Category Archives: video games

Gifts for Gamers, 2013

I like to write about gifts for gamers at Christmastime especially because it is so difficult for parents who want to surprise their child with a savvy game purchase and who want to be that very temporary thing, a cool parent. This year there is a great article on The Daily Beast website. It takes the form of a slide show and each game is reviewed by someone who actually used it. This year might be an even better year to skip software and upgrade your hardware as the new Xbox One is out and PlayStation 4 is also out there. However, in case your gamers still need great new games to play here is the list I found on The Daily Beast. Follow the link at the end of the list to read the reviews and see what each video game looks like.


Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag – Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, WiiU, PC

Super Mario 3D World – WiiU

Battlefield 4– Xbox360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC

BioShock Infinite – Xbox 360, PS3, PC, MAC

Dead Rising 3 – Xbox One

Forza Motorsport 5 – Xbox One

Gone Home– PC

Grand Theft Auto V – Xbox 360, PS3

Killzone: Shadow Fall – PS4

The Last of Us – PS3

Outlast– PC

Peggle 2– Xbox One

Pikmin 3– WiiU

Pokemon X & Y – 3DS

Rayman Legends – WiiU, Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, PC

Zoo Tycoon – Xbox 360, Xbox One

Saints Row IV – Xbox 360, PS, PC

Tearaway– PS Vita

Wonderful 101– WiiU

Resogun– PS4


And the link:

Alec Kubas-Meyer is the writer/reviewer and in his intro he says,

“We’re in a golden age of gaming. With the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One just released, the recent spate of quality titles for the WiiU, and the continued support of the 3DS and PS Vita handhelds (as well as Xbox 360 and PS3, and the PC too), there a lot of great platforms out there, and a lot of great games for them.”


Here’s a bonus link to another article on The Daily Beast. It offers a review of Xbox One.


Here’s another bonus link to The Daily Beast’s recommended Coffee Table Books slide show which has some excellent current events photo essay books and some nice art collections, along with some edgier stuff.



The Daily Beast list is more specific to 2013 than my coffee table book lists but I comfort myself by rationalizing that they probably have a staff of researchers and I only have me.


By Nancy Brisson




Taking a Scientific Approach to Mass Shootings

This is America. When we pass a law it does not have to be the law forever. If laws are ineffective they can be overturned later. We have a national problem. Public places in America are being turned into shooting galleries. Twenty beautiful children sitting in their elementary school classrooms were shot to death by either a madman or a poor troubled soul, whichever way you chose to look at it. Teachers and staff who expected an ordinary day of teaching children had to block bullets with their bodies. Isn’t it worth it to pass a few laws that try to address these problems?

It will cause some chaos if we ban assault weapons. People will have to part with treasured guns, they will have to tamp down fears that the American government will become tyrannical, and they may have to pursue a hobby they enjoy with slightly less freedom. Perhaps shooting clubs could store people’s assault rifles in locked spaces. There must be a solution that will allow people to possess their rifles without keeping them in their homes.

I also get the argument the NRA makes that criminals do not get guns through legal channels. I feel their fear that honest Americans without guns will be at the mercy of criminals with guns. Of course, I feel I must point out that we already are in that situation. I feel that I must also point out that on this point gun owners are exaggerating their feelings to spin their argument. They will still have handguns with which to defend themselves after all. And the longer a ban on assault rifles and multiple shot clips goes on the harder it will be for even criminals to access these weapons. Every time one is used in a crime it will. I assume, be taken off the streets and out of circulation.

Let’s talk about TV, movies and video games for a minute. If we are talking about children with good social skills these activities probably don’t lead to violent fantasies or scripts. These reality-based children understand that they are watching TV, or viewing a movie, or playing a game. But for children with poor social skills, children whose self esteem may be low, children who may feel frustrated and angry much of the time video games especially, may be the movie they run in their head when they are angry. I don’t mean to be flippant about this very serious issue, but it is sort of like when Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theorytries to blow people up with his mind. I don’t think these children, who can get a large ego boost from high scores in a game where they shoot imaginary people, are putting their anger into a red balloon and floating it away. I’m guessing that they imagine picking people off when they get angry. Teaching them to shoot a real gun with this particular movie script running in their heads when they are at their most irrational could not be a good thing.

We have to try something. Let’s try an assault gun ban again. Let’s try getting rid of most multiple clips. Let’s try it for five years or ten years. Let’s keep data on it to determine if it makes a difference. If studies done by neutral groups show no significant effect then we can overturn the laws. Let’s try throwing some more money at mental health issues and let the mental health community tell us what they believe we should try to be able to identify shooters before they go ballistic and how we can do this without stigmatizing those who know how to keep their mental issues under control and who consistently use those therapies. Again we can consider it a social experiment in which we study and tweak the approaches until they are effective at identifying those who need help and are not getting it, or until we determine that we will never be able to filter out individuals who might plot some kind of personal vengeance. We can even try armed guards at schools to see it that helps.

It is sad to see some of the nation’s gun owners acting just like these socially challenged shooters, with their threatening language and their fearful beliefs. They seem irrational and paranoid. These are adult Americans. They should be in a partnership with all of America to see if we can find a solution to this modern aberration; a solution that does not just involve arming America to the teeth. They should be honestly trying to study this along with us to see what will work. This would be the logical path to helping all Americans be more comfortable with legal gun owners. We are already beset by craziness. We need our adults, gun owners or not, to act very, very sane.

Pass the gun laws. Make sure we study the effects of the gun laws. Pass the mental health measure. Make sure we understand the strategies the mental health industry will employ and that we study their effects also. Let’s try to identify children who lack social skills. Let’s try to find out why they are missing these skills. Let’s develop strategies to help children improve their social skills. If parents are over-protective of children with mental or social difficulties let’s develop strategies for intervention. Let’s please try these measures for a time, discard them if they don’t work, and try new measures until we get it right. And let’s come up with some creative video games that offer the same ego boost as shooting games but have a more positive goal than racking up body counts.