Monday October 23, 2017

‘Games of Change’ Festival at New York Gives Gamers a Reality Check by Introducing Video Games based on Social and Civic Issues

The Games for Change festival didn’t shy away from difficult or touchy topics and set to herald the beginning of a new trend in the gaming world

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Games of change festival
New video games are increasingly seeking to target issues of social injustice in a user-friendly interface . VOA

New York, August 8, 2017: You’re in Nepal. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake has just struck your village and you must rescue the survivors. This is “After Days,” a video game based on the real-life Nepal earthquake that killed almost 9,000 people in 2015.

Minseok Do was showing the game at the recent Games for Change festival in New York City. The games on display were a far cry from “Mario Brothers” and “Call of Duty.” These developers featured titles that tackled civic and social issues.

Public consciousness about civic and social issues has long been raised by the news and entertainment industries in the United States and other parts of the world, and now video game creators are making their own statements and hoping to reach the younger digital generation in the process.

In “After Days,” players take on the role of Ahsha, a young Nepalese woman who attempts to rescue her neighbors in the aftermath of the massive earthquake.

“Other media, such as novels and movies, require consumers to use their imagination to understand characters’ emotions,” said Do, CEO of GamBridzy. “Games have players be in characters’ shoes by letting them command and control. It is, in my opinion, the most powerful platform.”

Video games draw increasing attention from children and adults alike.
The intent of these games is to expose children to the ‘real issues of the world. Pixabay

In the game, players carry out various missions like transporting injured victims in stretchers and coordinating with rescue teams to restore critical infrastructure.

The first episode is set in Sindhupalchok, one of the hardest-hit districts of the earthquake in Nepal.

“Some say it will take about 10 years to complete all the restoration, but international attention is not focused on this, and it is important that we show our interest and support,” said Do. Twenty percent of proceeds from game sales will go toward rebuilding efforts.

Elin Festøy, a producer from Norway, also was in New York to promote her game.

“We really wanted to create attention and awareness around children born of war … children being born of the most hated soldiers in the world,” said Festøy.

She and her team created “My Child Lebensborn,” a mobile game in which players are the caretakers of World War Two-era children from the Lebensborn project, an attempt by the Nazi regime to create an Aryan “master race.”

Lebensborn involved child kidnappings as well as anonymous births by unwed mothers in and outside of Germany, with their offspring adopted by German families. After the war, many Lebensborn children faced prejudice and discrimination, even from their own mothers.

“It’s about being able to see children as children and not as symbols of [the] enemy,” said Festøy.

“My Child Lebensborn” is targeted at players aged 13 and up. Recognizing that 13-year-olds might not exactly run to play the game, one of the team’s goals includes creating a bundle for schools that includes both the game and an accompanying film on the Lebensborn project.

Video games at the Games for Change festival didn’t shy away from difficult or touchy topics. Indeed, they were a vehicle for discussion and dialogue.

“The problem in a lot of developing countries is that people do not talk about issues. People do not want to share their problems out of embarrassment,” said Dr. Ilmana Fasih, a director at ZMQ.

The New Delhi-based consulting company developed “YourStoryTeller,” a mobile app that is less video game than a digital narrative.

User-contributed stories are transformed into comic strips. Each week, a new story addresses women’s issues in India, a country where patriarchal attitudes are common.

In one example, a young woman’s studies are disrupted for an arranged marriage that takes her from India to Canada, where she is physically abused by her new husband.

Fasih acknowledged the stories are definitely not of the Disney fairytale variety, and they definitely have a point of view.

“Kids grow up watching those stories. We want kids to grow up watching these stories where there are struggles,” said Fasih. “A young boy is able to understand what are the struggles that his mom, his sisters go through. That is probably one of the best ways to defeat patriarchy.” (VOA)

 

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Playing video games can help boost memory, says research

During the test of gamers and non-gamers, the gamers performed significantly better and showed an increased brain activity in the brain areas relevant to learning

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Video games help boost memory
Video games help boost memory. Pixabay
  • Researchers have found that playing video games can help boost memory in the young as well as in the elderly
  • The gamers performed significantly better during the test of gamers and non-gamers
  • The gamers also showed an increased brain activity in the brain areas relevant to learning

London, October 2, 2017: Tired of watching your child play video games? Instead, join them, as researchers have found that playing video games can help boost memory in the young as well as in the elderly.

