ECA Staging SCOTUS Rally

October 13, 2010 -

The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) is inviting concerned gamers to participate in a pro-gaming rally on November 2 in Washington D.C., the same day that the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Schwarzenegger vs. EMA case.

The rally will take place on the steps of the Court, which is located at One First Street NE, at 9 AM. Oral arguments for the landmark videogame case are scheduled for 10AM ET.

The ECA noted:

A Sampling of the Controllers Headed Yee's Way

October 12, 2010 -

The Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) Video Game Voters Network (VGVN) has posted the first batch of user submitted photos showing controllers submitted to California State Senator Leland Yee.

The VGVN, for those who missed it, is urging the gaming populace to show its distaste for the Yee-authored law, which, under the guise of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA, will appear in front of the Supreme Court on November 2, by sending in controllers with the words “I Believe in the First Amendment” written on them.

Activision Blizzard Policy Maker Rails Against California Law

October 11, 2010 -

George Rose, Activision Blizzard’s Chief Public Policy Officer penned a column for the Orange County Register in which he called the California law at the heart of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA “onerous,” and "unnecessary.”

Rose claimed that a SCOTUS approval of the law would “hijack” the First Amendment rights of young people “by unjustifiably creating a special exception to unprotected free speech not only for video games, but any other form of expression.”

He also worried that the law would put “innocent store clerks at serious legal and financial risk,” all for a law that is “already moot.”

Rose explained:

6 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

You’ll Be Able to Hear Schwarzenegger SCOTUS Oral Arguments

October 7, 2010 -

While we’ll be trying to gain entrance into the Supreme Court to hear Schwarzenegger vs EMA oral arguments on November 2, even if questionable credentials or a nefarious past preclude us from gaining access, a recording of the arguments will be made available on the SCOTUS website.

The new recording release initiative, as detailed on the SCOTUS website, begins with the current October term and will see audio files posted to the SCOTUS website on Fridays, under the Oral Arguements section of the site's menu.

Gamers, Watch Out for “Toasted Skin Syndrome”

October 7, 2010 -

Yet another new ailment threatens gamers, this one specifically targeting those who might use laptops to play games for hours a day.

“Toasted skin syndrome” is the layman’s term for erythema ab igne, described as a “reticular, pigmented, sometimes telangiectatic dermatosis” and it originates from prolonged exposure to a heat or an infrared source.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and reported on by AP, Swiss researchers discussed the condition appearing in a 12-year old boy who played computer games for a “few hours every day for several months.”

2 comments | Read more

Left Behind Games Packing Christian Stores with Games

October 6, 2010 -

In a weirdly specific press release, religious game developer and publisher Left Behind Games stated that it’s received initial holiday orders for 37,174 copies of its PC games.

The orders were from the U.S.’s “top four leading Christian store chains,” covering 503 locations. Titles ordered included Praise Champion, Charlie Church Mouse: Superpack, Keys of the Kingdom and Left Behind 2: Tribulation Forces, but the real stalwart of the bunch was Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist, which averaged 24.8 copies ordered per store.

CEO Troy Lyndon added, “The depth of these new orders increases our projected fiscal year revenue by $401,095.”

13 comments | Read more

Anti-Terror Games Allow Indians to Express Patriotism

October 5, 2010 -

An interesting article on the Times of India website details a series of games based on the 2008 Mumbai, India terrorist attack and goes into why, perhaps, people are drawn to play them.

The columnist writes that, “In India, the Mumbai terror attack has caught game developers' fancy in a big way,” before referencing a pair of games based on the tragedy.

1 comment | Read more

1378 Developer Defends Games, Details Delay

October 5, 2010 -

1378 (km), the game based on the “death strip” separating East and West Berlin during the Cold War has seen its release delayed until December.

The game’s developer, a student at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design named Jens Stober, took to his blog to announce the postponement, which he said was partly due to criticism of the game. Comments about the title, such as the Director of the Berlin War Memorial stating “The seriousness of what once went on at the border can’t be portrayed in this way,” led Stober to claim that “an objective discussion of the game is presently impossible.”

