When Does Fair Use Go Too Far?

January 18, 2011 -

When does fair use go too far? That's a hypothetical question ask by a columnist over at the New York Times, who, after snapping photos from several home decor magazines and books at Barnes & Noble for a home design project (using their iPhone), wondered if he might be breaking the law.

So he turned to several experts on the subject including Julie A. Ahrens, associate director of the Fair Use Project at the Stanford Law School; Stan Liebowitz, a professor of economics at the University of Texas at Dallas and the director of its Center for the Analysis of Property Rights and Innovation; and Charles Nesson, the Weld professor of law at Harvard Law School and founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Their answers varied.

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CBC To Air Investigative Report into Brandon Crisp Case Tonight

March 6, 2009 -

If preliminary reports are any indication, video games are in for a media beatdown on Canadian TV network CBC tonight.

News program the fifth estate will air an investigative piece on the tragic Brandon Crisp case at 9 P.M. Eastern. GamePolitics readers may recall that 15-year-old Brandon ran away from home following an October, 2008 dispute in which his parents confiscated his Xbox 360.

Brandon was an avid - his parents say addicted - Call of Duty 4 player and the early days of the investigation focused on the theories that he had either run away to join a professional gaming league or been abducted by someone he met on Xbox Live. In the end it turned out that Brandon had fallen from a tree not long after leaving home and died from injuries received in the fall.

The Globe and Mail previews the program:

Some kids get hooked on Guitar Hero, but the vast majority of gamers today spend more money — and time — on shockingly graphic search-and-destroy video games. Turning every violent teen male fantasy into reality, these games have a simple primal theme: kill, and kill again. And then keep killing...

"As a parent, I was shocked by how little I knew about this world," says [reporter Gillian Findlay]. "The violence of these games is so real and beauty of the graphics is almost overwhelming. You can see how seductive these games can be to teenage players..."

In an exclusive interview with Brandon's parents, taped between the time of his disappearance and the discovery of his body, the extent of their son's video-game obsession is revealed.

We're dismayed at what sounds like a cheap media manipulation:

MLG also operates big-ticket tournaments... Findlay sits down with the members of a Canadian team of professional gamers...


"When we talked to them, we had large monitors playing video-game footage as background, and you could see it: They couldn't take their eyes off the screens," says Findlay.

Did the reporter really conduct this interview in front of large monitors and then blame some kind of video game effect for the subjects' eyes wandering? Would it have been any different if a hockey game or House was running on those monitors? Maybe that's why most reporters don't conduct interviews with their subjects facing TV screens. They're, you know, distracting...

For those who don't get CBC, the episode will be available on the web at 10 p.m.

Looking for background on the case? GamePolitics covered Brandon's disappearance in great detail. Click here for all of our reports on the case.

GP: Thanks to numerous readers who alerted us to this story...

UPDATE: Steve Tilley, who covers video games for the Toronto Sun, has previewed the show and weighs in with his take:

There's a journalistic responsibility to become as informed as possible on a subject before speaking on it with authority, and [reporter Gillian] Findlay clearly has not.

I'm not talking about forgivable oversimplifications, but rather a glib, faux-concerned approach that treats teenaged gamers like slack-jawed addicts obsessed with virtual mass murder. It's demeaning not only to the majority of gamers for whom this is harmless recreation, but to the non-gaming viewing audience who might not know better...

It's lazy, cheap and disappointingly one-sided.



Journalist Reflects on Brandon Crisp Case, Terms CoD 4 Multiplayer "a Sad Place"

December 18, 2008 -

The tragic death of Canadian teen Brandon Crisp was easily gaming's saddest story of 2008.

In a sense, it was also one of the most frustrating stories for gamers as they watched their hobby maligned publicly, yet again. For several weeks in October and November, mainstream media reports fueled speculation that Brandon, a dedicated - perhaps even compulsive - Call of Duty 4 gamer, had been abducted by someone he met on Xbox Live.

Early on in the case there was even the highly improbable suggestion that Brandon had left home to join a professional gaming league. This was, perhaps, the modern equivalent of a 19th century child running away to join the circus.

