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Helping Autistic Survivors of Sexual Assault

The percentage of autistic sexual assault survivors is uncertain, Emily Rothman says, given that some choose not to disclose it. She’s working to fix the lack of training for counselors to help autistic survivors by developing an online module with information. Photo courtesy of BU School of Public Health

Health & Medicine

Helping Autistic Survivors of Sexual Assault BU’s Emily Rothman is devising online training for counselors

Many autistic people do not prefer to be called “people with autism,” the construction favored by other groups with medical or socioeconomic challenges. If that simple etiquette is unknown by the broader population, imagine the lack of awareness about the needs of autistic and neurodiverse survivors of sexual abuse—including among trauma counselors.

“The tendency to blame oneself can be even that much more acute than it is for non-autistic people,” says Emily Rothman, a Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences professor and chair of occupational therapy, whose research has focused on health equity and marginalized populations. “Saying to yourself, there’s something wrong with me, I probably deserved this—questioning whether it really was a sexual assault or not—maybe I agreed to it, maybe I just don’t remember or maybe the way that I say no is wrong.” This “self-gaslighting,” Rothman says, increases the isolation that survivors feel.

As for the training available to counselors to help autistic survivors, “there isn’t any,” says Rothman, who also has appointments at the School of Public Health and the School of Medicine and is an expert in sexual and intimate partner violence and trauma.

She’s working to fix that by developing an online module, to go live early next year on a BU website, with information for college counselors on how to better help autistic survivors of sexual assault. Rothman is designing the module with Gina Scaramella (SSW’95), a consultant to businesses, governments, and donors on sexual violence programs, and Laura Graham Holmes, a Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work assistant professor. The work is funded by the nonprofit Organization for Autism Research. 

The percentage of sexual assault survivors who are autistic is uncertain, Rothman says, given that some choose not to disclose it. But the module can and will address other matters that might be unfamiliar to counselors, starting with a primer on autism. That primer will note that it’s neither an intellectual disability nor a mental disorder, but a developmental disorder (although it can occur in people with mental health challenges). 

Erwin says she thinks many counselors “don’t know how to bring it up,” describing their approach as “‘I don’t want to talk about disability, because that will re-stigmatize you.’” Whereas, “if the school would have thought, oh, you have a disability and you’ve had this [assault] experience—let’s help you with both,” that might have spared some survivors from having to drop out or seek mental health hospitalization. “There would have been help before some of these things escalated.”

To be sure, some survivors prefer not to disclose their autism, Rothman says. So the module’s (tentative) text suggests how counselors might broach the topic: “Lots of the students who come to see me tell me that they have anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism, or are experiencing other differences. If you feel comfortable telling me if any of those apply to you or think it might help our work together, feel free to let me know, even if it is something you suspect but do not have a diagnosis.”

A study Rothman coauthored last year underscores the need for better services. It sampled more than 250,000 students—about 1,400 of them autistic—at 78 colleges and universities, finding that sexual assault caused grades to plunge for 36 percent of non-autistic college-student survivors, and 80 percent for autistic survivors. 

“They’re not sure where to turn or how to get help or how to feel better,” Rothman says. “And all of our systems on college campuses and in the world are set up to help non-autistic people.” For example, making a counseling appointment can be challenging for autistic people, who may have difficulty with executive function.

“You have to make the appointment, locate the office, show up there at the right time,” she says. “You have to announce yourself.… That could be totally overwhelming and enough to make you not want to do it. So if you don’t have an option for people to Zoom in instead of showing up in person, right there you’re going to probably lose a lot of your autistic audience.”

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Differences Between Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity

Sexual orientation and gender identity are two distinct but interrelated aspects of human sexuality. While sexual orientation refers to a person’s emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction to other people, gender identity refers to a person’s sense of their own gender, whether male, female, or non-binary. Despite their differences, both sexual orientation and gender identity are important components of a person’s identity and can impact how they interact with the world around them.

What is Gender Identity?

Gender identity refers to the gender that an individual personally identifies with and the manner in which they express their gender through behavior and personal appearance.

