Owlchemy Labs Talks Smuggle Truck Controversy

February 16, 2011 -

The small Massachusetts-based developer that found itself in the national spotlight over an illegal immigration transport game talks with Gamasutra about the public dust-up over and the misconception (in their view) of the company's stance on illegal immigration. Company founder Alex Schwartz spoke to Gamasutra about the response to the game, and how the company hopes that it can shed some light on immigration issues.

First, Schwartz tackles a question about whether the game would work without the smuggling theme:

"What we've gathered from tester feedback is that the mechanics are fun and challenging. What happens to be drawn on the sprites for the items in the back of the truck doesn't change the gameplay in any significant way. It does however augment the message and the theme, which can affect a player's engagement with the game."

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Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration Takes Heat from Advocacy Groups

February 11, 2011 -

The Owlchemy Labs, a Massachusetts-based developer of wacky and silly games, is taking some local heat from advocacy groups for its iOS game Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration. In Smuggle Truck, players drive a pickup truck loaded with illegal immigrants. The goal of the game is to bring them over a fictional border while avoiding bumps that make them fall off the back of the truck.

Owlchemy Labs claims on the product page for the game that it was created out of a "the frustration our friends have experienced in trying to immigrate to the United States. With such a troublesome issue being largely avoided in popular media, especially video games, we felt the best way to criticize it was with an interactive satire."

The company also claims that they "maintained a meticulous eye to avoid depicting stereotypes and specific locales."

3 comments | Read more

EA Responds to Fox News Bulletstorm Segment

February 9, 2011 -

EA has responded to a recent Fox News story that asked the question "Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?" and (thanks to one participant) made the amazing claim that the increase in rapes can be attributed to playing games. There were other amazing claims in the report, but the most disturbing words came from Psychologist Carol Lieberman, who insisted that there was a correlation between playing sex scenes in games and rape. She told Fox news:

"The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games." Of course, there is no research to back up her claims that we are aware of, but the truth should never get in the way of a good talking point.

Bulletstorm Heavily Censored in Germany

February 9, 2011 -

Epic Games and People Can Fly's latest game, Bulletstorm, has been given a USK 18 + rating by the German Entertainment Software Rating Board. Some serious changes had to be made to the game before it could be released in the region. Despite the adult rating, the German version of the game has a number of things omitted such as ragdoll physics effects, blood, blood splatter, and dismemberment.

While the game can't be banned at this point by the German youth protection board (BPjM) because it has been rated, German gamers will once again get a game experience that has been censored and watered down in the name of protecting the country's youth from violent content. Developers and publishers that want to do business in the country are well aware of the limitations and challenges thrust upon them by government rules and restrictions, with most chalking it up to "the price of doing business in Germany."

EA is the publisher of the game in Europe.

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Sex in Games Leads to Real-World Rape and Other Ridiculousness

February 8, 2011 -

Boy oh boy, do I have a treat for you today.

FoxNews has posted an article examining the violent and sexual content of the upcoming Bulletstorm and I’m happy to report that it’s the most entertainingly sensationalistic tripe I’ve read in quite a while.

Bulletstorm is an M-rated shooter due out later this month from Epic Games.  Aside from copious profanity and over-the-top violence, one of its notable features is its in-game awards system, Skill Shots.  Basically, you get funny-titled awards for dispatching your enemies in unique and gruesome ways.  Here’s how the ESRB describes it:

25 comments | Read more

Bleszinski: Critics Have Made Games The 'New Rock 'n Roll'

February 8, 2011 -

Epic Games design lead Cliff Bleszinski says that video game critics have inadvertently been quite flattering to the video game industry. The man behind Unreal, Gears of War, and the upcoming game Bulletstorm, says that critics of video games have basically made it the "new rock 'n roll," creating a boogie man that parents are warned about on a daily basis by politicians, child psychologists, and the mainstream media. Bleszinski made the comments in response to a question by Computer & Videogames about Bulletstorm becoming a target of critics due to its gratuitous violence and adult language.

