Distributors, Retailers React to Proposed Brazilian Game Ban

February 8, 2010 -

Early in December, word came out of Brazil that the country was considering legislation to make it a crime to create, import or distribute videogames “that affect the customs, traditions of the people, their worship, creeds, religions and symbols.”

The bill was sponsored by Brazilian Senator Valdir Raupp, who, as Brazilian website UOL reports (translated), is not in the habit of playing videogames himself and could not name any particular game that might fall under the proposed legislation.

Raupp did, however, diss Brazil’s rating system for games—the Department of Justice, Ratings, Titles and Qualification (DJCTQ)—saying he was “certain” that people were not following its guidelines. David Ulysses, Director of the Department of Justice, would not address Raupp’s comments directly, but believes that it is not necessary to censor games in Brazil, saying that the current system supports freedom of expression and consumer choice.

Marcos Khalil owns UZ Games, a retail videogame establishment in Brazil with 22 locations. He stated that such a ban could further impact what is already a “small domestic industry” and could lead to him closing stores and laying off employees, not to mention increasing illegal sales or piracy of games.

Level-Up! Managing Director Julio Vietez, whose company serves up digital copies of games via the Internet, was concerned over the term “offensive” used in the bill, noting that what is offensive to one person or group might not necessarily offend a different person or group.

Glauco Bueno, Director of Marketing and Strategy of Latin America for distributor Synergex, also expressed dismay should the bill become law, “It would be a setback to the advancement of the entertainment media in Brazil, with serious effects on the chain…”


Thanks Maurício!

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Dante’s Inferno Banishes Itself from Middle East

February 8, 2010 -

Electronic Arts’ Dante’s Inferno will not be released in the Middle East.

EA didn’t even bother to submit the game to censors reports GamesLatest, apparently realizing that a game focused on the nine circles of Hell would be destined for banning, much like the treatment Darksiders, God of War and Grand Theft Auto IV received in the past from the United Arab Emirates.

In a statement, EA said, “Electronic Arts has decided not to release Dante’s Inferno in the Middle East after an evaluation process which is based on consumer tastes, preferences, platform mix and other factors.”

If a circle of Hell had to be applied to this story, the First Circle appears most appropriate—Limbo.


Thanks gellymatos!

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Brazil Discussing Violent Game Ban

December 3, 2009 -

Brazilian Senator Valdir Raupp (pictured left) has authored a bill that would make it a crime to make, import or distribute “offensive” videogames in the South American country.

A story on the Brazilian website UOL (translation here) reports that the Education Commission of the Senate has approved the measure, which will now go to vote in the Committee on Constitution and Justice.

Raupp’s goal is to, “curb the manufacture, distribution, importation, distribution, trading and custody, storage, the video games that affect the customs, traditions of the people, their worship, creeds, religions and symbols.”

He continued, “Therefore, we seek to protect the principle of equality - for many the greatest of constitutional principles - with the characterization of such discriminatory conduct as a crime by making provision in the law.”

The bill seeks a penalty of one to three years imprisonment for those committing an offense.

The story notes that Brazil has banned games such as Carmageddon, Postal and Grand Theft Auto in the past.


Thanks Maurício

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Lanning On Why Violent Games Are Still a Talking Point

November 18, 2009 -

A recent screening of Spencer Halpin’s Moral Kombat documentary featured a post-show panel of game experts discussing some of the topics presented in the film.

The screening took place on November 11th in San Francisco. Members of the roundtable included Wired’s Chris Kohler, Dean Takahashi from Venure Beat, Lorne Lanning of Oddworld Inhabitants and Spencer Halpin.

Perhaps the most interesting response was that of Lanning’s in response to the question of why violence and videogames is still such a hot topic:

They (media groups) want the sensationalism. They will broadcast anytime there’s a shooting; they will find people that have a very specific, loud, sensational, fearful opinion of it, and they will give them prime airtime. If you add up those minutes of airtime it’s actually a fair amount of penetration into the public mind.

But then, we look at the court cases and the Supreme Court decisions and court decisions in nine states, at the time I looked into it. And all of them, throughout all of these cases… they were sham cases. Those court cases, and the results of that, never get any airtime, because that’s not selling news. So we wind up with a very distorted opinion from the public perspective, those that rely on the corporate media. The results of the court case maybe be on page 9, probably on page 19 and take up a tenth of a page.