The process of understanding and expressing your gender identity begins at an early age. Often parents will assume the gender identity of their baby and make choices for their child regarding how they express their gender identity. For example, a female baby will often be dressed in pink clothing and given feminine toys to play with. However, once the child is old enough to express themselves, they may continue to express their gender accordingly or identify with another gender. Parents should be open to each of these possibilities.

Furthermore, there is an ever-growing list of gender identities that reflects the intersectional nature of gender identity and the cultural shift that allows various gender identities to be acknowledged in research, mainstream media and so forth.

It should be noted that hundreds of gender identities have developed as a result of people from all over the world expressing themselves in a variety of different ways.

Some of these gender identities include identifying as −

Transgender − A transgender person has a gender identity that differs from the sex they were assigned to at birth

Cis-gender − A cisgender person has a gender identity that matches their sex at birth.

Genderfluid − A genderfluid person interchangeably identifies as different genders.

Agender − An agender person does not identify with a gender at all. They can be considered genderless.

What is Sexual Orientation?

Sexual orientation refers to the gender in which an individual is physically, sexually and/or romantically attracted to. This can be understood as a person’s sexuality. It is often assumed that an individual is heterosexual. A heterosexual person is attracted to a member of the “opposite” sex. For example, a woman being attracted to a man and vice-versa. We cannot limit our understanding of sexual orientation to heterosexuality because it does not acknowledge the definitive existence of the various other sexual orientations.

There are multiple sexual orientations that have been extensively categorized according to the lived experience of people across the world.

A person’s sexual orientation could be −

Heterosexual − Sexual/ romantic attraction to someone of the opposite sex or gender

Homosexual − Sexual/ romantic attraction to someone of the same sex or gender

Bisexual − Sexual/romantic attraction to men and women

Asexual − No sexual/romantic attractions

Any other sexual orientation that suits their sexual practices.

An individual’s sex is either male, female or intersex. It is often determined by the appearance and function of their sexual anatomy. Contrary to popular belief, the sex of an individual does not determine their sexual orientation or gender identity.

A person can be born a male, identify as a man and be sexually attracted to men too. Furthermore, a person can be born female, identify as a man and be sexually attracted to females. There is no specific combination of gender identities and sexual orientations.

Differences: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Sexual orientation is typically categorized into four main categories: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and asexual. Heterosexual individuals are attracted to members of the opposite sex, while homosexual individuals are attracted to members of the same sex. Bisexual individuals are attracted to both men and women, while asexual individuals experience little or no sexual attraction to others. Sexual orientation is often seen as a spectrum, with many people falling somewhere between these categories.

Gender identity, on the other hand, refers to a person’s sense of their own gender, which may or may not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender identity is not necessarily tied to sexual orientation, and a person’s gender identity may not necessarily determine their sexual attraction. For example, a transgender woman may be attracted to men or women or both, just as a cisgender woman may be attracted to men or women or both.

Gender identity is often categorized into three main categories: male, female, and non-binary. While male and female gender identities are traditionally associated with biological sex, non-binary gender identities do not fit into the male/female binary. Non-binary individuals may identify as neither male nor female or as a combination of both.

It is important to note that sexual orientation and gender identity are not choices, but rather aspects of a person’s innate identity. Just as a person cannot choose their biological sex, they also cannot choose their sexual orientation or gender identity. Furthermore, both sexual orientation and gender identity are fluid and may change over time.

While sexual orientation and gender identity are distinct aspects of human sexuality, they are also interrelated. Discrimination based on sexual orientation often intersects with discrimination based on gender identity, as many people who identify as LGBTQ+ experience discrimination and harassment due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The following table highlights the major differences between Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity −


Sexual Orientation

Gender Identity


Associated to the sexuality of an individual. This encompasses their sexual practices.

Associated to the identity of an individual. This refers to the markers they use to define themselves as a person.


Romantic or sexual feelings towards another person.

The feelings that one has about themselves and how they wish to understand and express their gender.


Usually expressed through one’s sexual desires and choices in a partner.

