Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Essay! Part A&B

Design Studies Essay


Last semester I researched into electronic computer games, the physical and mental health problems associated with them and also what is being done to solve this. I became particularly interested in how playing such games may cause mental issues, violence and obesity problems and the solutions designers had invented to combat them. I also looked into the many health benefits of game playing and games for learning, from simulators used to prepare the army for war to till programmes used to train retail staff.

In my secondary research I found there to be two very different opposing arguments for and against computer games, each backing up their points. Marc Prensky author of the book ‘Don’t bother me Mom, I’m learning!‘ was of the strong opinion that computer games are infact beneficial to children’s learning, His claims were reinforced by a study by neuroscientists C Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier. They discovered that in circumstances where lots of things are happening simultaneously, children learn to recognise and focus on the most vital part. Prensky argues that parents and teachers are infact hindering their child’s learning by forcing them to switch off these games when they should be encouraging them. He points out that schools have turned learning into something boring that the majority of youngsters hate. Prensky also argues that children who spend 1-3 hours a day playing games tend to be more successful in their careers. The book ‘Got Game : How The Gamer Generation Is Reshaping Business Forever’. Shows that many computer gamers have gone on to achieve more in their jobs. Prensky also reinforces his point by referring to Laparoscopic surgeon Dr James Rosser. Who encourages his surgeons to ‘warm up’ prior to operating by playing video games for half an hour as he discovered that doctors who regularly played video games throughout their childhood made 40% fewer errors during surgery. On the other end of the argument Craig Anderson and Karen Dill, conducted two experiments to distinguish the possible links between aggressive behaviour and game playing in the short and long term. They conducted their first experiment on around 200 students, getting them to fill out a questionnaire whilst also referring to official scales and models including the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire, The Capara Irritability Scale, The Delinquency Scale and the GAAM Model. Their results concluded that playing games of a violent nature may add to a persons antisocial behaviour and aggressive personality - this was supported by the GAAM model. The second experiment looked into the short term effects and in this again they took around 200 participants and two computer games - one non violent and one very violent. They discovered that the students with greater trait irritability scores would also score higher on the State Hostility Scale. Students who played the violent game would send extended sound blasts and it also amplified their aggression on receiving them. Overall the participants who regularly play these video games throughout their lives were generally associated with more violent conduct.

I have become interested in the links between game playing and behaviour. Do violent games make people aggressive? How much are kids learning from their games? How do parents feel about their child playing such games? In order to follow up these arguments I could conduct interviews to find out how parents feel about their child playing violent games and whether they believe these games have had an impact on their behaviour and social interaction. I would ask questions such as ’Do you let your child play video games? If no, then why not? What kind of games? Do they play them regularly?’ From this I would be given a deeper understanding of how members of the public feel towards computer games and if their opinions may have been influenced by the bad press many games have gotten from the media. However, people may be reluctant to talk about their children so I could start with adults I know to see what kind of results I am getting before deciding to take it further and interview people on the street. I found from my previous experience that many are unwilling to stop and talk. I could also interview a number of children who enjoy their games and ask them what their favourite games are and why. What do they think they learn from their games? Possibly, the results of this would support Prensky’s argument that children are the ’Digital Natives’ and are learning far more life skills then they do in school. I could also interview a number of people who don’t play video games as well as those who have played video games from a young age to see what impact they have had on their lives. I may ask them questions about their favourite games swell as questions about what they do for a living and how they got on in school. From their answers I would be able to tell if playing these games has made a significant difference to the way they interact, by comparing and contrasting their answers with the people who have not played many games. This would enable me to see if there has been any long term effects. Again, I may find it difficult to get people to stop and talk to me and people may also be uncomfortable answering such personal questions. Alternatively I could arrange to meet them somewhere when they are not busy and have more time to talk to me swell as making them aware that they have the right not to answer any of my questions for whatever reason.

Another research method which could be particularly useful is observing people. I could watch people playing games, violent and non violent and record their reactions to see if the game they are playing affects their mood and emotions. I may do this in an arcade or at home on a game console observing my friends. Similarly I could also show people pictures of violence and war games in contrast to peaceful scenes from a non violent game and observe their behaviour and reactions toward the pictures. I may also ask them questions about how they feel towards the images to see if these pictures have triggered aggressive thoughts.

I feel an experiment would also be useful in helping my research. I could gather two groups of people and send one group to play a violent game and the other a non violent game. Afterwards I would show them random pictures of non violent objects and ask them to make up a story connecting the images to see if there are any links between the group that played the violent game having more aggressive stories. This would show if playing violent games has an impact on a persons aggressive personality in the short term.