Meanwhile, when the sensationalism happens… the critics, with false claims that they are never held to, get a lot of exposure and that exposure compounds. We see this in so many things… in the lead up to the war, in healthcare… When it was a hot topic, we could count on the coverage being in a certain direction and I think we can continue to count on that because the media behavior isn’t changing for the better, if anything it can pretty much be proven it’s changing for the worse.


The full post-film discussion is available on YouTube in four segments: part one, part two, part three and part four.

Disclosure: Filmmaker Spencer Halpin is the brother of Entertainment Consumers Association president Hal Halpin. The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

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TiVo Alert: Fox News to Tackle MW2

November 10, 2009 -

It was only a matter of time before Fox News got involved in the issue of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and we have confirmation that they will tackle the game tomorrow morning during the Fox & Friends show.

The ECA, which operates GamePolitics, received an email from FOX News around 11 a.m. EST today asking to speak to an "expert gamer" about the controversies surrounding the game. The pertinent part of the email:

Hello,

I write to inquire about a possible interview tomorrow on Fox & Friends. We're the morning show of the Fox News Channel, and are planning on doing a segment on the new Xbox game, Modern Warfare 2. We're hoping to have a debate on the game, and would love to speak to an expert gamer on the controversies surrounding the game. The debate is for 6:50am tomorrow morning, on camera.

The email came to Jason Andersen, the ECA's director of PR. When he responded that the ECA might be interested but they needed more information, he did not receive an answer. So it appears that the ECA will not be the representative side of the games industry.

Hal Halpin, president of the ECA, said that he heard from other sources that FOX wanted to "discuss the ethics and morals that game developers employ when making decisions about what content/direction to employ when they're creating games."

GP: We all know what a pillar of integrity FOX News can be when it comes to covering video games, remembering in particular their coverage of the alien sex simulator that was Mass Effect. Cooper Lawrence, an author used by FOX to bash Mass Effect, later recanted her comments saying:

"Before the show I had asked somebody about what they had heard, and they had said it's like pornography. But it's not like pornography. I've seen episodes of Lost that are more sexually explicit."

So it will be interesting to see how they handle this, seeing as there is already a lot of misinformation about the Modern Warfare 2 terrorist sequence in the mainstream press. Hopefully, whoever responds for "the gamer" will be able to hold their own as well as Geoff Keighley did against Cooper Lawrence.

Watch the episode tomorrow at 6:50 a.m. and tell us what you think.

Update: For a cartoonist's take on the Fox News coverage, check out Crispy Gamer's Backward Compatible.

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PC Version of Manhunt 2 May Carry an AO Rating, But How Will It Get Sold?

August 26, 2009 -

As noted by Joystiq, the ESRB is currently listing the upcoming PC version of Manhunt 2 with an Adults Only (AO) rating.

GamePolitics readers will likely recall that the console versions of Manhunt 2 generated a major controversy in the summer of 2007 when the game was banned in Britain and tagged with an AO here in the States. Rockstar subsequently released a toned-down version that earned an M (17+) rating for the U.S. market.

That was a critical milestone, because the Big Three console makers won't license AO-rated games for their systems, which makes it tough for a publisher to earn a return on its investment. That's why you don't see any AO-rated console games. While the open architecture of the PC negates licensing concerns, an AO-rated Manhunt 2 would still get thumbs-down from major retailers like GameStop and Wal-Mart.

That means that Rockstar is either planning a digital distribution campaign for Manhunt 2 or that it will edit the PC version - as it did with the console editions - to earn an M from the ESRB. Of course, there is a third scenario: Rockstar could ship an M-rated version to retailers while distributing an AO-rated version online.

We wonder how Valve might react to handling an AO game if its Steam service, which currently distributes Rockstar's GTA IV online, is under consideration as a potential digital distribution source for Manhunt 2.

Shadow Complex Boycott a Non-Starter?

August 26, 2009 -

Calls to boycott Xbox Live Arcade offering Shadow Complex because it is based on the works of anti-gay rights author Orson Scott Card may be falling on deaf ears, reports gamezine.co.uk.

Card is part of the National Organisation for Marriage: founded in 2007 to act as an organised opposion against same-sex marriage. Card has personally campaigned against gay marriage, which he believes would mark an end to democracy. He further argues that homosexuality is a dysfunction...

Whatever the case, it looks like the boycott didn't work. Following rave reviews, Shadow Complex has romped to the top of the most played Xbox LIVE Arcade titles, even entering the top ten of all Xbox 360 games played online.

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Old Gay Bashing Game Resurfaces, Sparks Eastern Euro Controversy

July 20, 2009 -

A Flash game in which players must shoot naked men in order to avoid being sexually assaulted has sparked controversy in Eastern Europe.