3 comments | Read more

Former Soviet State Offers Cops and Robbers Video Game

February 8, 2011 -

Police in Georgia are offering open arms to virtual crime fighters, thanks to a new game that lets citizens gun down bank robbers as the mighty law enforcement agency of the former Soviet Union state. The country (not the state known for its delicious peaches, game industry tax credits, and the wonderful city of Atlanta) revealed late last year that it was working on the game, much to the chagrin of critics who thought it was simply a way for the Georgian Interior Ministry to gain favor with citizens and shed a good light on the police force.

The game, which some have described as "violent," lets players jump into the boots of Georgian police as they fight bank robbers. Players engage in "shoot-outs with criminals, high-speed car chases, and hostage-taking scenarios."

The game is also meant to highlight the reforms that the Georgian police force has experienced since 2003.

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2010's Most Prominent Vaporware

January 3, 2011 -

Wired releases its list of 2010's most prominent Vaporware. Can you guess which game is right at the top of the list? Yeah, it is Duke Nukem Forever, though I imagine that by the time 2012 rolls around Gearbox Software will finally make that game a reality.

Other games, software, and gadgets on the 2010 list included Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, L.A. Noire, the Kno Tablet, Netflix on Android, Notion Ink Adam, Chrome OS Laptops, the fan-developed Half-Life remake Black Mesa, 64-Bit Flash Player, Half Life 2: Episode 3, and iPhone 4 in White. Honorable mentions included Flick Kick Football (PikPok), Shibuya (Nevercenter), Spirits (Spaces Of Play), Tentacles (Press Play), and Trainyard (Matt Rix).

1 comment | Read more

Young Males Like Black Ops Ad, Older Women, Not So Much

November 19, 2010 -

The Call of Duty: Black Ops ad that has inflamed columnists and moronic sports writers alike is also generating a split reaction from the general public.

Ace Metrix, a company that measures the effectiveness of television advertising, reports that the Black Ops ad scored high with male viewers, but offended older female viewers.

12 comments | Read more

Professor on War Games: Studios Stuck in “Netherworld”

October 28, 2010 -

A ForeignPolicy.com piece on the state of war videogames asks if such titles are bringing the reality of current conflicts into the living rooms of gamers, or simply exploiting them for commercial gain.

A good chunk of the piece centers on the recently released Medal of Honor, in light of the controversy it generated. That controversy, the author writes, “wouldn't have occurred even five or six years ago,” as “video game studios seemed to be reticent about tackling contemporary conflicts, preferring instead to crank out games based in abstracted worlds and full of abstracted enemies.”

8 comments | Read more

Stars and Stripes: Plenty of Violent Games in AAFES Stores

October 8, 2010 -

While Electronic Arts made the adjustment to rename the Taliban to “Opposing Force” in the multiplayer part of Medal of Honor, a ban on the game appearing in GameStop stores located in Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) locations is still in place.

The decision by AAFES officials puzzled a Stars & Striped columnist, who inventoried other violent games available in AAFES locations, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV.

8 comments | Read more

Student Op-ed Labels MOH “Disrespectful”

October 7, 2010 -

A piece appearing on the website of The Heights, Boston College’s student newspaper, says it’s “too soon” for Electronic Arts to base a game in Afghanistan and calls the setting of Medal of Honor “disrespectful.”

The article’s author pulls no punches, labeling game developers “desperate and unoriginal” and “moving in all the wrong directions to please their audiences.”

The ability to play as the Taliban in MOH’s multiplayer component, a component since renamed, was termed, “neither educational nor acceptable and goes against every ounce of American patriotism pumping through the veins of our country's citizens.”

The columnist continues:

35 comments | Read more

Pitchford Worried that Duke Could Run Afoul of Rating Boards

October 7, 2010 -

Gamers have waited so long for Duke Nukem Forever, would they possibly accept a watered-down version of the game?

