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Are Video Games Stopping Our Children From Growing Up?

This is difficult to write, primarily because it's difficult to acknowledge as a distinct possibility.

Last year, The Atlantic published an intriguing and well-written feature (does The Atlantic produce anything else?) entitled, "The End of Men." It addressed a sociological shift in our society that involves women surpassing men in a variety of categories, from schooling to career success to general independence and even intelligence. Furthermore, one doesn't have to look far to find concerned editorials and even scientific studies that tackle a disturbing trend: Males in this country simply refusing to grow up.

Obviously, video games can hardly be pinned down as the sole culprit, but there's little doubt that games can be linked to our childhoods. And of course, indulging in a fictional fantasy world is also associated with child-like hobbies, such as comic books and cartoons. Furthermore, strictly from my own experience, I can indeed confirm that those who really get lost in fantasy universes as adults (cosplayers, D&D-ers, etc.) tend to exhibit more adolescent traits and haven't really advanced quite as far in terms of life achievements. They're just plain behind.

But I won't use anecdotal evidence to prove a point. I do, however, refer you to a recent Kotaku feature, where prominent game makers talk about the shockingly common receipt of death threats from disgruntled gamers. Of course, I am quick to blame the Internet more than the games - as we should all rightfully do - because the power of the anonymous voice is unparalleled. With little in the way of potential consequences, people can basically react however they wish without fear of any real reprisal. That's the nature of the Internet and reaches far beyond gaming.

But that's not what's concerning. What's concerning is the fact that the vast majority of such complaints are likely to come from males between the ages of 18 and 30, precisely the sex and age The Atlantic called out last year. Passion is one thing, but reacting to such extreme degrees and essentially getting away with such conduct is counterproductive. When immaturity meets immaturity online, the plague tends to spread; voices of reason and wisdom are quickly drowned out, and gamers are once again given a bad name. The most disturbing? This is entertainment. This level of insanity should be reserved for politics and life-and-death situations, yes?

What this tells me is that far too many people - and again, many of which are males of a certain age - simply aren't doing enough with their lives. The only way people get worked up enough to send death threats is if the subject in question dominates a fair portion of their day-to-day lives. The guy who works a normal work week and raises a family does not have time (or energy) to do anything like this, and would likely regard any such over-the-top reactions as, wait for it...childish. Thing is, when we regrettably grow up, our minds are occupied with things that actually matter. There simply isn't any room for mass hysteria over a video game.

Therefore, perhaps it's perfectly legitimate to suggest that interactive entertainment can have a negative impact on the development of children. One might argue that getting too "involved" in anything can result in such frightening passion that leaks out as immature hostility. But that really isn't true; kids who get lost in a book and learn to love reading probably won't be sending authors death threats in their teen and young adult years.

Tags: gaming, video games, gaming culture, gamers, gaming fans

4/23/2012 8:46:53 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (44 posts)

Sir Shak
Monday, April 23, 2012 @ 9:46:15 PM
Reply

Well, growing up sucks, and maybe us males just realized that. :)

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telly
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 9:49:56 AM

If you hate growing up, you're not doing it right.

Adulthood is frigging awesome. There, I said it. You get to dedicate your professional life to careers that are of interest and consequence to you, you learn more about yourself and what you really like, you learn to resolve conflicts better, things that used to bother you no longer do, romance becomes common, you learn to take care of yourself and not rely on other people to do it for you, which gives you FREEDOM to do what you want and when you want to do it, and on and on and on.

Oh yeah, and you have the money to buy all the damn video games you want :)

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telly
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 9:50:34 AM

BTW, not picking on you, Sir Shak, just replying to your post since it was at the top.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 9:52:13 AM

Kids are another great part of adulthood.

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telly
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 10:00:21 AM

I'm two or three years away (should probably marry my girlfriend first!), but I can't wait to have 'em.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 10:31:54 AM

ya. Loving parenthood.

