Last Night's Mental Episode & Its Troubled, 8-year-old Gamer

June 17, 2009 -

We've been mentioning (warning?) GamePolitics readers that last night's episode of Mental included a plot element about a violent, 8-year-old gamer.

Fidgit's Tom Chick caught the show and serves up a detailed report [SPOILER ALERT]:

If you're watching [Mental], you probably caught last night's episode in which a kid is deprived of videogames, and therefore invents one in his head.

But the problem is that the videogame he invents in his head sucks... the kid ends up freaking out, hurting his mother with a knife, and then going catatonic. I know how he feels. I've played some bad videogames in my time, too. The kid's hands keep twitching as if he were playing a videogame. With a console controller, of course...

 

The situation is resolved when the sensitive physician with a lot of time on his hands guides his misunderstood patient through how to play the imaginary videogame...

Once he's beat the game in his head, he reconciles with his neglectful father and starts on his medication.

You can catch the full episode yourself at the Mental website. But you'll have to install Fox's video player; I'm not crazy about that...

GP: So, I watched the episode this morning and didn't find that it especially sensationalized games. Don't want to spoil it for anyone who may decide to check it out, so I won't say more about that for now. Overall, the show offers a sensitive treatment of mental health issues.

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Pokemon Panic Makes List of Most Absurd TIME Covers

June 16, 2009 -

Reason Online has posted a fascinating look at what it calls The Top 10 Most Absurd Time Covers of The Past 40 Years.

While TIME's investigations into the occult, dirty words and obesity are among the topics making RO's list, we took note of the November 22, 1999 cover which addressed what some parents and teachers saw as a scourge at the time: Pokemon. Reason Online explains:

This Time cover story breathlessly warns that children are printing counterfeit cards, cheating friends and classmates, and even stabbing one another over Pokemon trading disputes. Time doesn’t dwell too long on any substantive data (there isn't any) that might show what sort of sustained violence and mayhem would make Pokemon an “addiction" (Time's word). Instead, it quickly cuts to what the authors see as the real dark heart of the Pokemon phenomenon: crass capitalism! ...

GP: Ten years on, the frenzy over Pokemon seems so silly...

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Tivo Alert: Fox's Mental Series Tackles Gaming... Uh-oh.

June 13, 2009 -

When  televised cop and medical dramas tackle video game themes, there's usually a large dollop of sensationalism attached.

That being the case, we'll be cautiously Tivoing Fox's June 16th episode of Mental. A preview describes the episode:

JACK TREATS A YOUNG BOY WHO IS CONSUMED WITH A VIDEO GAME THAT EXISTS ONLY IN HIS HEAD ON AN ALL-NEW “MENTAL” TUESDAY, JUNE 16, ON FOX

An 8-year-old bipolar boy whose life is consumed by a video game he plays in his head is admitted to Wharton Memorial for an accident involving a knife. When it turns out the accident was really a suicide attempt, Jack must try to get inside the little boy’s head to find out what is triggering his life-threatening rages. But when the boy bolts from the psych ward, Jack must try to save him by engaging him in his own mind game.

Here's a preview clip...

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Tivo Alert: Dr. Phil Re-Airs Game Addiction Program

June 3, 2009 -

Today's edition of the Dr. Phil show will re-air an episode on game addiction which features Brad D. (left) of ExGamer.net.

As GamePolitics reported in October, 2008 when the show initially aired, Brad speaks frankly about a suicide attempt.

Also appearing on the program is Wendy Kays, author of Game Widow.

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EGM Rises From the Ashes

May 30, 2009 -

Iconic video game magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly, which was folded by Ziff-Davis Media early in 2009, is making a comeback.

press release issued yesterday by Steve Harris, who founded EGM in 1988, indicates that the beloved gamer magazine will experience a rebirth later this year:

The re-launch of Electronic Gaming Monthly represents a welcome opportunity to continue delivering quality content to gaming enthusiasts. I feel honored to once again be associated with this respected magazine. The talented writers and designers who built upon EGM’s original vision have left behind a publication that is uniquely positioned to be successful.

 

We have exciting plans for the evolution of what will once again be a leading independent voice for the gaming community. The twenty year success of the EGM brand has always been built upon a commitment to its readers who I believe will enthusiastically embrace the changes we are planning to introduce.

Not surprisingly, EGM fans have responded enthusiastically to the news. An EGM Twitter feed set up yesteday has garnered over 1600 followers in less than 24 hours.