Usually expressed through behavioral choices that exist within the parameters of masculinity and femininity.


Believing that sexual orientation is connected to your gender.

Believing that there are only two genders. One can either be a man or a woman.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Asexual, Pansexual

Transgender, Cisgender, Agender


In conclusion, sexual orientation and gender identity are two distinct but interrelated aspects of human sexuality. Sexual orientation refers to a person’s emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction to others, while gender identity refers to a person’s sense of their own gender.

While both sexual orientation and gender identity are important components of a person’s identity, they are also fluid and may change over time.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is unfortunately all too common, and it is important for society to recognize and address this discrimination in order to create a more accepting and inclusive world for all individuals.

How Is Blockchain Helping Healthtech To Enhance Services

Blockchain technology may be able to increase trust, collaboration, traceability, and auditability in the healthtech sector

Blockchain offers a wide range of applications and functions in healthcare. By allowing the secure transfer of patient medical information, controlling the medication supply chain, and facilitating the secure transfer of patient medical records, ledger technology aids healthcare researchers in uncovering genetic code. Regulatory agencies that stand to benefit from requiring the use of blockchain technology to streamline medical device approvals and post-market surveillance are likely to urge medical device manufacturers to use it. During clinical trials, blockchain will speed up the acquisition and evaluation of patient data and device performance data. Blockchain might also help avoid data manipulation or falsification in clinical trials.

The usefulness of blockchain to enhance healthcare services:

Medical Research

Having a safe and centralised repository for clinical trials and patient outcomes for novel medicines might significantly improve patient care and outcomes. Clinical trial and outcome records on the blockchain are immutable and time-stamped, which might help eliminate result swapping, data spying, and unethical reporting, as well as fraud and inaccuracy. By sharing patient outcomes more widely, blockchains might help to mobilise new and creative research efforts (with patient consent). Furthermore, releasing patient data more widely (with patient agreement) would accelerate new and novel research projects, resulting in amazing collaboration between participants and researchers.

Product Development

The documentation used to assist the development of medical devices might be a combination of paper and electronic data. For example, the Device Master Record (DMR) and Design History File (DHF) include a range of documents, such as requirements, design plans, risk management, design testing, and design validation. As these papers transition from paper to electronic format, blockchain technology, which includes built-in traceability and electronic signature capabilities, can aid in their secure handling. One of the most challenging challenges in product development is clinical trial data management, which might be solved using blockchain. Data from clinical trials, for example.

Data Security

Between 2009 and 2023, there were about 176 million data breaches involving medical records. The blockchain’s secure properties can significantly boost the security of health data. Each person has a public identity or key, as well as a private key that may only be used when and for the time indicated. Furthermore, having hackers personally target each user to gain sensitive information would limit hacking. As a consequence, medical data may be provided with an immutable audit trail thanks to blockchain technology.

Drug Development and Supply Chain Integrity

Blockchain in healthcare might improve supply chain traceability and transparency by giving both the overall picture and minute details of every pharmaceutical transaction. Companies like IBM, Walmart, and UPS are already using blockchain technology to improve supply chain integrity. Patients might obtain real-time information on any drug from manufacture through arrival at a retail pharmacy if supply data is maintained in a blockchain. Whether it’s a patient’s health record or a medicine travelling through the supply chain, blockchains may convert the system from disjointed data fragments held by a single company to the life history of any resource.


Many medical device companies’ business models entail combining consumables and equipment usage. These consumables may be sold on a sliding price drop scale dependent on volume, which can be difficult to keep track of. Due to special arrangements with Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) or big healthcare providers, chargebacks or refunds for consumables may be feasible. Smart contracts and blockchain technology might be used to enable manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and other middlemen throughout the medical device value chain to automate, clear, and settle these transactions.

Case Management

Preventive Measures of Medical Equipment

Machines may communicate operational data with those in charge of regulating it using blockchain applications without jeopardising enforcement or privacy concerns. Patients who have been treated with the unit, types of treatments, and photos or other data can all be shared with the maintainers, but only for auditing, monitoring, and compliance. Depending on the system and its purpose, blockchain may potentially store essential service records.