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Jawknee
Monday, April 23, 2012 @ 11:02:42 PM
Reply

It's not just games. It's a lot of aspects to our current culture. We're increasingly being told it's okay to stay at home with your parents until you're almost 30 and mooch, you can stay on their insurance until you're almost 30, you don't have to work hard for your lot in life, some one will give it to you, going to college? Here's some food stamps, etc. When kids have no reason to grow up, or move on into man/womanhood, they will continue to let the hobbies/habits that ruled their lives as kids continue to rule their lives as grown manchildren. I think games are just a small part of a bigger problem and the anoniminity provided by the Internet just exasperates the problem when these immature people know they won't be held accountable for their nastiness.

Last edited by Jawknee on 4/23/2012 11:05:24 PM

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Underdog15
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 8:28:23 AM

Yup.

There's nothing wrong with continuing to build upon the hobbies you built skills in as a child, though. I still love playing soccer and baseball, and I still enjoy relaxing with video games.

But the difference is in the priorities. Obviously as a kid, the priority is to get to the hobby and have fun, exclusively. As an adult, the hobbies are more than welcome to stay, but they can no longer be the objective of a day. They become an extra, and I find that the harder I work anyways, the more likely I am to have time for hobbies. (And more money for it too!)

You hit the nail on the head when you said that hobbies begin to rule people's lives. When the hobbies become the only thing people think about all day, video games or otherwise, they need to re-prioritize. The only thing I would add is that bit about it being ok to continue having hobbies. Especially if it builds on the skills earned as a kid.

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zard
Tuesday, May 01, 2012 @ 6:53:40 PM

Building on what you said about staying home till your 30 and mooching off of insurance, may I also point out that its those people that still expect to retire at 60 and then live until 90 off of gov't aid only having worked 30 years of their life. I completely agree with Video Games in Moderation. I work at a gamestop and it is unbeleiveable that there are people who come to buy every game the day it comes out, and I have to wonder where they 1 get the money to buy them all and 2 how they have time to play them all! Moderation people, moderation.

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Alejandro562
Monday, April 23, 2012 @ 11:39:22 PM
Reply

I see it this way, gaming does stop or hinder a childs mental stage while growing up if it is not carefully taken care of, one example is maybe if you introduce gaming to a child at 10 or 11 years old, his father should limit and watch his level of play time and also go on activities in the outside world with his or her gamer child, to build up character in the child and not hinder him from growing up correctly,alot of parents just hand their 5year old or 6 7 8 year old kid a ps3,with online and a headset and then that kid has trouble communicating with the outside world when all he does is stay in 12hours a day on call of duty and shouting through a headset, but if you wait till a later stage in development say 10 11 and moniter them and build character and not just give them a xbox and not build a real relationship with them like most parents do then their can be a problem, i see this everyday on psn and on real life, my cousin is 9years old we went to cancun for vacation all he does is cod all day, and act bad and tough yelling things through a mic, but we went for a little bike ride in cancun and he was crying because he doesnt know how to ride a bike even with training wheels,crying because he had to swim with a shirt off,all things that happen because of the parents fault.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 12:27:11 AM

Avatar WAY too big. Shrink it or change it now, please.

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Palpatations911
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 12:34:50 AM

That is a really sad story bro.. I hope that his parents continue to engage him and help build a strong foundation for your cousin.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 1:31:05 AM

LOL! Avatar overkill.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 8:22:53 AM

That avatar says it's a super welterweight championship, but it looks like a heavyweight.

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AcHiLLiA
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 3:17:57 PM

okay, here is a little bad example, just don't feed ur kids to much of this fast food stuff.

On another note, everything was going good until u brought up ur cousin, I think that is a personal manner in way, but hope that ur cousin overcome's that issue someday.

Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 4/24/2012 3:27:09 PM

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PharaohJR
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 1:11:49 AM
Reply

i dont believe video games are stoping a youngster from growing up. as said above it comes down to structure of parents the principles/morals thats passed on to the youth. if video games didnt exist the other branches where youth could grasp a concept of something outside of reality would be greater in number.

if 1 teaches there offspring timely to seperate matters from pleasure & shows why as wisdom develops(common sense) the youth will situate whats important before indulging in pleasure. you will still have those that believe fun is more important then being serious but if time is taken to enlight the youth those of fun wont be that vast.

you see, its a dominoe effect thats been created some decades ago & i can asure you its not video games that triggered it......

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inkme101
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 1:32:19 AM
Reply

I have played video games all my life! im 29 now and im perfectly well adjusted. im a grown azz man! I....... oh shoot i gotta go, moms got my shower running and dinner will be done right after!



JUST KIDDING!


Seriously though i have enjoyed games my entire life but, i always managed to play in moderation. Ive turned out OK. 9 to 5 job, pay bills, spend time with the kids, hell i even game with the kids but i make them do it in moderation as well. If my son could he would play that damn cod all day long but i as a parent set boundaries and he follows them and apart from becoming a total mini D-BAG using words like epic, beast, and ninja! i really don't see any adverse effects! he pulls straight a's in school his homework and chores always come first, hes an avid football player (no call of duty comes b4 that) and an all around mature well rounded kid! my point being that regardless of games or whatever else it comes down to this YOUR CHILD WILL GROW UP BASED ON HOW YOU BRING THEM UP!!!!! its all in the hands of the parents!

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shadowscorpio
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 2:36:35 AM

I'm 28. Been gaming since I was 7 years old!

I think that there is an exception to everything. Anyone getting into gaming these days is experiencing something different than what we experienced when we started. Everything from the visual display to the connectivity. We grew along with the industry so we may have a better sense of how to deal with the current gaming environment maturely.

Anyone relatively new to the current gaming environment may get trapped into the "childish" gaming community. Again, like I mentioned earlier, there are exceptions to everything. I've read post by young'ns on this site that actually seem like they have a mature head on there shoulders. Though, we can't be so naive to think that childish gamers aren't a problem with the industry.

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 3:02:11 AM
Reply

As convenient as it can be to blame games for this cultural malaise (I know that you're not explicitly doing so, only responding to an article that did), I believe that it is more the fault of society at large. There seems to be a common ideology that it's okay to sit back and coast through life without necessarily working for anything, and I find this utterly vile. In a manner of speaking, I can't exactly talk without seeming a hypocrite (21, still living at home as a result of the financial convenience rendered by the situation). Nevertheless, I am capable of living, so enough on that.

Even without games, I know a surprising number of people in their twenties and early thirties that are immature at best, but become almost unbearable when in contact with certain other people. It's not necessarily refusing to grow up, but desiring so much to retain the same carefree attitude of their youth. Mind you, some of these people are married, most all have full-time jobs and some are great to talk to when I'm alone with them. It's just bizarre that they're so easily dragged into puerility.

All of that being said, I contemplated writing a similar article some time back about the possibility of gaming leading to a generation of underachievers. While what you've written doesn't necessarily address that, it's far more coherent than my plans indicated the final product would be... but it's nice to see we think along similar lines :)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 3:27:04 AM
Reply

Gaming is a part of current social change, but I think the biggest push comes from the other side: the newer technology. Life is consumed in sound bytes, everything you've ever done and where you are now is public knowledge, you can text instead of talk, anything you need to know is a Google search away. Nationwide fame is just a youtube video away.

My point? People's priorities are messed up. No need to grow up in the age of convenience. I can't believe nobody thinks its rude to mess around on their phone when you're with them. There's your breakdown of society.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 8:45:18 AM

Absolutely. There are definitely many more examples throughout society, like the ones you mentioned. What's amusing, is that all these things, video games, text messages, social media, etc, are not inherently bad or negative things.

It's their prioritization over the things that matter that is to blame. And that blame rests solely on the shoulders of each individual. Not the medium or technology that hosts them.