GP: We're big admirers of EGM and wish Harris and his new venture success. That said, it's a tough time to be in the print business...

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Take-Two's Zelnick Passes on Newspaper Purchase

May 29, 2009 -

Take-Two Interactive Chairman Strauss Zelnick seems like a pretty smart guy, so we were surprised to learn that he was actually considering buying a newspaper. In the end, he wised up, however.

Reuters reports that Zelnick decided to pass on acquiring the Austin American-Statesman. The Texas paper had a daily circulation of 152,691 as of March.

Zelnick's private equity firm ZelnickMedia Corp. never made a formal bid and decided to pull out of negotiations as the sorry state of the newspaper business continued to worsen.

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ECA Hires New Director of Public Relations

May 16, 2009 -

The Entertainment Consumers Association has added a new member to its team.

Jason Andersen, who previously assisted the ECA as a public relations consultant, joins the ECA as of the organization's Director of Public Relations. In his new role, Jason will act as media spokesperson for the game consumer organization.

A P.R. veteran with more than a decade of video game industry experience, Jason has worked for major game publishers, including EA, SEGA and LucasArts. In those roles, he managed media relations for well-known game franchises such as The Lord of the Rings, Need For Speed and Star Wars.

Heather Ellertson, VP of Marketing commented on Jason's addition to the ECA staff:

Jason has been a key member of our team since we launched in 2006 and was an important part of the association’s visibility, positioning and success. His expertise in publicity, knowledge of the industry and passion for gaming and gamers’ rights make him a perfect fit for the ECA.

As for Jason, he introduced himself via a post in the ECA Forums:

I will be working closely with all of the different departments that make up the ECA to ensure that their hard work is getting the attention that it deserves. That includes increasing the awareness amongst you, the ECA members, in addition to broadening our message to the consumers and the media. In the coming months, we will be launching the first of our monthly newsletters, which will allow us to share the latest and greatest happenings with our members...

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

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GamePolitics Now Available on Kindle

May 15, 2009 -

Here's some great news for GamePolitics readers who are also Kindle owners:

GP is now available from Amazon's Kindle Store. Like other Kindle-capable blogs, there is a small subscription fee, $1.99 per month in GP's case (none of which comes to me, BTW).

As a Kindle fan I've been eager to see GamePolitics made available to the Kindle universe and Brett Schenker of the ECA made it happen. Well done, Brett!

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

UPDATE: Our ECA sister-site GameCulture now has a Kindle version as well.

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Destructoid Zings GP Coverage; We Bite Back

May 13, 2009 -

GamePolitics came in for a bit of journalistic criticism the other day from Destructoid.

In a critique on game blog content, editor Jim Sterling writes:

One of the main arguments here is that we bloggers serve only to perpetuate the "games cause violence" mentality already held by many anti-videogame lobbyists out there... sometimes blogs go out of their way to essentially do FOX News' job for it, making their own weak videogame connections so that the mainstream press doesn't have to.

 

GamePolitics is guilty of this on a number of occasions... One example is GP's "16-Year Old GTA IV Gamer Charged with Grisly S&M Murder of NYC Newsman" article. The story is that an emotionally disturbed individual responded to a dirty sex ad and killed a man. GP, however, does what a sensationalist news channel would do and focuses squarely on the unrelated and minor fact that he liked videogames. The original news post that he sources only briefly lists games among the killer's hobbies -- it does not blame games, nor have games been implicated in any way. GP made that implication, and helped perpetuate it, without any input from other media.

Jim is referring to this GP story from March 25th. George Weber, a radio reporter from New York, was allegedly murdering by John Katehis, a dysfunctional 16-year-old whom the 47-year-old Weber solicited via Craigslist for a sleazy drugs-and-rough-sex encounter that went badly awry.

I should point out that GamePolitics is far more involved with issues of video games and violence than most blogs because that supposed connection drives much of the political debate around games. That being the case, whenever there is a violent incident and games come in for a mention, we report it.

In the case at hand, GP didn't invent the fact that the accused is a 16-year-old fan of violent video games. That information was reported by the mainstream media. I did do some extra digging - which I see as my job as a journalist - and found additional details on Katehis, including a picture of him holding up his copy of GTA IV.