Throughout the investigation and its aftermath, the notion that Brandon was addicted to Call of Duty 4 remained a constant theme. Not written about much, but just as likely, was the fact that Brandon was experiencing the same issues that plague many adolescents: difficulty in finding one's place and conflicts with parents.

In the end, Brandon was found dead not far from home. A coroner ruled that he likely fell from a tree soon after running away.

Now that a bit of time has passed since Brandon's death, Canadian journalist Jesse Brown takes a retrospective look at the case for his CBC Radio podcast. Unfortunately, what Brown ultimately serves up is a blanket condemnation of Call of Duty 4 multiplayer.

Brown, a non-gamer, spent time playing CoD4 and recording his impressions. In the end he was seemingly put off by the trash talk on Xbox Live. Hey, who isn't, from time to time? But there are ways to deal with XBL jerks that don't involve condemning the entire CoD4 experience, as Brown unfortunately does in his wrap-up:

Brandon Crisp played video games compulsively and Brandon Crisp died in the woods after falling from a tree. And those two things might not have anything at all to do with each other.

But as I played Call of Duty 4 late at night, crouching in a digital simulation of a snowy field and then collapsing in the leaves as a stranger somewhere in the world pushed a button and cursed in my ear, it was eerie to think that Brandon Crisp was here too, virtually killing and virtually dying thousands of times.


This world is a sad place and it's awful that Brandon Crisp spent so much of his time here when he had so little to spend.

What Brown doesn't get is that CoD4 may have become for Brandon a place where he could fit in, have fun and enjoy a sense of community and accomplishment.

GP: Thanks to GP reader Joseph M for the heads-up...

Addiction Specialist: 90% of Compulsive Gamers Are Not Addicts

November 26, 2008 -

The recent, high-profile Brandon Crisp tragedy once again brought the debate over video game dependency to the forefront. But, does obsessive video game play necessarily equal addiction?

Not according to Keith Bakker (left), the founder of the Smith & Jones Centre in Amsterdam, Europe’s first and only clinic to treat game addiction. After running Smith & Jones for two years, Bakker has concluded that compulsive gaming is a social problem, not a psychological one.

Bakker told the BBC

These kids come in showing some kind of symptoms that are similar to other addictions and chemical dependencies.  But the more we work with these kids the less I believe we can call this addiction. What many of these kids need is their parents and their school teachers - this is a social problem.

Eighty per cent of the young people we see have been bullied at school and feel isolated. Many of the symptoms they have can be solved by going back to good old fashioned communication...

If I continue to call gaming an addiction it takes away the element of choice these people have.  It's a complete shift in my thinking and also a shift in the thinking of my clinic and the way it treats these people. 

In response to these observations, the clinic has altered its treatment program to help compulsive gamers develop “activity-based social and communications skills to help them rejoin society.”

Bakker feels that his clinic may no longer be needed if “parents and adults in the community took more responsibility for the habits of their children.”

Via: gamesindustry.biz

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics correspondent Andrew Eisen typed this story with his left hand while playing Wii Tennis with his right.


Parents To Start a Foundation in Brandon Crisp's Memory

November 12, 2008 -

In a just-released statement the parents of Brandon Crisp say that they plan to create a foundation to help unpriveleged children have the opportunity to play sports.

Although it was known that the Crisps would release a statement today, the focus of the proposed foundation is a bit of a surprise. Some believed that the family would target video game addiction, which was initially blamed for Brandon's disappearance by his parents. The oft-repeated game addiction theme gathered much traction in the Canadian media as well.

The 15-year-old gamer will be buried on Friday.

The full text of the Crisp family's statement follows:

The story of our son's disappearance and tragic outcome has touched the hearts of families throughout our community and across our Country.


We are so very proud to have parented such a wonderful, caring and beautiful son who has touched so many hearts.

We take great comfort in our time of grief, knowing that his story has and will continue to have a profound impact on parents and children alike, that more time will be made by families to share precious time together. Life and love should never be taken for granted.