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Beamboom
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 3:28:47 AM
Reply

I totally agree with this.

There's no denying that there is something fundamentally childish about the concept of moving a wizard around throwing fireballs at monsters. It's an extension of playing with toys on the living-room floor.

Are we as gamers therefore slightly more immature than "the rest"? I think we probably are. But I keep the child in me alive with pride. It's how I want to be.


Last edited by Beamboom on 4/24/2012 3:29:47 AM

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Underdog15
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 8:43:10 AM

I think it's necessary. lol. There's something to be said for building on the skills you earned through childhood into adolescence into adulthood!

What I think matters is the shift in priorities. So long as people do grow up and fend for themselves in life and establish goals and seek to achieve them, while keeping family and friends important and before games, who's to say anything against those couple hours left over when you're by yourself? If everything else is taken care of, why not play video games? (or sports, or collect something, or build something, or whatever your hobby is/hobbies are)

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Beamboom
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 9:10:43 AM

Yeah the shift in priorities happens no matter if you want it or not, hehe. It's kida "forced play" I guess?

Cause it's not really a question about setting priority either - their priority sets themselves. "Want to keep your house? Then pay on your loan. Ergo get to work, you lazy sob".

But that doesn't change the factual properties of what we do when we play our games. I hate to over-intellectualize what we do, and what we do is play. Simple as that. :)

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telly
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 9:59:36 AM

It's a fascinating topic -- what makes an adult an adult? And is running around as a space marine shooting lasers at aliens inherently an immature thing? Is it inherently "bad"?

No question there's escapism involved in gaming, but for me, I think there's a major, major distinction between those of us who hold down good jobs, maintain healthy relationships and friendships, manage our finances well, and crucially, have other, "normal" adult interests and still like to blast aliens now and then, vs. those that blast aliens and obsess over blasting aliens at the expense of growing the hell up. The big question though -- how many of "us" are there, vs. how many of "them"? I just don't know.

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Beamboom
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 11:48:42 AM

@telly: In my opinion it's basically the exact same as children do when they play only we need a tad more technical help in order to get immersed in the play, but when was immature bad?

I don't think there's anything wrong in being childish when given the chance. Really, we should all play more, not less. But is it immature to play with little avatars who run around with magic abilities and big flashy armour, or dressing up our little sack boys with flower hats and funny masks? I mean... c'mon. Of course it is.

It's playing. And I feel no need to excuse it for being so.


Last edited by Beamboom on 4/24/2012 11:55:16 AM

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telly
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 11:55:47 AM

Well said. Being immature sometimes isn't the same as being immature in everything. And being immature with your past times is not a bad thing.

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Nick42
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 4:17:37 AM
Reply

I'm a gamer and a cosplayer with a Masters degree and ongoing Phd, does that count for anything?

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Underdog15
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 8:39:43 AM

It might. I think the author(s) of the article in question would wonder about your future goals beyond the PhD. If, say, you were earning a degree that didn't have a profession attached to the end of it (like a PhD in a Philosophy related discipline, for example) the argument could be made that continuing education is just a tactic to prolong having to get a home or job and allow you to continue with your hobbies, the only responsibility being school. Especially for students that just go straight to the PhD without having a professional need to upgrade.

But if there's an overall goal that requires you to have the education your getting, or you can justify it with a larger dollar sign following completion, then, yeah. It most definitely counts for a lot for the good guys!

Last edited by Underdog15 on 4/24/2012 8:40:04 AM

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Sir Dan
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 7:35:16 AM
Reply

Staying on Mommy and Daddy's insurance does more harm to growing up than any video game ever will. Come on..."kids" can stay on parents insurance until 26?! When I graduated college it was the #1 reason I went and got a job. My parents ingrained in me the idea I better be self-sufficient and health insured. The future is bleak. Enjoy a good PS3 game while Rome burns.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 8:33:58 AM

Health insured?

