GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

December 19, 2008 -

2008's Game Over is just around the corner and that means it's time to look back at the top gaming stories of the past twelve months.

With so much happening in 2008, it wasn't easy to trim the list down to just 15 stories. But we managed, so, without further ado:

15. No Taxation Without Representation: Several states looked into levying "sin taxes" against the purchase of video games and consoles in 2008. Such measures were proposed by legislators in Wisconsin and New Mexico, but ultimately failed to pass. In New York, Gov. David Paterson's 2009 budget proposal would add a sales tax to digitally-delivered content, including DLC. On the other side of the coin, an increasing number of states are offering tax breaks as an incentive to lure game developers to set up shop.

14. War. Huh. What is Good For? As the US Army made increasing use of its popular America's Army recruiting game, anti-war protesters marched at a number of Army-sponsored gaming event around the country. Protesters also gathered outside Ubisoft's San Francisco offices to protest the console version released by Ubi a couple of years back. In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union charged that the Defense Department's use of the game violates United Nations protocols which bar the recruitment of children into military service.

13. Defectors! The Entertainment Software Association began the year with 28 member companies. Following a number of defection by companies both large (Activision, LucasArts) and small (Crave, NCsoft), it will finish the year with, at most, 21. The economy certainly had something to do with it, but some reports indicated dissatisfaction with new ESA boss Mike Gallagher.

12. Spore Triumph Turns to Controversy: It was supposed to be legendary game designer Will Wright's crowning achievement, but Spore will be remembered more for install limits and loading unwanted Securom DRM on player's computers than for its game play. Yes, EA eventually backed off on some of the security measures but not before several class-action suits were filed by consumers. The game's DRM issues fueled a debate about piracy that is still raging.

11. ESRB and Retailers Earn High Marks: The Federal Trade Commission released the results of its annual secret shopper study and the video game industry did itself proud. According to the FTC, retailers properly enforced M ratings 80% of the time, with GameStop earning an eye-popping 94% grade. Clearly, the ESRB is getting the word out to parents and retailers are doing a better job of training their clerks to enforce game ratings. The ESRB also expanded its parental outreach program with a very cool ratings widget and continued wooing political figures with the lure of free advertising via ESRB-funded public service announcements.

10. Rise of the Game Consumer Movement: The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) continued to expand its representation of issues important to gamers by addressing DRM, Net Neutrality and Universal Broadband, among other concerns. Gamers showed themselves to be a very powerful grassroots force, using the power of the Net to mobilize against Spore's DRM and respond to author Cooper Lawrence, who blithely - and incorrectly - trashed Mass Effect on Fox News.

9. In the Eye of the Beholder: Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in upstate New York invited Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal to present his controversial Virtual Jihadi game exhibit and then booted him from campus when the school's Republican Club protested. Forced to use a private art gallery in neighboring Troy, Bilal again found himself shut down when Republican city officials drummed up a long-ignored building code violation. Bilal eventually returned to Chicago where he teaches art. The ACLU sued city officials in federal court.

8. If You Can Make Video Game Law There, You Can Make it Anywhere: Led by Republican State Sen. Andrew Lanza, New York passed a video game bill in 2008 and Gov. David Paterson (D) signed it into law. However, the law, which takes effect in 2010 is essentially a showpiece and lacks teeth. Game sales will not be restricted in any way. How can you be sure? Easy: the video game industry did not file its usual constitutional challenge.  See the Rest of the List After the Jump...

 

7. EA Fails to Acquire Take-Two: For the better part of the year, Electronic Arts chased Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive. EA's bid eventually turned hostile when T2's Strauss Zelnick spurned EA CEO John Riccitiello's offer. The pursuit, which received approval from federal regulators, was followed closely by the gaming community for nearly seven months. In the end, EA backed off. In retrospect, T2 shareholders might wish they had taken EA's $25.74 offer. As of now TTWO shares are trading at less than $9.

6. Recession-Proof? With the global economy tanking, there was a good bit of talk that the video game industry was "recession-proof." It's not looking that way, however. Share prices are down industry-wide. Fueled by high demand for the Wii and DS, only Nintendo seems to be dodging the economic bullet. EA, for example, is scaling back operations. Midway might not exist a month from now. NCsoft is dropping its Tabula Rasa MMO. UK developer Free Radical has ceased operations. And on and on... 

5. The Pipe Fitter's Show in the Basement: There is universal agreement that the video game industry's big dance, the E3 show in Los Angeles, was amazingly bad this year. Veteran attendees (yours truly included) were stunned by the degree to which the one-time spectacle was humbled. Ubisoft North America CEO Laurent Detoc came up with the most memorable line of all, describing E3 2008 as resembling "the pipe fitter's show in the basement." The ESA, which runs the show, has promised to make it bigger and better next year. Even so, E3 2009 attendance will not be as large as that of PAX 2008. It remains to be seen whether or not the glory days of E3 are a thing of the past.