Stober also offered a rather impassioned defense of games, specifically computer games, writing:

A large part of the criticism is a consequence of my chosen medium, the computer game. Computer games as a medium are often quick to be judged without being more closely examined, as was also the case with my art project. It was designed to enable a younger generation to access information on recent German history using a medium familiar to them.

2 comments | Read more

Researchers on Videogame Injuries

October 4, 2010 -

Using data provided by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, researchers recently presented an overview of videogame-related injuries at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.

Between January 1, 2004 and January 1, 2009, there were a total of 696 game-related injuries in the U.S., of which 604 were suffered from “traditional games,” while 92 were attributed to “newer interactive games” that require a greater investment of interactivity, like Nintendo’s Wii. Of the 92 injuries caused by “newer” technology, 49 injured parties were male and 43 female.

The mean age of the injured was 16.5 years old. Those injured were more likely to hurt their shoulder, ankle or foot. Bystander injuries were also “significantly” more likely to occur when playing games using the “newer” interactive technology.

5 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:

New York Law School Moot Court Features EMA Case

October 1, 2010 -

Earlier this week, we reported on the results of a moot court hosted by the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary Law School, in which several noted journalists, legal scholars, and even a federal judge sat down to hash out a mock version of the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case pending before the Supreme Court. The IBRL moot court found 6-3 in favor of the State of California, causing some concern as to whether the result was an outlier or a hint towards how the Supreme Court may rule.

Apparently, William & Mary is not the only law school considering the question. New York Law School, famous for their annual State of Play conference, held a moot court competition of their own featuring a fact pattern very similar to that of the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case.  We obtained a copy of the bench brief from the case, which was written by NYLS third year law students Andrew Blancato and John Hague for the Charles W. Froessel Intramural Moot Court Competition. 

Wal-Mart Backs Rise of the Antichrist Across U.S.

September 30, 2010 -

Looks like an experimental pilot program that had around 100 Texas Wal-Mart stores carry the Christian-themed titles of Left Behind Games went well, as the publisher announced that two of its newer offerings will be sold at locations of the world’s largest retailer throughout the U.S.

Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist and Charlie Church Mouse: Superpack will show up in Wal-Mart stores before the end of October.

LBG CEO Troy Lyndon stated, "We are delighted to offer healthy alternatives into the PC game marketplace and pleased to see these games get the exposure they deserve by becoming available in Walmart nationally.

Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist is a real-time strategy game based on the book series of the same name.

13 comments

New Platform Lets Kids Learn by Building Games

September 29, 2010 -

A new game-based learning platform, which utilizes “the principles of game design as a form of 21st Century skill building,” officially launched today.

Gamestar Mechanic is browser-based and runs on both PC and Mac platforms. Published by E-Line Media, with support from the Institute of Play, initial funding of the game’s development was provided by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to the Institute of Play.

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Game Based on “Death Strip” that Separated East and West Germany

September 29, 2010 -

A student-developed videogame centered on the “death strip” that separated East and West Berlin during the heart of the Cold War has run afoul of the Director of the Berlin Wall Memorial.

The game, entitled 1378 (km) and named for the length of the border between East and West Germany that was patrolled and policed for some 28 years, was created by Jens Stober, a student at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design.

According to The Local, 1378 (km) allows players to take on the role of border guards or escapees, while having them choose whether to “shoot, arrest, run, give up, kill, or be killed.”

The game is set in 1976, though “border guards who shoot to kill more than three times are magically transported to the year 2000, where they face trial for their crimes.”

A statement from Stober’s school on the game read:

1 comment | Read more

Vindicia CEO: CA SCOTUS Win Could Kill Freemium Market

September 28, 2010 -

Earlier this month we mentioned the amicus brief filed by online billing solution provider Vindicia, which backed the videogame industry in the looming Schwarzenegger vs. EMA Supreme Court showdown.