Nowhere in the story do I write that GTA or any other game motivated the brutal murder. Nor did I, as Sterling writes, "focus squarely on the unrelated and minor fact that [Katehis] liked video games." Is the video game angle front and center in the story? Of course. If Katehis was not a gamer there would be no reason to mention the story on GamePolitics. But we also cited Katehis's MySpace profile which seems to illustrate that he has other issues: 

I enjoy long conversations, drinking, bike riding, hanging out, roof hopping, hanging off trains, any type of Parkour exercise. Extreme violence (chaos, anarchy, etc.) Video Games, Violent Movies and listening to my ipod... I like to do crazy and wild things. I am like an adrenaline junkie. I'm a big risk taker and like to live life on the edge...

The story concludes with my comment: 

There are just so many dysfunctional pieces to this story, but video games will certainly be blamed in some quarters.

That line goes a long way to explaining this article and others like it. Whatever role you or I may think violent games played in the crime, there are others who will make such linkage. I prefer to get out in front and report the facts, not chase them later. And while the crime itself is lurid and sensational, GP's coverage was strictly factual.

Perhaps Sterling's criticism highlights an essential difference between GamePolitics and some other game news outlets. Here, my first commitment is to reporting the story, wherever it leads. I do not see my role as either promoting video games or shielding them from potentially bad news. That said, I enjoy Destructoid and have great respect for Jim Sterling. This response is not written in anger, but in the hope that it will spark debate on the topic.

Back atcha, Jim.

UPDATE: This must be "I love GamePolitics, but..." Day

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Game P.R. Event Planned for Russian Consulate in San Francisco

May 1, 2009 -

Moscow-based 1C (IL-2 Sturmovik, Theater of War) is holding a press event in San Francisco next month - at the Russian Consulate.

The news arrived this morning by way of a save-the-date e-mail. Unfortunately, I can't attend. But it would be fascinating to check the consulate out and maybe slip away from the game previews and swipe a few secrets.

The invite promises "authentic Russian cuisine and Vodka all night long." With so much vodka, how are the game journalists supposed to remember the titles they've been shown?

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ABC News Polling Guru Slams NIMF Game Addiction Data

April 22, 2009 -

On Monday Prof. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University in conjunction with the National Institute on Media and the Family released the results of a new study which suggested that one in twelve 8-18 year-olds displayed symptoms of video game addiction.

As GamePolitics reported, the methodology behind the ISA/NIMF research was almost immediately called into question by Harvard's Dr. Cheryl Olson, co-author of Grand Theft Childhood and Oregon psychiatrist Dr. Jerald Block, an expert of the topic of video game addiction.

A report today by ABC News polling director Gary Langer (left) goes a step further, questioning Gentile's study for its claim of being "nationally representative within 3% [margin of error]."

Writing for his The Numbers blog, Langer explains:

The problem: This study was conducted among members of an opt-in online panel – individuals who sign up to click through questionnaires on the internet in exchange for points redeemable for cash and gifts. There are multiple methodological challenges with these things... but the most basic – and I think least arguable – is that they’re based on a self-selected “convenience sample,” rather than a probability sample. And you need a probability sample to compute sampling error...

This is far from an inconsequential issue. The public discourse is well-informed by quality data; it can be misinformed or even disinformed by other data. It is challenging – but essential – for us to differentiate.

Langer also heard from the study's author who admitted the mistake in calculating a margin of error:

Prof. Gentile got back to me... He said he was unaware the data in his study came from a convenience sample... and that, relying on his own background in market research, he’d gone ahead and calculated an error margin for it. “I missed that when I was writing this up. That is an error then on my part.”

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MTV's Stephen Totilo Heads to Kotaku

April 21, 2009 -

Stephen Totilo, whose work on MTV Multiplayer has been frequently cited here on GamePolitics, will join Kotaku, reports GameBizBlog.

Kotaku Editor-in-Chief Brian Crecente writes that Totilo will assume the role of Deputy Managing Editor based in New York.

We wish Stephen all the best in his new role. Meanwhile, check out his farewell post on MTV.

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Syndicated Columnist Takes a Cheap Shot at Gamers

April 16, 2009 -

As a gamer, should you be allowed to vote?

Syndicated political columnist George Will doesn't think so.

Into a lengthy whinge about the wearing of denim (slow news day, George?) Will inserts this jab:

Denim is the infantile uniform of a nation in which entertainment frequently features childlike adults ("Seinfeld," "Two and a Half Men") and cartoons for adults ("King of the Hill"). Seventy-five percent of American "gamers" -- people who play video games -- are older than 18 and nevertheless are allowed to vote.