As reported by The Observers, Watch Out Behind You, Hunter! was originally released in 2002 on the French Uzinagaz portal, but subsequently banned following protests by gay rights advocates. More recently, the game has surfaced on a site hosted in Georgia.

Gay Armenia writes:

This is totally disgusting. The website has to be shut down unless they take this game out of their server... I wonder, where are the voices of those religious-minded people in Tbilisi, Georgia, who swear in the name of Georgian patriarch and constantly cite Bible to ‘justify’ their homophobia and hatred. Is this their (un-)‘orthodox’ way of bringing up children by creating an image of enemy (=gays) and teaching how to deal with it (=kill them)?

Jean Christophe Calvet, who operates Uzinagaz, defended the game:

We launched this game [in 2002] and it worked very well. It was only a few years after it came out that a gay rights association took legal action against us. So we withdrew the game. It's no longer available on French sites, but it's impossible to wipe it from all foreign sites too.

I have to say that at the beginning, we really didn't understand why the association was attacking us. The guy who came up with the game... wanted to mock hunters and red-necks, not gay men.

Our games are not politically correct. They're aimed at teenagers (12-18) and it's true that they're of a juvenile humour. I realise now that this one in particularly could be found shocking, but I believe that you should be able to make this kind of joke in the name of freedom of speech...

Via: GameCulture

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Developer of iPhone Drug-Dealing Game Fears Apple Banhammer

July 10, 2009 -

The top dog at U.K developer A-steroids, creator of Underworld: Sweet Deal for the iPhone, is worried that his company's game is going to be rejected by Apple over its drug-dealing theme.

As readers may recall, this is a bit of an ongoing saga. GamePolitics reported in December, 2008 that A-steroids had renamed the game, originally called DrugLords, in an effort to avoid an App Store ban. A few days later, an Englishwoman who lost her daughter to heroin abuse called upon Apple to ban the game, whatever its title.

Apparently the issue is still up in the air, based on an e-mail GamePolitics received today from Andrey Podoprigora, Head of Studio for A-steroids:

We have recently released our first game on the AppStore - Underworld: SweetDeal. The game was previously known as DrugLords, location-based MMO about dirty trade...

This week, we have submitted the game in it's original drug-trade setting to the AppStore. We were hoping that after the iPhone 3.0 came out with it's parental controls improved, there is a chance for the game to finally come through.

Now, we have got an update from Apple, saying they require "unexpected additional time for review". Which is sort of bad because we are already familiar with responses like that - in December, 2008 this led to months of silence and then ended up as a reject. Would be sad if it means nothing changes in Apple's app reviewing policy.

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In Congress, Rep. Kucinich Argues Against Army's Video Game-Fueled Recruiting Road Show

June 25, 2009 -

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is no fan of the controversial Virtual Army Experience, a traveling, high-tech, video game-driven military recruiting program.

As GamePolitics reported in March, Kucinich urged the House Armed Services committee to eliminate funding for the project, charging that it "give[s] participants as young as 13 years old a naïve and unrealistic glimpse into the world of soldiering..."

In addition, Kucinich has taken the debate over the VAE to the floor of Congress. A C-SPAN video posted yesterday on YouTube shows the former presidential hopeful once again expressing concern over the recruiting program. Engaging in a colloquy with House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO). Kucinich said:

Children as young as 13-years-old are participating in the Virtual Army Experience, which paints an innaccurate picture of war by glorifying it while sanitizing the real effects. More than a mere video game, it includes interactions with real veterans, who appear to be in perfect health. It also requires that the user, regardless of age, share personal information as a condition of participation...

 

I think we can agree that the Virtual Army Experience video game must be revalidated to ensure that its age-appropriate rating is accurate in the context of how it's being employed; that the Virtual Army Experience content should be reviewed to ensure it accurately reflects the consequences of war; and that there must be increased transparency with regard to how the personal information of the participants, collected during participation, will be used by the Army.

Skelton's response is of interest in that he didn't exactly disagree with Kucinich:

I support the VAE. At the same time, I know it can be improved. And I would be happy, of course, to work with this gentleman to address the issues that you have so aptly raised.

GP: At this point we're not entirely sure when Kucinich made the remarks in the House; given that they just hit YouTube, we assume that they are recent. Any GamePolitics reader input on the timing of Kucinich's comments will be gratefully accepted.

Thanks to: GP correspondent Andrew Eisen...

