It’s confirmed: Our Kids are Being Turned into Heroin Junkies

One of the advantages of tabletop gaming is that you are a) required to interact with other humans in person when playing a multi-player game and b) looking at something that is not a screen, does not change upon command, and does not have a universe’s worth of information on it. As someone who has played at least 10,000 hours of video gaming, I know just how fun-and addicting-games can be. Even now, as I try to work to a schedule and get a lot done with my internet access (blog posts, social media, writing books, answering e-mail, working on some game concepts) it’s FREAKING HARD not to want to get the answer to a question or to want to know what’s going on in the outside world.

The fact is, nearly all of us are now carry symptoms of ADHD (which includes those of us to either have ADD or ADHD or suffer from recognized neurological disorders that go along with ADHD and OCD), especially around electronic devises. We are now obsessed with what the internet has given us. This weekend, I spoke to some incredible people at TempleCon and I’m going to share their thoughts with you, because it made me stop to think. My one regret was not being able to record these talks, because we should all be thinking about the issues discussed. Specifically, we talked about technology and its benefits/ negatives.

Anyways, as I’ve said before, there is going to be a serious problem in this country if people are turning away from reading and social activities and instead become slaves to their smartphones, eagerly awaiting the next social media like or approval from strangers. Yes, kids prefer print to e-books, and yes, the tabletop industry has grown 7 consecutive years and was worth about $850 as of 2015. But the total video game market is $100 BILLION and that’s mostly electronic games.

So here to confirm what Captain Friedman has been saying, is the mainstream media. Normally I’d clip the article, but this is so good that I’m reposting the entire thing, including the original link:

http://nypost.com/2016/08/27/its-digital-heroin-how-screens-turn-kids-into-psychotic-junkies/

 

It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies

Susan* bought her 6-year-old son John an iPad when he was in first grade. “I thought ‘why not let him get a jump on things?’ ” she told me during a therapy session. John’s school had begun using the devices with younger and younger grades—and his technology teacher had raved about their educational benefits—so Susan wanted to do what was best for her sandy-haired boy who loved reading and playing baseball.

She started letting John play different educational games on his iPad. Eventually, he discovered Minecraft, which the technology teacher assured her was “just like electronic Lego.” Remembering how much fun she had as a child building and playing with the interlocking plastic blocks, Susan let her son Minecraft his afternoons away.

Still, Susan couldn’t deny she was seeing changes in John. He started getting more and more focused on his game and losing interest in baseball and reading while refusing to do his chores. Some mornings he would wake up and tell her that he could see the cube shapes in his dreams.At first, Susan was quite pleased. John seemed engaged in creative play as he explored the cube-world of the game. She did notice that the game wasn’t quite like the Legos that she remembered—after all, she didn’t have to kill animals and find rare minerals to survive and get to the next level with her beloved old game. But John did seem to really like playing and the school even had a Minecraft club, so how bad could it be?

Although that concerned her, she thought her son might just be exhibiting an active imagination. As his behavior continued to deteriorate, she tried to take the game away but John threw temper tantrums. His outbursts were so severe that she gave in, still rationalizing to herself over and over again that “it’s educational.”

Then, one night, she realized that something was seriously wrong.

“I walked into his room to check on him. He was supposed to be sleeping—and I was just so frightened…”

We now know that those iPads, smart phones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug.

She found him sitting up in his bed staring wide-eyed, his bloodshot eyes looking into the distance as his glowing iPad lay next to him. He seemed to be in a trance. Beside herself with panic, Susan had to shake the boy repeatedly to snap him out of it. Distraught, she could not understand how her once-healthy and happy little boy had become so addicted to the game that he wound up in a catatonic stupor.

There’s a reason that the most tech-cautious parents are tech designers and engineers. Steve Jobs was a notoriously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Waldorf Schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

Many parents intuitively understand that ubiquitous glowing screens are having a negative effect on kids. We see the aggressive temper tantrums when the devices are taken away and the wandering attention spans when children are not perpetually stimulated by their hyper-arousing devices. Worse, we see children that become bored, apathetic, uninteresting and uninterested when not plugged in.

