Video of U.S. Troops in Iraq Draws Comparison to Games

April 6, 2010 -

Leaked video of U.S. troops in Iraq shooting civilians that were mistaken for insurgents caused a WikiLeaks spokesperson to compare the footage to a videogame.

The footage in question, which can be viewed here if you have yet to see it (warning, it is graphic) shows a pair of Apache helicopters circling a group of people on the streets of New Baghdad in July of 2007. A Fox News report states that the choppers were responding to reports of AK-47 fire in the area. The group of 9-12 people included a pair of Reuters journalists.

U.S. troops apparently mistook cameras and photography equipment for weapons and eventually open-fired, killing an undetermined amount of people, including the two Reuters photographers. A Pentagon spokesperson called the attacks justified and told Fox News that, “The individuals who were killed, apart from the Reuters journalists, were involved in hostile activity.”

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More Ways to Watch Moral Kombat

April 1, 2010 -

Moral Kombat, the documentary by Spencer Halpin that examines the subject of violence in videogames, has been picked up by a variety of new digital distribution services.

The documentary is now, or will soon be, available for purchase or rent on Amazon’s OnDemand service, iTunes, Hulu, Xbox Live, Netflix and the PlayStation Network. As mentioned earlier this year, the film is also still available for free viewing on Babelgum.

Halpin on the additional distribution options:

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Dr. Olson Brings Some Reasoning to RapeLay Hysteria

April 1, 2010 -

Grand Theft Childhood co-author Dr. Cheryl Olson appeared yesterday on CNN Prime News in order to bring a little grounding to the network’s coverage of the game RapeLay.

Anchor Mike Galanos introduces the piece with a dire tone, saying, “Parents, we’ve got to warn you about this videogame, because your kids could get their hands on it,” before bringing in Dr. Olson. Galanos asks Olson about how easy it would be for a kid to download the game.

In answering, Olson puts some of the onus on CNN for their sensationalistic coverage of RapeLay, “One of my concerns is that kids generally never hear about this stuff unless it gets this kind of publicity.”

Olson mentions the Grand Theft Auto “Hot Coffee” mod, which went under the radar until politicians and the media drew attention to it.

Galanos then turns to violent games in general, asking, “What does this do to our kids?” Olson responded:

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Videogame Attack Ads

March 18, 2010 -

While political attack ads are common place, in the U.S. anyway, it’s still a bit out of the norm when publishers take each other in their marketing programs and today we offer two such examples for your perusal.

Remember the ill-received F.A.G.S. video designed to tout Modern Warfare 2? It decried grenade-spam in the game and featured Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. Well, EA has created a spoof of the F.A.G.S. video designed to highlight its new release Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Sponsored by F.R.A.G.S. (Friends Really Against Grenade Spam), the spot has its own MLB hurler—New York Yankee CC Sabathia—and takes dead aim against MW2.

Sabathia offers that, “In Battlefield: Bad Company 2 grenade spam isn’t going to prove quite as effective as one might find in competing games of this particular genre, not with destructible buildings, adrenaline pumping weapons and more vehicles than you can count.”

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UK Advertising Codes Updated, Games Addressed

March 17, 2010 -

The UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) have launched a series of new advertising codes.

The updates go into effect on September 1, 2010 and include new mandates related to videogame advertising. Radio ads for games that have an 18+ rating are listed under the “Special Category,” meaning that they must be centrally cleared by the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RAAC). Other entries in this category include ads for alcohol, slimming products, gambling products and services, religious organizations, adult shops and charities.

Radio ads for 18+ rated games are also required by BCAP (PDF) to obtain “central copy clearance,” joining ads for adult shops, stripograms, escort agencies and R18+ rated videos.

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Videogames & Violence Go Together Like Cigarettes & Lung Cancer

March 1, 2010 -

An Australian TV report on violent games and their impact on the country’s youth uses a quote from a psychologist to claim that the link between violent videogames and youth crime is greater than the connection between smoking and lung cancer.

The Ten News report details recent violent crimes—the slashing of a “young customers” throat at a Kings Cross, Sydney chicken shack and a bouncer who had his face slashed in Melbourne in one “of a string of weapon attacks,” and then attempts to link a perceived rise in violence to games, stating  that, “Psychologist say the explosion in youth crime is inextricably linked to violent videogames and other media.