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Underdog15
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 8:34:45 AM

Wait, nevermind. lol. I keep forgetting that isn't standard in the states. :S Sorry about that.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 2:38:32 PM

That might be an okay position if there were enough jobs for graduates.

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Cole
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 7:45:14 AM
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I firmly believe that most gamers are normal ,well adjusted individuals. We're just misrepresented by a small, but extremely vocal minority. The true gamers will always outnumber the trolls and fanboys. It's just that they are too busy actually enjoying games and life in general, to participate in the hate and flame wars that seem to run rampant across the internet.

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Russell Burrows
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 8:06:34 AM
Reply

Video games??
How about those real life hooligans who go to a soccer match and break storefront windows, overturn and burn vehicles including police.
Those hooligans need to growup and realize its only a soccer game.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 8:32:57 AM

I think the number of people that do that is many many fewer than the number of people that play video games. lol

I mean, you could say, what about those hooligans who break into homes and rob them blind, or the hooligans in real life who steal cars or old lady's purses.

You're comparing hobbies that contribute to learned behaviours with criminal activity. It's not really the same topic.

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wackazoa
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 9:49:43 AM
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Toys r' us did it for me.

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Ludicrous_Liam
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 10:21:29 AM
Reply

Well, I guess I'm the perfect test subject as I'm still classified as a 'child', and I'm a pretty big gamer. Infact, I was to count the hours in a week I play games, I'd say it's in the region of 25-30 hours. That might sound a bit extraordinary, but y'know, 30/7 = just over 4 hours a day. But I still find time to hang with friends, complete homework...mostly, and anything else than I might deem important, but yeah - I definatly come under the label of 'big gamer'. I wasn't always like that though...(Life story incoming)

When I was about 4, my mom got me a Sega Genesis. However, I don't really remember playing it much, because my main 'hobby' as it were, was - who am I kidding, still is - watching Scooby Doo! :P So yeah - gaming was definatly second-best in that regard.

Then, on my 5th birthday, my mom got me a PS1. Again, this wasn't the moment I started gaming - I got it so I could play "Scooby Doo & The Cyber Chaser" xD But I did play certain games quite extensively, now that I think about it; Crash Bandicoot, Abe's Oddysee, and some other images I have in my head that I can't remember the name of, were all games that practically warrented a purchase of...

A PS2! A bit late, around 2004/5, I had played enough games at friends to have the incentive to buy it (we had just moved house and we had to sell our previous house for less than it should've, so money was tight and £99 was a lot). And yet still this wasn't the turning point of me being a gamer! I mostly played PES 2005 because my main hobby at the time was football. Same as with my PS1, I did still play certain games - GTA, Scooby Doo (xD), Splinter Cell, and quite a few more (than my PS1 game collection, anyway) - moreso than a casual gamer might, but I'd say I was still a casual gamer.

And then came the PS3, and I didn't take a second notice xD "£450!? No way. I'm happy with my PS2, thanks." But eventually I saw the PS3 and some of the trailers, thought 'that looks good' and I was sold. That's right. I made my mom buy an object for £289 because it looked good. Hey, I was 12! So, I got my first game, GTA, and honestly, it wasn't as good as I expected. I don't know, at the time I just couldn't get into it. But after that, I got RE5, and that's probably when I became a 'gamer'. I know it's a strange game to start off with, but playing coop with a good friend of mine was just fantastic fun. Then I bought LBP, Killzone 2, & Uncharted 1 in quick succession and the rest is history.

Oh erm, yeah, back to the question: Looking back at my life story above, I think you can point out that I didn't play games as a 'real' hobby until I had matured a bit more. I think that can be applied to this topic, because if you were to take gaming as 'real' hobby at an earlier age by which stage you haven't yet matured, it may have some sort of negative effect on your growth. Maybe. Or maybe it's a accumalation of different factors, e.g. watching TV, that can have a negative effect, with gaming being one of them. Maybe. Nobody really knows, so it's all just speculation. And really, if you just pin it down to gaming...that's just a bit unfair.

