Who hasn`t had nightmares about GW`s dreaded Orcs? Great Guitar Lessons: February 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Information about Playing Games & Japan Based Game Playing Groups

Pictured: The boardgame Settlers of Canaan

by Chris Zanella

To all interested,

Please check out the JIGG group. We as a whole meet once a month to
play all games from mini's to board to card games, but members also
host smaller sessions on different weekends. We rent a 2 story
building to play the games in, which is located along the Odakyu line
in Tokyo. The day starts at 9 AM and goes until 9 PM. With games
starting and ending at anytime, so you will always get a chance to
play. We have been averaging over 30 people everytime.

The next event is March 1st.

SUMMARY: (because its a long email, going to different Japan gaming

1. Links
2. Fees, no not a 4 letter word
3. Games
4. Games Workshop and the Miniature gaming
5. Players
6. Location

1. Links:

JIGG site - http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/JIGG/

pictures of past game days - http://models.goblog.us/gamesdaydec07

JIGG Wiki - http://www.wiki.jigg.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

JIGG Magic Players - http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/jiggmagic/

2. Fees:

Such an ugly word but the building is not free. We all currently chip
in 500 Yen. The extra Yen has been used to buy games for a monthly
drawing for who shows and to pay for some food (breakfast and some
drinks). This is the current plan and may change (not a price
increase either)....stay tuned. We recently all discussed different
options from lowering the fee to using the money for other uses of
which ALL benefit the group as a whole and not just one persons
pocket. Or we would pummel them to death with our dice.

3. Games:

Like I said above we have a large group of players with different
tastes, ranging from card games (including Magic), to a lot of
different board games to an ever increasing amount of different mini
gaming including Games Workshop games, Battletech, Banana Republic,
DBA, car wars, and the list grows bigger every month. Including soon
Flames of War, if I get my a#s in gear.

Pictured: Roborally

Magic Players have been showing up to play also.

Within the group there are just a ton of board games to be had of
every type. Times can run from a quick 30 minute game to 6 hours per
game. But with so many players new games start up at anytime.

Also players have been talking about starting role playing campaigns.

4. Games Workshop and the Miniature gaming:

Matt has been organizing with some other players to have different
types of miniature gaming taking place every games day as the list
mentioned above.

I have been showing up with one of my 7 armies for 40K but so far the
one time more players showed to play they learned the hard way that
Talisman is not a quick game so we didnt get a chance to play. I have
made and been bringing terrain and pretty much all the books you
would need, except the codexes. I only have the ones for my armies.
We have gaming boards made, which Im making more of, and I have just
plain felt.

Currently for fantasy I only have the Battle for Skull Pass. I do
have Blood Bowl (5 teams plus many many extra characters), Dungeon
Bowl, Dead Zone, all the Star Player books, and Space Hulk. These
games I will only bring if asked a head of time because I travel
about 2 hours one way and this stuff gets heavy. But like I said
there are now other players coming with even more GW items to play
with so the list gets bigger and bigger.

Hopefully we can travel up to Nagoya or vice versa for a big GW
gaming event.

5. People:

We have a large range of characters, I mean players, who show up
every month. From all age groups and even married couples, moms and
dads, kids, you name it. But the best part is we do not have a bad
person in the whole group. Everyone seems to be just having fun no
matter what.


Here's directions to the Oyama-cho Kaikan where we'll be having the
game day next Sunday on the 30th. Seems like we got about a dozen
people who are planning to come. Everyone is welcome, and you don't
need to let me know beforehand. Just show up if you want.

We'll be there from 9 am until 10 pm so come whenever you like, and
bring anything you want to play. Surely there will be someone who
will take you up on it.

A link to a map is here if you like that sort of thing:

If you are coming by train, you'll want to go to Yoyogi Uehara station
on the Chiyoda/Odakyu lines or Higashi Kitazawa station on the Odakyu
line. The two stations are adjacent, so get off at whichever one
comes first depending on the direction from which you are coming.

Then follow the map, or these directions...whichever is easier (call
my cell phone if you get lost (090-2316-0491):

---Directions from Yoyogi-Uehara station (this is about a 10 minute

Exit the ticket gate and go straight down a short flight of steps.
You will see McDonald's on your left as you get to the bottom of the
steps. Turn right and go up few steps to the road. Turn right again
and follow the wall on your right. The tracks are above you.

About 50 meters down, the road ends in a T intersection. Turn left
and go to the 4-way intersection with a traffic light. You'll be on
the corner with Origin Bento. Turn right and cross the street. You'll
be heading toward the tracks and will go under them.

Proceed straight up this road about 200 meters (after going under the
tracks you will see a mosque on your left) until you come to an
intersection at the third traffic light. You will see the Daily
Yamazaki convenience store across the way. Turn to the right and walk
about 50 meters. You will see a Shell gas station on your right.
Right across the road from the station is a cement two-story building,
the Oyama-cho Kaikan.