Mobile Health Apps and Remote Monitoring

Helping Students Manage Stress, Set Goals, And Feel Connected

In early October, I reviewed Paul Tough’s new book , How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. I saw implications for policy, funding, and teacher preparation, as well as lots of actions that administrators and teachers could take based on Tough’s research. Here are some ideas.

One aspect of Paul Tough’s book that I appreciated was all the brain science made reader friendly. We’ve probably all heard that stress is bad for our health, and Tough provides explanation and detail about why this is so. Children who grow up in stressful environments, he reminds us, “find it harder to concentrate, harder to sit still, harder to rebound from disappointments, and harder to follow directions” (p. 17).

So what can we do, in the classroom, to mitigate the stress that our students arrive with? Last year I observed an eighth grade English teacher who implemented a “Mindfulness Minute” with her students. After entering the classroom, kids quickly settled into their seats and began one minute of breathing meditation. The teacher sat on a stool in the front, also with her eyes closed, breathing slowly. When the timer went off, they began class. She’d seen a remarkable difference in her students’ ability to focus from engaging in this activity, she said. The room really did feel different after the single, quiet minute.


What’s Your Mission?

Here’s some interesting information from Tough’s book: people tend to use three strategies when setting goals. While optimists fantasize wildly about their goals, pessimists dwell on everything that will get in the way. The third method, the most successful one, combines these two tendencies: concentrate on the positive outcome you want and consider the obstacles in the way. Then create a series of “implementation intentions” — specific plans in the form of if/then statements that link the obstacles with ways to overcome them. For example, “My goal is to read for 30 minutes this afternoon. If I get home and I’m too tired to read, I’ll take a 30 minute nap — and set my alarm — and then I’ll get up and do my reading.”

I did a lot of goal setting with my students. With the most challenging students, I had them set daily goals and check progress towards those goals every 15 minutes. I’m intrigued by this suggestion — I can see how this would be really helpful for kids.

Cultivating Group Identity

Many of us know that group identity can have powerful affect on our performance. Within a group, our mindset switches — we adopt the behaviors of others, even if we doubt our own capacity to enact those behaviors — and yes, this could have positive or negative outcomes. It’s a first step, feeling like we belong to a group where there’s some success at a given task. Paul Tough goes into some description of KIPP (the well-known charter school network) and regardless of your feelings about KIPP (or charters) it’s a good reminder of how group identity works and how important it is.

I saw this clearly in play at ASCEND, the amazing, Oakland, California, public K-8 school I was a part of. My sixth graders were our first middle school cohort when we opened and we cultivated an identity that was intensely academic. When we went on field trips or visited other schools, kids held tightly to their emerging identities as hard workers, dedicated readers, and reflective students who took pride in their school. The classes that came after looked up to their older peers; they set a tone for the school. In their reflections years later, our students spoke about this identity as having had a powerful impact on them. This identity was cultivated. We helped students develop it. It didn’t happen by itself. It was very intentionally, methodically, and slowly cultivated.

But maybe you don’t work at a school that has a strong, positive identity. What could you do within your classroom to develop an identity amongst your students that might support their learning? What kinds of messages could you communicate, what kinds of symbols could your students attach themselves to that would serve this purpose, and what kinds of activities would develop a group identity that could help them succeed? There’s much more to think about here, but yes — strong positive identity in school is tremendously beneficial to students’ success.

Exploring Systemic Change

Paul Tough is particularly interested in our neurochemical system and how stress impacts kids. A doctor who works in a rough urban neighborhood says, “When you get down to the molecules, you realize, that’s where the healing lies. That’s where you’re discovering a solution (p. 26).” Another primary informant, who works with a youth organization, describes the socio-economic system in which young African American men in Chicago seem trapped — he’s less hopeful about where the healing might lay. Tough begins to recognize the intersection of these systems — there’s the neurochemical system in which stress has a devastating affect on kids, and there’s the social and economic systems that the urban poor are caught in.