Next to appear, Dr. Wayne Warburton from the Council on Children and the Media, who apparently came up with the lung cancer comparison, as he stated, “It’s much greater that the effect of smoking and lung cancer. There’s a study showing that the average child sees in a childhood, 16,000 murders and 200,000 act of violence."

The Council is calling for an information packet to be mailed to every household in Australia.

Reporter Matt Doran then cites  unknown “experts” as saying that the game industry has much to account for, then attempts to lay some of the blame on “Modern Warfare: Call of Duty 2,” a title in which “gamers plot terror attacks against civilians.”

Wrapping up, Doran quotes “psychologists” as saying that “regular exposure to games like these actually rewires a child’s brain, making them more amenable to violence.” He then alludes to a conference on youth violence taking place in Sydney “later this month,” which will feature “the world’s leading researchers.” He added, “Tougher classifications for violent media will be top of the agenda.”

The Council on Children and Media has a section on its website dealing with the R18 Discussion Paper, which it claims came about as “a relentless push by gamers and the industry.” They are against the addition of an R18+ rating category for games and run down their opposition here.

Among their points:

The gaming industry and gamers make much of the supposedly maturing and gender-balanced population who play video games. So what? One can say the same thing about many populations, such as car drivers and alcohol users, without this being an argument for, in effect, making drinking or car driving more easily available to minors.

 
Thanks Graham and Jamie!

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Attempt to Link Alabama Shooter with D&D

February 17, 2010 -

The University of Alabama professor who stands accused of killing three of her peers last Friday is now, of course, linked with a popular role-playing game.

The Boston Herald, citing a source, claims that suspected shooter Amy Bishop was a fan of Dungeons & Dragons and actually met her husband at Northeastern University through an on-campus D&D club. The source told the paper that “They [Bishop and her husband] even acted this crap out.”

Bishop’s husband, James Anderson, described the pair’s immersion in D&D as a “passing interest.” He added, “It was a social thing more than anything else. It’s not the crazy group people think they are.”

The Herald reached deep down to offer the following insight into the topic of D&D and its potential influence on players:

Some experts have cited the D&D backgrounds of people who were later involved in violent crimes, while others say it just a game.

Another Herald piece paints Bishop as slightly unhinged, detailing an incident in 2002 at an International House of Pancakes where Bishop allegedly punched another woman in the face for taking the restaurant’s last child booster seat.


Thanks E.Zachary Knight via the Shoutbox!

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FPS Gamers Less Likely to Help Pick Up Spilled Pencils

February 10, 2010 -

Jo Frost, best known stateside as the principal in the show Supernanny, has a new show airing in the UK and in its debut episode she attempted to tackle the issue of violent videogames.

The Guardian has a run down of the program (Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance), in which Frost, with the assistance of Iowa State University’s Dr. Douglas Gentile, conducted an experiment on 40 boys.

In one experiment, the boys were split in half, with 20 playing a football game for 20 minutes while the other 20 played a first-person shooter for the same amount of time. Following their game play session, all 40 boys watched violent news footage and had their heart rate monitored. Boys who played the FPS were found to have slower heart rates while watching the violent on-screen reports versus those who played the sports game, leading to a voice over that declared, “Shockingly, just twenty minutes of violent gameplay was enough to densensitise the boys.”

Author Keith Stuart took the methodology to task, writing, “I'm no neuroscientist, but with the biological stress response recently engaged, surely it's no surprise that in the few minutes after violent gameplay, test subjects react differently to violent stimuli?”

Stuart continued:

So really, what does this all say about the long-term effects of exposure to violent videogames? I would suggest very, very little.

An additional experiment, in which Gentile knocked over a can of pencils in front of each boy individually, was supposed to measure empathy. Reportedly only 40.0 percent of the boys who played the FPS helped to pick up the pencils, versus 80.0 percent of those who played the football game.

The combination of the two tests, and the resulting conclusions, were a bit too much for Stuart to take:

Cognitive neuroscience is a complex field - it is perhaps not something to be prodded and poked at during a piece of realty TV voyeurism masquerading as documentary material.

He added:

…if just 20 minutes of exposure is enough to turn normal boys into desensitized monsters, our streets should be filled with violence. They're not.

Canoe Paddles Down River of Violent Games

January 29, 2010 -

Canadian website Canoe has doubled up on videogame violence stories posted to its site in recent days.