GP: Big thanks to several readers who tipped us to this story. Now get yourselves to Brooks Brothers so we can all dress like George Will.

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Madden Retires From Broadcasting

April 16, 2009 -

It's not exactly a video game story, but John Madden has announced his retirement from broadcasting televised NFL games.

NBC Sports broke the news this morning. In a statement, Madden explained his reasons for making the move:

It’s time. I’m 73 years old.  My 50th wedding anniversary is this fall. I have two great sons and their families and my five grandchildren are at an age now when they know when I’m home and, more importantly, when I’m not…

 

It’s been such a great ride… the NFL has been my life for more than 40 years, it has been my passion – it still is...  I still love every part of it – the travel, the practices, the game film, the games, seeing old friends and meeting new people… but I know this is the right time.

Inside Bay Area reports that Madden will continue to do a local radio show on KCBS.

It is unknown how - or whether - the legendary coach and broadcaster's retirement will affect the best-selling Madden NFL video game.

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Edge Online Shakeout Leads to New Game Blog

April 14, 2009 -

Video game journalism can be a tough business.

By way of example, former Edge Online editor Colin Campbell (left) explains why the site's entire staff quit, effective last Friday:

Back in December, I received a blunt email from a publisher at Future UK... This middle manager outlined some changes he wanted to make; in my view, a gumbo of old media thinking, rampant cost-cutting and ego-driven control mechanisms...

 

Edge-Online's new bosses claim they want to "integrate" the online and print facets of the magazine. I believe this to be an error... any attempt to reshape a dynamic daily website in the image of a monthly print magazine is conceptually and practically highly problematic.


The story of the game industry is now being told via lightning fast websites and blogs of phenomenal competence and editorial quality. The days when giant print brands dominated the mediascape are over...

Meanwhile, Edge publishing director James Binns fired back:

Any brand needs a strong, consistent voice across multiple media. We're focused on developing the best quality content from the ground up that works well in print and online, and has a true global voice.

That means effective planning and more flexibility in news gathering. The changes to the team that we're making will put us in a stronger position to achieve this.

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EA Wants Its Brass Knuckles Back

April 11, 2009 -

On Tuesday GamePolitics broke the news that Electronic Arts had shipped brass knuckles to some game reviewers as part of its press kit for The Godfather II.

While the promo materials for the game were cleverly done, brass knuckles are, as we pointed out, illegal in Pennsylvania, where GP is headquartered. Merely possessing them is a first-degree misdemeanor. Apparently, that's the case in a number of other states, as well.

We asked EA for comment on Tuesday; a P.R. rep returned our call on Thursday afternoon. After delivering a brief script, the EA rep did the conversational equivalent of invoking the Fifth Amendment. Our chat went something like this:

EA: I hope you're enjoying our Godfather II press kit, including the novelty brass knuckles. To help you take proper care to dispose of the item, we're sending you a pre-paid shipping package.

 

And I can't discuss this any further.

 

GP: Are you doing this with all of the journalists who received the brass knuckles? Or just me because I wrote about them?

 

EA: I can't discuss this any further.

Despite the rep's exercising his right to remain mostly silent, it's now clear that EA has been contacting other media outlets in an effort to put the toothpaste back in the tube retrieve the brass knuckles.

Over at Joystiq, Justin McElroy writes that he's waiting for EA's return mailer to arrive. At Kotaku, Brian Crecente reports an EA phone call quite similar to mine:

The [EA] representative that contacted me said that the company wanted to make sure that the brass knuckles were "properly disposed of." He declined to comment any further... Electronic Arts did not respond to emails seeking comment about the legality of the items they shipped and whether they faced any legal actions for shipping them across state lines.

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Video Game Press Reacts to "Six Days in Fallujah" Controversy

April 11, 2009 -

Since the controversy over Six Days in Fallujah broke earlier this week, GamePolitics has reported on reaction from military veterans as well as from family members of soldiers killed in the Iraq War.

But the video game press has begun to weigh in as well. U.K-based gamesindustry.biz spanks coverage of the game by British tabloids, but reserves some criticism for Konami's VP of marketing, Anthony Crouts:

Crouts [told the] Wall Street Journal... "We're not trying to make a social commentary... We're not pro-war. We're not trying to make people feel uncomfortable. We just want to bring a compelling entertainment experience. At the end of the day, it's just a game."

