A Gamer Parent’s Opinion on Violence in Video Games

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Similar to how we refer to younger generations as Digital Natives, I suppose you should refer to me as a Video Game Native. Video games have existed throughout my life, though in my earliest years, they very rudimentary, by today’s standards.

I grew up hearing opinions that video games cause violence and that they desensitize people to it. Before you start firing up your comments, hold on a moment and let me express my full opinion.

Video games, by themselves, do not cause people to be violent.*

Yes, there’s an asterisk. The major studies have not found a correlation between playing video games and violence. And many have tried, very hard.

There may be an argument to be made that games, just like books, guns, movies and poverty encourage people to be violent, but that’s a depth I’m not going into detail here. Encouragement requires many conditions, and often tragedies, to already have occurred. The difference between “cause” and “encourage” is significant. What encourages one person, may not encourage another. Perhaps “entice” is a more appropriate word? None of these things “cause” a person to do anything.

Alas, you didn’t come here for my opinion on everything.

I’d caution any parent to not interpret any study as a free pass to expose their children to just any video game, regardless of the published age ratings. Nor would I suggest interpreting any as advising you against allowing your children to play games. As any parent knows, the maturity of a child can vary greatly from one child to the next.

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Pebble Smartwatch Update (and a general opinion of smartwatches)

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Pebble-Box

It’s been almost eight months since I first acquired a Pebble Smartwatch. So, after all this time what do I think of the watch? It’s very good at providing it’s basic, out-of-the box features. My experience seems to have been better than some. Others have had more issues with firmware updates, reliability, and connectivity. I’ve experienced some of these problems myself though I was able to overcome them.

Initially, I had more issues with connectivity. For a while it would refuse to connect to the phone about once every two weeks and the process required restarting both the phone and the watch (and sometimes resetting configuration settings) to get it working properly. Over the past few months those problems have nearly dropped to zero.

Yet, I have elected to not take full advantage of the additional features available via the installation of apps. The few times I’ve tried them I’ve noted an increase in problems with both connectivity and stability. Early on I simply chose to avoid them and I suspect that’s the main reason that I’ve experienced fewer issues.

For the most part, I’m only interested in the clock, a few custom watch faces, and the notifications.

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My Experience with Google Chromecast

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A few months ago I picked up a Google Chromecast from Best Buy. I was curious about them for a while and at $35 I wasn’t going to be out very much cash if I didn’t find it useful.

It turns out that $35 is an excellent price point for this product and, compared to most similar devices, I think you may actually get a bit more than you paid for. In some cases it can be very convenient. If you already have a device such as a Roku or Apple TV this may not be very impressive, but that all boils down to how each person chooses to use it.

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Paper Mario: Sticker Star

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Paper-Mario-Sticker-Star

I’ve had a Nintendo 3DS for a while and lately I’ve actually played on it more than my other consoles, most likely because it’s just easy to pick up and play. About a month ago I purchased Paper Mario: Sticker Star.

Surprisingly, I actually finished the game. This has been a rare thing over the past few years. Often, I purchase a game and take my time working on it. Even Mass Effect 3, which I was anticipating for some time and pre-ordered, was a game that I spent several months playing off-and-on before I finished it.

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Halo 4

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Sometime early this past summer I pre-ordered Halo 4 from Amazon.com. I’ve enjoyed the Halo series since the first game. As was common for many original Xbox owners, Halo was one of the first games I purchased for the Xbox. It was also the game that I played the most.

All four games have been, in my opinion, excellent games. Granted, the graphics were not always cutting edge but the games in general were very enjoyable to play. I never subscribed to Xbox Live with the original Xbox so all of the multiplayer games I joined in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 occurred locally on the same Xbox or via System Link (local network play). Later in the life of the Xbox I even played some rounds via the Internet using a Windows program that could tunnel Xbox System Link connections.

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My Apparent Change of Response to Nicotine Intake via Electronic Cigarette

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Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I have no medical training. Nothing I’ve mentioned in this section was done for any kind of scientific study, monitored, or verified by others. The information below details only my personal assumptions, experiences, and opinions.

I’ve been using electronic cigarettes for several years. Whether or not they have any significant and long-term negative health affects is somewhat uncertain. I, like many other e-cig users, assume that any potential problems caused by using e-cigs will always be far less severe than the known risks that are associated with smoking regular cigarettes (sometimes jokingly called “analog cigarettes”). Hopefully, this will prove to be the case several years from now.

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