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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MattsworknameON another subject, Im super pumped, cause tomarow I get rare replay, and wensday Im going to DBZ resurection of Freeza08/03/2015 - 7:01pm
MattsworknameDoc:: Thanks for the link, but im not interested in bickering with IP about anything. as ive noted, ive not need to argue with him'08/03/2015 - 6:58pm
Andrew EisenOne of the major points of contention seems to be whether or not TB shared or linked to a specific video, something that should be fairly easy to verify.08/03/2015 - 6:53pm
Andrew EisenNice to know what TB was referring to. What I'd like to observe is that this Kaiser chap was merely stating his opinion on his Twitter. He didn't tag in TB or GOG. So, I wouldn't classify this (and just THIS specifically) as harassment.08/03/2015 - 6:48pm
DocMelonheadAnd TB's Response: https://soundcloud.com/totalbiscuit/enough08/03/2015 - 6:41pm
DocMelonheadMWK and IP: but if you want something recent for both of you to bicker about in regards to TB, I present you the Rowan Kaiser Slandering TB: https://archive.is/LEA5T08/03/2015 - 6:41pm
Mattsworknametreatment. might have made him just a bit bitter08/03/2015 - 6:38pm
MattsworknameDOC: Tb is an opionated dude who holds extremely strong beliefs and has a severe distaste for those he views as being on the other side of the gamergate isue. I think a big part of it might be all those who went after him when he was undergoing cancer08/03/2015 - 6:38pm
DocMelonheadIP: You have to remember the human, everyone shouldn't be treated as gods or devils. Otherwise, we could've kill Bill Cosby for raping 40 women over the course of his career.08/03/2015 - 6:37pm
DocMelonheadIP: So yeah, he did spread misinformation about the victims of Gamergate Harassment: And that's bad. But It's not worth calling him out as a horrible person because of those lies that he helps spread.08/03/2015 - 6:33pm
MattsworknameAndrew: i know, I know, im just being a bit over serious today.08/03/2015 - 6:33pm
DocMelonheadIP: Should we call out Game Politics for their refusal to exclude all of Gamergate that isn't Hate speech or harassment? Because that is what your attitude tells me.08/03/2015 - 6:28pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Come on, man. You HAVE to realize that I was just goofing around with my 6:17 comment.08/03/2015 - 6:28pm
DocMelonheadIP: As for TotalBiscuit, do you suggest that we should branded him as a bigoted liar and a fraud just because he buys into the whole "Gamergate" mission statement?08/03/2015 - 6:26pm
MattsworknameAnderw: Youtube is a great place cause everyone can say anything, doesn't make it a bation of ethics08/03/2015 - 6:26pm
MattsworknameIp: As I've said, I long ago came to the conlusion that I have no need to bother arguing with you, you long ago robbed yourself of any credibiltiy. I just let your hatred and bias shine on for all to see.08/03/2015 - 6:24pm
MattsworknameAndrew: Im totally cool it that, just cause im a jaded skeptic doesn't mean im not aware of the situatoin, and you teasing me for it is totally what I would expect if the roles were reveersed08/03/2015 - 6:22pm
DocMelonheadAlso the lie's only in regard to gamerGate, which you, IP, wanted us to denounce it as a fraud.08/03/2015 - 6:21pm
Andrew EisenI'm on YouTube. I've got journalistic ethics out the wazoo. Therefore, YouTube is a bastion of ethics. Science says so!08/03/2015 - 6:17pm
DocMelonheadIP: drop it, man, we get it: Total Biscuit Defamed Leigh Alexander, and encourage the harassment campaign.08/03/2015 - 6:17pm
 

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