America's Army Launches New Version, Sacks Developers, Moves HQ

June 20, 2009 -

The launch of America's Army 3.0 this week didn't go smoothly thanks to problems with the game's authentication servers. Laying off the entire development team probably didn't help the situation.

As Shacknews reports, the Emeryville, California-based studio was closed with future work on the series transferred to Alabama's Redstone Arsenal.

A post on the official AA message board (since removed) by an anonymous team member was captured by VE3D and shows the apparent level of frustation felt by developers.

Imagine trying to build a game with an impossible deadline, steadily declining workforce (via firings), A hiring freeze, constantly being fed misinformation, having the "higher ups" completely ignore your weekly plea for either A) more time, or B) more manpower, working a ton of unpaid overtime, pouring your heart and soul into a misadventure only to have the uniformed community scoff at you for uncontrollable variables...

 

In fact, the bureaucracy is so convoluted that you can't even begin to imagine the breadth and scope of B.S. the devs had to deal with daily... imagine being the subcontractor of a subcontractor of a contractor to the government...

 

I'm not sure why i've felt compelled to write this when I'm sure it will get deleted, or even scoffed at further, but I hoped to let the fans know that we tried as hard as we could and are very bummed to see the fruits of our labor shoved at gamers like a heaping pile of crap.

GP: Interestingly, there is a launch event for America's Army 3.0 today at the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia, which was the site of a large-scale protest against the game in May.

Partially Via: Blue's News

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Is Possessing RapeLay a Federal Crime in the United States?

June 19, 2009 -

Much has been written about RapeLay since the controversial Hentai game was discovered for sale on Amazon a few months back.

But while the debate thus far has largely centered around whether Japan, where RapeLay and most similar titles originate, should allow games featuring sexual violence to be published, a recent court ruling suggests that U.S. citizens who possess RapeLay and games of its ilk may be guilty of a federal offense.

Wired's Threat Level blog reports that on Monday the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to consider the appeal of Dwight Whorley, a Virginia man who was convicted in U.S. District Court of possessing actual kiddie porn. But, under what is known as the 2003 Protect Act, prosecutors also charged Whorley with possessing manga which depicted minors having explicit sex. From the relevant section of the Protect Act:

Any person who... knowingly possesses a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting, that—

 

(1) (A) depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; and

(B) is obscene; or

(2) (A) depicts an image that is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in graphic bestiality, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex; and

(B) lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value... shall be subject to the penalties provided...

(c) Nonrequired Element of Offense.— It is not a required element of any offense under this section that the minor depicted actually exist.

Threat Level also cites a similar conviction against Christopher Handley, a comic book collector who imported sexually explicit manga containing illustrations of child sex abuse and bestiality. Unlike Whorley, Handley possessed no actual child pornography.

So how does this connect to the RapeLay situation? A [NSFW] review of the game posted on Something Awful describes graphic, forced sex with a mother and her two minor daughters, the youngest of whom appears to be about ten years old. Save for the fact that it's interactive, RapeLay is not much different from the type of hardcore manga which earned federal time for Whorley and Handley.

We should note that a single judge on the 4th Circuit dissented from the opinion upholding Whorley's conviction and urged that the case be sent to the U.S. Supreme Court. But for now, at least, owning a copy of RapeLay seems like a risky legal proposition, indeed.

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Albany Paper Backs Free Speech Claim in Controversial Game Lawsuit

June 14, 2009 -

In an editorial published this morning the Albany Times-Union offers support for a federal lawsuit filed last week against the city of Troy, New York and its public works commissioner, Robert Mirch (left).

GamePolitics readers will recall that in 2008 inspectors invoked the city's building code to shut down an art gallery which was displaying Virtual Jihadi, Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal's controversial computer game exhibit. From today's Times-Union editorial:

What constitutes free and protected speech in Troy, and what constitutes public safety and unacceptable building code violations, aren't merely matters of fiat. They aren't simply up to the whims of Robert Mirch. They shouldn't be, at least...

 

The public works commissioner, not to mention the majority leader of the Rensselaer County Legislature, had effectively appointed himself arbiter of public morals...

Mr. Mirch, meanwhile, seems to have a new beef with the media... He's bothered that the lawsuit, which after all is a public document, has made it into the hands of the media. Let's hope he doesn't try to use the building code to further retaliate...

Free speech and the building code should be kept separate.

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Six Days in Fallujah Debated on Fox News

June 11, 2009 -

On Fox and Friends this morning the debate over Six Days in Fallujah is back in the news.