But it’s even worse than we think.

We now know that those iPads, smart phones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex—which controls executive functioning, including impulse control—in exactly the same way that cocaine does. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels—the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic—as much as sex.

This addictive effect is why Dr. Peter Whybrow, Director of Neuroscience at UCLA calls screens “electronic cocaine” and Chinese researchers call them “digital heroin.” In fact, Dr. Andrew Doan, the Head of Addiction Research for the Pentagon and the U.S. Navy—who has been researching video game addiction—calls video games and screen technologies “digital pharmakeia” (Greek for drug).

That’s right—your kid’s brain on Minecraft looks like a brain on drugs. No wonder we have a hard time peeling kids from their screens and find our little ones agitated when their screen time is interrupted. In addition, hundreds of clinical studies show that screens increase depression, anxiety, and aggression and can even lead to psychotic-like features where the video gamer loses touch with reality.

In my clinical work with over a 1,000 teens over the past 15 years, I have found the old axiom of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” to be especially true when it comes to tech addiction. Once a kid has crossed the line into true tech addiction, treatment can be very difficult. Indeed, I have found it easier to treat heroin and crystal meth addicts than lost-in-the-matrix video gamers or Facebook-dependent social media addicts.

That’s right—your kid’s brain on Minecraft looks like a brain on drugs.

According to a 2013 Policy Statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 8- to 10 year-olds spend 8 hours a day with various digital media while teenagers spend 11 hours in front of screens. One in three kids are using tablets or smartphones before they can talk. Meanwhile, the handbook of “Internet Addiction” by Dr. Kimberly Young states that 18 percent of college-age internet users in the U.S. suffer from tech addiction.

Once a person crosses over the line into full-blown addiction — drug, digital or otherwise — they need to detox before any other kind of therapy can have any chance of being effective. With tech, that means a full digital detox—no computers, no smartphones, no tablets. The extreme digital detox even eliminates television. The prescribed amount of time is four to six weeks; that’s the amount of time that is usually required for a hyper-aroused nervous system to reset itself. But that’s no easy task in our current tech-filled society where screens are ubiquitous. A person can live without drugs or alcohol; with tech addiction, digital temptations are everywhere.

So how do we keep our children from crossing this line? It’s not easy.

The key is to prevent your 4, 5 or 8-year-old from getting hooked on screens to begin with. That means Lego instead of Minecraft; books instead of iPads; nature and sports instead of TV. If you have to, demand that your child’s school not give them a tablet or Chromebook until they are at least 10 years old (others recommend 12).

Have honest discussions with your child about why you are limiting their screen access. Eat dinner with your children without any electronic devices at the table—just as Steve Jobs used to have tech-free dinners with his kids. Don’t fall victim to “Distracted Parent Syndrome” —as we know from Social Learning Theory, “monkey see, monkey do.”

When I speak to my 9-year-old twin boys, I have honest conversations with them about why we don’t want them having tablets or playing video games. I explain to them that some kids like playing with their devices so much, that they have a hard time stopping or controlling how much they play. I’ve helped them to understand that if they get caught up with screens and Minecraft like some of their friends have, that other parts of their lives may suffer: they may not want to play baseball as much; not read books as often; be less interested in science and nature projects; become more disconnected from their real-world friends. Amazingly, they don’t need much convincing as they’ve seen first-hand the changes that some of their little friends have undergone as a result of their excessive screen time.

Modal Trigger

Developmental psychologists understand that children’s healthy development involves social interaction, creative imaginative play and an engagement with the real, natural world. Unfortunately, the immersive and addictive world of screens dampens and stunts those developmental processes.

We also know that kids are more prone to addictive escape if they feel alone, alienated, purposeless and bored. Thus the solution is often to help kids to connect to meaningful real life experiences and flesh and blood relationships. The engaged child tethered to creative activities and connected to his or her family is less likely to escape into the digital fantasy world. Yet even if a child has the best and most loving support, he or she could fall into the Matrix once they engage with hypnotic screens and experience their addicting effect. After all, about one in 10 people are predisposed towards addictive tendencies.

