Category Archives: Virtual Reality

Parents horrified after learning primary schoolchildren aged just 10 are playing ‘the raping game’

school
Shock: Pupils have been banned from playing ‘the raping game’ – a playground activity that Stanford Junior School in Brighton (pictured) has stepped in to stop

One game called Rapelay sees the main character try to rape a mother and two daughters.

‘As soon as we found out this inappropriate word was being used, we spoke to the children concerned and they now no longer use it.’

Daily Mail | Feb 15, 2013

Primary school children have been banned from playing a new break time game they called ‘the raping game’.

The playground activity had been named after a violent video game which depicts violent sexual assaults on a mother and two daughters.

More than a dozen boys, some as young as nine, were caught playing the ‘the raping game’ at Stanford Junior School in Brighton, East Sussex.

The school confirmed it had been taking place and headteacher Gina Hutchins said she had spoken to children about the vile name. It has now been called ‘the survival game’ following the head’s intervention.

Mrs Hutchins said: ‘As soon as we found out that this inappropriate word was being used, we spoke to the children concerned and they now no longer use it.’

The game has been played mainly by boys in Year 5 at the school for the past two to three weeks.

It involves one person being ‘on’ who has to catch others until only one is left uncaught and that person is the winner.

About 13 boys, aged nine and ten, played the game in the school playground but have since changed the title.

One concerned parent said: ‘I was horrified that my son had learnt that word.

‘He is only nine. Thankfully he did not know what it meant but it was that horrible thought he might use it elsewhere.

‘Most people assume children learn these words at home.’

The parent added she did not blame the school saying it is almost impossible to stop children bringing words into the playground.

They commended the headteacher for her swift actions in taking decisive action and stamping out the use of the word.

It is unsure what video game led to the naming of the game, but several on the market contain scenes of rape.

One game called Rapelay sees the main character try to rape a mother and two daughters.

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Boys will be boys, says Afghan President Karzai of Prince Harry’s comparing killing to a video game

Harry

Prince Harry should be allowed to make mistakes, Afghan President says

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has dismissed Prince Harry’s comparison of war to video games – claiming “young men make mistakes”.

telegraph.co.uk | Feb 4, 2013

By Hayley Dixon

The 28-year-old Army captain gave “candid” descriptions of killing Taliban as he returned from a 20 week tour of Afghanistan, which some politicians in the country described as a propaganda victory for the enemy.

But speaking to ITV News and The Guardian President Karzai, who has a long-standing friendship with Prince Charles, refused to add his voice to the backlash.

The Prince claimed that his prowess on computers had helped him with on the battlefield, and described taking insurgents “out of the game”.

President Karzai, who described The Prince of Wales as “a very fine gentleman”, said of the furore: “Prince Charles is a great representative of Britain and the British ways of life. Prince Harry is a young man, we do give exits to young men when they make mistakes.”

When pushed on the issue he replied: “As I said, he’s a young man, and young men do make mistakes talking, while behaving, all of us have gone through that period, so let’s drop it there.”

His comments came as St James’s Palace announced that Harry is to pay a visit to Lesotho and South Africa at the end of the month for a three-day trip on behalf of his charity Sentebale.

He will spend the first two days privately, visiting Sentebale programmes throughout Lesotho, and on the final day will carry out public engagements in the Maseru district of Lesotho and then attend the Sentebale Gala Dinner in Johannesburg.

The last time the third in line to the throne was in Lesotho was in June 2010 when he took his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, to see Sentebale’s work as part of their first joint overseas trip.

President Karzai, who has not had a holiday in 12 years, is visiting the UK for a trilateral meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, and Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari.

He used the trip to condemn the recent insider attacks against British and American troops, describing it as “a serious breach of hospitality”.

But he also echoed comments he made four years ago that between the country was safer between 2002 and 2006 than it is now.

He said: “Schools were open in Helmand and life was more secure. But I am not going to blame.”

He said he “appreciated” the sacrifices of the British forces and the contributions they made to the country, adding: “Whatever happened is the past, and now we are looking forward to the future.”

He now wants to move forward in the peace process, to make it something “tangible” for the people who no longer want guns in their communities, and to bring to an end three decades of suffering.