Gearbox Software head Randy Pitchford seems to be worried that Duke’s potty mouth and penchant for strippers might result in the game agitating the ESRB and PEGI. CVG conveys (Thanks Cheater87!) on Pitchford’s worries, as delivered at a London press event.

Pitchford reportedly warned press not to view a trailer for the Duke Nukem Forever, as he didn’t “want our friends at Take-Two to be punished for our creativity.” The trailer, which featured “bare breasts, strippers, gratuitous swearing, the word 'f***ing' in massive letters and a giant alien getting pummelled in the genitals by Duke himself,” was outrageous enough that Pitchford stated that rating boards would probably “not be approving of this.”

17 comments | Read more

Before EA Caved, ex-Congressman and General Gave MOH Grief

October 5, 2010 -

While there’s no doubt Electronic Arts totally succumbed to pressure when it removed the Taliban (in name only) from the upcoming Medal of Honor videogame, a letter written to the Colorado Retail Council (CRC) by a former Congressman and ex-Air Force General shows the type of opponents EA was assembling as media hysteria about the game spread.

In a letter dated September 30, just a day before EA announced its change to Medal of Honor, former Colorado Republican Congressman Scott McInnis and Bentley Rayburn (pictured left and right respectively), a retired U.S. Air Force General, affixed their names to a letter urging the CRC to denounce the Medal of Honor game.

As seen on the Colorado Springs Independent website, the pair argued their case to CRC President Christopher Howes, calling the ability to play as the Taliban a “complete disgrace” and adding that “out of respect to our troops no retailer in Colorado should sell it.”

The duo continued:

7 comments | Read more

EA Caves, Renames Taliban in MOH

October 1, 2010 -

Did not see this one coming, but via Kotaku (thanks Cheater87!), Electronic Arts has folded like a cheap suit and announced that it is renaming the Taliban forces in its upcoming Medal of Honor game to the more benign “Opposing Force.”

To be fair, Medal of Honor Greg Goodrich, in a statement on the game’s website, indicated that the renaming was done in response to “reverence for American and Allied soldiers.”

More from Goodrich:

The Most Offensive Games Ever

September 29, 2010 -

The Washington Post took a break from talking about the mid-term elections to select the 15 most Offensive Video Games Ever Made. Ever made? Well if you consider rape, ethnic cleansing, recreations of horrific crimes, pedophilia, terrorism, and gruesome brutality offensive than this list has something for you.

So what are these horribly offensive games?

WP lists Modern Warfare 2, Bonetown, Rapelay, V-Tech Rampage, Custer's Revenge (you can't beat the classics..), Resistance: Ethnic Cleansing, Battle Raper, JFK Reloaded, Operation Pedopriest, The Torture Game 2, Muslim Massacre: The Game of Modern Religious Genocide, Manhunt 2, Virtual Jihadi, and Raid Gaza.

Enjoy the horror show here.

20 comments

EA to Offer Four Day Open Multiplayer Beta of Medal of Honor

September 24, 2010 -

In a bid to clear up any “misunderstanding about the patriotism” at the heart of the game hated by defense ministers around the world, Electronic Arts will offer an open beta for the PC versions of its Medal of Honor game ahead of the title’s October 12th release.

PC owners will be able to take part in the open multiplayer beta from October 4th through midnight of October 7. The beta will consists of two maps (Shahikot Mountains and Kunar Base) and a pair of game modes (Combat Mission and Sector Control).

EA Games President Frank Gibeau offered:

We also hope that by offering the Multiplayer Open Beta, we can clear up any misunderstanding about the patriotism and respect that are the foundation of this game. The Medal of Honor franchise has always shown extraordinary reverence for American and Allied soldiers -- this game is no exception.

2 comments | Read more

Op-Ed Urges Consumer, Retailers to Avoid Medal of Honor

September 23, 2010 -

An opinion piece in a Fort Meyers, Florida newspaper describes the ability to take on the role of insurgents in the upcoming Electronic Arts game Medal of Honor as games reaching  an “all-time low level.”