Joining host Gretchen Carlson are Atomic Games president Peter Tamte, retired USMC Capt. Read Omohundro, an advisor on the project and Tracy Miller, who lost a son in the Fallujah fighting.

Via: Kotaku

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Steam to Carry New Version of America's Army

June 10, 2009 -

America's Army, the only video game in recent memory to generate a full-blown protest march, is getting an upgrade to v3.0; the new version will be carried by Valve's Steam service.

A press release issued by America's Army's P.R. consultant this morning announced that AA3 will be available as a free Steam download beginning on June 17th. In addition to Steam, fans can download the new version from other locations listed on the AA3 site.

Of the game's availability on Steam, Marsha Berry, senior executive producer for America's Army said:

We are very excited to work with Valve to distribute AA3 on Steam as it gives us access to great distribution technology as well as a tremendous user base. Additionally, we have incorporated Steamworks features such as Achievements and Steam Cloud to create a richer experience for Steam users.

 

Our relationship with Steam will broaden our reach to a new community and it offers our current players a great new way to get the America's Army game and keep it updated. Players will also be able to download AA3 using the America's Army Deploy Client from the Deploy network of providers listed on the America's Army download site.

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America's Army Gets a Graphic Novel

June 5, 2009 -

America's Army, the first-person shooter freely distributed as a recruiting tool, has been supplemented with a graphic novel.

Written by M. Zachary Sherman and inked by Michael Penick and J. Brown, the work spins the tale of the Army's struggle to save innocents in the fictional Democratic Republic of the Ostregals.

The expansion from games to comic books is likely to rile critics who object to the Army's incursion into pop culture for recruitment purposes.

Via: Blue's News

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Japanese Industry Group Cracks Down on RapeLay, Similar Games

June 5, 2009 -

A Japanese industry standards group has issued a ban on the controversial RapeLay and games of its ilk, according to Bloomberg.

While reports last week that the Ethics Organization of Computer Software had taken such a step were premature, the ban, which carries no legal authority, has now been confirmed. 233 Japanese software firms belong to EOCS, including 90% of the country's makers of adult software. In issuing the ban EOCS made reference to a February motion in the British Parliament which condemned RapeLay.

Such games are a thriving business in Japan, Bloomberg reports:

The adult software games industry had sales of 34.1 billion yen ($353 million) in 2007...

Computer games containing rape scenes are readily available in Japanese stores. Yodobashi Camera Co., an electronics retailer, sells ‘Rape!Rape!Rape!’... at its store in Akihabara, a shopping area of Tokyo famous for stores popular with fans of the Japanese cartoons known as manga.

With RapeLay requiring players to assault a 12-year-old girl character, Bloomberg notes that possession of real child pornography, much less the virtual kind, is not illegal in Japan. Former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer criticized Japan over the issue in January of this year:

Only Japan allows people to possess these hideous images without penalty...  Is it not time for Japan to find a way to punish the guilty?

Although the EOCS ban lacks the force of law, Singapore's Straits Times reports that most Japanese retailers will follow the edict.

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Fox News on Rendition: Guantanamo

June 4, 2009 -

Fox News offers its take on the cancellation of Rendition: Guantanamo, including an interview with Pete Hegseth of Vets For Freedom.

Hegseth, who served with the U.S. military in Iraq and as a guard at Guantanamo Bay, was also interviewed by conservative newspaper the Washington Times:

[Rendition: Guantanamo] looked like to us a blatant attempt to twist reality and change the perception of the American soldier...

 

We need to keep [pressure] on guys like [former Guantanamo detainee] Moazzam Begg and what they are trying to do in rewriting history at Guantanamo: That our troops are oppressors and that the detainees are all victims.

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ABC News: 9 Video Games That Went Too Far

June 4, 2009 -

ABC News has posted a web feature on controversial games, listing nine titles "that went too far." The games chosen by ABC's Ki Mae Huessner are:

  • Rendition: Guantanamo
  • Six Days in Fallujah
  • Faith Fighter
  • RapeLay
  • Miss Bimbo
  • GTA IV
  • Manhunt 2
  • Super Columbine Massacre RPG
  • JFK Reloaded

Although Ki Mae interviewed me for the piece, I'm not clear as to the criteria she used to narrow her final list down to nine. Still, it's a thought-provoking article and should serve as a good starting point to discuss what makes a game controversial.

Dante's Inferno Ignites E3 Protest

June 3, 2009 -

A small band of demonstrators gathered outside the Los Angeles Convention Center today to protest Dante's Inferno, an upcoming video game from publisher Electronic Arts.