Vindicia CEO Gene Hoffman, Jr. has since penned an article for Xconomy on the case and how a ruling for California could kill the freemium model (a la Electronic Arts' Battlefield Heroes or id Software's Quake Live) of distributing videogames to the masses:

Obama Seeks Greater Access to Online Communication

September 28, 2010 -

In order to combat the decreasing use of archaic telephones, the Obama administration is preparing a bill that would allow law enforcement and national security officials greater access to online communications.

As reported by the New York Times, such a bill would require online services such as Blackberry’s encrypted email system, or social sites like Facebook, to be “technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order.”

Some, like Columbia University’s Steven Bellovin, a Computer Science Professor, see a problem with the mandate, because hackers could figure out how to gain access through the new backdoors. Bellovin called it, “… a disaster waiting to happen.”

9 comments | Read more

Another Eagle Forum Member Makes Case Against Violent Games

September 27, 2010 -

Over the past month, the “pro-family” Eagle Forum attempted (and failed) to lobby Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff into supporting the California side of Schwarzenegger v. EMA, while its founder, Phyllis Schlafly, scribbled out a withering column on the “evil products” and “highly disturbing”  content emerging from the videogame industry. Now another Eagle Forum member is attempting to pin the group’s anti-videogame stance on protecting children.

Moot Court Renders Schwarzenegger v. EMA Opinion

September 27, 2010 -

Last month we told you that the Institute of Bill of Rights Law (IBRL) at William & Mary Law School would offer a mock trial of the Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association case, which is scheduled to go before the Supreme Court on November 2.  Well, the Moot Court held its version of the event over the weekend, and gamers will have to hope that the result does not foreshadow the verdict that SCOTUS eventually returns.

The mock trial included participants such as USA Today’s Joan Biskupic, The Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin, the New York Times’ Adam Liptak, University of California, Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemrinsky, Jeffrey Sutton from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and U.S. Department of Justice Deputy Assistant Attorney General Beth Brinkman.

Jersey Shore Star May Face Situation Over App

September 24, 2010 -

While Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s iPhone app has been making the news this week due to its appearance in Apple’s top 10-grossing application list, the Jersey Shore star may soon be facing a lawsuit over a game included in the app.

The app features a game called “Grenade Dodger,” in which users attempt to dodge unattractive women, or “grenades” in Jersey Shore-speak. The problem, according to Radar Online, is that photographers were dispatched by the game’s developer to clubs in order to snatch pictures of women in the “3 or 4” category for inclusion in the Situation’s application. One of the girls featured in “Grenade Dodger” is reportedly horrified over her insertion in the game and is considering taking legal action.

28 comments | Read more

THQ’s Farrell Sees Game Prices Dropping

September 24, 2010 -

While THQ CEO Brian Farrell believes that the future could bring lower costs for console games, that seemingly bright prospect contains a bit of a catch for consumers.

Speaking at a recent Goldman Sachs conference, Farrell, as reported by CVG, sees console games eventually selling for between $29 to $39 at retail, but those would be basic or stripped down versions of games, with—of course—extra content available from paid downloadable content.

THQ will experiment with just this kind of concept on its upcoming MX vs ATV title. As Farrell noted, “In the past, we've seen that we bring the game out at $59.99 and it does reasonably well - around one million, or one million-and-a-half units.”

He continued, “When we lower the price to a mass market price the thing really jumps... So what we're doing this time is we're coming out initially with a smaller game at a lower price point - the $29 to $39 range.”

19 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.

PGA’s Els Backs Golf Game for Special Needs Users

September 22, 2010 -

The PGA Tour’s Ernie Els has teamed up with VTree LLC in order to produce a golf videogame that can be enjoyed by all users, even those with disabilities or special needs.

Powered by EA Sports technology, My Golf Game Featuring Ernie Els will be released for the PC the week of October 11 and supports the use of a variety of input devices, including a touch screen, foot pedals or voice recognition for disabled users, in addition to typical devices like a mouse, keyboard or Xbox 360 controller.