First up is a story with the banner “Man Wounded in Xbox Dispute,” which details the shooting of a 27-year old Winnipeg man by his 16-year old brother. While “it was unclear whether the dispute was over the possession of a video game or if it broke out while the pair was playing a video game,” videogames were central enough to the crime that they were utilized in the headline.

The shooting victim, thankfully, was upgraded to stable condition in the hours following the incident.

Canoe also took the time to produce a slideshow entitled “Video Games Linked With Crime,” which dredges up fifteen game-related or influenced crimes, including a supposed trend among graffiti artists to replicate Tetris patterns in their illegal works.


Thanks Allen and Trencher!

Image via Wooster Collective

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Watch Moral Kombat, For Free

January 28, 2010 -

Spencer Halpin’s Moral Kombat, the 2007 documentary that focuses on the subject of violence in videogames, can be viewed for free in its entirety on Babelgum.

In examining its controversial topic, the film talks with a slew of game industry people, politicians and critics, including Dr. David Walsh, Jack Thompson, Lorne Lanning, American McGee, Joe Lieberman, Henry Jenkins and Doug Lowenstein.

The film will be free to watch online for 30 days.

In making the documentary, a variety of cutting-edge technology was employed, some of which is detailed in an article on Apple.com.

Disclosure: Spencer Halpin is ECA President Hal Halpin’s brother. GamePolitics is a publication of the ECA.

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MTV’s True Life Looks at Videogame Addiction

January 27, 2010 -

A new entry in MTV’s True Life television series takes a cursory look at the impact that playing too many games can have on relationships and life in general.

True Life: I’m Addicted to Video Games shadowed two fixated gamers: a white male college student named Barry and an African-American female college student named Charisse. Jezebel summed up the episode nicely, choosing to focus more on the plight of Charisse mostly because the site is for females, but also because Barry came across as attempting to “live up to every possible stereotype that exists about guys who game.”

Jezebel noted that Charisse “Though an obsessive player in her own right... showed quite a bit of range, devoting time to her five Sorority Life accounts, Farmville accounts, Guitar Hero, and Halo.” Additionally, “Charisse's boyfriend (Corey) is also African-American, a pairing that illuminated three different demographics not normally associated with gaming: a gaming couple, black gamers, and black girl gamers.”

The show caught Charisse and Corey in a rough patch in their relationship, but ended with the two accepting each other for who they are and trying to advance their relationship, with Charisse attempting to include Corey in her passion and play more games with him.

In a comment on the story, Charisse added that the heavily edited show didn’t show every aspect of her addiction. She said that her reliance on games caused her to “lose my job, neglect household chores, and lose financial aid.”

The episode is scheduled to air again tonight on MTV at 7PM ET.

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PBS Prepping All Encompassing Look at Digital Life

January 20, 2010 -

The Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) investigative show Frontline will air a deep look into how digital media and the Internet have transformed human lives and the subject of videogames is featured heavily in the program.

Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier will debut on February 2 at 9:00 ET. The 90 minute show was produced by Rachel Dretzin, who also created the recent Frontline special Growing Up Online, and will feature commentary from Douglas Rushkoff. Segments include Living Faster, Relationships, Waging War, Virtual Worlds and Learning.

Many individual videos are already available for viewing on the PBS website and a trailer for the show offers a quick overview of what it’s all about.

The Waging War section features game-related topics such as the military’s use of virtual reality training, as well as looks at both America’s Army and the Army Experience Center.

Virtual Worlds contains a cornucopia of videogame segments, including the use of virtual reality therapy for veterans, gaming addiction, professional gamers, violent games, Second Life and about 20 more pieces.

Another cool aspect to the program is that the Digital Nation website launched about a year ago ago in a bid to let users collaborate with the project by sharing their own experiences.

Blogger: Daily Mail Fails at Videogames

January 6, 2010 -

Opening with the salvo “It is well established that the Daily Mail does not understand videogames,” blogger and game marketer Bruce Everiss lays into the UK tabloid’s constant attack on games.

The latest article to draw Everiss’ ire was a piece written by Andrew Alexander on politicians Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. At the end of the story, Alexander takes a shot at Shadow Minister Ed Vaizey’s plan to boost the UK games industry:

'Culture' also has a minister of its own operating under the grand panjandrum of the Secretary of State. The Shadow Minister, Ed Vaizey, provides a foretaste of nonsense to come with his declaration that the video games industry - there's culture for you - has been let down by the Government. It has not grown fast enough.