In the end, my client Susan removed John’s tablet, but recovery was an uphill battle with many bumps and setbacks along the way.

Four years later, after much support and reinforcement, John is doing much better today. He has learned to use a desktop computer in a healthier way, and has gotten some sense of balance back in his life: he’s playing on a baseball team and has several close friends in his middle school. But his mother is still vigilant and remains a positive and proactive force with his tech usage because, as with any addiction, relapse can sneak up in moments of weakness. Making sure that he has healthy outlets, no computer in his bedroom and a nightly tech-free dinner at the dinner table are all part of the solution.

I’ve seen this everywhere: Parents, particularly both single-parent homes and where both parents work, provide the child with an electronic device to keep him/her busy while Mommy and Daddy work. The problem is, the device provides the unsuspecting child with all kinds of stimuli that trigger strong feelings of attachment to the device. Soon the child is obsessed with getting stimulated by the games, and the parents begin to wonder why their child loses interest in sports and playtime. The obvious thing is, if you cannot take time off to be with your child, is to routinely replace the electronics with books, puzzles, board games (or card games) or some other simply, non-electronic hobby. Yet this kind of common-sense is lacking in our society, among other things that are seriously wrong. We need to get away from the obsessive nature of the internet and return to our roots- recognizing that while our ancestors did live short and rather horrible lives, they did at least not have to worry about what someone in the next village over said about them on Facebook.

 

Don’t Quit: 3 Tips I’ve to Overcome Creative Fatigue

Heroes of History has been so time consuming that I have been unable to write, and that has been frustrating. Whereas writing a book is a pain because I am never satisfied with the final product, the same is true of Heroes: I am always looking for ways to make the game even better.

As a creative person, I work best at night, and trying to adjust to an early rise schedule isn’t always easy. As such, I’ve felt tired at times, and I just want to put off doing any real work. This is something non creative people  don’t get: They don’t know what it’s like to never be truly satisfied with your work, and always wondering how you can tinker with your work to make it better. Most people do something and they think that’s the end of things. We know, as creative persons, we always have doubts about whether our work is the best it could ever be!

So if you feel like you want to quit and take a long break, you will be advised to do so by other bloggers. I don’t agree, among other things that irritate me about some other bloggers (sadly, many give bad advice). Here’s what you can do instead:

  1. Instead of telling yourself, ‘self, I will write 2k words today’, and then not doing it, set a smaller goal of 500 words and then try to exceed it. If you don’t, 500 words is not that much.
  2. If you’re designing a tabletop game, ask a fellow professional game developer to check your rulebook and make sure s/he gives you the satisfaction that your rules are clear and good to go. At some point you do have to stop modifying the rules. This is the problem I had with Heroes: I put in a rulebook, and then decided it wasn’t perfect, so the next set will have a few rule modifications. I know the temptation to keep tinkering with your game, but please. Just. Stop.
  3. Take short breaks, like a few days, but try to work during daylight hours. The biggest mistake I’ve made is working late at night, and that means I sleep less than most people for when i have to get up in the morning.

This is hardly a complete list, but I’d rather get you, dear reader, to offer your thoughts. What do you do when you need a break from your work?

Note: My list is my personal opinion, not what you should be doing. Some people are obnoxious about how superior they are to you and while they are very insightful people, also love to dole out advice as if it’s always the truth and not merely their own opinions.

 

 

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Source Me: Wattpad Changing their Featured List Algoritm

 

I got this from Wattpad. Basically, I should expect my book’s ranking to drop after the six month period is over and if you’re Featured or looking to be Featured on Wattpad, be aware:

 We’re reaching out to you because one of your stories is currently Featured in 
one of our genre categories. We're making a few changes to the process in the
coming weeks and wanted to keep you in the loop!
The Featured List has been around since Wattpad’s inception, and since then we’ve
 had the pleasure of highlighting many remarkable stories through this carefully
 curated and coveted list. 