Taking a page (or bait?) from UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox, who urged retailers not to sell the title, the author of the News-Press editorial posed a similar challenge to readers:

…we do suggest that Americans at the very least refuse to buy 'Medal of Honor.' We suggest that retailers refuse to stock it. And we especially suggest that parents not allow their children to own or play it.

Columnists Rips Canadian Defence Minister for MOH Comments

September 9, 2010 -

In response to Canadian Defence Minster Peter MacKay’s (pictured) disapproving comments about the Electronic Arts game Medal of Honor, an Ottawa Citizen columnist took to his pulpit in order to offer a spirited defense (defence) of videogames.

Referring to the ability to play as the Taliban in the game, MacKay had said that, “I'm sure most Canadians are uncomfortable and angry about this.”

In his column, Dan Gardner replied, “No one ever accused Peter MacKay of being Her Majesty's most cerebral minister…”

MacKay had also lamented that children might take on the role of insurgents in the game, a point which Gardner addressed:

No Mafia II for UAE

September 7, 2010 -

The United Arab Emirates’ National Media Council has banned the release of Take-Two Interactive’s Mafia II videogame in that country.

Nitin Mathew, of the Dubai-based distribution firm Red Entertainment Distribution, told Arabian Business that the game was banned because of its “excessive violence and nudity.”

Mafia II was going to be released at the end of August, but now it will share the same fate as its predecessor Mafia, which was also banished from the UAE. Other recent games outlawed in the UAE include Heavy Rain, Dante’s Inferno (which wasn’t even submitted to censors), Darksiders, God of War and Grand Theft Auto IV.

3 comments | Read more

Another MOD Criticizes MOH

September 7, 2010 -

The red phones connecting the world’s defense/defence ministers must be working fine, as yet another member of that group has jumped on the anti-Medal of Honor videogame bandwagon.

This time around Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay took issue with the Electronic Arts game, specifically over the ability to play as a member of the Taliban in Medal of Honor’s multiplayer mode. MacKay, via the Ottawa Citizen, had this to say about the game:

The men and women of the Canadian Forces, our allies, aid workers, and innocent Afghans are being shot at, and sometimes killed, by the Taliban. This is reality. I find it wrong to have anyone, children in particular, playing the role of the Taliban. I'm sure most Canadians are uncomfortable and angry about this.

What the Average American Thinks about MOH

September 1, 2010 -

In light of the controversy surrounding the ability to play as the Taliban in Electronic Arts’ upcoming Medal of Honor, Northern California’s Times-Herald solicited reader input on the title, in the form of letters to the editor, and listed them on their website.

The responses range from ambivalent to angry, and probably represent a decent enough cross-section of opinions. Samplings of the responses are shared below, led off with our personal favorite:

Aubrey Cosentino: I don't think they should have even made this game, let alone try and release it. I would never buy it. My brother is in the Navy and served over in Iraq. It's a slap in the face to Americans is what it is; first they want to build a temple, now this game, come on now ...

Linda Peterson: I would NOT buy it -- but I don't play or buy any war games at all. I think the Taliban option is in extremely bad taste. Offensive even.

32 comments | Read more

Anti-Mosque Game Created by Austrian Political Party

September 1, 2010 -

An online videogame backed by the right wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPO), launched in advance of regional elections to be held on September 26, depicts the province of Styria as overrun with mosques and tasks players with stopping further ones from being built.

A Reuters story claims that the “Bye Bye Mosque” game has drawn over 60,000 visitors since Monday, in addition to criticisms from the local Islamic community, Social Democrats and the Green Party. A local Islamic leader named Anas Schakfeh called the game “tasteless and incomprehensible,” adding, “This is religious hatred and xenophobia beyond comparison.”

As the game ends, a message reads, “Styria is full of minarets and mosques. So vote for Dr. Gerhard Kurzmann (pictured) and the Freedom Party on September 26 so that this doesn’t happen.”