He proposes a Video Games Council.

Why there should be a government role in this field may well defeat you. It is at least as silly as the role of Hereditary Butler to the Crown etc and no doubt more expensive.

Everiss answers:

I have some news for Mr Alexander, by any and all definitions video games are culture. They entertain, have creativity, genre, subtlety, a history, engender emotion and have everything else that ballet or the opera have. Except that video games are massively more popular.


In fact Mr Alexander actually provides compelling evidence for the need for a Video Games Council, because if we had one we would not have to suffer so much ignorance from journalists (and politicians).

Everiss details other accounts of the Mail’s anti-game stance and also laments the lack of tax incentives for game developers, which he blames partly for the UK’s slip to a world rank of sixth place when it comes to producing videogames.

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Atkinson on Violent Games: You Don’t Need to Impale People

December 10, 2009 -

In light of Australia’s refusal to classify Sega’s PC game Aliens vs. Predator, the country’s ABC News outlet ran a short video piece on the controversy with comments from everyone’s favorite Attorney General, Michael Atkinson.

The report quickly covers the Aliens vs. Predator story, noting that the game’s developer, Rebellion, will not edit the game in order to appease censors.

Gary Farrow, cast as a typical gamer, was asked about the  lack of an R18+ rating in Australia. The 42-year old offered, “We’re talking about just labeling content, so we have a fairly educated idea as to what to expect [from a game].

Atkinson’s comments on calls for an adult videogame rating:

This is a question of a small number of very zealous gamers trying to impose their will on society. And I think harm society. It’s the public interest versus the small vested interest.

Atkinson on violence in games:

I accept that 98%, 99% of gamers will tell the difference between fantasy and reality, but the 1% to 2% could go on to be motivated by these games to commit horrible acts of violence.

You don’t need to be playing a game in which you impale, decapitate and dismember people.

Australia’s Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) CEO Ron Curry was also interviewed in order to counter some of Atkinson’s remarks. He stated:

It doesn’t seem democratic that a single attorney general should be able to dictate what the vast Australian population can interact with.

The government trusts us to be adults with films, but they only want us to be children with games.

Thanks Ryan!

55 comments

Rating Games for a Different Audience

December 1, 2009 -

Disabled gamers can now check out reviews of videogames done expressly with them in mind thanks to the AbleGamers Foundation.

Reviews featured on the main AbleGamers website are ranked, from 1 to 10, in terms of how the game performs for those with visual, hearing or motion impaired disabilities. These numbers are then factored in with additional ratings for closed captioning, speed settings, difficulty settings and options for colorblindness, among others, before a final grade is calculated.

AbleGamers Foundation Presiden Mark Barlet added, “There are countless sites out there that review games for their graphics and sound, but no one is looking at the game from the standpoint of accessibility. With 63 million Americans with disabilities this is a focus that is needed and who better to do it than the flagship site for disabled gamers, AbleGamers.com.”

16 game reviews are currently up on the site. BioWare’s Dragon Age for the PC is currently the highest-rated game to-date, garnering a 9.8. From the Game Accessibility section of the review:

One-handed gamers and the mobility impaired will have no problems playing at all. If you can only play with one hand or have difficulty playing many mainstream games, such as only being able to play with a mouse or a keyboard, this is a game for you. If you can play titles such as World of Warcraft, Aion, and Guild Wars then you will be able to play Dragon Age.

The lowest rated game so far is Nintendo’s Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Story for the DS, which received a 4.5 score. The reviewer enjoyed the game, but noted, “I pretty much can't recommend it to anyone with just about any disability.”

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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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Kotaku Editor Details EverQuest Addiction

October 20, 2009 -

Kotaku editor Mike Fahey has written a wonderfully detailed and candid first-person account of his addiction to EverQuest.

Fahey begins his story in late 2000, noting that he had a job, a car and a girlfriend. Shortly after, following the breakup of his relationship, he was enticed to join the online world of EverQuest at the behest of his roommate. Falling completely for the game he soon found himself unemployed, his car towed and his wallet empty. While he rebounded for a time, he apparently committed the long rumored, rarely admitted geek-sin of turning down relations for a chance to hit level 40 with his character.

Mike again rebounded, turning his addiction into a job, which helped, as he states, “I've managed to turn a habit that once interrupted my work into something I actively have to do for work. It's no longer escapism if I am doing my job.”

