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Gaming & Training: The key to a kinder, more intelligent mankind?


The effects of violence in gaming pops up frequently within the media, case studies include Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who were allegedly obsessed with the video game ‘Doom’ and killed 12 students and a teacher. In February, 2003, 16-year-old American Dustin Lynch was charged with aggravated murder and made an insanity defense that he was "obsessed" with ‘Grand Theft Auto III’. Research suggests that violent video games influence aggressive behaviour, aggressive affect, aggressive cognition, and physiological arousal. The one consistent finding is that the majority of the studies on very young children—as opposed to those in their teens upwards—tend to show that children do become more aggressive after either playing or watching a violent video game.

Pro - Social Behaviour

However, the question is, can gaming also influence pro-social behaviour? Three studies attempted to answer this question by looking at the behaviours of children in Japan, Singapore and the USA.

In Singapore, children made a list of their favorite characters, rated the number of times the character helped or harmed others and then answered questions about how likely they were to help people in need. Researchers found a strong link between playing prosocial games and helping others.

In Japan, individuals were surveyed about their exposure to prosocial games and they noted how often they helped other people in the month before. They were surveyed again after a gap of 3 to 4 months. The researchers found a major relationship between exposure to prosocial games and helpful behavior months later.

In the USA, students were made to play either a prosocial, violent or neutral game and were later asked to assign puzzles to randomly selected partners. They could choose to assign puzzles which were easy, medium or hard to complete. It was observed that the players who played prosocial games assigned easier puzzles to their partners whereas those who played violent games were more likely to assign the hardest of puzzles.


One of the authors further stated, “This suggests there is an upward spiral of prosocial gaming and helpful behavior, in contrast to the downward spiral that occurs with violent video gaming and aggressive behavior.”

Learning Behaviour

In terms of learning behaviour, research has shown that a combination of structured teaching and a computer simulation was effective in teaching not only factual-level knowledge, but higher cognitive skills as well.

Researchers who gathered in Boston for the American Psychological Association convention detailed a series of studies suggesting video games can be powerful learning tools, from increasing younger students’ problem-solving potential to improving the skills of surgeons. One study even looked at whether playing “
World of Warcraft”, the world’s biggest multiplayer online game, can improve scientific thinking.

The conclusion?

Certain types of gaming have advantages beyond the virtual thrills of blowing up demons. Therefore, would it be beneficial to incorporate gaming into educating children in schools and training for staff?

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the topic please leave a comment. Similarly, if you are working on a project which involves gaming and behaviours, please contact us at innovation@kent.gov.uk.

- Kirsty Russell

Picture: Two young boys playing on a games console, with thanks to Sean Dreilinger for publishing on Flickr under a Creative Commons licience some rights reserved.




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DC10plus – Rolling out Digital Inclusion Products

DC10plus is the national collaborative authority on Digital Inclusion issues and how they impact at a local level. The DC10plus vision is to be a network for change, helping local authorities and their delivery partners to empower people and connect communities through technology and innovation.

Three years after its formation (following the Government's Digital Challenge competition), DC10plus has considerable experience of what works in Digital Inclusion, and, perhaps just as importantly, what doesn't work. DC10plus is now moving into its second phase of development which involves rolling out successfully developed products to new local authorities and their partners.

DC10plus has carefully mapped its products against Local Area Agreement National Indicators and established that they make vital contributions to key local targets. Products have been developed in six work streams which map against priorities familiar to all local authorities. The work streams are:

Communities Building Capacity - proving the vital contribution digital technologies can make to community development, community cohesion, and tackling worklessness.

Digital Environment - driving forward the fight against climate change using digital technologies, and making sure the carbon footprint of the technologies themselves is reduced.

Digital Switchover - utilising the switchover from analogue to digital television to build platforms for the digital delivery of local authority services.

Next Generation Connectivity - creating well-targeted and innovative interventions for “next generation connectivity” (NGC) through the deployment of high-speed broadband (100 Mbs and above) using fibre, cable and wireless connectivity.