---Directions from Higashi-Kitazawa station (about a 6 minute walk)

Exit the station on the side where the ticket office is (same side as
the train if you are coming from Shimo Kitazawa; opposite if from
Yoyogi-Uehara). Turn to the right and follow the tracks on your
right. When you get to the road where the cars cross the tracks turn
left. Walk straight down this road until you see the Shell gas
station on your left (you'll pass the intersection with the Daily
Yamazaki on your left). Right across the road from the station is a
cement two-story building, the Oyama-cho Kaikan.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Brain Training and Mind Games: Interview with Japanese Expert Go Hirano

Pictured: A Japanese Sumo Match

Brain Training and Mind Games: Interview with Japanese Expert Go Hirano

by: Alvaro Fernandez

Today we are traveling to Japan to learn about latest gaming trends there. Go Hirano is a Japanese executive with experience in neuroscience and gaming.

Alvaro Fernandez (AF): Hirano-san, what is the state of Brain Fitness and Brain Training in Japan? what are the most popular programs so far?

Go Hirano (GH): So far, the most popular application is anti-aging, and most popular product is Dr. Kawashima's book of calculations and oral reading for adults.

TV variety shows regularly come up with Brain specials. It is hardly deniable that brains enchant Japanese people. We love brain training.

There were two times of "brain boom" in the past and Brain Imaging created a third one most recently. Dr. Kawashima claimed calculations and oral reading are good to develop kids' brains in the book for children "Jibun no Nou wo Jibun de Sodateru (Develop your own brain)" in 2001. In the book, gaming was said to reduce prefrontal activation and have bad or no benefit for kid's brain. He compared the fMRI image of someone doing simple calculations and playing games, and apparently the image of the former showed more activities. To see the activities inside the brain was fresh for people, but the methodology and logic was not reviewed by any scientific publication. It was published by a company that provides a franchised chain of learning classes. The company maintained books at bookstores to create a boom and was very successful. Then they came up with adult version of training book, and sold more than 2 million.

Adults and senior people were seriously did addition and subtraction of 1 digit numbers for countless times believing it will maintain and even enhance their brainpower.

This then became the basis for the Nintendo Brain Age video game. More recently from him, cooking became good for brain since cooking demands planning and multiple tasks. They demand prefrontal cortex activation, and he showed image of a brain when cooking. A gas company that wants to sell more gas ranges and ovens helped sponsor the research.

AF: we have heard there has been a backlash recently. Is it more of a scientific, or consumer one?

GH: Scientific for adults' games, consumer for kids' ones. In 2001, another researcher, Dr. Akio Mori wrote an article called "Gemu(=Game) Nou(=Brain) no Kyofu (The Fear of Game Brain)". He created his own EEG machine and gathered the data of people who frequently play games and people who do not. He found the "beta-wave" from frequent game players that are "same as senior people with dementia". That, he said, is because of lack of activities in their prefrontal cortex, and that means more probabilities for lower academic performance and crime. Though his equipment was not verified, and he was said to get confused about alpha and beta wave of EEG, parents and education authorities like municipal education committees loved his book and invited him for lectures and conferences. His new book in 2006 became the recommended book of the year from the National PTA Committee.

The sales of software on home game machines have declined from its peak of 533 billion yen in 1997 to its 53%, 315 billion yen in 2005. Dr. Mori's book and phenomena was the finishing blow to the industry, especially for kids' games. Therefore game companies had to find new targets who had never played game machines, like middle-aged group and women. Brain Age was preceded by a Sega's game box that was the natural next step after the book from Dr. Kawashima I mentioned.

For women, games on English training, language support for traveling, cooking, common sense and etiquette are provided. These new sort of serious games not only helped the handheld game machine stay always out of stock and reach multi-million sales, but also successfully gave the image that games are, depending on the software, good for the brain and education. Funny it is that the authority backing the campaign is the same Dr. Kawashima who originally recommended kids to calculate rather than to play games for the benefit for brains.

No wonder, authorities from the academic and medical societies of the neuroscience field started criticizing scientifically unproven or no evidence-based products, books and opinion makers. This year, neuroscience researchers started a group called "Nou wo Ikasu (Make the best out of Neuroscience)" and have frequent meetings of researchers where people can join.

However, adult consumers keep devouring such games. Dentsu, the biggest advertising agency announced the No.1 Consumer-chosen Choice of the Product 2006 was game software and books for brain training. So far, apparently the demands went far out before the real neuroscience comes to fill. Between the balance of body and brain, Japanese people are one of the extreme that is most brain-ism oriented, to the brain side, says Dr. Yoro.

AF: Hirano-san, many thanks for your insights.

GH: you are welcome.

Copyright (c) 2007 SharpBrains

About The Author
Alvaro Fernandez is the CEO and Co-Founder of SharpBrains.com, which combines the latest science-based information for Brain Training with fun Brain Teasers, and has been recognized by Scientific American Mind, MarketWatch, Forbes, and more. Alvaro holds MA in Education and MBA from Stanford University, and teaches The Science of Brain Health at UC-Berkeley Lifelong Learning Institute. You can learn more at http://www.sharpbrains.com/

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