As you can imagine, after ten years there are now thousands of stories on
our Featured Lists all vying for placement. Unfortunately some are from 
writers who are no longer active on Wattpad or stories that have been removed. 
The more stories we add to the list, the less effective the list becomes and we 
want to make sure that all featured stories have a fair shot at being seen and 
discovered by our amazing community.
We’ve discovered that the Featured List is the most impactful in the first 
six months, therefore featured stories will now have a limited time of 6 months 
on the list. After that, they may be removed to make room for newer ones to keep 
things fresh and diverse. *Please note that some categories will be more 
affected than others as popularity varies by genre.
We want to thank you so much for sharing your story with the Wattpad community.
 It is writers like you that keep us all entertained and inspired!







Source: Wattpad May Pay You…(Call Me) Maybe

Apparently Wattpad has rolled out a new feature for top authors: Get paid with ads in your story.

I received a tip from a fellow Wattpader with a story that has over 200k reads who announced that she is getting involved with a new program to place ads in her featured story as a means of seeing if Wattpad can  ever turn into YouTube and entice people to post, just like YouTube.

Now obviously you are almost impossibly unlikely to get rich making YouTube videos , even if some guy named Shaytard (more like Fucktard to be honest, proof that America is truly becoming an Idiocracy) made tens of millions “working” as a “video producers” (I don’t even want to link back to that) but if you are able to earn a few bucks or even a few hundred, it’s a nice night out gift. Here’s another article about your odds.

Now Wattpad is much smaller than YouTube: whereas YouTube has over 1 billion monthly users, Wattpad is just over 50 million. So Assuming a YouTuber with 1 million monthly views earns say twenty grand a year from her videowork, divide that by 20 and you can see that even the top Wattpadders will likely only take home pocket change.

However, this program could be a boon to authors who cannot get traditionally published or who are not good at selfpublishing, so even 2k is better than none.

 

Getch’a popcorn ready: Thor vs. Alexander the Great (and 3 things I learned from pivoting)

How do you know when it’s time to pivot to a new idea?

First, If you’re not a subscriber to Bradan’s world, please visit bradansworld.com and sign up for the email list. And then follow us on Twitter @bradansworld, Instagram @bradansworld, and Facebook.com/bradansworld.

with that out of the way, today’s feature: Why I moved to Greeks v. Norsemen.

I created Heroes of History with the intention of not only making a fun game, but to let people use it as an education tool, learning some facts while they battle for glory. The US History set has sold hundreds of copies in 3 months of selling, an impressive feat for an indie tabletop game. While I’m pleased with the effort, I had the urge it was worth trying something different. Many people liked the game but responded even more positively to world history, so after listening to feedback I decided a pivot to Greeks and Norsemen made the most sense.

What I learned from this pivot:

  1. People just want to be entertained. I did my best to make the learning fun, but I ended up making the fun learning. Having Thor wield Mjolnir and facing down The Argonauts carrying Artemis’s Bow in the Palace of Knossos (commonly called the Minotaur’s Lair) just got way more people excited than Robert E. Lee vs. George Washington fighting at Saratoga. Okay, maybe they have a point.
  2. Changing the style worked. Whereas Midnight Riders vs. Echoes of the Plains was made in a colonial artwork style, Iron Phalanx vs. Dragonboat Raiders was done more in a fantasy style. We also changed the layout for the cards.
  3. By pivoting, I prevented myself from being boxed in to doing US History only. Most of the world could  care less about US History, but when they  see it’s a global theme, people begin to imagine Romans, Pirates, Wild West outlaws and lawmen, 1920s Mobsters, Aztecs, Celts, ancient Chinese and Japanese, and Inca in an all world brawl.

My tip to you: Whether it’s books or tabletop, it’s okay to pivot. Tomorrow I’ll go back to books and talk about why I pivoted on Era of Bradan.

I’d like to know what you think: Have you ever created something and then felt the need to pivot in order to improve upon your work?