Fahey also admitted that the fault was mostly, if not all, his own:

I hid. I ran from my problems, hiding away in a virtual fantasy world instead of confronting the issues that might have been easily resolved if I had addressed them directly. As far as I am concerned, the only thing Sony Online Entertainment is guilty of is creating a damn good hiding place.

Thanks Andrew

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Adios, Water Cooler Games

August 15, 2009 -

It's a sad day when one of the web's most intelligent game-oriented sites rides off into the sunset.

And so it is with Water Cooler Games, operated since 2003 by Georgia Tech prof Ian Bogost and researcher Gonzalo Frasca. Both academics are also accomplished designers of provocative, issue-oriented games.

We note the following in the site's RSS feed this morning:

Water Cooler Games is now closed. Thanks for reading all these years. The site has been archived in full (with comments)... For my take on "videogames with an agenda," you might want to read Persuasive Games. I am now blogging at Bogost.com...

—Ian Bogost, August 2009

Because the issue-oriented focus of Water Cooler Games often intersected with that of GamePolitics, WCG was frequently cited here on GP. We will miss it, but it's good to know that it will live on in an archived version.

UPDATE: Ian Bogost has posted a lengthy commentary on the WCG closure:

From my perspective, the Water Cooler Games project was very much a success. The fact that so many venues now exist for discussing of what we coyly called "videogames with an agenda" speaks at least in part to the influence we exerted.

More so, the site had been immensely useful in helping me conduct research. My 2007 book Persuasive Games drew many examples from titles we covered on Water Cooler Games... 

 

Closing WCG opens up new opportunities for my writing, on this site and elsewhere... The truth is that I've said most of what I want to say about [political games, advertising and games, and other topics covered on WCG]...

GP: We wish Ian continued success and the best of luck going forward...

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Report: Porn Ads in Game Mags from UK Publisher

August 11, 2009 -

British publisher Imagine routinely includes ads for pornography and sex chat services in the back of their video game magazines, according to a report at Overclock3D.

There, a UK man writing under the name "mayhem" describes sending his 8-year-old daughter out on a secret shopper mission to see whether she could purchase video game magazines containing such ads:

My 8 year old daughter walked in... On the lower shelf she picked out several magazines including Play (a Sony PlayStation 3 Magazine) and 360 (a Microsoft Xbox 360 magazine) both of which are published by Imagine Publishing. Neither of these titles had an 18 or 15 certificate on them. She also picked up several Future Publishing magazines and Dennis Publishing magazines.
 
She then proceeded to the check out were a young girl of about 19 years old had a quick look at the magazines and then scanned them in. My daughter then handed over the money and then walked out after saying thank you, and handed the magazines to me.
 
After a quick look through all the magazine I found that only Imagine Publishing had any sort of pornography contained within them...
 
So over all its been a interesting day finding out that such a major publisher (Imagine Publishing) has no morals when it comes to making money, even if it means serving up pornographic content to children that may read their magazines...
 

Via: fidgit

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New Site for Gamers in the Military Drafts Well-known Writer

August 5, 2009 -

As GamePolitics has often noted, a large cross-section of U.S. military personnel are gamers.

A new website, StripesGAMER, hopes to cater to those gamers in uniform. The site, a partnership between Consumer Solutions Gaming, LLC and the military's famed Stars and Stripes newspaper, calls itself "the independent daily news source for the global U.S. military community."

Now, reinforcements have arrived for StripesGAMER with this morning's announcement that Scott Steinberg has been recruited as an ongoing guest columnist. Consumer Solutions Gaming CEO Terry Tognietti comments on StripesGAMER's new squad mate:

Scott’s expertise and knowledge in this realm is a major asset for StripesGAMER.com. Our goal is to be the go-to source for gamers in the armed forces who can’t access mainstream industry news and information as easily as normal consumers, or who don’t have the time to visit multiple gaming sites, so the insight and commentary he brings our audience is indisputably valuable to us and our site’s members.


Game Violence Critic Urges Schools to Impose 10-Day Ban on Video Games, TV

August 4, 2009 -

A prominent school safety speaker has advocated the imposition of a 10-day moratorium on video game play and television viewing by students, reports the Grand Forks Herald.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author, retired military man and longtime critic of video game violence, made the remarks during a keynote presentation to North Dakota school officials yesterday.

