

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play app that gets users up and moving in the real world to capture fictional “pocket monsters” known as Pokémon. The goal is to capture as many of the more than hundred species of animated Pokémon as you can.

Apparently it wasn’t enough that the app warns users to stay aware of surroundings or that signs posted on a fence near the cliff said “No Trespassing” and “Do Not Cross.” When firefighters arrived at the scene, one of the men was at the bottom of the cliff while the other was three-quarters of the way down and had to be hoisted up, Eaton said.

Both men were transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. They were not charged with trespassing.

Eaton encourages players to be careful. “It’s not worth life or limb,” he said

In parts of San Diego County, there are warning signs for gamers not to play while driving. San Diego Gas and Electric tweeted a warning to stay away from electric lines and substations when catching Pokémon.

This is the latest among many unexpected situations gamers have found themselves in, despite the game being released just more than a week ago. In one case, armed robbers lured lone players of the wildly popular augmented reality game to isolated locations. In another case, the game led a teen to discover a dead body.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/15/health/pokemon-go-players-fall-down-cliff/index.html