I like what Tough says about stress. It’s helpful. It’s a useful reminder of what’s going on with kids. I like what he says about developing our non-cognitive capacities. There’s a lot to think about and learn from this book.

And Tough is missing some points. Perhaps healing can happen on the molecular level — yes, we all need to learn how to manage stress and help kids manage theirs. However, what I wish Tough had done more of, and done more directly, is point the finger at the root causes of the stress — where does poverty come from? Why are there so few manufacturing jobs in Chicago these days? How has the slashing of social welfare programs over the last 30 years impacted the poor? How have tax cuts affected our schools and cities? How have changes in the juvenile justice system impacted children in poverty? How has the NRA and other gun rights lobbyists contributed to the chaos of the inner city? And how have federal policies such as No Child Left Behind increased the stress experienced by children and educators, particularly in our inner cities?

Yes, these are big, big questions. And there aren’t easy answers, or quick fixes, or case studies that will make us feel hopeful. But if we don’t ask these questions and explore the root causes of the stress that urban children live in we’ll never really transform our schools.

And so that’s the last thing I’d suggest readers do after finishing Paul Tough’s new book — ask these questions and explore the systemic, historical, political, and economic factors that cause stress.

Synatx Of Example Of Matlab Polyfit()

Introduction of Matlab polyfit()

MATLAB function polyfit() is defined to fit a specific set of data points to a polynomialquickly and easily computing polynomial with the least squares for the given set of data. It generates the coefficients for the elements of the polynomial, which are used for modeling a curve to fit to the given data.

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Polyfit() function uses input vector (x) to form Vandermonde matrix (V ) having n+1 columns and r = length(x) rows, which is nothing but results in a linear system.

Syntax of Matlab polyfit()

Syntax of Matlab polyfit() are given below:


poly = polyfit(x,y,n) It generates the coefficients of the resultant polynomial p(x) with a degree of ‘n’, for the data set in yas the best fit in the view of a least-square. The coefficients in p are assigned to power in descending order and matching length of p to n+1.

[poly,Struct] = polyfit(x,y,n) It results in a structure S which can be used as input to the function polyval() in order to obtain error estimation.

[poly,Struct,mu] = polyfit(x,y,n) It results in a two-element vector having values-centered and scaled.

mu(1) holds a value of the mean of (x), and

mu(2) ) holds the value of standard of (x).

Using these two values, function polyfit()makes x centered at zero and scaledx to have a unit standard deviation,

Input Arguments

Query Points: Query points are specified as an input of vector type. If x is non-vector element, then this function polyfit() converts x into a column chúng tôi data points in x and their corresponding fitted function values contained in the vector y are formed.


If the vector x has recurring data points or if it needs centering and scaling, warning messages may result out.

Fitted values at query points: Fitted values as inputs are available at query points being specified with the vector data type. The data points in x and their corresponding fitted function values contained in the vector y are formed. If y is the non-vector element, then this function polyfit() converts y into a column vector.

Degree of polynomial fit: Degree of polynomial fit as inputs, are available being specified as any positive integer scalar. In the respective syntax, ‘n’refers to the polynomial power to that of the left-most coefficient in the polynomial ‘p’.

Example of Matlab polyfit()

The below code is designed to generate data points placed equally spaced across a sine curve drawn in a specific interval.


hold off


Use Cases for polyfit() Function

Use cases for polyfit() function are given below:

Fitting  Polynomial to Set of data Points: The below code snippet carry out the fitting process on the polynomial poly of degree 4 towards 5  points.




Fitting the Polynomial function to Error Function: The below code generate a vector having x data points being placed equally in the interval of [0,3.5] and co-efficient are assigned to the polynomial assuming the degree as 6.


hold off


Improving Numerical Properties using Centering and Scaling: While solving the equation p = Vy, the condition number for V is usually large for higher-order fits and results in a matrix with singular coefficient, as the columns of V (Vandermonde matrix) are powers of the x vector.