As he typically does in his speeches, Grossman linked violent video games with school shootings:

[Grossman] described, in chilling detail, school massacres at Columbine High... the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota and Virginia Tech. Just as graphically, he conjured the brutality of video games such as “Grand Theft Auto” and “Manhunt.”

Grossman, an expert on school violence, went on to trace a connection between the two, complete with brain scans and a study of juvenile murderers. And he pitched a singular idea to gathered educators – a 10-day television, movie and video game “detox”... 

“This is not business as usual,” he said. “This is our world coming unglued. This is our society coming unhinged.”

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Left 4 Dead 2 Writer Calls Racism Charges "Utter Insanity"

August 3, 2009 -

In mid-July GamePolitics reported on Houston Chronicle game blogger Willie Jefferson's assertion that video games are increasingly possessed of "racist undertones."

In support of his claim Jefferson mentioned the much-debated Resident Evil 5 as well as the recently-released Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. Jefferson also pointed to Valve's in-development Left 4 Dead 2 (screenshot at left):

I am disturbed by the growing trend of racist undertones that are cropping up in video games.

One of the games that comes to mind is "Left 4 Dead 2." ...Set in New Orleans, players will have to fight their way through hordes of zombies - with several of them who appear to be African-Americans. When I saw the first trailer for the game, all I could think about was Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath...

In the wake of Jefferson's charge, a writer for L4D2 has fired back, reports Destructoid:

While visiting Valve this past week, we asked how they felt about the [racism] accusations, and Left 4 Dead writer Chet Faliszek was quite frank with his response.

"Utter insanity," says Faliszek... "There are mixed races of zombies, there are all different races of zombies that you shoot, and since we placed it in New Orleans, that makes it racist? I honestly re-read the [Houston Chronicle] paragraph about five times ... but when two of the characters in your game are African-American, it's a weird thing to be accused of. We're like, 'how does this work'?

"... As far as Katrina goes, if you go down to New Orleans, Katrina's still going on. I mean, it's messed up, it is crazy that the city is still in the state it's in, and we treat that with the utmost respect... It's a place we love, it's dear to our hearts. We would not cheapen it. It's not a brick-for-brick representation of New Orleans; it's a fictional version, and I love that city."

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G4's Sessler: Game Censorship Gone But Not Forgotten

July 25, 2009 -

In the latest edition of his Soapbox, G4's Adam Sessler expresses the view that video game censorship is pretty much gone, but that gamers should be watchful for its return.

GP: Here at GamePolitics, we're waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in the California case later this year. At that point, we'll have a better handle on where the game censorship issue is heading.

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Games Sites Get Behind Used Game Sales

July 16, 2009 -

A pair of video game websites weighed in on the controversy over used game trades this week.

Crispy Gamer serves up a well-reasoned two-parter by David Thomas:

The price of a game is, at the end of the day, exactly the balance point between what someone is willing to pay and what someone is willing to sell... The trouble is, the publisher wants back in on the deal, and goes out of its way to convince you that it still owns a piece of that junk you bought from it...

 

The used market, it turns out, isn't screwing [game] publishers... Instead, the used market helps keeps people in the game by letting them play games that they wouldn't otherwise bother buying... Used games help make game fans out of game tourists...

Meanwhile, Destructoid's Jim Sterling has a bit of a rant on the topic:

Have you considered what happens to a publisher when you buy a secondhand game? They lose money! Oh, you might argue that publishers already make money off the original sale of the game, but they don't! In fact, whenever a secondhand game is bought, the original $60.00 transaction disappears from our corporeal plane of existence, erased from history as if it never happened...

The main issue with secondhand games is that no other industry ever has to deal with a similar problem. Think about it -- have you ever bought a used car, or even heard of a store selling used clothes or music? Of course you haven't! The very idea is preposterous...

Tivo Alert: Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Tackles Video Game Violence

July 9, 2009 -

Tonight's Penn & Teller: Bullshit! is the much-anticipated episode on video game violence.

The program airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on Showtime. From the P&T:BS! website:

In episode 703, the duo debunks the theory of politicians and other alarmists that playing video games leads to teen violence by handing over a real semiautomatic weapon to a nine-year-old video game player to see if he becomes a human killing machine.

The promo video at left features a guy who is apparently an anti-game violence campaigner named Chris Cooney. I'll 'fess up that - in nearly five years of editing GamePolitics - I can't remember hearing of the guy, so I'm curious to see what he's all about. This is also the episode in which disbarred attorney Jack Thompson makes an appearance.