In conclusion these primary research methods would be extremely useful in aiding me further with my work. I feel the experiments and observations may be more useful as the data I would gather would be more about observing peoples body language and reactions. Where as with the interviews they may be saying what they think I want to hear or what they think they should be saying. The observation and experiments would let me analyse them without them being conscious of it. The interviews would also be helpful to me in finding out the public opinion on video games and their effects on youngsters as well as their own personal experience.


My favourite studio project this year has been stone setting. The brief was firstly to research the different types of gemstones, their religious or spiritual meaning and what powers they may possess. Then to create a piece of jewellery incorporating a stone setting linking to religion or spirituality. I decided to base my design on crystal therapy as it is an area that has always interested me. I looked into the different kinds of crystals used for healing and their properties. We also had a series of workshops on stone setting for cut gems and found objects.

In my initial research I looked at various books including Gemstones For Everyman and The Crystal Bible. I used my secondary research techniques to gather information using cross search in the library. Much of the information I collected came from The Crystal Bible as it went into detail about each crystal, where it comes from, what it looks like, what healing powers it possesses and how to use it’s power to your full advantage. The internet also became a valuable source of information. I used a variety of websites to research crystal lattices and structures and it enabled me to print off images for my sketchbook work. In addition my flatmate was very helpful as she is fascinated with crystal therapy. She explained to me a great deal about crystal properties and healing the chakras and gave me a better overall understanding. I found that talking to someone with first hand experience about my chosen topic really helped me and it is a technique I could employ in any future work I do. Specific crystals are better suited to different areas of the body and I became particularly interested in the rose quartz. Rose quartz heals the heart physically and emotionally and is the stone of unconditional love. It is a calming stone which attracts love whilst restoring trust in existing relationships and releases heartache. It also helps the circulatory system and soothes burns and is best worn over the heart. Finding out about these stones helped build my knowledge as a jeweller. As part of my research I used the internet to look into the physical heart and circulatory system, veins, arteries and capillaries.

I could use the primary research techniques to investigate this topic further by interviewing people to find out their views on crystal healing. Whether they believe it works and is beneficial to their being and state of mind. I need to discover if members of the public would buy this kind of jewellery as I should know about my target audience in order to be successful. I could also ask them questions about what kind of jewellery they like and what stones appeal to them. This would also help in giving me a better understanding of my target market. I could show people images of different gemstones to see what they connect to it. For example if I showed someone a picture of a diamond ring, would they connect it to engagement and marriage? Or coal? Or even wealth? From this I would be able to tell what the majority felt towards that particular stone, whether it would be effective to use in my work and what connections people would make with the piece of jewellery. Many people will associate a piece of jewellery with a memory or some kind of sentimental value. It would also be important for me to find out more about this as I hope to become self employed and produce work for clients. Again to do this I would use interviews asking questions such as where people have gotten their jewellery from and if there are any stories behind it. I hope to make one off pieces that are special to each individual person. If I was making a commission for a client in order to find out more about them I could use the photo analysing technique and ask them to bring in pictures of themselves for me to look at. I found it amazing how much I could tell about a person from a picture and feel this research method would be beneficial to making the perfect piece for a client. Of course some people may feel uncomfortable doing this and instead I would observe them whilst having a conversation. Looking at their tastes and body language would aid me in discovering more about their personality.

I could also try out some crystal therapy for myself to see if it helps my physical and mental state. Experiencing this would have aided in my design process as I would have had a better understanding of crystal healing and the powers of the stones.

I hope to continue improving my research techniques in level three as well as my skills as a jeweller. I have found these primary research methods to be extremely useful in assisting me in my work both in the studio and out and will continue to use them to support my work in third year. We have recently been given a sustainability project and I am intrigued to find out the general publics feelings towards recycling and saving the planet. I feel with this upcoming project, employing my new primary research skills will greatly assist me in designing in a way that is beneficial to our planet.


ANDERSON, B.W. 1976 Gemstones for Everyman. London, Faber

ANDERSON, C. DILL, K.E. 2000. Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings and behaviour in the laboratory and in life. Journal of personality and social psychology. Vol 78, No 4, 772-790

BECK, J.C. WADE, M. 2004. Got Game: How the gamer generation is reshaping business forever. United States of America. Harvard Business Press

BUSS, A. H. PERRY, M. P. 1992. The aggression questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 452-459.

HALL, J. 2003 The Crystal Bible. Godsfield Press Ltd

PRENSKY, M. 2006. ‘Don’t bother me Mom - I’m learning!’ How computer games are preparing your kids for 21st century success - and how you can help! Paragon House.

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