To honor Brandon's name we will be creating a foundation to support under privileged children throughout our community and across Canada to play minor sports they may not otherwise be able to afford. An interim donation account has been set up with the CIBC as the Brandon Crisp Trust Account, Donations can be made at any CIBC branch across Canada.


The support we have had from so many has been completely overwhelming and has made an everlasting impression on our family. 

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BREAKING: Missing Gamer Brandon Crisp Died from Fall

November 8, 2008 -

Brandon Crisp, the gamer whose disappearance touched so many in Canada and in the video game community, died of injuries consistent with a fall from a tree, according to a coroner's report.

More details from Canada.com:

An autopsy performed Friday in Toronto confirmed that missing 15-year-old Brandon Crisp died from a fall from a tree. Coroner Dr. Dirk Huyer said Saturday that the autopsy confirmed the boy's identity and cause of death, putting to end the faint hope the missing teen might still be alive.

Results from the autopsy indicated that Crisp died from chest wounds "consistent with a fall from a tree," a statement released by Barrie police said. Many media reports speculated that Crisp, whose body was found Wednesday near a popular hiking trail outside of the central Ontario city, had likely died from hypothermia.

Police said foul play isn't suspected.

Police are still attempting to piece together the last moments of Brandon's life. His funeral is planned for Friday, November 14th.


Gears 2 Launch Parties Scrubbed as Gesture to Brandon Crisp Family

November 7, 2008 -

Canadian game journalist Steve Tilley reports that game retailer Future Shop cancelled midnight launch parties in Toronto and Vancouver out of respect for Brandon Crisp and his family.

The 15-year-old gamer was found dead late Wednesday afternoon. He had been missing since October 13th after running away from home following a family dispute over his video game play. Tilley writes:

Future Shop just got in touch to say they're cancelling the festivities surrounding tonight's midnight launch of Gears Of War 2 in Toronto and Vancouver, out of respect for the friends and family of teen gamer Brandon Crisp. Future Shop stores will still be opening at midnight to sell the game... there just won't be any of the planned hoopla...


I guess a public spectacle around the release of a popular multiplayer video game so soon after the Brandon Crisp tragedy didn't sit well with Future Shop, who said the decision was made by the company and their "vendor partner", ie. Microsoft...

Meanwhile, Toronto's CityNews has a quote from Future Shop:

Future Shop and our vendor partner have decided to cancel promotional activities prior to the midnight release of Gears of War 2 in Toronto and Vancouver out of respect for the family and friends of Brandon Crisp. 

GP: What do you think, GP readers? Did Future Shop make the right call?


Missing Gamer Found Dead

November 5, 2008 -

Toronto TV station CP-24 is reporting that missing gamer Brandon Crisp has been found dead.

From the report: 

Police have found the body of missing Barrie-area boy Brandon Crisp... He was found on Fifth Line in the Barrie area...


A massive search was underway for the teen in Shanty Bay on the Oro Medonte Rail Trail, just outside of Barrie, since his disappearance on Thanksgiving Day.


Last week, a second witness confirmed seeing Crisp on the trail the night he disappeared.

CTV spoke with Sgt. Dave Goodbrand of the Barrie Police: 

At this point we believe it to be Brandon, and we're still obviously in the early stages of our investigation, It's not confirmed because nothing's confirmed until we have pathology, but we believe it to be Brandon... [Brandon's parents are] obviously distraught by the information.

On the Facebook group Where is Brandon Crisp? some posters are saying that Brandon's body was discovered by hunters, but that is unconfirmed by police at this point. The London Free Press also reports that Brandon was found by hunters.

UPDATE: The Facebook group has been removed by its moderator, apparently over hurtful remarks being posted.

UPDATE 2: Police are now saying that they don't suspect foul play. CTV quotes Ontario Provincial Police Const. George Silvestri:

Our indication is, at this time, no foul play suspected, but of course we have to examine every possibility... There's absolutely no fear for any residents of Oro-Medonte. This is a safe community.