26 comments | Read more

Officer’s Immersion in Plants vs Zombies Allows Jail Break [Updated]

August 9, 2010 -

One police officer’s profound interest in the game Plants vs Zombies allowed five inmates to easily escape a jail cell in the Filipino municipality of Cagayan de Oro City.

The officer was so deep into his game session that he left the keys to a cell within reach of prisoners, according to a story on Global Nation. While four of the escapees were quickly rounded up, a fifth, Reynard Marturillas, is still at-large.

Officials believe Marturillas integrated himself with a trash pickup in order to escape detection, though local Department of Public Services stated that the inmate would “have surely collapsed from the stench of food slop collected from the jail.”

It was noted, however, that “a convicted prisoner, who is due to be shipped out to the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinglupa, would surely find the will to endure a ride that smells to the high heavens.”

1 comment | Read more

Take-Two, Apogee Settle Duke Suit

June 15, 2010 -

Take-Two Interactive and Apogee Software have dismissed lawsuits against each other over the long in development Duke Nukem Forever.

Attorneys for Apogee signed the document on May 18 of this year (thanks ShackNews), while Take-Two’s law firm affixed its signature on May 28. The document stipulates that plaintiff Take-Two, counterclaim-defendant 2K Games and counterclaim plaintiff Apogee agreed to dismiss with prejudice all claims within per a May 14, 2010 agreement. Each party will pay for its own costs of the litigation.

The lawsuits erupted following developer 3D Realms letting go its staff in May of 2009, which Take-Two took as indicating that the game they had partially funded since 1998 was no longer in development. The 3D Realms and Apogee countersuit claimed that, despite a full roster of employees, the game was still in the works.

4 comments | Read more

Mortal Kombat Returns

June 10, 2010 -

Mortal Kombat, one of the games responsible for the formation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), thanks to its bloody fatalities raising the ire of politicians like Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman and Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, will return to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011.

The title will be published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and is in development by NetherRealm Studios, which is wholly owned by the WB. Legendary Ed Boon is helming the project and promised, “This game really is a response to what players have been demanding: mature presentation, reinvented 2D fighting mechanic and the best, most gruesome fatalities ever!”

In a nice bit of timing, Gamasutra today is running an excerpt from the book Replay: The History of Video Games by Tristan Donovan that focuses on the uproar violent videogames caused in the 1990s.

4 comments | Read more

Benzaie Takes on RapeLay

June 7, 2010 -

If you’ve always wondered exactly what type of gameplay is in the infamous RapeLay, head on over to That Guy With Glasses and allow Benzaie to give you a walk through.

As Banzaie notes, “The sexual nature of whatever you are doing [to] these 3D rendered cartoon characters might shock you,” but, “If you’re not American, please ignore this warning since all there is to see is a bunch of polygonized girls in undies wiggling their asses in the air.”

There is some coarse language as well, so the video is probably not work safe.


Thanks Andrew!

6 comments

Irish Eyes Not Smiling Over Red Dead Redemption Character

May 20, 2010 -

The Irish aren’t too happy about the name of a town drunk in the just-released Red Dead Redemption.

An article on the Herald website notes that “The stereotype of the drunken Paddy will again be taken advantage of, as the game's town drunk is called "Irish". A description of the character, which the Herald took from a “popular gaming forum”, describes Irish as “the town drunk. Usually found stumbling around and getting into trouble with sober townsfolk while attempting to talk his way out".

Rockstar itself painted the character as “A teller of tall tales, who’ll try to talk his way out of anything.” Another piece of character artwork offered has Irish, while brandishing a liquor bottle, stating, “I was real drunk. You know how it is.”

19 comments | Read more

GameStop Fired RapeLay Commenter to Save $$, Stop Boycotts

May 12, 2010 -

A GameStop employee fired for discussing piracy and RapeLay in a college newspaper says that he was canned in order to avoid costing the videogame retailer “millions of dollars.”