What a thoroughly depressing attitude for a senior executive... At its most basic level, it raises questions about how well some people in this market actually understand the concept of a "compelling entertainment experience". Compelling entertainment is compelling exactly because it does make people uncomfortable - because it challenges their perceptions in intelligent ways, because it makes them think...

At Sector Earth, scribe Mike Antonucci writes:

There is an obvious tone that is dismissive about a video game in a way that we'd be unlikely to hear if "Six Days in Falljuh'' were going to be a movie, play or even, say, a graphic novel... much of the criticism of video games comes on two levels: There's always a specific flash point -- in this case, the Iraq factor -- and then there's also an underlying (and wrongheaded) contempt for video games as being without artistic or social value.

The Raleigh News & Observer quotes Alexander Macris, who heads the group which publishes The Escapist:

I think games are entitled to the same level of respect as other entertainment media. [Developer] Atomic is driving the dialogue forward by creating a game like this. It is showing that games can be relevant. The fact is, the consumer of this is not a young kid. The consumer for something like this is going to be someone interested in current events and interested in realistic military war gaming.

 

I don't think Atomic is engaging in exploitation. I think it is a serious attempt to cover the fighting in Fallujah through a game.

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The Return of the "Are Games Art?" Debate

April 10, 2009 -

Have you heard? 

There seems to be some debate as to whether or not video games can be considered art.

All kidding aside, “Are games art?” is a passionate and oft-debated topic; your opinion probably depends on how you’re defining art.  If you define it simply as a work produced using skill, creativity, and imagination then the answer is very likely yes.

However, if, like Devin Faraci of movie news site CHUD, you define art as “something purposefully created or presented with the intention of communicating an idea or feeling” then you may, like Faraci, conclude that games do not fit the bill:

[Games] may be artistic... and they may be used as art objects - an exquisitely hand painted Monopoly board, for instance - but games are not art. The carved chess pieces are art, the actual playing of the game of chess is not...  in the end a game is simply a series of rules... If rules themselves were art, the US Congress would be the most prolific artists of our time.

Now before anyone cracks their knuckles in preparation of a strongly worded email, Faraci offers one final thought.

For the people so hung up on getting video games recognized as art, I have to ask: why? Why does it matter to you that your hobby is validated in that way? If you're having fun, isn't that enough?

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen met Devin Faraci once and promptly forgot how to pronounce his name...

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Keith Olbermann Takes On Glenn Beck Over Grand Theft Auto Rant / Pittsburgh Police Slayings

April 9, 2009 -

Earlier this week GamePolitics pointed out that in 2008 conservative talking head Glenn Beck held video games and popular media responsible for real-world violence.

In the wake of Sunday's horrific murder of three Pittsburgh police officers by a paranoid gun owner, however, Beck has insisted that his own media rants on gun control couldn't be blamed:

Blaming anyone except the nut job for what happened in Pittsburgh is crazy.

In this clip MSNBC's liberal commentator Keith Olbermann points out the obvious contrast between Beck's willingness to blame video games for real-world violence yet reluctance to admit that his own fervent anti-gun control rhetoric may have helped influence the Pittsburgh killer.

Thanks to: GamePolitics reader BlindJustice15...

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Did Glenn Beck's On-air Rhetoric Fuel Cop Killer's Rampage?

April 7, 2009 -

Conservative T.V. talking head Glenn Beck has entertained the notion that video game violence leads to the real thing, but in the aftermath of Sunday's triple cop slaying in Pittsburgh, some critics are drawing a connection between Beck's on-air political rants and accused killer Richard Poplawski's horrific rampage.

The Daily Beast reports that the 22-year old Poplawski is a white supremacist and conspiracy theorist who harbored fears that President Obama will seek to establish some type of "new world order" and remove guns from private citizens.

Poplawski is also a Beck fan:

The alleged killer posted a YouTube clip to [white supremacist site] Stormfront of top-rated Fox News host Glenn Beck contemplating the existence of FEMA-managed concentration camps... Three weeks later, Poplawski posted another Youtube clip to Stormfront, this time of a video blogger advocating “Tea Parties,” or grassroots conservative protests organized by Beck and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich against President Barack Obama’s bailout plan...

David Neiwert, a veteran reporter on right-wing militia movements... explained that by co-opting conspiratorial rhetoric from the farthest shores of the right, mainstream conservative talkers can inflame the passions of paranoiacs like Poplawski to a dangerous degree...