In such cases, functions like scaling and centering are helpful to improve the numerical properties associated with the system in order to find a fit that is more reliable. In the below example polyfit() is called on three outputs to fit a polynomial of degree 5 along with the process of centering and scaling. The data is centered for the quarter, at 0, and scaled to have a unit standard deviation.


hold off


Simple Linear Regression: A simple linear regression model can be used to apply a fitting to a set of discrete two-dimensional data points.



Combining Linear Regression and Error Estimation: A linear model can be set fit to a set of specified data points and the results can be plotted including an estimation of a prediction interval of 95%.

A few vectors can be created containing sample data points. The function polyfit can be called to fit a polynomial of degree 1 to the given set of data. Dual outputs can be specified to hold the values of coefficients supporting a linear fit as well as a structure containing error estimation.


[poly,Samp] = polyfit(xdata,ydata,1);

/*The error estimation structure is specified as the third input so that the function polyval()computes an estimated standard error. The estimated standard error estimate is stored in the second output variable delta. */

title(‘Usage of polyfit and polyval’)


Additional Note

For n number of data points, a polynomial can be fit to that of degree n-1 to passing exactly through the points.

With the increase in the degree of the polynomial, a fitting process using polyfit()loses the accuracy resulting in to a poorer fit for the data. In such cases, a low-order polynomial is preferable to use that tends to be smoother between the data points or apply a different technique, based on the requirement.

Recommended Articles

This is a guide to Matlab polyfit(). Here we also discuss the introduction and use cases for polyfit() function along with examples and its code implementation. you may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –

The Art Of The Game Of War

The Art of the Game of War

There’s a sequence in the game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” that you don’t have to play if you don’t want to. I haven’t finished the entire game yet. My Xbox broke while I was working through it, and I haven’t had time to get it repaired. But I did get to this sequence, or level, and I was anticipating it. The game doesn’t offer a specific warning about its content, but you do get a warning before you start playing the game from the beginning that something is coming you might want to skip, especially if you’re a sensitive viewer.[Image credit: mandiberg]

In the first person shooter sequence, your character is an intelligence agent who has infiltrated a terrorist group. In the scene in question, you take part in a terrorist attack. You and a bunch of characters controlled by the computer enter an airport in Russia and start shooting. For the first few minutes, there is no resistance. You are shooting unarmed civilians. People scream and run away. People run up the escalator the wrong way. People fall and die. There’s a lot of blood.

It is, without a doubt, the most disturbing moment I’ve ever encountered in a video game. What’s most interesting, though, is that the scene is completely integral to the plot. If your character didn’t participate in this mission, the events that occur next would never happen.

How do you play such a level? What’s the moral imperative in video games? In some ways, there is none. These aren’t real people, obviously. It’s all just computer generated imagery on a screen. I could kill a million people in a video game. Would it be mass murder? Genocide? No, because nothing really happened.

Would I feel like I’m committing murder? That’s another question, and that depends on the game itself.

The first time I played through the CoD: MW2 level, I tried to avoid killing anyone. It’s possible for the first half of the level, but eventually security arrives, and in order to progress, you have to defeat the armed guards. It felt treasonous, almost, because I knew that my character is an undercover agent, and so the guards are really on my side. But you can’t continue the game without killing the opposition, and so that’s what I did.

The second time I played through the level, I killed everyone I could. I shot women in the head. I walked up to people lying on the floor, begging for mercy, and I shot them in the chest until they stopped moving. I used guns, grenades and knives. I tried to kill more people than the computer-controlled characters next to me.

I tried to enjoy the killing, but I couldn’t. It was very disturbing. I tried to embrace it, but the quality of the graphics, the voice acting and even the story itself all created a world that was just real enough to give me pause. I felt bad about killing innocent civilians in an airport terror attack, even though there was no killing, no civilians and no airport. It was all on screen, and it was all in my head.

That’s art. That is exactly what art is supposed to do. I started thinking about this when Ars Technica’s gaming writer, Ben Kuchera, tweeted that Call of Duty is as much art as Ico, a somewhat more abstract and fantastic video game title. Video games are often disparaged in the art world. Roger Ebert famously landed in hot water recently by penning a story claiming that video games can never be art. He has since made a qualified retraction of his original statement, but nonetheless, it seems that video games still get beaten down and taken to task in a way that traditional, more widely accepted artwork does not.

