A few months ago I was invited to an event in DC. Work commitments prevented me from getting to the event. The event — Grand Theft Childhood with Dr. Cheryl Olson — focused on a topic near and dear to me…kids and video games. In lieu of attending the event, I was able to arrange an interview with Dr. Olson. The full post of my interview is here. A small chunk of the interview is reprinted here. I posted a giveaway at the end of the post. So…keep reading!
Musings: Tell me about the game that was featured at the Grand Theft Childhood event?
Cheryl Olson: Activision released an E 10+ game based on the Bakugan TV show. The game is called Bakugan: Defenders of the Core. (My 7-year-old son screamed and clapped his hands together with glee when he saw the game. He loves playing!)
Musings: After all the talk about ratings and blood and gore in games, what is right with games?
CO: There are many positives in games not labeled as educational. For many games, kids are required to figure out a problem/solve a mystery. There is a frustration factor to games where kids play a long time to get payoff.
Kids in early elementary school like to collect and sort and categorize. Memorize the names of characters, objects, etc. Kids like to sort, which is a necessary part of a child’s learning process. Bakugan: Defenders of the Core has benefits for mental development. The Bakugan game is released in the following formats: DS, wii, PS 3, and XBox
In the Bakugan game, kids can customize their character. The Bakugan game encourages kids to read and strategize to proceed through the levels of the game. Often kids talk outloud about how to play the game.
Musings: What are the features of Bakugan: Defenders of the Core?
CO: Well, the game is rated E 10+. There is some battling and conflict between characters. However, no characters are killed.
Musings: The Bakugan game is rated E 10+. What would the experience of playing the game be for younger kids? Is the reading level too high?
CO: Younger kids may not be able to manipulate the characters as well as older children. May get frustrated.
During the focus groups for my Grand Theft Childhoood research, most 10-year-old boys thought Grand Theft Auto was a driving game. The boys didn’t focus on the complexity of the plot or storyline. Adult content of games often goes above their heads.
Musings: Fantasy v. reality? At what age do kids know difference?
CO: Kids know that commercials are trying to sell them something by 7 or 8. After watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, kids will karate chop each other, but not with the intent to hurt each other. Kids are acting out what they have seen in TV and movies. Kids learn how to distinguish between rough and tumble play and violence.
Violence — experts say kids won’t pick up violence from media, but from their home and the streets.
Musings: Are there distinct differences between boys and girls video game play?
CO: In the past video games may have had a peripheral female character, whereas now games have a main girl character. Girls like it when the girl character rescues others. Boys will agree to “play” a girl character as long as the girl is a strong character.
Girls are often drawn towards Zoo Tycoon, while boys prefer violent games. In the research study, more boys wanted to win the game/compete than girls. Only 25 % of girls strongly agreed that they wanted to compete and win.
Girls are more competitive in sports. Boys have better visual spatial skills. Some games could help girls become engineers –especially those games that emphasize visual spatial skills and the trajectory of thrown objects.
Musings: Where are you now?
CO: My husband and I were with Harvard Medical School, but are now based in Virginia. We are doing research on patient-doctor communication, and the relationship of media and kids.
Do you want to win a copy of Bakugan: Defenders of the Core? Well, you are in luck as Dr. Olson gave me an extra copy to giveaway to one lucky Musings from Me reader! Leave a comment
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Want to learn more about Cheryl Olson and Lawrence Kutner’s fascinating research? As a mom of a teen, a tween, and a kid, I want to know what makes my children tick. Do you? Here’s a link to Kutner and Olson’s book: Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth about Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do
Like wii games? Read my review of Michael Jackson: The Experience.
Like cereal? I’m giving away a Big G cereals prize pack with Hot Wheels!
I was not compensated for this interview. I was sent two copies of Bakugan: Defenders of the Core — one to review and one to giveaway. The giveaway is open to U.S residents only. Giveaway ends March 23 at 11:59 p.m. The views expressed in this post are my own. I follow the tenets of Blog With Integrity.