Thursday, March 27, 2008

Internet Approval Form - Byron Report

Internet Approval Form, originally uploaded by epredator.

Today has seen an explosion of reporting of the Byron report on kids access to games and the internet. Coverage ranging from the internet is evil to just say no to censorship.
From what I have read so far here aside from the headline grabbing it all seems straightforward.
Just as in this picture of the consent form I had to do fro predlet 1.0 for school use. Any parent getting this who is not e-nabled should think "hmmm why are they asking me this the kids use the computer all the time seems to keep them happy", and then they can take some action themselves to help guide their kids.
As usual this comes down to awareness and parental responsibility. It is true, without a doubt, that many parents have no idea what their kids can do online. That of course does not mean that they want to do anything online. "I just want to talk to my mates why would I talk to anyone else" as I heard the other day.
The report did make a good point though that children need to push boundaries and grow and develop. As more of them are kept indoors for "safety" in risk averse sociaty they will be more likely to say what the heck and do things online.
As with all the dangers, and good things in the world we have to help our kids understand them for themsleves, which of course means we have to understand them too, not just ban/restrict/deny which tends to be the knee jerk reaction.
The fact this also gets all mixed up with video game content just causes more polarization. As a gamer I know what the likely content of a game is. Though I too have boundaries for the kids. As Predlet 1.0 is getting into the DS she is enjoying driving games, and party games. Many of those are "Safe". Most of my games on the 360 I tend to not play around them, but leave it till nightime or maybe when they are elsewhere in the house. This works fine apart from audio. I was nearly caught out the other day in Rainbow Six vegas 2. The shooting and explosions were all fine, but at some point a radio chatter overlay shouted out a very loud Mother Farquar. I had not really expected that in the dialogue.
So having said I knew what to expect, I was caught out breaching my own social policy. The predlets were making way to much noise elsewhere to pick up on it, but it shows that there are boundaries to shield kids from.
I would hate to see any game featuring any violence get an 18 or 16 certificate when we enter the realm of cartoon, tom and jerry violence.
Equally with the rise of user generated content this gets harder to get the BBFC or any other body to police.
That brings me to the final point I just twittered "I wonder if the mass of internet Nimby's realize they could just access sites and flag content en masse rather than moaning about it?"
When complaining about youtube or any other site that has UGC and suggesting that site does its own policing it ignores the fact that we all can police this stuff. We all get to flag things as innappropriate. So it is our responsibility. Those people who stick to the internet is evil not in my back garden approach need to engage themselves, not wait for government or expect the responsibility to belong to others.
If this report raises awareness, but also tells people, go and look and if you dont like it then take action, rather than sit and wait the state will protect you, then we are in a good place.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

w00t I got a cool award

I recently found out that I have been nominated for the IBM CTRE (Corporate Technical Recogition Event). In our terms thats a big deal. For a long while there have been things like the Golden Circle for the sales folk. Outsied IBM I guess it just seems like a jolly. However if all the things i have managed to get done on virtual worlds are indeed recognized through this, then I know that I will be in good company with a few hundred like minded people.
I was looking up where the event is held. Its a bit of a long trek but its in Phoenix. At the Biltmore hotel. There's is quite a long list of celebs and every US president since 1929 that have stayed there.
I am not sure if epredator will appear on the list of celebs in wikipedia :-). However Mrs Epred and I will certainly make the most of the trip for a few days.
Its a little way away yet, and luckily does not clash with our holiday we booked with the predlets.
All in all though I am very stoked to be going to an event like this. Of course like all awards there are lots of other people that should be there too. So in Oscar styleee I will accept this for everyone who has been working to make our journey into virtual worlds successful and thankyou everyone who voted, supported and made this CTRE go through.