4. Battleground UK: In March Dr. Tanya Byron released her government-commissioned report on the effects of video games and the Internet on children. Game issues have been a source of national discussion ever since. Parliament debated the issue at length but has yet to reach a conclusion. Meanwhile, industry-favored content rating body PEGI is in a hotly contested battle with the British Board of Film Classification over which organization will take over the UK's game ratings.

3. America's Game-Crazy Presidential Election: The 2008 U.S. presidential campaign was met with an unprecedented wave of game interest as dozens of Flash games appeared online. These included official offerings such as John McCain's Pork Invaders Facebook app as well as unofficial games spoofing the candidates and issues. Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin was a favorite target of Flash designers. Even commercigame developers got into the spirit. McCain and Barack Obama showed up in a trailer for THQ's Saints Row 2, while Palin and Obama were offered as DLC for EA's Mercernaries 2. Supporters of Republican Ron Paul held a rally in World of Warcraft, while Republican candidate Mike Huckabee kicked back with Rock Band. Speaking of support, when it came to political contributions, game industry types went for Obama in a big way. But the biggest campaign news was surely the Obama campaign's purchase of in-game ads on Xbox Live.

2. Jack Thompson Disbarred: After several years of struggling with the Florida Bar, the high-profile anti-game violence crusader was permanently disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court in October. Earlier in 2008, GamePolitics published exclusive transcripts detailing testimony at Thompson's December, 2007 Bar trial on ethics charges. After Thompson's license was stripped, former ESA boss Doug Lowenstein slammed the gaming press for covering Thompson.

1. Grand Theft Auto IV: The April 29th launch of Grand Theft Auto IV dominated the game scene for several weeks before and after its release. The game would go on to revered by fans, reviled by politicians, banned from buses, watered-down in Australia and even mashed-up with Barack Obama. Both politically and culturally, GTA IV was the biggest gaming event of 2008.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) is the parent company of GamePolitics.

 


Comments

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

Well they had the CN float with all the 'Foster's' imaginary creatures, singing what appeared to be an original creation.

... that's when you hear the 'needle being pulled off the record' sound, and there was Rick Astley in all his meme-tastic glory. :P

And just when I thought I was over it, they managed to get a 'LOL, what the f***?' when I saw it on youtube. XD

But yeah JT's about as effective/useful/welcome as a Rickroll, EZK's right on the money with that one. (Since most people are usually 'oh.' about seeing/hearing about either one these days...)

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Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

It's like Andy Gibb singing Shadowdancing for eons and eons....

Sortableturnip's Law: As an online discussion of video game violence grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Jack Thompson approaches 1

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

 I really wish people would stop pretending to be John Bruce Thompson on GP. Its sad, and you know it.

 We all know John pulled a Shawshank Redemption after being disbarred, and his wife hasn't mustered the effort to care where her joke of a husbands been for the last 2 months.

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

I'm guessing Utah.

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

Deja vu...

Too bad your bite isn't as bad as your bark, you might still have a job.

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

"My reinstatement by The Bar." Oh dear, I had to get a change of pants I pissed myself laughing so hard! There's more chance of the Evil Space Lord, Xenu, coming down to Earth, and making us all become the sex slaves of his evil forces, there by gaining the power of immortality.

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

"Thirdly, I am introducing a video game law that is constitutionally bulletproof in about a month to a state legislature.  Anybody want to guess which state?"

Hmmm...just a guess here...the state of confusion?  Jack, you wouldn't know constitutionality if it hit you in the pie hole.  Please leave this forum and don't ever come back (although I know you will...your spewing of inanity here is the only thing that gives you any satisfaction any more).  It's been so nice lately to not see your evil presence.

***Homicide-free video gaming since 1972!***

***Homicide-free video gaming since 1972!***

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

This was pretty big for like a week:

http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1352/1/

The whole "playstation war" thing.

"

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

Ya sorry, welcome to the year 2001, or was it 2000? I first heard about it back in 2002-2003 myself and even at that time it was considered old news being thrown around by sensationalist journalists trying to drum up support for the U.S. to intervene and that somehow consumers should be shocked at ashamed they bought shiney new PS2s to quench their insatiable thirst for gluttonous entertainment at the suffering of millions of impoverished africans in servitude to the heinous and bloodthirsty drug/warlords who routinely rape and pillage small villages of their entire populations to mine the precious and very rare coltan with which the profits are used to fund the horrific genocide that is taking place there all day, every day.

Not to say bad things aren't happening there, but it was blown way out of proportion and tenous links were established to sony and the PS2. The idea of naming it 'playstation war' was to create controvesy over a very successful product i mean, if they had used the gamecube the dreamcast or just a plain old PC, even TVs, dvd players, or "the capacitor wars" it just wouldn't sound as catchy. Many devices use tantalum (mostly capacitors IIRC, and pretty much everything has a capacitor in it somewhere).

No doubt that region could use stability but the whole idea of 'the west' fueling the war over there through PS2 purchases is BS.