 

We will launch the next Kickstarter September 7th. Please consider supporting us. Visit our webpage and sign up for our email list. Let’s make history epic!

Tips to Overcome the Challenges of Being Your Own Business Person: For Authors and Game Designers

Heroes in History25

So I’ve been at this blog thing for more than a year, though I wish I had more time to get to posting. Today I want to talk a little about the challenge of being your own businessperson.

It doesn’t matter if you are an author or aspiring game maker, it is REALLY HARD to stand out. Even if you have an above average product, you still have so much competition from many other people. Part of the extra challenge when you do creative work is that your product (with very few exceptions) is a WANT and not  a NEED. This I will explain in my next post.

No one needs your book or game to survive. However, there is a human need to be entertained, which is where you must fit things in.

Since I’ve been selling Heroes of History for about 3 months now, I can say I’ve done way more than the average person in terms of sales, going well into the 4 figures in total sales, including Kickstarter. This is considered exceptional for an indie game, which I am proud of. The fact that I got nominated for an award is even better. But, it’s even less likely that I will earn a living from making tabletop games than from writing, and neither is very likely.

I am aware that many indies, authors and game developers, are not very good at self marketing and promotion. So here’s what I’ve learned, and hopefully some of these tips will help you:

  1. don’t use conventions and  trade shows as a primary means of making sales. I’ve been to more than a half dozen comic cons and tabletop cons. I have yet to meet an indie game designer who plans to attend major conventions and actually turn a big profit, if any profit at all. The primary reason you go to those things is to network with fellow indies, meet bigger publishers that you might consider either selling your work to or at least get advice from, and collect information from your customers, such as their purchase habits, hobby enthusiasm, and what future products they might like (such as posters).
  2. You must make as many contacts as possible. One of the reasons I’ve been so successful in selling Heroes of History is that I’m willing to drive out and meet game shop owners from across the Mid Atlantic region, and even in New England (I also visit some Museums too). Now many of the owners will say no, but if even only a few say yes, you will make some sales that your fellow indies won’t because they work a day job and just sell on Amazon and at conventions. Many owners will allow you to do a demo day at the store, which is a good way of meeting potential customers and gaining fans. This rule also applies to authors: Find indie book stores (while they last) and talk to owners about buying a few copies or letting you have a book signing event to get your name out there.
  3. A lot of the stores and museum shops you reach out to will either forget, mislead you, or be careless with, their promises to buy copies. I have more than a dozen stores owners who allegedly were going to buy my game and simply did not return phone calls or emails. Most likely these owners are overwhelmed with running their stores, but many may think they want your product, then change their minds later.
  4. Carry sales receipts! The government counts what you do as a business, even if you’re self employed or file as a sole proprietor (meaning you’re the only employee and will always be the only employee), so you need to pay taxes. Not only to sales receipts give the store or museum a track record of your sale, but for taxes. I use Wave Accounting to log my expenses (disclosure: I have a friend who is my bookie) but I use printed receipts as a backup record.
  5. Use the MileIQ app to record your mileage expenses. Believe me, this is the best purchase I ever made.
  6. Be proud of your product. Even if you know it has flaws, you did what few people ever do: Actually produce something.

 

Got anything that I missed on this list? Share it below. And don’t forget to follow my page.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a Winner! Maybe

bostonfig-logo

I am pleased to announce that Heroes of History will be a featured game at the Boston Festival of Indie Games and is a finalist for a Figgie. Check out their site:

Welcome To The Boston Festival of Indie Games!

You: What does this mean, Mister Friedman? And why should I give a fruck?

Me: This is their Fifth Annual awards and considering that this is my first try at designing games, the fact that Heroes of History is a finalist makes me proud.

A big thank you to the following people for all their help: Eric Friedman, Benji Seyler, David North, the rest of my illustrative crew (Mackenzie Brewer, Michelle Graves, Dagmara Gaska, and Ben Ramos), and all of my product testers for helping me to get Heroes of History to where it needs to be. Special thanks to Mark DiPaola, Danielle Oliano, and Yeshaya Cohen, Dakota Fuller, the Friedman family (including relatives), the entire Breakie family, and everyone else who assisted in helping bring the Heroes to Life.

