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THE GEOGRAPHY OF GAMING

Matt Gallant
EDUC 5381 01: Curriculum Practices in Secondary Social Studies Part 1
October 21, 2014





Gaming is a worldwide passion of many individuals. This is evidenced by the millions of
gaming consoles, gaming computers, handheld gaming devices, cellphone video games, and so
on that are sold each year. My portfolio is going to be focusing on the backgrounds of gaming
and gamers, how various nations handle aspects of video games and the geography that
influences them. Students will have assignments based on the information I provide to them
through the resources I have acquired and they will also be able to do find their own resources
and information through research and speaking with their peers about the content and
personal experience. In our modern age, it is no surprise that video games have changed the
way many people go about their daily lives. Some may not realize it, but all the time they spend
on their phones playing games like Candy Crush Saga or Angry Birds feeds into this notion that
gaming is far more accepted than it used to be when it was mostly seen as a nerdy thing to
do.
Just to get an idea of the kind of spending various countries take up when it comes to the
purchase of video game consoles and video games themselves, I have located a map from 2006
that depicts the top ten spenders. I realize it is a little aged, but these numbers would only have
grown by this point due to the newer consoles that have been released (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U,
Nintendo 3DS, etc.). As you and students will be able to see, Canada is the largest purchaser of
video game consoles in the world per capita while the United States has the most overall sales.
These numbers are crippling and should be an eye opener to anyone who ever thought that
gaming is not a large part of North American culture.


Section I: Video Game Addiction
First I am going to offer up video clips from news rooms that discuss various countries
and their video gaming habits as some are more extreme or less extreme than others. The first I
will note is Korea and other Asian countries, because of all the addicted gamers in the world,
gamers in Asian countries rank among the most addicted players. The following video clip from
CNN illustrates this. I was able to find this via a YouTube search:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zOfAUxgm3E Korean video game addicts
This resource is essential to the portion on Asian gamers because it speaks of the percentage,
the age, the governments effort to quell young addiction starting, and the backlash they
received from it. This clip will surely spark debate as it speaks to gamers, non-gamers, and
parents alike; even those who have no knowledge of the problem will be able to weigh in after
the see the PC Cafes that youth frequent in Korea. The government of South Korea has
implemented an online gaming curfew from midnight to six AM for children under sixteen, but
at the same time offers no punishment for youth who are caught doing so. However,
companies like Sony have made it a bit more difficult for young gamers to use their services and
disallows anyone under the age of sixteen to create a Playstation Network Account; a service
that is required in order to play Sony's video games online.
I will use this resource as the first piece of a small group discussion among the students and
pose them the question of what they think of a gaming curfew and the current internet
addiction problems Korea is currently facing.
The following picture will be shown and students will be asked if it seems natural for so
many young people to be seemingly glued to computers, for hours upon hours in rooms just
like this one all over South Korea. These PC Cafes are all over the place and allow gamers to get
their fix any time of day or night.

In the next clip, I am showing the students a short documentary from The New York
Times. This one is based out of China and is aptly called Chinas Web Junkies: Internet Addiction.
Clip found via a search on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqctG3NnDa0
This documentary is more alarming than the first video because it shows the lengths at which
people will go to satisfy their addiction to video games/the internet. This clip also helps them
see what the result of addictive gaming can be, at least in China. The addicted youth featured in
this mini-doc are sent to military reformation camps where they are put through physical
labour/exercise and kept in cells in order to combat their addiction. Sometimes these youth are
kept there for months pending on the severity of their addiction. It is noted that some gamers
are so addicted to games that they believe if they take bathroom breaks during their marathon
gaming sessions they will slip in performance; such beliefs have led to players wearing diapers
while they play so as to not weaken their performance. Something the mini-doc also points
out is that these addicts are actually suffering from loneliness. This stands to reason because
many gamers do not have a lot of real life friends, but mostly friends on the internet because
they are typically able to relate to them better based on mutual interests.
Questions for discussion can be implemented here:
- Why do you think gaming addicts can be seen as lonely or loners?
- Do you believe that friends made in online video games are just as valuable as friends
you can spend time with outside of the internet? Why or why not?
- Do you believe it is morally correct for parents to forcibly take their children to these
camps, even go as far as drugging them? Why or why not?
- After watching this mini-doc, can you imagine why anyone would want to play video
games or spend countless hours in front of a computer/television screen playing games
that offer nothing more than entertainment?
Now let us take this information to North America, because only focusing on Asian video game
culture is not allowing students to see the geography of gaming in terms of local influences. The
following article discusses video game addiction in Canada and how it affects youth. The
researchers for this article also discuss how addiction to video games can be formed.
The article was found via a Google search for North America video game addiction:
http://metronews.ca/news/vancouver/14301/game-over-the-growing-issue-of-video-game-
addiction/
In the article we learn that in todays society the opportunity for youth to become addicted to
video games is much higher than it was decades ago, mainly because the opportunity did not
exist back then. Before the rise of computer games and online interactions, kids lived in
communities where their friends were always nearby and their families were close as well.
Nowadays you have children not living near their friends and thus they turn to computers in
order to interact with them. Youth who do not have many real life friends will turn to online
interactive games like World of Warcraft or Everquest where they can meet and play with real
people all over the world.
Speaking from personal experience of having played World of Warcraft for about six years I can
agree whole heartedly with the notion of making friends online. I believe I may have even been
addicted to World of Warcraft when I was in the thick of playing it. I can recall having played it
for 7-8 hours a day while working full time as well, and living at home. This is not to say I did not
lead a productive life at the time because I did hold a job and had friends outside of the game,
but ultimately I spent way too much time on the game. This is something I would definitely be
able to discuss with students and share my personal experience, which in turn could elicit
strong responses from them in discussion and potentially allow some students to realize they
might have a similar problem/addiction. That being said I am in no way a doctor and cannot
ever diagnose someone with video game addiction, however my experience does resemble that
of an addicted video game player.
To better illustrate the mentality of a video game addict the following picture is what I believe
to be a pretty accurate representation (from an image search of video game addiction):