If you miss tonight's show, the program will be repeated several times over the next few days.

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New Academic Journal: The Computer Game Education Review

June 30, 2009 -

Via Water Cooler Games comes word that a new academic journal dealing with video games and education is in the works.

The Computer Game Education Review will be edited by Stephen Jacobs (left), a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology (and, we're proud to say, a longtime GamePolitics reader). A blurb on the publisher's website describes what the new journal is all about:

CGER will be a peer-reviewed academic publication addressing issues that concern the teaching of game design and development including, but not limited to, curriculum organization, teaching techniques (e.g., conceptual vs. exemplary), game typology, societal impact, economic and commercial issues, legal aspects, and student evaluation that are of interest to faculty and institutions involved in the education and training of future game developers.

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GP on CBC

June 24, 2009 -

I just completed an interview on CBC's Q program. Also appearing was Mike Thomsen of IGN.

The show was styled as a debate on sexual violence in games, with a lot of attention paid to RapeLay. I've never held back my contempt for the game and didn't on today's program.

I believe that they archive the previous day's show into a podcast. If you're interested in listening, check out the Q show website.

UPDATE: If you missed the program, CBC has posted the podcast version.

70 comments

Good Press for GP, ECA

June 21, 2009 -

Not to beat our own drum (well, maybe a little), but both GamePolitics and parent company the Entertainment Consumers Association drew some major print media attention this weekend.

GamePolitics was featured in the U.K.'s Times Online Weekend Playlist section which referred to GP as:

...an essential regular read for serious gamers, parents of gamers and (especially) politicians who don't know anything about the world's fastest-growing entertainment medium.

Meanwhile, USA Weekend, published by USA Today, gave props to the ECA for its discount programs available to members: 

Today's gamers always are looking to score a discount. It ain't easy... The non-profit advocacy organization[ECA] is offering a 10% discount on all games-related software and peripherals at Amazon. The membership fee is $19.99 ($14.99 for e-mails ending in .edu or .mil), which means if you buy just a few games a year, you've already earned your money back...

Members get discounts from retailers (Good Old Games) and video game rental services (GameFly), money off admission to events (the Penny Arcade Expo), not to mention room rate discounts at Hyatt hotels.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.


G4's Adam Sessler Slams Left 4 Dead 2 Whiners

June 18, 2009 -

The unexpected gamer protest against Valve's E3 announcement of Left 4 Dead 2 has left more than a few obervers perplexed.

Add the name of G4's Adam Sessler to the list of those who don't get what the whining is about. On his latest Soapbox segment Sessler takes the L4D2 protesters to task:

We're going down that path again - this shocking, amazing sense of entitlement that always manifests itself in the gaming community... Valve does not have a habit of screwing people and if there was ever a developer out there I would just kind of give them the benefit of the doubt...

 

They don't owe you anything. It's a business... Where were you brought up and in what environment where you hugged so overwhelmingly that you feel that you need to be served as the only person that needs to be considered when other people are making commercial properties? It really is a little bit on the naive side and slightly embarrassing... It's kind of juvenile... The Internet, when it comes to games, can be such a nation of whiners...

Via: Gaming Today

275 comments

MTV On a Quest to Find Game Addicts

June 18, 2009 -

Are you addicted to video games?

If so, MTV wants to hear from you. The network has put out a casting call for an episode of its documentary series, True Life:

Have video games totally taken over your life? Is your game play increasingly getting out of control? Have your friends or family confronted you about your gaming habit? How about your marriage or personal relationships – are they being affected?

 

Is it difficult to balance work and gaming time? Do you sometimes skip doing homework or household responsibilities to play? Have you played video games as a way of escaping your problems? Has your game playing habit become so encompassing that you may need to go to rehab to kick it?

Does this sound like you?  God, we hope not but if it does, send your info MTV’s way and maybe we’ll see you on the tube. That is, if you can bear to pull yourself away from Ghostbusters: The Video Game for a few minutes.

Via: Siliconera

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen...

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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
SleakerAre you trying saying that specific costumes are sexist simply by being included in the game?09/01/2014 - 3:03pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - Seems completely cut and dry to me (of course, I wrote it so that's not surprising). What about it do you find confusing?09/01/2014 - 2:25pm
 

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