A percentage of proceeds from the game’s sales will go to the golfer’s The Els for Autism Foundation. Els stated, “I am proud to be associated with 'My Golf Game.' As a parent of a child with autism it is great to see such a high quality game available to a wider group of gamers that will help develop key coordination skills."

1 comment | Read more

Op-Ed Praises Utah AG’s Supreme Decision

September 22, 2010 -

The courting of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (pictured) by both sides in the Schwarzenegger vs. EMA  U.S. Supreme Court case ended with him signing onto an amicus brief supporting the game industry, where he was joined by fellow attorneys general from Arkansas, Georgia, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Washington.

A disjointed op-ed in Utah’s Standard-Examiner praised Shurtleff’s decision, yet still managed to take some pot shots at the game industry.

Shurtleff stated that he backed the game industry because he was “convinced” that the First Amendment protects games, a point agreed with in the op-ed:

Is it right for the government to freeze speech -- in this case the video games -- because some people are offended by the violence? The answer is no.

Autodesk, EULAs and Games, Oh Boy

September 20, 2010 -

You may have recently heard of a court decision out of the Ninth Circuit involving horror stories about EULAs banning the right to resell games. There has been a lot of misinformation and fearmongering surrounding the case, with people shouting how it is the end of the world. It really isn't, and I'd like to take the opportunity to go over the actual decision, as well as the existing law behind it, to explain why this will have minimal, if any, effect on gamers.

Background on First Sale

40 comments | Read more

Online Billing Solution Provider Files Brief Backing Game Industry

September 20, 2010 -

In what may initially seem like a stretch, Vindicia, a “leading provider of on-demand strategic billing solutions,” has filed an amicus brief in support of the videogame side in Schwarzenegger vs EMA.

The brief (PDF) makes a bit more sense when put in the context that Vindicia has clients such as Activision Blizzard and Atari. The company stated that the law at the center of the case “substantially impacts Vindicia, its customers, and the consumers they serve… by creating uncertainty regarding the legal status of video game expression.”

Furthermore, the “the Act’s age verification mandate jeopardizes significant modes of online commerce.”

Among Vindicia’s arguments:

Scholars File Brief Opposing California Videogame Law

September 20, 2010 -

Eighty-two scholars and researchers signed their name to a brief voicing opposition to the California law at the center of Schwarzenegger vs EMA.

Noting that the issue now awaiting a Supreme Court ruling is subject to strict scrutiny because it attempts to regulate the sale of games based on content, the scholars’ brief argues that California has neither provided “substantial evidence” that games cause psychological or neurological harm to minors playing them, nor does the state “demonstrate that the restriction will ‘alleviate these harms in a direct and material way.’”

Additionally:

Indeed, California does not offer any reliable evidence, let alone substantial evidence, that playing violent video games causes psychological or neurological harm to minors. California confesses it cannot prove causation, but points to studies that it says show a “correlation” between the two. But the evidence does not even do that.

ESA and EMA File SCOTUS Brief

September 10, 2010 -

Billing the California law at the heart of the Schwarzenegger vs EMA Supreme Court case as the “latest in a long history of overreactions to new expressive media,” the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) have filed their argument against the restriction of videogame sales in California.

The brief contends that videogames are a form of expression “as rich in content as books and movies,” and that they “are fully protected by the First Amendment.”

It was written that “California’s argument is not saved by the fact that the State is purportedly acting to assist parents,” adding:

GOW 3 Contest Raises $150k for Child’s Play

September 10, 2010 -

Allowing gamers to decide the fate of Gears of War 3 character Clayton Carmine will result in the Penny Arcade-backed charity Child’s Play receiving a donation of $150,000.

The Fate of Carmine campaign let participants vote on whether or not the third of four brothers to appear in the series will live, or die as siblings Anthony and Ben did before him. Votes were expressed in the purchase of “Save Carmine” or “Carmine Must Die” t-shirts, both real and in the form of Xbox Live avatar garb.