Longest post EVAR!!! I should really stop binge-posting. xD

Last edited by Ludicrous_Liam on 4/24/2012 10:54:47 AM

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Nick42
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 @ 8:27:52 PM
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@Underdog

The main study work of my PhD is Isotope and Elemental Fractionation Geochemistry. Studying the processes and controls on the chemistry of magma chambers under volcanoes with applications for the minerals industry.

And I still find time to dress as a Quarian and play Crash Bandicoot :D

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Underdog15
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 @ 10:23:46 AM

Well, there's certainly a growing interest in geothermal energy and new ways of excavating depleting resources of various elements.

Is there really a large variety of mineral deposits in magma, though? And is there any form of application that would allow us to "excavate" these resources relatively cheaply? And if so, are there any investors out there with the money to let go to make such research applicable?

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Justover6
Thursday, April 26, 2012 @ 12:33:21 PM
Reply

I doubt it's video games, I just think guys are more suppressed in society. Women were already suppressed and are getting out of it. They're even killing that dual personality thing were you can't be pretty or smart etc etc. Look at their movies, it's all about women being real people now, think Miss Congeniality.

However look at movies with males, they are no different from the ones in the 70s almost, same bullies, same locker jokes, same women problems, EVERYTHING. There is no Emo kid playing football, because that's just IMPOSSIBLE. Even though to be a football player all you have to be is a bit masochistic and sadistic, but cutting yourself isn't, is it? You can always find out about women sex problems, 16 and pregnant. But what about guy sex problems, since the internet has been invented almost every 12 to 14 year old looks at porn. So why are they so ashamed of it. What about the 16 year old guys having sex with women for two years straight while breaking up and making up weekly throughout the relationship. How come the geeky guy can't get the popular girl without special powers. What about the male nerds and geeks that become indifferent to almost everything but what they like, until they get special powers.


The most guys get is a small pat on the back, like; hey look on TV there's a jock playing madden or a lawyer playing World of War craft, or a gothic girl as an awesome scientist everyone loves. And generally their almost always adults.

In society young males really aren't dealing with their social problems, and when you don't, you drown it out with stuff you like, be it poison or video games.




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Nerull
Thursday, April 26, 2012 @ 3:08:06 PM
Reply

Many of the people who claim to be grown up, and also happen to despise gaming, are the most childish in other ways.
Not to mention it's not really the best gauge to say, "The more well-adjusted you are to a sick society, the more valid a person in general you are."

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Nick42
Friday, April 27, 2012 @ 7:31:37 PM
Reply

@Underdog We're getting a bit offtopic but yeah you bet there are, a lot of iron rich elements are partitioned during different levels of magmatic fractionation and when examining ancient frozen systems these can make up a considerable resource. There are also considerable other associated resources of rare-earths and associated copper VMS deposits.

In terms of excavation it wouldn't be working on extracting from active systems. My work focusses on how the elements partition during their time in a magma chamber, the resource is available much later after the system has frozen. And in terms of investors, hell if there is a viable resource out there someone will go for it, just look at the launch of Planetary Resources this week - a company with the aim of extraction from meteorites in space!

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Nick42
Friday, April 27, 2012 @ 7:31:39 PM
Reply

@Underdog We're getting a bit offtopic but yeah you bet there are, a lot of iron rich elements are partitioned during different levels of magmatic fractionation and when examining ancient frozen systems these can make up a considerable resource. There are also considerable other associated resources of rare-earths and associated copper VMS deposits.

In terms of excavation it wouldn't be working on extracting from active systems. My work focusses on how the elements partition during their time in a magma chamber, the resource is available much later after the system has frozen. And in terms of investors, hell if there is a viable resource out there someone will go for it, just look at the launch of Planetary Resources this week - a company with the aim of extraction from meteorites in space!

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