The idea foreign troops would completely pull out of the country was a “Utopian state of mind” but would ultimately fail as the country needs to rebuild itself with the help of the international community, he said.

In ten years time the situation in the country is expected to have improved three fold. President Karzai added: “A good future lies ahead of us but we need to work for it, and work hard for it.”

DARPA creates “virtual humans, programmed to appear empathetic” for soldiers with PTSD

telepresenceoptions.com | Apr 26, 2012

by Katie Drummond

The Pentagon hasn’t made much progress in solving the PTSD crisis plaguing this generation of soldiers. Now it’s adding new staff members to the therapy teams tasked with spotting the signs of emotional pain and providing therapy to the beleaguered. Only this isn’t a typical hiring boost. The new therapists, Danger Room has learned, will be computer-generated “virtual humans,” used to offer diagnostics, and programmed to appear empathetic.

It’s the latest in a long series of efforts to assuage soaring rates of depression, anxiety and PTSD that afflict today’s troops. Military brass have become increasingly willing to try just about anything, from yoga and reiki to memory-adjustment pills, that holds an iota of promise. They’ve even funded computerized therapy before: In 2010, for example, the military launched an effort to create an online health portal that’d include video chats with therapists.

But this project, funded by Darpa, the Pentagon’s far-out research arm, is way more ambitious. Darpa’s research teams are hoping to combine 3-D rendered simulated therapists — think Sims characters mixed with ELIZA — with sensitive analysis software that can actually detect psychological symptoms “by analyzing facial expressions, body gestures and speech,” Dr. Albert Rizzo, who is leading the project alongside Dr. Louis-Philippe Morency, tells Danger Room. The therapists won’t treat patients, but they will help flesh-and-blood counselors by offering a general diagnosis of what ails soldiers, and how serious the problem is.

Norway killer sharpened aim on computer games


Anders Behring Breivik is pictured during his trial at the central court in Oslo on April 20, 2012. Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway last July, took the stand again on the third day of his trial, a day after telling the court he would carry out his attacks again if he could. Getty Images

Breivik said he played the computer game “Modern Warfare” for 16 months starting in January 2010, primarily to get a feel for how to use rifle sights. In 2006 he devoted a full year to playing “World of Warcraft,” for 16 hours a day, he said.

USA TOday | Apr 21, 2012

OSLO, Norway (AP) – Anders Behring Breivik knew it would take practice to be able to slaughter dozens of people before being shot by police.

Breivik, who styles himself as a modern-day crusader, has confessed to the attacks but rejects criminal guilt, saying he was acting to protect Norway and Europe by targeting a left-leaning political party he claims have betrayed the country by opening it up to immigration.

Since Breivik has admitted to the bombing in Oslo that killed eight people and the shooting massacre at the Labor Party youth camp that left 69 dead, the key issue of the trial is to establish whether he is criminally insane.

For the first time since the trial started, Breivik didn’t flash his right-wing salute when he entered the courtroom Thursday, heeding the advise of his defense lawyer. But those who were hoping for signs of regret were disappointed.

The 33-year-old Norwegian was ice cold when he once again described his victims as “traitors” for their links to Norway’s governing Labor Party.

“Militant nationalists are split in two,” Breivik said. “One half says you should attack Muslims and minorities. The other half says you should attack elites, those who are responsible.”

The government building he tried to blow up was “the most attractive political target in all of Norway,” he said.

He was disappointed to hear on a car radio as he was driving to the youth camp on Utoya island that the building didn’t collapse.

Breivik said he had planned to capture and decapitate former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland while filming it, but she had left Utoya earlier that day.

The self-styled crusader said he was inspired by al-Qaida’s use of decapitation, but noted that “beheading is a traditional European death penalty.”

“It was meant to be used as a very powerful psychological weapon,” he said.

Brundtland was prime minister for the Labor Party for 10 years. She later headed the World Health Organization and was appointed as a U.N. climate change envoy in 2007.

Her adviser, Jon Moerland, told The Associated Press, “Gro Harlem Brundtland has no comment on the information provided by Breivik, nor the court case in general.”

Breivik said he played the computer game “Modern Warfare” for 16 months starting in January 2010, primarily to get a feel for how to use rifle sights. In 2006 he devoted a full year to playing “World of Warcraft,” for 16 hours a day, he said.

Since Breivik has admitted to the bombing in Oslo that killed eight people and the shooting massacre at the Labor Party youth camp that left 69 dead, the key issue of the trial is to establish whether he is criminally insane.

For the first time since the trial started, Breivik didn’t flash his right-wing salute when he entered the courtroom Thursday, heeding the advise of his defense lawyer. But those who were hoping for signs of regret were disappointed.

The 33-year-old Norwegian was ice cold when he once again described his victims as “traitors” for their links to Norway’s governing Labor Party.

“Militant nationalists are split in two,” Breivik said. “One half says you should attack Muslims and minorities. The other half says you should attack elites, those who are responsible.”

Christopher Ferguson, of Texas A&M International University, said there is no link between violent video games and violent behavior. Though some research suggests that action games can improve “visuospatial cognition,” he said it’s difficult to say whether Breivik could have improved his accuracy by playing “Modern Warfare.”

“Let us keep in mind too that he was shooting kids on an island from which they could not escape easily,” Ferguson said. “That does not require great accuracy.”

Breivik said his original plans were to set off three bombs in Oslo, including at the royal palace, but building just one fertilizer bomb turned out to be “much more difficult than I thought.”

His preferred targets for the shooting massacre were an annual conference of Norwegian journalists or the Labor Party’s annual meeting. But he couldn’t get prepared in time, so he decided on striking against the summer retreat of the Labor Party’s youth wing.

Breivik said he had expected to be confronted by armed police when he left Oslo for Utoya island, armed with a handgun and a rifle — both named after Norse gods.

“I estimated the chances of survival as less than 5 percent,” he said.

During his testimony, Breivik calmly answers questions from prosecutors, except when they ask about the alleged anti-Muslim “Knights Templar” network he claims to belong to. Prosecutors say they don’t believe it exists.

When he smiled at one point during questioning Wednesday, Prosecutor Svein Holden asked him how he thought the bereaved watching the proceedings in court would react to that.

“They probably react in a natural way, with horror and disgust,” Breivik said. He said he smiled because he knew where Holden was going with his line of questioning.

The main point of his defense is to avoid an insanity ruling, which would deflate his political arguments. He repeatedly accuses prosecutors of trying to “ridicule” him by highlighting portions of a rambling, 1,500-page manifesto he posted before the attacks.

In it — and in a shortened version he read to the court on Tuesday — he said the “Knights Templar” will lead a revolt against “multiculturalist” governments around Europe, with the aim of deporting Muslims.

If found sane, Breivik could face a maximum 21-year prison sentence or an alternate custody arrangement that would keep him locked up as long as he is considered a menace to society. If declared insane, he would be committed to psychiatric care for as long as he’s considered ill.

The Army Wants You … to Be a Virtual Lab Rat


Illo: Electronic Arts

Wired | Feb 6, 2012

By Katie Drummond

American soldiers already prep for war using virtual worlds. One day, the Army hopes, you’ll join the GIs in a military-approved digital realm.

In the Army’s latest call for research proposals, the service is looking for ways to develop a “Virtual Laboratory of Aggregate Behavior,” or VLAB. Put simply, the program would yield a digital domain wherein hundreds or thousands of civilians could assemble and partake in “randomized controlled trial experiments” of the Army’s design.

But if you’re thinking Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 — think again.

The Army’s not looking to train civilians in the ways of war-fighting. Instead, they want a platform that can offer more robust testing for behavioral theories. For example, how a community is apt to react during a crisis, or how and why certain social networks end up coalescing while others fall apart. Right now, the Army’s solicitation complains, behavioral hypotheses often depend on small-scale tests of five or 10 people. Those tests are then extrapolated, via logic or computational models, to yield society-wide conclusions.

Of course, the military’s already been making efforts at better understanding the social, cultural, and behavioral aspects of conflict. The Pentagon’s Minerva program is still tapping scholars in an effort to bridge cultural divides. And the Army’s Human Terrain System, after a series of early missteps, is embedding social scientists into combat units.