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Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

It was big for idiots.  Most Coltan is gathered from other locations and the Congo is actually one of the smaller producing areas for this mineral.  In fact, as already proven, there is no conceivable way to prove Sony used any of this Congo Coltan and it could just as easily be in your iPod or car computer instead.

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Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

It isn't gaming news death, but George Carlin's death was what shook me the most... we lost a legend that day :(

As for gaming, It has been a crazy year; A lot of words were mentioned that never came true, and one thing I wish that wasn't true, was Free Radical possibly closing down only to learn several hours later it was confirmed ;-;

I can only hope 09 will help things, but things will likely be crazier than last year, with more focus on used game sales and purported piracy. One thing I hope to see no growth of, is pure online sales for consoles, it will bug me greatly if they attempt to move to pure downloads, nothing tangible left...

Next two months is that pure digital transition... and Inauguration Day is going to be scary.

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

Carlin is one of my heros.  Not only was he hilarious but very clever.  I still have his books to keep me laughing.  I still need to get his dvd set.

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

Perhaps we should all get some napalm and silly putty in his honor (and I don't mean the book, I mean actual napalm and silly putty).

----------------------------------------------------

Debates are like merry go rounds Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

---------------------------------------------------- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

"The worst thing about e-mail is that you can't interupt the other person.  You have to read the whole thing and then e-mail them back, pointing out all their mistakes and faulty assumptions.  It's frustrating and it's time-consuming.  God bless phone calls." - George Carlin [When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?]

I think its an interesting thought to reflect upon when using GP's comment section.  It is particularly interesting in a story that produces a Thompson comment.

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

 I had to look up Carlin, as I could not put name-to-face for this person. I know his face, but I'd hardly call him a pivotal person for 2008. Not to say that his passing is not worth noting.

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

Ummm... DISAGREE! He's a grammy winner(4), who did standup for three decades, guest hosted on the tonight show, helped modernize heavily taboo related comedy, and gave us some of the most well recognized routines, like "Seven Dirty Words", "stuff" and "euphamism?" I'm okay that you're not familier with him, but take my word for it... the guy is a comedic legend.

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

Yeah.  THe man who basically jump-started the RPG gerne was big news.

 

Also, why Jack Thompson's downfall isn't number 1?

"We may be human, but we're still animals" -Steve Vai (World's greatest guitarist!)

"We may be human, but we're still animals" -Steve Vai (World's greatest guitarist!)

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

Maybe not being number 1 will piss him off, especially since that spot was stolen by Satan's own GTA.

Saying that Jack Thompson is impotent is an insult to impotent men everywhere. They've got a whole assortment of drugs that can cure their condition; Jack, however...

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

Ya i thought it was pretty fitting as well, don't wanna inflate his ego too much and definitely wanna aggrivate him if at all possible.

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Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

You know what I will probably remember the most in gaming news for 2008?

The death of Gary Gygax. *pours a flaggon of mead on the curb of the cobblestone road*

"

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

I agree

Re: GamePolitics: Top 15 of 2008

Amen, brother.

 
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Matthew WilsonI have said it before net nutrality will not be made in to law until Google or Netflix is blocked, or they do what they did for sopa and pull their sites down in protest.04/23/2014 - 8:02pm
Andrew EisenGee, I guess putting a former cable industry lobbyist as the Chairman of the FCC wasn't that great of an idea. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html?_r=204/23/2014 - 7:26pm
Andrew EisenIanC - I assume what he's getting at is the fact that once PS3/360 development ceases, there will be no more "For Everything But Wii U" games.04/23/2014 - 5:49pm
Andrew EisenMatthew - Yes, obviously developers will eventually move on from the PS3 and 360 but the phrase will continue to mean exactly what it means.04/23/2014 - 5:45pm
IanCAnd how does that equal his annoying phrase being meaningless?04/23/2014 - 5:09pm
Matthew Wilson@Andrew Eisen the phrase everything but wiiu will be meaningless afer this year becouse devs will drop 360/ps3 support.04/23/2014 - 4:43pm
Andrew EisenFor Everything But... 360? Huh, not many games can claim that title. Only three others that I know of.04/23/2014 - 3:45pm
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Andrew EisenI love RPGs but I didn't much care for Tales of Symphonia. I didn't bother with its sequel.04/23/2014 - 11:21am
InfophileIt had great RPGs because MS wanted to use them to break into Japan. (Which had the side-effect of screwing NA PS3 owners out of Tales of Vesperia. No, I'm not bitter, why do you ask?)04/23/2014 - 10:52am
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TheSmokeyhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/call-of-duty-swatting-hoax_n_5195659.html?utm_hp_ref=canada&ir=Canada CoD loser calls SWAT on person who beat him04/23/2014 - 7:13am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/xbox-one-reaches-japan-on-september-4/ Just give it up, Microsoft. You're NEVER going to be big in Japan, especially now that the notoriously clunky in Japan Kinect is MANDATORY.04/23/2014 - 7:10am
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