 

"What it does is unhinge fringe players from reality and dislodges them even further. When someone like Poplawski hears Glenn Beck touting One World Government and they’re gonna take your gun theories, they believe then that it must be true. And that’s when they really become crazy.”

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British Writer: Why Are Games, Not Guns, Blamed For U.S. Rampages?

April 6, 2009 -

With the United States rocked by a series of mass-murder incidents in recent weeks, Dalitso Njolinjo of The Moderate Voice wonders why the influence of video games, music and movies are often blamed for such events:

As an avid hip hop fan... When my favorite rappers veered into subjects of violence and gun play, my thought always seem to lead me to one question, how do they get these guns so easily? ...

I remember the Columbine High School massacre... Instead of having a serious conversation about gun crime and gun control, the majority of the news stories based on sensationalism. ‘The Trench Coat Mafia’, ‘they played violent video games’, ‘they were fans of Marilyn Manson’ and ‘they were fans of Natural Born Killers’... as soon as the conversation did veer towards gun control, the NRA would call foul play and blame someone in pop culture...

Fast forward to the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, what did Fox News ‘journalist’ Bill O’Reilly want to talk about? [rappers]...

 

When anyone can purchase a fire arm with such ease and with impunity and thereafter go and take somebody’s life, someone somewhere has failed the victims.

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Video Game Bill Fuels Conservative Talk Radio in Utah

April 6, 2009 -

Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) may have vetoed HB 353, the Jack Thompson-devised video game bill, but the debate over the bill certainly hasn't ended.

Thompson recently spent two hours bashing the Guv, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and the video game industry on the Utah Eagle Forum Radio Show.

A caller gets into a heated argument with Thompson and the program host at about 30 minutes into the second hour. A second caller gets into it with Thompson and the host right at the end of the second hour.

Of note, we didn't hear the word "disbarred" during the two-hour program.

You can catch the program here: Hour 1   Hour 2

HB 353 sponsor Rep. Mike Morley (R) debates the merits of the bill with Sean Bersell, VP of Public Affairs on Inside Utah Politics (fast forward to 28:00).

Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, urges an override of Huntsman's veto on yet another episode.

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Former Games Writer Turns Pop Culture Blogger

April 4, 2009 -

Mike Antonucci, formerly of the San Jose Mercury-News, can now be read on the Sector Earth blog, where he writes about games, comic books, art, and pop culture generally.

Along with Dean Takahashi (now of Venture Beat), Mike was half of the SJ Merc's excellent Dean & Nooch game blog back in the day.


Politics and Comic Books Collide at Graphic Policy Blog

April 4, 2009 -

For those of you into comic books, longtime GamePolitics reader Brett Schenker has created the fan blog Graphic Policy.

The site's slogan sounds familiar, but we can't quite place it: Where Comic Books and Politics Meet...

Brett, a political consultant, does some work for the Entertainment Consumers Association.

 

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

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NY Times: Resident Evil 5 Not Racist

March 16, 2009 -

Yesterday, GamePolitics reported that the mainstream (i.e., non-gaming) press was beginning to weigh in on the race issue in regard to Capcom's just-released Resident Evil 5.

As we noted, the AP's Lou Kesten was concerned. The Huffington Post's Earl Ofari Hutchinson was angry.

Seth Schiesel is the video game reporter for the New York Times. Like Kesten, he has a foot in both worlds. You can't any get more maintream than the Times, yet gaming is his daily beat. Schiesel, who reviews RE5 this morning. believes that the race issue is overblown:

Let’s get this out of the way: Resident Evil 5 is not a racist game.

For at least a year some black journalists have been wringing their hands about whether the game... inflames racist stereotypes because it is set in Africa. The answer is no... Resident Evil 5 exposes the perhaps uncomfortable truth that blacks and Arabs can become zombies too, just like anyone else... The point of the story is that the indigenous people have become the innocent victims of evil white people.

All that said, Resident Evil 5 could not possibly have been made in the United States. Racial sensitivities and prevailing political correctness would have had American game executives squirming in their Aeron chairs the minute they read a budget proposal for a game featuring African zombies.

Not so in Japan, apparently...

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Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism Question

March 15, 2009 -

While the video game press appears to have reached a consensus that Resident Evil 5 is not racist in its portrayal of blacks, non-gaming media outlets do not seem quite so sure.

Lou Kesten, for example, who covers games for the Associated Press, straddles the line between games and the mainstream. In a syndicated column which will be reprinted across North America, Kesten clearly is uncomfortable with RE5's racial vibe:

Even longtime fans of the horror franchise may find themselves wondering: Is this game racist?...