While attendees viewed Dante's Inferno at EA's booth in the South Hall of the LACC, a dozen or so members of a Ventura County, California church group marched on the sidewalk. The protesters carried signs with messages like "EA = anti-Christ," reports the Los Angeles Times:

Matthew Francis, one of the protesters, said he and his fellow church members were particularly upset that Dante's Inferno features a character who fights his way out of Hell and uses a cross as a weapon against demons.

 

"We think this game should never come out," he said... 

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Guantanamo Game Project Halted in Wake of Controversy

June 3, 2009 -

In a surprising turn of events, development has ceased on Rendition: Guantanamo, apparently forever.

The sudden announcement was made earlier today by Scottish firm T-Enterprise and comes following a day of backlash in the wake of media reports about the alleged terrorist background of Moazzam Begg (left), a key consultant to the project.

In a statement released earlier today, T-Eterprise director Zarrar Chishti blamed press coverage  by U.S. media:

Unfortunately, much of the speculation regarding the game itself made by various publications and websites has been inaccurate and ill informed... [The game] was never designed to be “propaganda” or “a recruiting tool for terrorism”. Neither was it designed to glamorise terrorism as has been reported.

First and foremost, the main character was NOT Moazzam Begg... T-Enterprise is against all forms of terrorism... Furthermore, Guantanamo was to be a mercenary run institution and so there would have been NO American military personnel killed within the game...

 

I would now like to refute all suggestions that the game was in any way linked to Al Qaeda. T-Enterprise has never had and would never have a link to Al Qaeda in any way, shape or form... The game was simply designed to be an action video game that adults could enjoy.

However, as a direct result of the extreme reaction that the game and its popular misconceptions have provoked, T-Enterprise has decided to pull out of the project and will not be completing Rendition: Guantanamo.

Damaging press coverage included a blog post by Tom Joscelyn of the conservative Weekly Standard which indicated that Moazzam Begg had strong ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The publication referred to Rendition: Guantanamo as "Al Qaeda's Xbox Fantasy Game."

Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh also attacked Rendition: Guantanamo yesterday on his radio program, calling the game "disgusting." Noting that Rendition: Guantanamo was being developed for the Xbox 360, Limbaugh linked Microsoft to the project:

This is something that Bill and Melinda Gates -- they have their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and so forth -- they should be made aware and held accountable if this is something they allow to go forward.  Military families all over the country are just going to be outraged by this.  They have risked their lives to capture these terrorists, and the game dishonors the sacrifice that they've made for our country.  

The game is obviously political...  it's a game played from the standpoint of a detainee and how unfair he's treated and how hopeless his life is and all is lost unless he can escape.  There's already a firestorm of conversation about this that's percolating out there now.

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Conservative Mag Calls Upcoming Gitmo Title "Al Qaeda's Xbox Fantasy Game"

June 2, 2009 -

Rendition: Guantanamo, an upcoming Xbox 360 and PC game, has come under fire from The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication owned by Rupert Murdoch.

In a blog entry The Weekly Standard's Thomas Joscelyn writes:

One of the more popular former [Guantanamo] detainees is Moazzam Begg, who regularly appears in anti-American documentaries on television... Begg is a big hit with the global left... Begg is upping the ante by trying to win even more hearts and minds with an Xbox videogame...

 

By the sound of it, the videogame will allow users to pretend they are Gitmo inmates shooting at American servicemen... The director of the firm that is producing the game, Zarrar Chishti, denies this, of course, saying that “no US or British soldiers get killed in it.” Chisti claims: “The only ones being killed are mercenaries.”

Right...

Joscelyn writes in detail about Moazzam Begg (left), linking him to reports of jihadist beliefs and Al Qaeda training:

[Begg's] release [from Guantanamo] by the personal intervention of President Bush... was done, many think, as a political palliative to his friend and war supporter British prime minister Tony Blair, who was under much criticism at the time for not demanding immediate release of all British citizens held at Guantanamo...

Begg’s propaganda efforts will now include a disgusting video game in which Begg... gets to target “mercenaries” -- in reality, stand-ins for American servicemen...

Meanwhile, CBS News reports that Zarrar Chisti expects Rendition: Guantanamo to sell well in the Middle East. Begg, who has a financial stake in the game, said that his earnings will be donated to a charity devoted to the rights of Guantanamo detainees.