I have done this, my brother has done this, and I am sure that countless others have done this
to their friends, family, and anyone else who tries to get in the way of a gamer who is clearly
hooked on video games.
My resources thus far relate to my theme of the geography of gaming because it affects people
all across the world. Through what has been shown students will learn that it is not just in
America that youth/adults can be addicted to games, but in other countries as well and it can
even be worse in other countries because as it has been shown, their addictions are catered to
by way of PC cafes that feed the addiction with high tech machines, low rates to play, food, and
24/7 business hours.
Based on these resources there are assignments that could fit with the notion of geographical
gaming addictions.
Assignment possibilities:
The students will look into statistics involving gaming addiction in Asia as well as North America;
compare and contrast them while assessing what causes such heavy addictions and how they
can be treated.
A roleplaying assignment where some students will pretend they are the addicted youth;
showing the signs of addiction and typical conversations they would have with their parents
(other students) and peers (other students). This sort of acting will give students a chance to
put themselves in the mindset of an addict and understand them better.
An actual study of the most addictive video games on the market. Games like World of
Warcraft, and Candy Crush Saga are just two examples of games that have been seen as highly
addictive games. Students will be given the opportunity to play these games and take note of
the ways in which the games draw the player in to the point of addiction.









Section II: Violence in games and content banning
Documentary: Game Over: Gender, Race and Violence in Video Games (2000) this resource
came in the form of a VHS from the MSVU library. The following information comes directly
from the documentary as short notes and points to mention when teaching this documentary
in a class. Because this documentary is broken up into parts, the teacher will be able to pause it
after each section and have a discussion on what the class just saw.
Video games give you the skill and ability to kill healthy play is turned on its head
Success in a game is based on you mastering the skills to kill opponents students need to
understand this concept because it is apparent in many video games that exist today (shooters,
role playing games, etc.)
Most people discuss film and television for violence and sex, video games are quickly becoming
a new topic of discussion
- Video games: the new media
o One way that video game violence is different from other forms of media
violence is that we are in control of the violence were interacting with the
technology very involved with whats going on
o Whats exciting about a video game is that youre being asked to get involved
with the game emotionally and psychologically
o Realism plays a big role holy grail of the industry
o Use of realistic animation and realistic graphics is a bragging right of game
companies
o Distinction between real and not real when it comes to video game violence
disappears
- Play like a man: video games and masculinity
o Video games have the quality of being so explicit of various aspects of life
males, females, violence, etc.
o Hyper masculine male character extremely imposing physical body very
muscular, aggressive, etc. link between being male and being violent
o Aggressive masculinity you can see in wrestling games you have the signature
moves of the wrestler and their taunts
o If you look at game designers, they are mostly men the images are coming out
of a male culture
o Female characters just need to be rescued
o Duke Nukems world is very masculine and features heavily sexualized women
- Narrow Vision: Race in video games
o 8/10 of top selling games feature white characters
o Most first person shooters all show white hands
o Racial stereotypes are present
o When racial characters are introduced they make it very evident that they are
racial
o Kingpin: Game takes place in an urban city ghetto you fight, take part in a gang,
etc. you are still a white guy though
o Emphasizing the difference between white characters and non-white characters
(non-white use Haitian type culture, voodoo, differs greatly from white
protagonists)
- Video game violence
o Do violent video games make more violent kids?
o After playing violent games for hours and hours you start to see the world as a
more violent place
o Video game violence never shows consequence or grief from characters
o You are rewarded through your violence in the game
o Updates on how many kills youve made, etc.
o Desensitized to violence through games
- Sim Violence: teaching kids to kill
o If you want soldiers to kill soldiers, they need to practice on human looking
targets
o F.A.T.S. training device used for cops/military
o No standard, no control over what the kids are doing
o Military (at one point) was using Doom to train their marines to kill it works
- Conclusion: virtual violence
o Feedback from controllers (vibration, resistance, etc.)
o Virtual reality could be a possibility (it is now with the Occulus Rift VR Console)