Independent Living - aiming to improve citizens quality of life through making access to services easier and more time efficient, basing services around customer rather than provider needs, for example providing specific technologies such as assistive technologies and remote healthcare to help people with disabilities or dependency issues lead independent lives

Regional Engagement - DC10 plus members work with partners in their regions to promote the take-up and use of digital technologies to tackle social exclusion and improve the places in which people live.

The current climate faces local government with many challenges, not least of which is dealing with increasing demands on its services at a time of tightening public resources. While it is by no means the only reason for seeking to adopt technological solutions, increased efficiency and effectiveness are proven outcomes of some of the successful DC10plus products. Adoption of DC10plus products offers local authorities and their partners opportunities to work together to achieve efficiency savings while meeting the needs of residents and businesses.

There are more than 20 DC10plus products which have been developed and tested by local authorities who are part of the network. These products are now at a stage where they are ready to be rolled out into new areas, by individual local authorities and their partners, and, in some cases, on a joint basis. Examples of products include:

PC Loans Scheme - Developed by Milton Keynes Council with Microsoft, and has so far loaned around a 1000 used public sector computers to low-income residents. Has been also adopted by Sunderland and Durham.

Welcome to Birmingham - A website providing access to information, advice and guidance for refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers.

Techno Footprint - Developed by Connecting Bristol, a model for advising businesses about energy use and sustainability.

DEHEMS - Manchester’s Digital Environmental Home Energy Management System (DEHEMS)

Digital Media Guides - User friendly practical advice on planning and delivering meaningful digital media projects. Developed by Shropshire County Council.

STREAM Personal TV - Developed in Hull, STREAM provides older people with access to locally relevant and personalised information, online services and communications through their television.

E-Neighbourhoods Programme - Devised in Sunderland, a programme of capacity building and community development using ICT, focused on the most disadvantaged communities.

DC10plus is now seeking expressions of interest from local authorities and partner organisations wishing to explore the opportunity to adopt one or more of its products. If this interests you, please can you please add a comment to this post, and/or email your contact details to michael.dodd@sero.co.uk confirming your interest in the potential to adopt one of more of the DC10plus products.


With special thanks to John Popham & Michael Dodd from
Sero.





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Back to Blog Basics

This post will provide some useful advice on how to navigate around our blog.

Comments

Have something to say? Want to voice your views? Disagree with the blog content? Well say something about it! Most blogs will have to option to ‘leave a comment’ – ours can be found just under the title of each blog post, as demonstrated in the image below.




We wish to constantly improve our blog and are very interested in hearing from our readers, so please leave a comment if you have something to say!

Tags

Tags are a way to organise lots of information, they are short descriptions for a subject.

For example, our articles ‘Can simulation lead to negotiation?’ and ‘Do they love bees?’ are both about gaming, and therefore come under the gaming tag.

Our tags can be found next to each of articles on the right hand side ->

Subscribing

Really love reading a particular blog and find it rather tedious having to keep going to the web address to check for updates? Fear not, a handy little tool called the RSS Feed can solve your problems.

Even if you aren’t particularly technology-savvy the RSS feed is easy to use, sometimes called a ‘News Feed’. When a blog or article is published, it will automatically be sent to your e-mail address.

If you wish to subscribe to our posts, the RSS feed at the top of the page on the right hand side. As shown in the picture below.



Widgets

Widgets grab 'live' content from web sites so you don't have to visit them to stay up-to-date with the latest information.

The widgets on this blog include: ‘Public Experience’, ‘KCCInnovation on Delicious’, our ‘Scribd’ and our ‘Slide Share’, which can be seen in the picture below. Therefore, if you want to be kept updated with the team on our other applications, just come to the blog and click on our ‘widgets’!




Contacting Us

For most blogs and websites, details will be provided of how to contact the authors. If you wish to contact our team, a list of e-mail addresses for each member can be found under ‘Who Are We?’. As emphasised at the end of each article, if you have an opinion, idea or are conducting similar work to us, please don’t hesitate to drop us an e-mail! We’d love to hear from you!

Hopefully this article will have given you a better idea of the features on our blog, if there is anything else you are unsure of just leave or comment or e-mail us!

- Kirsty Russell



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Clubbing for jobs?


‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is a phrase commonly heard when an individual is looking for a job. However, the networks that are needed for someone to get ‘a foot in the door’ of a particular job are not always accessible; here is one solution: Job Clubs. A job club, sometimes known as a networking club, has been described as ‘a group of individuals who get together on a regular basis to support each other through the job hunting process’. Not only does this allow an individual to expand their existing social networks, but the group also provides a form of support group through encouragement and empathy, which can be particularly uplifting in times of an economic recession. The exchange of job leads, business cards, resumes, ideas, and information that occurs in a job or networking club can also motivate members and teach everyone valuable career strategies and techniques.

Is is successful?

The Job Club has been widely researched, and its positive effects have been replicated across numerous settings and populations, including handicapped individuals, college students and graduates, welfare recipients, white and blue collar unemployed individuals. Many studies have found that individuals who participant in a Job Club are far more successful at finding employment than those who participate in other programmes. Some studies have also found a relationship between job clubs and higher start salaries, higher self-efficacy, lower depression, greater advancement and higher job satisfaction.

The Expert Opinion

Experts recommend that a job club should consist of between 2 and 30 members, and should meet on a regular basis (weekly or every fortnight). The psychologist, Azrin, states that job club efforts will be more successful if job seekers have a specific goal, have considerable knowledge of the employers they wish to approach, are well acquainted with their own skills, and follow a particular pattern in the way they conduct their research.

Where to start looking?

So, where can you find a job club? You can start by looking in your local newspapers or contacting your local council. Your local library may have more information, or an internet search may reveal job clubs in an area near you. If you can’t find one, why not set up your own? Job Clubs UK provide free tips and advice on setting up the job club and will help promote and recruit individuals as well!

Below are some ideas on how to keep the Job Club fresh and interesting:

• Expert speakers could be drafted in, from JobCentre for example, to give presentations on CV writing, application forms and interview techniques.

• Job Club and Book-Club could be blended together. Each member could read a book about an aspect of job-hunting and share the best ideas from the book with the group. Members can also pass out helpful articles about job hunting.

• Members can bring resumes, both so you can critique each others' and so you can exchange them and distribute members' resumes when opportunities present themselves. • Club members could take field trips to tour companies of mutual interest. Informational interviews in small groups may even be possible.

• Part of the meeting could be spent conducting employer research, especially if laptops or other computers with Internet access are available.

- Kirsty Russell
Picture: Individuals meeting around a coffee table, with thanks to Mybloodyself for publishing on Flickr under a Creative Commons licience some rights reserved.





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Are you experienced?


PublicExperience is a great way to put your own experiences of public services and suggestions for how to improve them in front of the UK Innovators Council. We are independent of government, but all the experiences we receive are sent to our partners in the Cabinet Office.

The Council has promised to pick up and run with the best ideas and implement changes based on your feedback.
We ask a simple, open question: Wouldn't it be better if...?

You don't need to know who to talk to - just what you want to say about anything that relates to public services.
It's easy and free to use – just go to PublicExperience and describe your experience of public services in the big box on the front page.

Emily Randall, Public Experience

If you want to find out more about what we're thinking about and looking at around how we can capture and work with people's ideas, see here. Contact us if you have an idea.

Thanks to PublicExperience for the photo of a panda explaining to a gorilla and a tiger how to share their experiences of public services.

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All consuming Google?


Google is currently testing a new gadget that will take information from devices such as smart meters, (which are advanced meters that identify consumption in more detail than a conventional meter) collect it and make it more easily available.

Many smart meters do not display consumption information to the user but the Google Power Meter prototype is designed to receive such information and provide access to it via the user’s iGoogle homepage.


Google aims to allow users to make better energy decisions and hopes to work with as many utility companies as possible to deliver the technology for free to anyone with a smart meter.

There could be potential opportunities to use Google’s service to celebrate the most efficient houses, businesses or streets in Kent which could be supported by a blog?
If you cannot measure it, then how will you improve?

Photo of a house and metre reading by Google.

See here if you want to find out more about what we're thinking about and looking at around how to make the web work smarter for us. Contact us if you have an idea or any updates.
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