Magazine Profile of Missing Gamer Focuses on Game Addiction

November 5, 2008 -

Maclean's, a weekly news magazine in Canada, has published a lengthy article on the Brandon Crisp disappearance.

What Happened to Brandon? zeroes on Brandon's supposed addiction to Call of Duty 4:

The police are still searching the nearby fields, but the large-scale volunteer search that has been going on in recent weeks is over. Hopes that Brandon might be comfortably hiding out in one of the expensive summer homes on Lake Simcoe are all but dead. The question hangs heavier than ever: what happened to Brandon Crisp? His parents have ideas and they all centre on the video game and the growing fear that Brandon's addiction might prove fatal...


But what confounds everyone involved in this case, from the police to his parents, is that beyond his devotion to Call of Duty, he showed no outward signs of trouble. "He was a teenager who had a problem, but he wasn't a problem teenager," says Sgt. Dave Goodbrand of the Barrie police...

Among others, Maclean's also spoke with Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family:

I don't think [video game companies] want to touch addiction with a 10-foot pole. It raises all sorts of liability issues for them. And my interpretation is that their strategy is to ignore it and hope it will go away. If you talk to front-line counsellors in places like universities they'll tell you that this is a huge issue. The way people are viewing this is changing quickly.

ECA president Hal Halpin is quoted from a prior interview with the Washington Times:

What we're really talking about here is media addiction, but unfortunately we're not even talking about that. The issue has been politicized down to games, to the exclusion of all other media, including movies, music and television. It seems disingenuous on its face.

Over at The Escapist, Andy Chalk has a rant about the Maclean's piece:

The most recent example of the "games made him do it" coverage appeared in this week's edition of Maclean's magazine... What the hell? ...The boy's father has proclaimed his belief for some time now that Brandon's gaming habits had something to do with his disappearance, although actual evidence to that effect - beyond the fact that he ran away from home after a fight over the Xbox - is scant...


Brandon Crisp's disappearance highlights one of the biggest problems facing the gaming industry today: Not that videogames are or aren't the greatest scourge faced by civilization since Elvis, but that they're consistently presented as such, to one degree or another, by the mainstream media...

GP: Meanwhile, Brandon remains missing. He has been gone for 23 days. CanWest is now reporting comments from Barrie Police spokesman Sgt. Dave Goodbrand which seem to indicate that the investigation may be moving away from Brandon's gaming:

[Brandon's Xbox 360 is] still being analyzed a little further, but at this point we have no reason to believe there is any connection to date between the Xbox and his disappearance.

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


Report: Missing Gamer Case Raises Questions About Mysterious 2007 Death

November 2, 2008 -

Video games have absorbed an enormous amount of bad press since Brandon Crisp (left) went missing on October 13th.

Nearly every day for the last three weeks, Canadian media accounts have named Call of Duty 4, Xbox Live and video game addiction as key factors in the 15-year-old's disappearance.

While it's generally agreed that Brandon left home following an argument with his parents over his Xbox 360, what happened after that remains unknown.

Today's edition of the Toronto Sun, however, draws comparisons between Brandon's disappearance and that of Alexandra Flannigan (right), a 33-year-old woman who was last seen in July, 2007:

Another mysterious disappearance was on the minds of many residents.Still fresh in many memories is the death of Alexandra Flannigan, 33, a petite, 100 pound, 5-foot-2 woman... Months later, police found her remains in two different areas of the city... Police suspect foul play but have been silent in the past months about the investigation. They have refused to comment when asked about a possible connection with Brandon's disappearance.

Meanwhile, the Sun quotes a local woman who found Brandon's abandoned bicycle:

I hate to think the worst. But you can't help but wonder.

GP: One thing that is fascinating about the earlier case is that the victim, Alexandra Flannigan, was almost exactly the same size and weight as Brandon Crisp. It's also very odd that the woman's remains were found in two separate locations and the police suspect foul play? The autopsy apparently indicated that one of Flannigan's bones had been sawed through. Foul play seems like a no-brainer.