Tomorrow: I’ll talk about what I’ve learned from my time selling as an indie. Authors and Game Developers, take note.

7 Reasons for Children to Spend Time Reading Instead of Gaming

philareads.org

This is a guest post from Cassie at Culture Coverage. She asks the question: Why should kids spend more time reading than Video Gaming? Here’s her article:

I would like to thank Sam Ramirez Friedman for sharing this article on his website. He’s helped many authors and potential authors learn about the publishing process, and I’d especially like to recommend his tips on Kickstarter and Wattpad.

Since video games first became popular people have been having heated debates about whether children should or shouldn’t spend hours playing them. While there are excellent arguments both for and against letting children play video games, one thing is certain: reading has more benefits than playing video games.

  1. Reading Improves Academic Performance

For decades parents have been telling their children to read more to improve their school grades, and it turns out that they’ve been right all along. Reading has been shown to improve children’s overall academic performance, as well as their performance in specific areas such as vocabulary, math, reasoning and long-term memory skills. That isn’t to say that playing video games doesn’t have any benefits, but in terms of academic performance, the benefits of reading far outweigh the benefits of playing video games.

  1. Reading Develops Imagination

When children play video games, they don’t need to imagine what things look or sound like as everything is on the screen in front of them. However, not all books have pictures, and none have sounds, so children need to use their imaginations to bring the story to life. Even picture books only depict certain scenes, so children still need to use their imaginations to a large degree. While graphic novels have more pictures than normal books, they still require imagination, and they’re an excellent way to introduce children to reading. Books also encourage children to imagine other things that video games don’t, such as smells and tastes.

  1. Reading Enhances Communication Skills

Communication skills are vital to children’s social development, and reading is an easy way to help children improve these skills. When children read they need to pay attention and comprehend what they’re reading, and both of these activities are essential for effective communication. Children who read books also have better vocabularies and phonology skills than children who don’t spend time reading books.

  1. Reading Reduces Screen Time

It’s undeniable that many children spend way too much of their time in front of screens of some sort. From television to computers to smartphones, children may spend hours each day staring blankly at a screen. Encouraging children to read books dramatically reduces the time they spend watching screens. There is one caveat though: many children prefer to read on e-readers. Nevertheless, reading a book on an e-reader is still reading, so it’s better to let children read books on an e-reader than have them not read at all.

  1. Reading Leads to Better Sleep

Everyone needs to get enough sleep to function well, and this is especially true of children. Many video games are fast-paced and frenetic, which may overstimulate children before bedtime. This will make it much harder for them to fall asleep and also disrupt the sleep they do get. Screens also give off a lot of blue light that can disrupt circadian rhythms at night. Reading a book may be exciting, but it certainly won’t provide as much stimulation as a video game. So, reading is a fun and healthy way for children to relax before bed.

  1. Reading Provides Delayed Gratification

Video games are usually fast paced and provide immediate gratification, whereas books require patience and time to finish. This teaches children about delayed gratification, which helps them understand that many things are worth waiting for and take time and patience to attain. The ability to delay gratification is one of the most important skills that children will ever learn, as it leads to greater success in school and later life.

  1. Reading is Safer

Many of the most popular video games are multiplayer online games, and this means children may interact with anonymous strangers who could be dangerous. Unfortunately, some child predators use multiplayer online games to contact children. If children do play multiplayer video games online, it’s important for parents to supervise them. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide children’s personal information also helps to keep them safe. Thankfully, books don’t pose this problem and parents can let their children read unsupervised.

Clearly, there are many reasons why every child should put down their video game controller and pick up a book, so tell us about any we’ve missed by posting a comment below.

About the Author: Cassie is a writer and entertainment blogger who is a self-confessed bibliophile. She hopes this post will inspire you to encourage your children to spend more time reading. She can be reached at cassie@culturecoverage.com