UPDATE: Gawker reports that Microsoft has denied knowledge of Rendition: Guantanamo. That's a key piece of information, since MS would have to license the game for it to appear on the 360. From Gawker:

In a statement, Microsoft said: "We are unaware of this game and have not been contacted by this developer. As such, we don't have enough details about the game to even comment about it."

More info upcoming...

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Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned in the U.S.

May 29, 2009 -

The embers of the RapeLay controversy were stirred a bit yesterday with a report that the game - and others of its ilk - had been banned in Japan. Not by the government, mind you, but by an industry standards organization.

As it turned out, the report was false, but it prompted a great deal of hand-wringing about Japanese censorship. And yet, RapeLay is already banned - in advance - in the United States by an industry standards organization: the ESRB. Again, it's not a government ban, but it is a de facto ban.

Think about it. Video game retailers won't carry unrated games, which would require RapeLay's publisher to submit the software to the ESRB for a rating. Given its digusting subject matter, RapeLay would certainly be tagged with the quickest AO (adults only) rating ever issued by the ESRB. If you think back to the 2007 Manhunt 2 situation, you'll recall that major retailers won't carry AO-rated games and console manufacturers won't license them. That last bit wouldn't be a problem for RapeLay, of course, since it's a PC game.

Yes, the game could still be sold online by independents. Even governments have a hard time stopping that. But the AO rating is retail death and everyone in the video game business understands that. No publisher would waste their time and money submitting a RapeLay to the ESRB, which is why I maintain that such games are banned in advance. I don't have a problem with any of this, by the way. It's how the system was designed to work. True, there are occasional calls for a marketable AO rating. But the ESRB would probably need to create an XXX rating to accomodate games like RapeLay if AO ever became acceptable to Wal-Mart and GameStop.

And while RapeLay's developers are within their rights to create a game based upon sexual violence and pedophilia, retailers are certainly within theirs not to carry the game. Women's groups are free to protest its messages. And the rest of us are free to be creeped out by RapeLay.

79 comments

Penn Jillette Argues Against RapeLay Ban

May 29, 2009 -

Penn Jillette has weighed in on the controversy over Japanese PC game RapeLay in a YouTube video.

The comedian argues against banning such games:

Prosecuting thought crimes is wrong...

 

[Critics'] complaint is that this game normalizes sexual violence. I think that blaming a video game for rape is normalizing violent sexual behavior. What that says is that we are all rapists and that rape is just under the surface of us and all we need is a video game to just push us a little way.

 

What blaming the video game does is it shows compassion for the rapist. It shows understanding. At some level, in some small amount, it says, "It's not really the rapist's fault; it's society's fault for putting this stuff out here." And I think that the rapist deserves no understanding and no compassion whatsoever.

GP: Thanks to GamePolitics reader Thomas McKenna for alerting us to the video...

56 comments

Satirical FPS Targets Iranian President

May 27, 2009 -

A new first-person shooter which its publisher describes as "hysterical" and "outrageous" drops players into a fight with virtual Iranian forces; its ultimate mission is a face-off with Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Durka 3D: Quest for Ahmadinejad takes its name from the faux Farsi spoken by the puppet characters of the 2004 comedy film Team America: World Police. A press release from Petrilla Entertainment describes the downloadable PC game:

Durka 3D: The Fall of Ahmadinejad is a full-fledged fast-action shooter that lets the player hunt down the Iranian dictator...


Scenes include bunkers filled with crates labeled "Not a crate destined for Iraqi insurgents," or missiles that say "Made in Russia," as well as battles where the enemy hurls insults at you in gibberish...

Designer Jesse Petrilla's last effort was Quest for Saddam, an FPS hunt for the late Iraqi dictator. Islamic radicals subsequently used the Quest for Saddam engine to create a video game riposte, Night of Bush Capturing, which was widely criticized in the West. Given the history, it seems likely that Durka 3D will spark criticism from Iran, if not another instance of turnabout.

Commenting on his game via press release, Petrilla said:

Durka 3D goes beyond the politics surrounding the conflict. I created Durka 3D to attack a tyrant with Saturday Night Live type satire to relieve some of the stress many of us share.

GameCulture has more.

20 comments

Philly Columnist Defends Army's Video Game Recruitment Center

May 25, 2009 -

The Army's use of video games to promote recruitment has been a source of controversy in recent times. Most recently, GamePolitics reported on a large-scale protest march at the Army Experience Center, located at a Philadelphia mall.

Taking the opposing view ot that of the protesters, attorney Christine Flowers defends the AEC in a Memorial Day weekend column for the Philadelphia Daily News:

A few [military] vets have been on the front lines in targeting the Army Experience Center... AEC incorporates high-tech virtual experiences, more traditional media and one-on-one interaction to reach young men and women who might be considering a life in the service...