Barrie police, the lead agency is the Brandon Crisp case, have been severly criticized by some who believe that they bungled the Flannigan investigation.

GamePolitics recently reviewed the possible scenarios in Brandon's disappearance.


Police Issue Video Alert in Hunt for Missing Call of Duty 4 Gamer

November 2, 2008 -

As of tomorrow, Brandon Crisp will be missing for three weeks.

Police in his hometown of Barrie, Ontario have issued a video alert for the 15-year-old gamer after a search and a roadblock over the weekend apparently failed to locate Brandon.


America's Most Wanted Monitoring Missing CoD4 Gamer Case

October 30, 2008 -

CTV reports that the popular America's Most Wanted program may air a feature detailing the case of missing gamer Brandon Crisp. The popular show currently has a small report about Brandon on its website, but a reader would need to search to find the listing.

According to CTV, America's Most Wanted is more likely to cover the case if police believe that Brandon has entered the United States. Along that line, UPI reports the following comment by police spokesman Sgt. Dave Goodbrand:

We don't know where he is, so there is that potential that he could have gone south of the border. That's a scenario we have to consider, whether he went across on his own will or against his will.

Interestingly, Goodbrand said that foul play is not suspected.

GP: Thanks to reader Ian Campbell for the tip!

UPDATE: Even though police called off their ground search on Monday, according to CityNews they now say that they will search one more time on Friday and conduct a day-long canvass on Saturday.


Police Call Off Search for Missing Gamer

October 29, 2008 -

After more than two weeks of hunting for Brandon Crisp, police in Barrie, Canada are calling off their ground search efforts.

Law enforcement spokesman Sgt. Dave Goodbrand told the CanWest News Service:

We've exhausted our search in the area. We're going to look through our tips and make a determination of where else to look... We didn't find [Brandon] and that means there's a potential likelihood that he's hiding out. We don't want to assume anything at this point because he could be anywhere.

No foul play has been suspected yet. He just basically vanished.

As police continue to review more than a thousand tips received from the public, they are also awaiting the results of a forensic examination of Brandon's Xbox 360. According to reports, Microsoft Canada is cooperating fully in the investigation.

Meanwhile, CTV technology columnist Kris Abel offered an opinion on what the game console might reveal to investigators:

While Brandon may have gamed with some individuals through Xbox Live, you can't really communicate with other people or share information in the way one can through a social networking website like Facebook.

You can talk over a headset with other gamers [during games], but there's no privacy. All the other players can hear. It's possible to send voice messages through Xbox to a specific user. One can also send text messages, but it's difficult to do. Such messages are generally of the "let's game at 7 o'clock" variety, Abel said. If someone in Brandon's situation did meet a predator online, they would likely have communicated privately over regular online channels where it would be much easier, he said.

"Now, one reason they're going through his Xbox is because it has a detailed record of every player he ever played against and every player he may have sent messages to," Abel said.

"And of course every account has information on it in terms of address. So that's why they may be going through that with a comb."

Where is Missing Gamer Brandon Crisp? GP Examines the Possibilities

October 27, 2008 -

When Brandon Crisp stormed out of his house on October 13th following a family argument, he must have seemed like so many other teenagers. It's a simple fact of life: 15-year-olds occasionally have stormy relationships with their parents. But, upon leaving, Brandon's life took a uniquely disturbing turn.

Two weeks later the young man remains missing. No one has seen or heard from him - at least, no one who's talking about it. Intensive search efforts by police and local volunteers have failed to locate the slightly built gamer.

At this point the best hope of tracing Brandon may lie with a forensic analysis of his Xbox 360 hard drive as well as server logs for Microsoft's Xbox Live online gaming service.

Brandon's distraught parents have largely focused on the role of online gaming in his life, a role which they say had become pervasive. His father, Steve Crisp, has at various points blamed game addiction, Call of Duty 4, and online game tournaments.