 

Yes, the vast majority of monsters in "RE5" are infected black men. Does that make it racist? I believe producer Jun Takeuchi's claim that the story led naturally to Africa, and it's obvious that a zombie-creating virus unleashed there would lead to hordes of African zombies.

Still, there were plenty of moments where I felt uneasy after shotgunning a path through a crowd of feral Africans. Even though "RE5" makes some points about colonialism and capitalism... the racial imagery is more loaded than its creators probably realized.

Judged purely as a game, "RE5" is undeniably entertaining. But many players are going to find it disturbing for the wrong reasons.

At left-leaning political blog Huffington Post, commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson pulls no punches. For Hutchinson, RE5 is clearly an exercise in racism:

The well-worn script reads like this. A protest group blasts a video game manufacturer... for dumping a game on the market loaded with racially insulting and demeaning stereotypes. The video game team yelps that the game is pure entertainment, has some blacks or Latinos in on the design and production, and gets high marks from the industry...

So it was no surprise that Jun Takeuchi yanked out that script to defend his video game brainchild Resident Evil 5 from the charge that it's racist. But what else could one call it? It features a white male (modern day Bawana) mowing down a pack of poor, primitive disease challenged Africans... . The racist game reinforces the worst of the worst ancient stereotypes against and about Africans...

GP: When video game controversies flare, there is typically lag time between the gaming press's more immediate coverage and the issue's crossover to the mainstream media. Now that RE5 has been released, it's likely that the racism issue will be receiving a new round of attention from mainstream outlets in coming weeks.

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Crashteroids Game Caps Off Horrible Week for MSNBC's Jim Cramer

March 14, 2009 -

It has been a rough week for frenetic financial guru Jim Cramer, host of MSNBC's Mad Money program.

Having been pilloried on several recent episodes of The Daily Show, Cramer opted to appear as a guest, apparently in an attempt to explain himself to host Jon Stewart. Bad idea: Cramer's Daily Show appearance was a disaster.

Financial site The Big Money lampoons Cramer's media woes with Crashteroids, a fun little Asteroids knock-off:

Avenge Cramer’s disgrace at the hands of Jon Stewart by blasting his smug grin into space dust. Defeat Business Insider’s Henry Blodget, a man who once called Cramer “a chair-throwing, self-aggrandizing clown.”

 

Protect Cramer from Fox Business, a network that sneered, “[T]he last thing you need is Jim Cramer.” Shred Barron’s magazine, a publication that has tried to prove Cramer gives crappy investment advice. And, of course, keep the grizzly hordes of bear-market economists at bay.

Via: The Business Insider

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Sign of the Times: GameCyte Goes Under

March 9, 2009 -

The recession has claimed another video game media victim.

A post yesterday on GameCyte announced that the site, which debuted in 2008, was ceasing operations. Editor Sean Hollister wrote:

GameCyte was a veritable smorgasbord of stories, where you never knew what you might read next... every day working on GameCyte was fresh and exciting.

 

What this meant for our profitability, however, is that we never really carved out a niche in the game journalism space... and as the global recession continues to take its toll on media organizations, we find ourselves without funds, and without the prospect of finding them

GamePolitics linked over to the excellent coverage on GameCyte on numerous occasions. The site's unique voice will be missed in the game space.

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N'Gai Croal Leaving Newsweek

March 4, 2009 -

Kotaku reports that N'Gai Croal will exit the video game beat at Newsweek as of Friday.

The news mag, which has fallen on hard times, is re-inventing itself - and so, apparently is N'Gai. After 14 years with Newsweek, he has accepted a buyout. N'Gai explains:

I always thought I was going to do end up in movies or something else, but I kind of got sidetracked into journalism. It's one of the most amazing things that's happened to me. But when the buyout came around again, I said to myself if I don't do this now when am I going to do it?

I want to do something more creative than when you are on the journalism side of things. I think it's going to be a combination of things, I'm still in the process of figuring that out. There is some interest in me consulting on games, that's something I'm interested in as well.

I wont be doing pre-release coverage of games the way I was for Level Up and Newsweek because that can be a conflict of interest.

In other game journo news, our buddy Mike Antonucci, lately of the San Jose Mercury-News, has started a new blog, Sector Earth. Among his first posts, Mike sets the record straight concerning a controversial interview with Peter Moore on the Xbox 360 RROD fiasco.