Derek Littlejohn told Kotaku that following publication of The Globe article, his District Manager was contacted by a GameStop Vice President, who said he was getting calls about an article in the Globe, which the VP thought alluded to the British tabloid of the same name. Littlejohn’s manager told him that he was fired because “people were threatening to boycott and picket GameStop, which would cost the company millions of dollars.”

Littlejohn indicated that the author of the Globe piece, Ann Straub, was a friend of his, but that he “Didn't know she was gonna cite me as an employee of Gamestop, which is what they were able to use as for firing me…”

20 comments | Read more

GameStop Employee Canned for RapeLay Comments?

May 10, 2010 -

Being interviewed for an article on RapeLay may have cost a GameStop employee his job.

GameStop employee Derek Littlejohn was interviewed for a piece on the controversial game which ran in the Point Park University publication The Globe. Littlejohn was quoted in the story stating, “I’ve both heard about and played RapeLay myself, and I find it as nothing more than a game.”

Littlejohn went on to offer some theories on Japanese culture before discussing banned games, saying, “It’s relatively easy to pirate these games, when all one has to do is type in the name of what they want and add ‘torrent.'" He added, "Usually, some sort of link turns up.”

GameRant claims LittleJohn, employed for about two years by GameStop in Oakland, was fired shortly after the article was published.

43 comments | Read more

 
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MaskedPixelanteI can't believe Kenji Yamamoto got another job. Then again, his job on Smash was "musical arrangment", so copying other people's work is right up his alley.12/26/2014 - 9:31pm
Matthew Wilsonthe company that hosts it is a cyber security firm, and from what I understand it is the data they they see just shown publicly.12/26/2014 - 8:22pm
Wonderkarpa question about that website, Matthew...how does it know its a cyberattack or not12/26/2014 - 8:06pm
Matthew Wilsonfor those intreasted in seeing cyber attacks in real time check out this site. http://map.ipviking.com/12/26/2014 - 7:51pm
PHX Corp@MP you can add me on XBL and Nintendo Network if you want, I go under TrustyGem(Same gamertag as on Steam)12/26/2014 - 2:01pm
CMinerI blame North Korea.12/25/2014 - 11:49pm
MechaTama31For the last few weeks, the GP site fails to load about 2/3 of the times I try.12/25/2014 - 11:13pm
MaskedPixelanteOK, is GP having trouble loading for anyone but me?12/25/2014 - 9:21pm
Matthew Wilsonits a bunch of script kiddies. ddosing is one of the easiest thing to do,and most companies can not stop it sadly.12/25/2014 - 5:05pm
MaskedPixelanteI like Nintendo as much as the next person, they're pretty much the only company putting out the games I want to play, but that was pretty embarassing to have NNID go down due to overuse.12/25/2014 - 4:35pm
MaskedPixelanteSee? It's NOT a repeat of last year's fiasco.12/25/2014 - 4:22pm
PHX CorpLizard squad is responsible for The XBL/PSN shutdown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSpZvsoWvig12/25/2014 - 4:17pm
IanCOh shut up bitching about Nintendo. At least they advised people to downloading updates before the big day. Sony/MS? Not a peep.12/25/2014 - 3:50pm
MaskedPixelanteBoth PSN and Xbox Live are down. Since I'm sure Sony and Microsoft have better online support than Nintendo did last year, this isn't from "everyone logging onto their new devices all at once".12/25/2014 - 3:48pm
prh99John Romero's Christmas present, a custom Icon of Sin sculpture. http://www.pcgamer.com/john-romero-gets-the-icon-of-sin-for-christmas/12/25/2014 - 3:37am
Matthew Wilsonthe interview will be on youtube/xb1/ andriod today.12/24/2014 - 1:05pm
james_fudge1900's?12/24/2014 - 12:56pm
james_fudgeYeah we could go way way back :)12/24/2014 - 12:56pm
E. Zachary KnightCopyright law in general has been broken since at least 1976. Could be even earlier than that.12/24/2014 - 12:24pm
james_fudgeWhat he said :) They want to make it worse than it already is.12/24/2014 - 12:14pm
 

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