While Carmine’s fate has been chosen, Epic Games isn’t letting the results be known yet, but the company’s Cliffy B and Rod Fergusson shot the embedded YouTube video to let the gaming community know about the princely sum raised.

Microsoft also supported the charity drive, which saw 80 percent of the funds raised going to Child’s Play, with 20 percent reserved for administrative, bandwidth, and other associated support costs.

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:

 
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Andrew EisenHence the "Uh, yeah. Obviously."09/02/2014 - 12:53am
SleakerI think Nintendo has proven over the last 2 years that it doesn't.09/02/2014 - 12:31am
Andrew EisenSleaker - Uh, yeah. Obviously.09/01/2014 - 8:20pm
Sleaker@AE - exclusives do not a console business make.09/01/2014 - 8:03pm
Papa MidnightI find it disappointing that, despite the presence of a snopes article and multiple articles countering it, people are still spreading a fake news story about a "SWATter" being sentenced to X (because the number seems to keep changing) years in prison.09/01/2014 - 5:08pm
Papa MidnightAnd resulting in PC gaming continuing to be held back by developer habits09/01/2014 - 5:07pm
Papa MidnightI find it disappointing that the current gen of consoles is representative of 2009-2010 in PC gaming, and will be the bar by which games are released over the next 8 years - resulting in more years of poor PC ports (if they're ever ported)09/01/2014 - 5:06pm
Andrew EisenMeanwhile, 6 of Wii U's top 12 are exclusive: Mario 3D World, Nintendo Land, Pikmin 3, Mario Kart 8, Wonderful 101, and ZombiU. (Wind Waker HD is on the list too but I didn't count it.)09/01/2014 - 4:36pm
Andrew EisenLikewise, only two of Xbox One's top 12 are exclusive: Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome (if you ignore a PC release later this year).09/01/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenNot to disrespect the current gen of consoles but I find it telling that of the "12 Best Games For The PS4" (per Kotaku), only two are exclusive to the system: Infamous: Second Son and Resogun.09/01/2014 - 4:30pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/09/01/beyond-two-souls-ps4-trophies-emerge-directors-cut-reported/ MMM MMM, nothing quire like reheated last gen games to make you appreciate the 400 bucks you spent on a new console.09/01/2014 - 4:24pm
Andrew EisenThat's actually a super depressing thought, that a bunch of retweeters are taking that pic as an illustration of the actual issue instead of an example of a complete misunderstanding of it.09/01/2014 - 4:20pm
Andrew EisenObviously, the picture was created by someone who doesn't understand what the issue actually is (or, possibly, someone trying to satire said misunderstanding).09/01/2014 - 4:10pm
Papa MidnightPeople fear and attack what they do not understand.09/01/2014 - 4:04pm
Papa MidnightWell, let's not forget. Someone held their hand in a peace sign a few weeks ago and people started claiming it was a gang sign. Or a police chief displayed the hand signal of their fraternity and was accused of the same.09/01/2014 - 4:04pm
SleakerEither people don't understand that what the picture is saying is true, or the picture was created out of a misunderstanding of what sexism is.09/01/2014 - 3:52pm
Sleaker@AE ok yah that's where the kind of confusion I'm getting. Your tweet can be taken to mean two different things.09/01/2014 - 3:51pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - No. No, not even remotely. The pic attached to my tweet was not made by me; it's not a statement I'm making. It's an illustration of the complete misunderstanding of the issue my tweet is referring to.09/01/2014 - 3:13pm
Papa MidnightIn other news, Netflix states why it paid Comcast: http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/29/technology/netflix-comcast/index.html?hpt=hp_t209/01/2014 - 3:10pm
Papa MidnightAndrew Eisen: Sites like Tumblr make things seem much bigger than they are. A vocal extreme minority start complaining and things go as they do.09/01/2014 - 3:09pm
 

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