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Report: Layoffs Hit G4

February 17, 2009 -

No names yet, but Variety's Ben Fritz is reporting that game-oriented cable station G4TV has been hit by layoffs with the X-Play program hosted by Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb taking the brunt of the cutback.

We'll post more as we learn the details.

UPDATE: Variety has posted details on the layoffs:

G4 is... cutting back its two daily programs, "X-Play" and "Attack of the Show" to three and four original episodes per week, respectively, starting March 2nd... a number of staffers on those two programs have gotten the axe, though the figures for the total network are in the single digit percentage-wise...

Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb will continue to host X-Play in its reduced format.

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NeenekoAh, that old straw man. That is one of the ironies about the discussion, the whole point is showing how good people can still have problems with sexism and not realize it.09/17/2014 - 9:11pm
Andrew EisenYes, there have been a handful of op-eds suggesting that the term “gamer” has become tainted (two that I know of) but that’s the opinion of only a few. I've seen an equal number from those who disagree.09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenExcept, you haven't provided a single example of a site that’s actually calling gamers a "collective of Sexist White Bigoted Basement Dwelling Manchildren."09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
TechnogeekIf you want to make the stereotype of gamers less painful, try calling people out when they do bad shit rather than handwave it away as "not all gamers". Even if it is a few bad apples, that'll still more than enough to spoil the barrel.09/17/2014 - 8:53pm
quiknkoldI'm not going to Sell Gamergate anymore. It can sell itself. But I will sell the integrity of the Gamer. That we are still good people, who create and donate to charitys, Who engage with those around us and just want to have a good time.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldpeople should not be harrassed and punished for the actions of a few. I've always welcomed and accepted everybody who wanted to join in. Who wanted to make them, or play them. I love good strong female protagonists, and want more.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldOne of the tennants of Gamergate is to stand up against Harrassment. That Gamers arent like those assholes. We can argue for days if the Sexism or Antifeminism or corruption is there or not, But the one thing I believe in and wear on my sleave is that09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldBut there were these websites, attacking me and people like me, for the actions of a few. and then others joined in on Twitter and other places. there was a hashtag that said "explain in 4 words a gamer" and it made me sick.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldManchildren who are awful people and that the Identity of the Gamer should die. This hurt me personally. I've always identified as a Gamer. Even in my childhood years, I was a Gamer. All my friends are Gamers. Its one of the core parts of my identity.09/17/2014 - 7:34pm
quiknkoldUltimately, With the whole Gamergate thing, I jumped on it due to the harassment. A small number of assholes harrass Anita and Zoe, and then all the publications lumped together Gamers as this collective of Sexist White Bigoted Basement Dwelling09/17/2014 - 7:34pm
quiknkoldEZacharyKnight : Lemme ask you a question. We have people who cling to walls, people who fire lasers from their eyes, people who can shapeshift....and yet fabric needs to be upheld to RL physics?09/17/2014 - 6:54pm
james_fudgebody paint?09/17/2014 - 5:33pm
E. Zachary Knightquiknkold, I stand corrected on the buttcrack thing. Still, I know of no fabric that actually does that.09/17/2014 - 5:05pm
Andrew EisenSo... it's unethical to discuss the ethics surrounding public interest vs. personal privacy?09/17/2014 - 4:45pm
prh99The source for the game was just released not long ago, it's at https://github.com/keendreams/keen09/17/2014 - 4:43pm
prh99An Indiegogo champagin bought the rights to the early 90's game Keen Dreams to make it open source and release it on GOG etc. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/let-s-get-keen-dreams-re-released-legally09/17/2014 - 4:42pm
james_fudgeAlso http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/17/Exposed-the-secret-mailing-list-of-the-gaming-journalism-elite09/17/2014 - 4:29pm
Andrew EisenI read the Kotaku story. Nowhere does it say anything close to "Gamers are white bigoted sexist losers." It's commenting specifically on the crap being slung at people discussing gender issues in games. So, what's the problem?09/17/2014 - 4:06pm
Andrew EisenYeah, I can imagine Spiderwoman posed like in your second link.09/17/2014 - 4:00pm
Andrew EisenThat's not the same pose. Spiderman (who is wearing an actual outfit rather than body paint) is crouched low to the ground. Kinda like a spider! Spiderwoman has her butt up in the air like she's waiting to be mounted.09/17/2014 - 3:59pm
 

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