According to Maj. Larry Dillard, the center's program manager, the fundamental purpose is to give young people a more realistic and authentic idea of what it means to be a soldier in the 21st century. "The virtual experience allows for transparency, and is more effective in communicating our message than still photos or written materials."...

WHAT'S SO insidious?...

It is only because of [our military personnel's] sacrifices that the protesters have the right to raise their voices. It is only because of their willingness to believe in something greater than themselves, a collective sense of duty and obligation, that we have a country where dissent is privileged.

44 comments

Edited NecroVisioN Clears Aussie Censors

May 22, 2009 -

Following edits, first-person shooter NecroVisioN has been approved for sale in the Australian market, according to games.on.net.

GamePolitics readers may recall that Australian censors refused to issue an age classification to the game earlier this year. Published by 1C, NecroVisioN combines World War I trench combat and battles against demonic enemies.

games.on.net reports that the NecroVisionN's level of gore was toned down sufficiently to receive an MA15+, currently Australia's most restrictive rating. One important edit appears to have been changing blood sprays into gray dust.

GameSpot Australia has more.

6 comments

Japanese Political Party Targets Rape Games

May 21, 2009 -

In the wake of the controversy generated by RapeLay, one of Japan's political parties has issued a general condemnation against computer games featuring forced sex.

The news comes by way of erotic games site Sankaku Complex (NSFW):

Japan’s Koumeito party, long a member of the ruling coalition, has condemned adult games featuring sexual coercion and violence as being a highly negative influence on Japan’s tiny rates of sex crimes. They are calling for a ban or further restrictions on their sale.

GP: I'll confess to having little knowledge of Japanese politics. Meanwhile, Sankaku Complex veers off into a rant, as one might expect for a site that supports such games, so I'll just leave it there.

Via: Kotaku

55 comments

RapeLay Passed Japanese Software Group's Ethics Screening Process

May 15, 2009 -

The controversial Japanese game RapeLay was cleared by a software industry screening board, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun.

According to the newspaper, the Tokyo-based Ethics Organization of Computer Software screened RapeLay without advising its publisher, Illusion, to make any edits. 235 computer game firms belong to the supposedly self-regulating organization. While an unnamed official of the group would not reveal its screening standards, he told the newspaper:

[The organization] follows the Penal Code and the law, which bans child prostitution and child pornography. Also, we ask for self-regulation of games, to ensure stories depicted stay at a permissible level from a social perspective...

 

[Given the RapeLay controversy the organization] should discuss what kind of self-imposed regulations are required to ensure [games] are acceptable to society.

The Yomiuri Shimbun also reports that RapeLay which caused an uproar when it was found to be available on Amazon.com via a third-party reseller, has been pulled from the market. The move comes in the wake of a protest lodged by New York-based women's rights organization Equality Now. Attorney Yukiko Tsunoda, a member of Equality Now,commented:

The problem isn't just about this specific game, but about all similar games still available [in Japan].

50 comments

RapeLay Developer "Bewildered" By Furor Over Game

May 8, 2009 -

The controversy over RapeLay, an obscure but disgusting forced sex simulation, appears to be rekindling. GamePolitics readers will recall that the game sparked a furor earlier this year after it was found to be for sale by a third-party reseller on Amazon.com. In response to complaints the online retailer quickly removed the listing.

This month, New York-based women's group Equality Now has targeted RapeLay and similar games for a letter-writing campaign:

Please write to [developer] Illusion Software asking it to withdraw immediately from sale of all games, including RapeLay, which involve rape, stalking or other forms of sexual violence or which otherwise denigrate women... Please write a similar letter to Amazon Japan.

 

Write also to... Japanese government officials... calling on them to comply with Japan’s obligations under [the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women] and the Japanese Constitution to... ban the sale of computer games such as RapeLay, which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls.

Australian news site ABC.net reports that the Japanese developer of RapeLay, Illusion, claims to be "bewildered" by the uproar. Spokesman Makoto Nakaoka told ABC.net:

We are simply bewildered by the [Equality Now protest]. We make the games for the domestic market and abide by laws here. We cannot possibly comment on [the campaign] because we don't sell them overseas.

A Japanese Government spokeswoman to ABC.net:

[The government] realises the problem is there. While we recognise that some sort of measures need to be taken, the office is currently studying what can be done.

194 comments

 
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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

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