First, let me define my terms. I believe “art” is any creation that exists purely (or primarily) to elicit an emotional response. Any creation; any emotional response. This is a broad definition (if you didn’t realize, ), and this leaves the category wide open so that a wide range of things can be considered “art.” That’s fine with me. I would much rather argue about whether something is good art, or, even better, whether it’s successful art, than argue about whether it is art at all.

I have no interest in arguing about whether or not video games are, in fact, pieces of art. Some of them are, some are not. I think that the game itself has to elicit a human emotion for the game to be considered art. I don’t mean the act of winning the game, I mean the game itself. So, in my view, Tetris is not a work of art. It’s a fantastic game, one of the best ever created and a personal favorite (I am a Tetris demigod), but the happiness I get from Tetris, or any emotional response, comes from my own skill and success in playing the game. A game like “Call of Duty,” or “Bioshock,” or even “Guitar Hero” elicits a deeper emotional response that comes from being able to relate to the game. If the first two are more obvious, I would say “Guitar Hero” elevates itself to the level of art first because you are literally playing music, and music has always been considered art, but second because the game tries to help us imagine ourselves as skilled, successful musicians. Load up any Guitar Hero video on YouTube and tell me the kid playing complicated, 5-star riffs doesn’t envision himself a skilled musician. I’m not saying he’s right, I’m just saying that’s art.

While I was thinking about this article, a new controversy came up. Electronics Arts will release a new “Medal of Honor” title, another war-based first person shooter, set in today’s conflict zones. Though the story mode will have the player acting as an allied forces soldier, someone on our side, in other words, there is also a multiplayer mode. As Ars Technica quotes EA Games reps as saying: “if someone’s the cop, someone’s gotta be the robber.” To that end, half the players in a multiplayer round will be trying to kill the guys on ‘our side.’ Those opponents could play as “Taliban” soldiers. This has parents groups up in arms in the UK.

Why is it that parents groups always seem to come down on the side of censorship? Why do so-called parents groups try to get the government to mandate what my children can watch, so that my own entertainment has to be reduced to the level of what’s acceptable for my child?

In any case, there are two major flaws to this argument. First, nobody is actually becoming the Taliban. Just because you pick up a joystick and look through the virtual eyes of a Taliban fighter, that doesn’t mean you have anything in common with our enemies in Afghanistan. In a way, these parents groups are not only proving my original thesis that video games are in fact artwork, they are in fact showing just how successful the artwork has become. If the representation wasn’t so powerful, and if the games did not produce a real emotional response, would parents care? Would parents care if their children played games where they could act like a family of small frogs trying to cross a busy highway and getting killed by passing trucks? Of course not, because that was not a successful piece of artwork. But the more powerful representation elicits a more powerful emotional response. Art doesn’t make everyone happy; it isn’t supposed to.

Second, this unfortunately shows video games’ place at the bottom of artistic hierarchy. At the Academy Awards this year, the Best Supporting Actor award went to an actor who played an especially vicious and frightening Nazi. Did any parent group step up and say that Christoph Waltz should not have been allowed to portray a Nazi? Should we blacklist any actor who appears as a Taliban fighter in a movie? Or a soldier in the Burmese army? A serial killer? Not only are these actors not condemned, but the more they frighten us, the more they draw forth a real response from their audience and turn their audience into ersatz victims of their crimes, the more we appreciate their performance.

You can’t have it both ways. You cannot claim that video games do not deserve the same protection and respect as other forms of art, then claim that the emotional response they trigger in their audience is too powerful and needs to be banned. You can’t celebrate an actor’s performance as a murderer or an enemy combatant, then turn around and denigrate the same types of characters in video games.

If you don’t like a video game, or a movie or an exhibit of oil paintings strewn with elephant dung, don’t go to see them. If you’ve played the game, argue about its successes and failures, how it made you feel and how you reacted to that feeling. We’re far past the point where there’s a question about whether video games are a form of art.

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