“Our study shows that gamers are better in analysing a situation quickly, to generate new knowledge, and to categorise facts — especially in situations with high uncertainties,” said lead author Sabrina Schenk from Ruhr-Universität, Bochum, Germany.

During the test of gamers and non-gamers, the gamers performed significantly better and showed an increased brain activity in the brain areas relevant to learning.

This kind of learning is linked to an increased activity in the hippocampus — a brain region that plays a key role in learning and memory.

“We think that playing video games trains certain brain regions like the hippocampus. That is not only important for young people, but also for older people; this is because changes in the hippocampus can lead to a decrease in memory performance. Maybe, we can treat that with video games in the future,” Schenk added.

Both teams did the so-called weather prediction task, a well-established test to investigate the learning of probabilities. The researchers simultaneously recorded the brain activity of the participants via magnetic resonance imaging.

Also read: ‘Games of Change’ Festival at New York Gives Gamers a Reality Check by Introducing Video Games based on Social and Civic Issues

The participants were shown a combination of three cue cards with different symbols. They should estimate whether the card combination predicted sun or rain and got a feedback if their choice was right or wrong.

They gradually learned, on the basis of the feedback, which card combination stands for which weather prediction.

The combinations were thereby linked to higher or lower probabilities for sun and rain.

After completing the task, the study participants filled out a questionnaire to sample their acquired knowledge about the cue card combinations.

Also, the gamers were notably better in combining the cue cards with the weather predictions than the control group. (IANS)

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Khalsa Aid: This Sikh Relief Organisation is Restoring Faith in Humanity Since 1999

‘Khalsa Aid’ has also been assisting Yazidi women, escaped from the clutches of terrorist organization ISIS recently, by providing monthly food rations to 250 women

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Khalsa Aid
‘Khalsa Aid’, an international humanitarian aid organization being run by Sikhs, Source: Khalsaaid.org

New Delhi, August 10, 2017: Prevailing scenario across the globe suggests that the cruelty has almost wiped out the humanity and the disheartening greed of human beings has made everyone egocentric. Increasing crime rate, conflicts, corruption, and negligence, are all symbol of this transition.

Despite the widespread selfishness, a Sikh relief organization is fighting hard to preserve the soul of humanity and keeping the hope alive. ‘Khalsa Aid’ is an international humanitarian aid organization run by people of Sikh community and it is setting a perfect example of peace and compassion among people.

This organization works for providing humanitarian aid to the people affected by disasters or are in conflict areas. Started in 1999 in the United Kingdom with UK Charities Commission, ‘Khalsa Aid’ has volunteers all over America and Asia. They have provided relief aid to most part of the Middle East where the conflicts are much serious. They have led their activities in countries like Lebanon, Haiti, Bosnia, Nepal, and Serbia.

In Lebanon and Serbia, the ‘Khalsa Aid’ has been providing food, medical and educational assistance to the refugees there. It also had supplied food aid to famine and drought struck areas of northern Kenya.

Back in 2015, the organization also rushed to Nepal after severe earthquakes hit the country and arranged food and temporary shelters for the affected citizens. It also helped in conducting missions in rubble clearance and building temporary shelters for 250 families there.

Meanwhile, at the time of Kashmir floods (2014) in India, ‘Khalsa Aid’ had actively taken part in relief measures in flood-devastated parts.

 Similar was its role during Uttarakhand floods and the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013.

Khalsa Aid helping women in need

‘Khalsa Aid’ has also been assisting Yazidi women, escaped from the clutches of terrorist organization ISIS recently, by providing monthly food rations to 250 women.

