UFC Personal Trainer and Blurring the Lines on Violent Video Games

August 4, 2011 -

Is using a Kinect martial-arts simulator like UFC Personal Trainer like practicing martial arts or like playing a videogame? The answer is neither, according to a guest editorial on Wired's Game|Life written by Paul Ballas, a Philadelphia-area child psychiatrist. Ballas's editorial, "UFC Trainer Is Helpfully Violent," comes to the conclusion that, while UFC Personal Trainer is based on a violent fighting franchise, it could also have positive effects on kids' health.

He opens with his description of the game:

"In this game, playable with the controller-free technology of Kinect for the Xbox 360, the user will, according to THQ’s website, “learn over 70 [mixed martial arts] and [National Academy of Sports Medicine]-approved exercises including moves from disciplines such as wrestling, kickboxing and Muay Thai.”

Some in the enthusiast gaming press considered UFC Personal Trainer one of the most violent games presented at E3 this year. It’s comparable to Ubisoft’s 2010 title Fighters Uncaged, a Kinect-enabled videogame in which the player makes fighting movements in order to make the game’s avatar fight a digital opponent in hand-to-hand combat.
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He then points out the odd ratings for the aforementioned games; while Fighters Uncaged is rated "T" for teens, the UFC game received a softer rating of "E" for everyone. The reasons for the different ratings have a lot to do with how each game is labeled. Fighters Uncaged contains "mild language and violence," while the UFC game contains "violent references."

Using these two games as an example, Ballas then explains why, with the introduction of new technology that provides greater interactivity, it is important that the ratings systems and certain people's attitudes have to change with the time:

"The ESRB rating system exists for a variety of reasons, but I believe videogame technology has reached a point where the way a parents choose games for their children is dramatically changing, and this change is something that needs to be considered by consumers, researchers and politicians interested in the effects of violent media on children. It appears that in the very near future, we will have to consider certain kinds of computer programs not only as not bad for children, but potentially good for them, and will require brand new research to justify our beliefs as to their effects, both good and bad."

The topic then turns to the point that Ballas is trying to make: new technologies and games such as UFC Personal Trainer, shouldn't be called games at all because - as technology improves and allows for unprecedented levels of interaction and social activities - it becomes like its real-life counterpart. Further, he notes, psychologist have never been against children taking part in martial arts training because it offers so many benefits.

According to a 2011 article in the American Association of Pediatrics, "martial arts are known to improve social skills, discipline and respect in children."

So his conclusion is that when games like UFC Personal Trainer and future games that teach martial arts training to children become more realistic due to technological advances, it becomes more difficult for critics to complain about "video game violence." After all, their own research says it's "good for children."

Of course, the discussion isn't completely black and white. You can read the entire article here and draw your own conclusions.


Comments

Re: UFC Personal Trainer and Blurring the Lines on Violent ...

Good stuff. Martial arts are definitely to be encouraged for the reasons mentioned here.

Regarding MA games in this instance, I can't help but thing the ESRB ratings wouldn't make too much difference to a parent - if their kid is interested in an MA game, then they'll get them one or the other, especially if both games don't feature bloody fighting or such.

 
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MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/28/gaymerx-in-dire-straits-after-nis-america-allegedly-backs-out-of/ NISA backs out of GaymerX support, but it seems like the only people crying foul are GaymerX.07/29/2014 - 6:30am
Papa MidnightIt's not bad so far, but I am honestly not sure what to make of it (or where it's going for that matter)07/28/2014 - 9:44pm
Matthew Wilsonis it any good?07/28/2014 - 9:36pm
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MaskedPixelanteNah, I'm fine purple monkey dishwasher.07/28/2014 - 4:05pm
Sleaker@MP - I hope you didn't suffer a loss of your mental faculties attempting that.07/28/2014 - 3:48pm
MaskedPixelanteOK, so my brief research looking at GameFAQs forums (protip, don't do that if you wish to keep your sanity intact.), the 3DS doesn't have the power to run anything more powerful than the NES/GBC/GG AND run the 3DS system in the background.07/28/2014 - 11:01am
ZenMatthew, the 3DS already has GBA games in the form of the ambassador tittles. And I an just as curious about them not releasing them on there like they did the NES ones. I do like them on the Wii U as well, but seems weird. And where are the N64 games?07/28/2014 - 10:40am
james_fudgeNo. They already cut the price. Unless they release a new version that has a higher price point.07/28/2014 - 10:19am
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, It most likely is. The question is whether Nintendo wants to do it.07/28/2014 - 10:12am
Matthew WilsonI am sure the 3ds im more then powerful enough to emulate a GBA game.07/28/2014 - 9:54am
Sleaker@IanC - while the processor is effectively the same or very similar, the issue is how they setup the peripheral hardware. It would probably require creating some kind of emulation for the 3DS to handle interfacing with the audio and input methods for GBA07/28/2014 - 9:30am
Sleaker@EZK - hmmm, that makes sense. I could have sworn I had played GB/GBC games on it too though (emud of course)07/28/2014 - 9:23am
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, the DS has a built in GBA chipset in the system. That is why it played GBA games. The GBA had a seperate chipset for GB and GBColor games. The DS did not have that GB/GBC chipset and that is why the DS could not play GB and GBC games.07/28/2014 - 7:25am
IanCI dont think Nintendo ever gave reason why GBA games a reason why GBA games aren't on the 3DS eshop. The 3DS uses chips that are backwards compatable with the GBA ob GBA processor, after all.07/28/2014 - 6:46am
Sleakerhmmm that's odd I could play GBA games natively in my original DS.07/28/2014 - 1:39am
Matthew Wilsonbasically "we do not want to put these games on a system more then 10 people own" just joking07/27/2014 - 8:13pm
MaskedPixelanteSomething, something, the 3DS can't properly emulate GBA games and it was a massive struggle to get the ambassador games running properly.07/27/2014 - 8:06pm
Andrew EisenIdeally, you'd be able to play such games on either platform but until that time, I think Nintendo's using the exclusivity in an attempt to further drive Wii U sales.07/27/2014 - 7:21pm
Matthew WilsonI am kind of surprised games like battle network are not out on the 3ds.07/27/2014 - 7:01pm
 

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