But neither one of those initiatives has exactly been a groundbreaking success. That’s in part, the Army’s solicitation states, because “none of the programs [can] generalize findings from work on individuals or small groups to aggregates of societies.” Trying to get a bird’s eye view on an entire community, of course, is a tall order. Unless, perhaps, those community members have been turned into tiny, trackable, online avatars.

The Army’s virtual lab would be modeled on gameplay, though the experiments themselves don’t exactly sound action-packed. Players would partake in “a range of activities [based on] real world settings,” that’d include cooperation, coalition building and — ooh! — commerce.

The lab would let researchers test hypotheses about how groups behave, but it’d also let them “pre-test candidate courses of action.” From there, military leaders could glean some insight into how, if different courses of action were implemented in the real-world, a community might react.

It’s an interesting idea. But there are still plenty of uncertainties about how VLAB will work. For one, the Army doesn’t mention whether different labs would be populated by participants from different countries or regions. Obviously, that’d make a big difference in the lab’s results: A lab populated by Pakistanis is going to react differently to a scenario than a lab of Texans would. Even the decision-making processes of large groups, which the Army hopes to study, are starkly different around the world. The Army might want “generalizable…social theories of mass behavior,” but one theory can’t possibly be applied to groups worldwide.

Even if the Army’s not entirely sure how the labs will be populated, they’ve at least figured out who they’re hoping to omit. And Wired readers, you’d best take note. “Experienced gamers,” the Army warns, “May introduce types of nonsensical, deceptive or strategic participation not likely in real empirical settings.”

Angry ‘Call of Duty’ dad attacks teen who ‘shot’ him

msnbc.msn.com | Oct 2, 2011

By Suzanne Choney

A 46-year-old father of three has admitted to court officials that he attacked a teen boy who killed off his “Call of Duty: Black Ops” character.

Mark Bradford, of Plymouth, England, became unhinged after his character was murdered, but also because he said the 13-year-old who took the shot called him a name. The two were playing the game over the Internet, and using microphones to talk.

Bradford knew where the boy lived, stormed over to his house and grabbed the boy’s throat with both hands, according to the youngster’s mother, who came to his rescue, says a report in The Mirror. The boy had some scratches, but was unharmed physically.

“It wasn’t malice. I just grabbed him. I’ve seen him since and apologized. The injuries weren’t that bad but I do regret it,” Bradford told the court Thursday.

Bradford’s attorney, Tracey Baker, said her client “just lost it,” but that the attack wasn’t planned, said the Plymouth Herald.

What is planned is an Oct. 24 sentencing hearing for Bradford, who was released on bail.

Said the boy’s mother to The Mirror: “It’s pathetic that a grown man would attack a defenseless child like this. If you can’t handle losing to a child then you shouldn’t be playing games.”

Real-Life Mercenaries to Star in Blackwater, the Videogame

wired.com | Jun 7, 2011  

By Owen Good

Blackwater Worldwide, the real-life mercenary team linked to the killing of civilians and noncombatants in Iraq during U.S. operations there, will be the subject of a Kinect-supported videogame coming to the Xbox 360 later this year.

Published by 505 Games and titled, simply, Blackwater, the game is being produced in consultation with the private security contractor’s founder, the former Navy SEAL Erik Prince.

A news release called it “an intense, cinematic shooter experience,” set in a fictional North African town, in which players, as Blackwater operatives, battle two warlords’ factions to protect the city.

“This game and its immersive Kinect-based approach will give players the chance to experience what it is like to be on a Blackwater team on a mission without being dropped into a real combat situation,” Prince said in a statement issued by 505. The game was developed with in conjunction with former Blackwater members “to ensure accuracy of moves, gestures and gameplay,” the 505 release said. “The game also features a selection of officially-licensed weapons for your soldier to choose from.”

The game may also be played using a standard controller.

Blackwater, renamed to Xe Services LLC, was contracted by the U.S. government to provide training and diplomatic security, most notably in the Middle East, for much of the last decade. Its presence alongside U.S. diplomatic and military personnel came under scrutiny after several incidents resulting in the deaths either of civilians or Blackwater employees themselves.

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