Ravinder Singh, founder of ‘Khalsa Aid’ was awarded ‘The Sikh of the Year 2014’ for doing humanitarian works all over the world. His first mission was in Albania border where Khalsa Aid provided assistance to the victims of civil war and genocide.

Though there are only a few people working for the welfare of humanity, yet there is a hope and these people are the flag bearer for the same.

– by Sumit Balodi of NewsGram. Twitter @sumit_balodi

 

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Understanding Phenomenon of Mind: Here’s why Children Today lack Thinking Abilities!

Creativity is the phenomenon of mind, where thinking and imagination work together to produce reality

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Children today lack the thinking skills
Children must be given full freedom to develop their thinking skills. Pixabay
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we create the world.”  — The Buddha, The Dammapada

New Delhi, July 25th, 2017: The ability to create has always been the most underestimated yet the most practically advantageous quality in a person. Ours is the world that is constantly changing, can we, then, rely just on fixed ideas to get through? Creativity is not an option but an indispensable quality for success, adaptation or plain survival. The question that comes to mind is “Where are the origins of this ‘creativity’?” The answer is pretty simple, It is the phenomenon of mind, where thinking and imagination work together to produce reality.

NewGram got in touch with teachers from Delhi and Punjab to discuss child psychology, how flawed education system is affecting child’s intellectual growth.

Children today are lacking the much-needed thinking skills!
It has been noticed that the majority of children today do not possess the ability to think. Even the most ‘socially considered intelligent’ among the bunch, fail to respond appropriately when faced with a situation where only thinking or creativity could come to their rescue. The possible reasons for this are not exactly a mystery, for a lot of research and studies have been performed by the curious minds, to decode the answer to this mare’s nest, leaving us with certain assumptions and probabilities.

Could it be, by any chance, that the education system itself is flawed? In most countries of the world, marks remain the ultimate target and the criteria on which the intelligence of a child is judged. Marks, as we know, are attained by real hard work, but making marks the priority seems to be diminishing a child’s keenness to think. If they can read the facts, write the same on a piece of paper, get great marks and be called intelligent, why would they take the initiative to think and innovate? The system should aim to develop a child’s curiosity, their interest needs to be ignited, and consequently, their ability to think.

Children today are lacking the much-needed thinking skills. Click To Tweet

While speaking to NewsGram, Sunita Rani, a teacher at Shaheed Ganj Public School, Faridkot, Punjab says, “everybody is after marks, children, their parents, and even most of the teachers are compelled to think this way. I personally believe brains were meant to think, to analyze, but today’s children have given up on thinking over anything, even what I just said for that matter. This is disappointing, but system doesn’t work according to our wishes,”

Internet seems to be another monster in disguise, for children who rely on it, for almost anything and everything. They don’t feel the need to click their brains, when they can get to know most of everything, by clicking on their mouse instead.

“The availability of everything on the internet has made children lazy, no need to remember things, no need to attempt to understand the complicated in it’s original form, when you can easily understand it by finding some simpler alternatives on the internet. Impact of technology has not been very positive when it comes to children’s thinking skills,” says Renu Singla, a science teacher in Swami Sivananda Memorial School, Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi.

ALSO READ: Memory and thinking tests can help in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease: New Study

Freedom is also something, the lack of which can directly or indirectly restrain children’s thinking skills. Constant monitoring and adult evaluation stifles creativity. On the contrary, allowing children to learn, explore, get bored, and overcome boredom, all by their own, not only nurtures creativity but also makes them confident and willing to take decisions, preparing future leaders in the process.

Creative culture that we have, demands creative people. Real situations need real people with the real/practical abilities to think, understand and find solutions. Even career wise, Most people have a decent academic profile, but what the employers seek now, are these abilities in the prospective employee, that can make their establishment reach real goals in real time.

And remind me again of the time, when you were deciding what to drink, where to invest, or how to deal with a difficult client, and what you crammed in the last history exam (for which you got an A), helped?

– reported by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha