Stay on target Watch: Dolphin Leaps Feet Away From Unsuspecting SurferNASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This Weekend In Margaret Atwood’s fictional Republic of Gilead, women are the focus of the infertility crisis. In real life, men may be to blame.Researchers this week reported a steep decline in sperm counts among males living in richer nations.Data culled from 185 different studies suggest a 52.4 percent downturn in sperm concentration between 1973 and 2011. And during the same time, a 59.3 percent drop in average sperm count produced by men from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.Conversely, scientists found “no significant trends” among folks from South America, Asia, and Africa. But while fewer studies have been conducted in these countries, there is a chance for a similar slip in non-Western locations.“Given the importance of sperm counts for male fertility and human health, this study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the cause of the sharp, ongoing drop,” lead researcher Hagai Levine, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told New Scientist.Not only is a reduced sperm count bad news for future generations: It can predict increased mortality and morbidity, and is sometimes associated with birth defects and testicular cancer.Environmental influences (exposure to chemicals/pesticides, heat) and lifestyle factors (diet, stress, smoking, weight, alcohol consumption) have previously been linked to lower sperm counts. (The jury is still out on the boxers-versus-briefs debate.)For nearly four decades, more than half of men’s little swimmers have withered and died, with no recent evidence of “leveling off,” according to the study. “These findings strongly suggest a significant decline in male reproductive health, which has serious implications beyond fertility concerns,” the researchers wrote.“A decline in sperm count might be considered as a ‘canary in the coal mine’ for male health across the lifespan,” the paper continued. “Our report of a continuing and robust decline should, therefore, trigger research into its cause, aiming for prevention.”Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.
Stay on target Update 11/22/17: PCGamer reports that according to Belgian news site RTBF, Belgium’s Gaming Commission hasn’t finalized its decision to officially classify loot boxes as gambling. The site reports that the original statement of “mixture of money and addiction is a game of chance,” is meant to be descriptive of the investigation rather than the conclusion from the Gaming Commission.Original story: Last week, we reported on how Belgium’s Gaming Commission was considering classifying games with loot boxes as gambling. Yesterday, the organization concluded that loot boxes are indeed a form of gambling due to their random nature.This report comes to us once again from VTM News (with translation via PCGamer). According to the Belgium Gaming Commission “the mixing of money and addiction is gambling.” Koen Geens, who is Belgium’s Minister of Justice, also stated that “mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.” Geens wants loot boxes banned not only in Belgium, but in Europe and abroad. Geens explains that Bengian officials need to go to Europe to reinforce their ruling. However, the Bengian government “will certain try to ban it.”Right now, ratings boards like North America’s ESRB, Europe’s PEGI, and Asia’s Ukie believe that loot boxes are not a form of gambling. An ESRB spokesperson told Kotaku: “While there’s an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don’t want). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have.” The spokesperson added that any game with real-world gambling would automatically get an “Adults Only” rating.It is difficult to say how Belgium’s ruling on this matter will affect games with loot boxes down the line. Right now, the ESRB doesn’t appear like it will change its stance. However, considering the growing controversy surrounding loot boxes in games, it’s possible the organization could change its mind. This certainly isn’t the last we’ll hear about this so stay tuned for more. Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Don’t Just Disclose Odds For Video Game Loot Boxes, Ban ThemWill This U.S. Senator’s Bill Finally Kill Video Game Loot Boxes?