How does this documentary and video game violence relate to the theme of geography and
how can it be used in the classroom? Consider the following clip from YouTube and articles
from popular magazines that are even more current in terms of todays video games:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3pnGeImhOM Top 10 violent games of all time
http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/pictures/12-horrifyingly-violent-video-games-20131011
http://ca.askmen.com/top_10/videogame/top-10-most-violent-video-games.html
The games mentioned in this video and articles have been banned in certain countries because
of their extreme levels of violence towards innocents, women, and overall level of obscenity. To
add to this, here is a compiled list of games banned or censored by country:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banned_video_games
This is by far the strongest evidence that suggests geography of gaming is a real concept that
affects all parts of the world. For an assignment you could assign countries to individual
students or groups of students and have them research the games that were banned. However,
you as the educator need to be exceedingly careful due to the extreme content of some of the
games. This sort of project or assignment would not be suitable to any class under grade twelve
as these games are typically rated M for Mature (17+ in Canada). The Wiki resource is excellent
in that it explains why each game was banned and if a censored edition was ever reissued in the
country it was banned in.
After viewing the clips mentioned above the following questions can be assigned for small
group or whole class discussions:
- What do you believe makes a game ban worthy?
- Is it morally correct to ban a video game based on its content if said content is not illegal
to portray in a game?
- Why do you think game creators put such offensive or extreme content in video games,
even if they know the games might get banned in certain countries and thus cause sales
to drop?
Assignment Possibilities:
A timeline study of video game violence over the years. Students can work in small groups and
study various years of gaming history as far back as 1985 when the Nintendo Entertainment
System was first released up until today when games like Grand Theft Auto V and Call of Duty:
Ghosts are among the most violent games on the market. Students should, by the end of this
study be able to see where games where thirty years ago in terms of graphic violence and
where they have come to. The results will shock some, but most will understand that we as a
society have been desensitized to violence and game creators have to up the ante all the time
to keep gamers interested in video games by pushing boundaries.
Do ratings make sense when it comes to video games? Do parents follow them when it comes
to their children or do they even care? Have students interview peers in other classes, their
parents, other teachers about their views on the rating system and their thoughts on video
game violence. Students will share their findings with classmates in a written report fashion.












Section III: Femininity and Sexuality in Gaming

- Buxom Babes: The female heroine (From Game Over documentary)
o Lara Croft, Joanna Dark, female fighting game characters, etc. (examples of
females in video games)
Grossly unnatural looking characters huge bust, tiny body, and able to
move in ways that normal people couldnt
The ideal female body cannot be found when comparing them to
female video game characters
Hyper sexualized
o The most recent Lara Croft (at the filming of this documentary in 2000) was a
sixteen year old girl and despite that she was at gaming conventions where men
could meet her and take pictures with her which would usually involve having
their arms around her despite her age.
o Sexualized advertising (Gameboy, etc.)
The following is a picture of Lara Croft a.k.a. Tomb Raider through the ages of her existence

As the students can imagine, she is a sexualized female protagonist; known for her impossible
proportions of very slim hips, large breasts and over the top physical abilities. The same can be
said for the women of Mortal Kombat pictured below:

Though all of the women pictured above are beyond deadly (Mortal Kombat is an extreme
fighting game where the point of the game is to kill your opponent with brutal Fatalities) they
are all scantily clad with impossible physiques that are designed to lure in male gamers time
and time again with each iteration of the game.
Finally I want to show you a picture of the women from a game that was born out of
Japan called Soul Caliber. Now maybe you are thinking, perhaps the Japanese have not
sexualized their female characters like the Americans have? Wrong:

All three of these images were easily found via a Google search of Women of [insert game title
here]. Note how I did not have to input sexy video game characters or some other lewd
search query. Why is this? It is because most, if not all female characters in video games are
sexualized in one form or another. It is as if character designers believe women need to be
overly sexy or sexual in nature in order for them to be popular and appeal to male gamers. That
being said, what of female gamers? Surely women play video games too, and this is a topic of
study that can be debated and discussed in small groups or as a whole class. James Paul Gee
talks about female gamers in his book, What Video Games have to teach us about Learning and
Literacy, but it is only briefly at the beginning of the book and as an educator we are compelled
to ask the question why? Is it because female gamers are such a small percentage of the
gaming population that they are just not worth mentioning?
To combat this lack of talk about female gaming enthusiasts and womens image in games I
will be showing the class Anita Sarkeesian. She is a Canadian-American feminist, media critic
and blogger who has been making headlines recently due to terrorist threats being made
against her for speaking out on women in video games and female video game enthusiasts in
general. The following two links are first her website and second a news article talking about
the threats themselves.
http://www.feministfrequency.com/
http://www.democracynow.org/2014/10/20/women_are_being_driven_offline_feminist
Geographically speaking, Anita is relatable to women from Asia to North America because she
speaks up for women who are unable to. She believes the video game industry is poisoning
mens view on women in video games, female game enthusiasts, and the sexuality of women.
The fact that she has been sent death threats and had to cancel a speech she was set to give is
evidence that some men are so patriarchal in their thought processes they are unable to see
the harm that many video games are causing women.
Assignment possibilities:
How can students, as the leaders of the future help end the negativity surrounding video games
and their portrayal of women? In groups, students are to research patterns in popular video
games and highlight the problems within them and what can be done to fix them.
Students are to write an essay on the importance of equality in all aspects of life, from everyday
life to video games and how the media is corrupting youth with the visuals in video games,
movies, television, etc.
Conclusion:
The question of why I think this theme is important is one that I, as a future educator, have
thought about throughout the writing and formation of this portfolio. What I have learned from
my findings is that there is a lot of terrible things going on in the video game industry. What is
worse is that as a video game enthusiast myself, I am contributing to the problem by buying
many of offensive, violent, objectifying games that exist. Why is this? It is not for the sexualized
female characters, nor is it because of the over the top violence; truth be told, I am a lover of
video games, and I will play whatever I see as interesting or exciting. Pictured below is a mere
sample of the kind of games that I play:

Take note of the big bold M in the bottom left corner of each game case Mature rating and
for each game the reason is basically the same: Blood/Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity (in some),
Strong Language, etc. the reality is, I have no guilt over playing these games as many gamers
across the globe do not, but there are times when I feel bad about the actions I am carrying out
in the games because I believe they are too much, even for an adult to witness. The point I am
trying to make, as an educator is that these games have ratings for a reason and the major
problem is that these ratings are not followed by purchasers of these games. We need to
protect children from intense games like these or the problem with video game violence,
depiction of females in games and even addiction will be more of a geographical problem than
ever before.

Resources

Chomik, Andrew. Top 10: Most Violent Video Games. AskMen. Accessed October 16, 2014.
http://ca.askmen.com/top_10/videogame/top-10-most-violent-video-games.html
Deane, Donald. 12 Horrifyingly Violent Video Games. Rolling Stone Magazine. October 11,
2013. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/pictures/12-horrifyingly-violent-video-
games-20131011
Goodman, Amy, and Gonzalez, Juan. Women are being driven offline: Feminist Anita
Sarkeesian Terrorized for Critique of Video Games. Democracy Now! October 20, 2014.
http://www.democracynow.org/2014/10/20/women_are_being_driven_offline_feminis
t
Hall-Stigerts, Lauren. Body Image in Tomb Raider Lara Crofts Changing Look. Big Fish
Games. April 22, 2013. http://www.bigfishgames.com/blog/tomb-raider-body-image-
lara-crofts-changing-look/
List of banned video games. Wikipedia. Last edited on October 12, 2014.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banned_video_games
LostSoulInTheWind. Women Rule Mortal Kombat. DeviantArt. December 9, 2007.
http://lostsoulinthewind.deviantart.com/art/Women-Rule-Mortal-Kombat-71760250
McLaughlin, Rus. Video game addiction and you. VentureBeat. November 2, 2010.
http://venturebeat.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/addiction_pcbang.jpg
Orford, Stephanie. Game Over: The growing issue of video-game addiction. Metro News.
March 3, 2011. http://metronews.ca/news/vancouver/14301/game-over-the-growing-
issue-of-video-game-addiction/
Sarkeesian, Anita. Feminist Frequency. Accessed October 16, 2014.
www.feministfrequency.com
Top Ten Countries Spending Most on Console and Computer Game. Maps of World. 2006.
http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/countries-spending-most-on-console-
and-computer-game.html.
Video Game Addiction. The Rockville High School Rampage. April 7, 2011.
http://www.rockvillerampage.com/features/is-video-game-addiction-a-serious-
problem/attachment/video-game-addiction/
WatchMojo.com. Top 10 Most Violent Video Games. YouTube. June 13, 2013.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3pnGeImhOM
Women of Soul Calibur. Wallpaperhi. Accessed October 16, 2014.
http://www.wallpaperhi.com/thumbnails/detail/20120928/soul%20calibur%20soft%20s
hading%20anime%20girls%20sophitia%20alexandra%204957x3120%20wallpaper_www.
wallpaperhi.com_36.jpg