Four Pics One Word

Quite a few of my friends have been playing a little game on their smartphones lately called ‘Four Pics, One Word’ (which brings up immediate and somewhat alarming correlations with the ‘Two Girls, One Cup’ thing, which is no doubt deliberate, but I digress!) and I know this to be true… because when they run out of coins they are posting their harder puzzles to Facebook and asking the hive mind for assistance! ¬†ūüôā

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Four Pics, One Word is essentially word puzzle game Рyou are provided with four images that are connected in some way, along with twelve letters that create a word which relates to all four images.  Some of the visual clues are very straight forward and the answer will leap out at you straight away.

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And then others tend towards the somewhat obscure and require a bit of lateral or abstract thinking to figure out the correct word. ¬†That, or putting it aside and looking at it with fresh eyes later and you can usually figure them out as they don’t seem to get more difficult as you go along.

So you sail through a few and then actually have to look at the puzzle for a few seconds. ¬†Personally, I find this game fairly straightforward and haven’t used the ‘coins’ you get for getting the words correct (they can be used to delete letters from the options or to purchase a letter in the word I believe). ¬† This is probably because many moons ago I did a Bachelor of Visual Arts degree where they inflicted things like ‘Reading the Visual’ and ‘Visual Perception’ and ‘Communicating using Images’ onto us, so dissecting art, symobls or visual imagery and relating to them as concepts and words has become second natur over the years.

But what I really love about this little game is the beautiful quality the game has about it. ¬†It’s very polished looking, the images are all professional stock photography, the letter tiles are very smooth and easy to read, and it’s a simple design and layout… it’s really just a rather pretty meadow, I guess.

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But, (and y’all knew there was a big old ‘but’ coming!) there is something that is driving me absolutely nuts about this game. ¬†And it’s the advertisements. ¬†They pop up about every half dozen words guessed, probably more frequently than that in all honesty and given the little word puzzle game is free, the ads are inevitable yes? ¬†However, it’s not the actual presence of the ads that is annoying me… it’s the visual presentation of them! ¬†Here the developers are having spending considerable time and energy creating a game that is visually quite stunning on a little handheld device only to turn around and have it frequently polluted for their users by throwing in ugly looking advertisements for other cheap and nasty looking games. ¬†WHY? ¬†Surely they could be putting up more targeted advertising than this? ¬†Why something that is so incongruous with the quality of the game in which they are putting them?

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Urgh… the ugly keeps interrupting my little game, setting off my OCD, and making me twitch like mad! ¬†I just know I’m going to cave and buy the Premium version of the game for the grand total of USD$1.99 just so I won’t be visually assaulted with these horrid cheap looking ads!

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Something is seriously wrong with the world, I read a news article recently out of Atlanta Georgia –

13-year-old accused of stabbing 2-year-old sister to death

Police in DeKalb County have charged a 13-year-old girl in the stabbing death of her 2-year-old sister.

The young girl was stabbed multiple times and her body was found by her father behind the family’s townhome on Monday, DeKalb County police spokeswoman Mekka Parish said Tuesday.

Police are withholding the name of the 13-year-old who was taken into custody. A court hearing was set for Tuesday afternoon.

“She’s gone on to glory now,” the child’s father, Shelton Ray, told WSB-TV.

“Now it’s up to me to make it to where she is,” he said. “Like I tell all my children, they have to get themselves into heaven. I have to get myself into heaven.”

The toddler had multiple stab wounds, police said.

The girl’s siblings, all under the age of 5, were home at the time of the incident, authorities said. Parish says the toddler was attacked inside of the house and investigators do not believe the other children witnessed the slaying.


Published November 21, 2012 –¬†Associated Press

Anyway, I sent it to a friend with a “WTF is this father on? ¬†He’s either on crack or religion… or both!” comment attached. ¬†Mind just a sec, while I just step over the indignation of anyone offended by my backhanded swipe at religious nutters, and feel free to lambast me for the inappropriateness of that comment later after I’ve gotten on with my point.

My friend read the article and then expressing the expected incredulousness followed by: “Makes me wonder if the kid was confused when the 2 year old didn’t respawn”.

Respawn? ¬†Respawn? ¬†I think that might literally be the most alarming thing I have ever heard regarding the potential impact of computer gaming on children. ¬†The idea that video games could be so pervasive in children’s lives as to blur the lines of reality so badly as to cloud a child’s ability to perceive consequences to MURDEROUS actions is just beyond scary and disconcerting. Even if it were nothing to do with the case study above, the very concept of children being so immersed in gaming and so unable to identify reality is truly shocking and absolutely horrifying.

Unfortunately for the Small Child when I picked him up after school on Friday, the first thing out of his mouth was a request to play a video game called Just Cause II which, like most of them, I have never heard of, and don’t have the time or inclination to investigate its suitability for his age group etc. ¬†Last week’s obsession was Dark Siders II and prior to that it was Team Fortress II (don’t know where we were when the original release of all these games come out but everything he is into seems to be into its sequel at the moment).

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We had a conversation, one which reoccurs from time to time about having balance in your life and not becoming obsessed by computer gaming and having other things to do with your time. ¬†When gaming comes up I always like to have a chat with him about my intense dislike for the over exaggerated reliance on violence in these computer games for entertainment and my concern that they densensitize kids, like himself, to real violence. ¬†I also frequently reiterate my refusal to allow first person shooter games for an 11 year old and do my best to keep him away from those, taking every opportunity to point out that guns are not toys, shooting at people in computer games is not fun nor is it funny, and as such I believe it should not be considered ‘entertainment’. ¬†He’s a pretty switched on kid and I strongly doubt that he would ever fail to distinguish between reality and gaming…. but as a parent, you worry about how extremely impressionable and malleable their young brains are – and input indubitably affects development and output – how can it not?

How to deal with it though? ¬†So many games, so little time, a new title to obsess over every week, so little inclination on my part to get bogged down in the minutiae of each game to determine appropriateness for a child of his age and maturity?!? ¬†Did I mention that I don’t really consider myself a gamer? ¬†I’ve played a couple of SuperMario games on Nintendo from beginning to end, and there was a flitration with Banjo-Kazooie and a short lived Donkey Kong thing for a while, but the closest thing I played for any real length of time was Farmville for ages as a ‘zone out, I’m on a heat pack’ distraction from chronic back pain a few years ago. ¬†Note how ‘cutesy’ all these are. ¬†And the complete lack of weaponry, death, destruction, red mist and shoot ’em all goals of these games. ¬†I just don’t understand the appeal of a game that wants you to annihilate other characters, human or otherwise and he said “None of it’s real anyway, Mum.”

Ok, so it sounds like I don’t really have to worry about the Small Child blurring the lines of reality and fantasy worlds he engages with in computer games. ¬†But you know, being a Mom, it’s kinda my job to worry.