But let's put all of that aside for a moment and analyze the possibilities:

Missing Gamer Search Now Focusing on Xbox Live

October 26, 2008 -

After failing to locate Brandon Crisp despite more than a week of intensive searching, police are reportedly focusing their investigation on the missing gamer's Xbox Live account.

This morning's Toronto Star reports that the cyber crimes unit of the Ontario Provincial Police will attempt to identify members of Brandon's Xbox Live Call of Duty 4 clan. Barrie P.D. spokesman Sgt. Dave Goodbrand told the Sun that Microsoft has agreed to breach its normal privacy protocols in the hunt for the missing 15-year-old:

Brandon's dad made a plea to Microsoft. This is an exigent circumstance, where it's a kid you're searching for. This isn't the same as other criminal investigations, where you're looking for evidence... [Brandon] was getting good enough that there's a possibility he was expanding into other clans.

In related news, GamePolitics spoke with Sgt. Goodbrand last night and learned that police are not releasing Brandon's Xbox Live gamertag. While the gamertag would give concerned gamers a starting point from which they could explore online resources in the search for Brandon, law enforcement officials fear that the information may be misused. There could also be important investigative reasons. It is not unusual for certain pieces of information to be withheld from the public in major cases.

How might gamers help? Although the circumstances are much different - and infinitely more serious - in Brandon's case, here's one example: Crime File: Global Gamer Community Tracks Down Xbox Live Thieves.

Reality TV's Mantracker Joins Hunt for Missing Gamer

October 26, 2008 -

The star of a Canadian reality TV show has joined in the search for missing Xbox Live gamer Brandon Crisp.

As reported by the Vancouver Sun, Terry Grant, who stars in Mantracker, arrived at the seach location on Friday evening. Barrie Police Dept. spokesman Sgt. Dave Goodbrand commented:

He has followed the story for a number of days and he has come to assist with the volunteer party.

Meanwhile, Simcoe.com has these remarks from Grant:

Search and rescue is what I’ve done for 12 years. I thought it’s a worthwhile cause to come out here and see if I can help organize some of the volunteers and give a little bit of guidance where necessary... This [search operation] is huge. The volunteers who are organizing this are doing an awesome job. They are going above and beyond here.

A Wikipedia entry for the Mantracker program summarizes its format:

Two people take off into the bush with a map, a compass and a head start. The tracker is on horseback, armed with a local guide and an arsenal of forensic skills. The prey have 36 hours to reach a finish line some 40 kilometers away without getting caught. How they escape is up to them.

Brandon is reportedly a fan of the show.

Microsoft Adds $25K to Missing Gamer Reward Fund

October 25, 2008 -

Despite yesterday's massive search effort, Brandon Crisp remains missing. The 15-year-old gamer disappeared after a family dispute on October 13th.

The Vancouver Sun reports that Microsoft Canada has chipped in $25,000, raising the reward fund total to $50,000. Brandon's parents told police that the young man left home after an argument over what they described as his obsessive play of Call of Duty 4 on Xbox Live.

A Barrie P.D. spokesman said that Microsoft was cooperating fully with the investigation: 

Microsoft said they would do anything they can to expedite the process to find Brandon," said Sgt. Dave Goodbrand, spokesman for the Barrie police.

Brandon's parents say he was obsessed with playing an online game called Call of Duty 4 on his Xbox and police have been working with Microsoft to track down the Internet addresses of everyone who interacted with the 15-year-old before he disappeared. There are concerns he may have gone to meet someone he met online.

Barrie P.D. says that it has received more than a thousand tips that need follow-up. Psychics and even the newly-disbarred Jack Thompson have offered advice. From the Sun:

Miami lawyer Jack Thompson called Barrie police offering his help. Thompson, whose cases have included a youth who committed murder by re-enacting scenes from video games, said a young person addicted to video games can be traumatized if forced to go cold turkey.

"It's a psychological and physiological condition," said Thompson. "These are tough things to have the kid go cold turkey."

Barrie P.D. has established a tip line for information concerning Brandon's whereabouts: 705-725-7025 ext. 2160

For all GP coverage on the Brandon Crisp case click here.

UPDATE: Steve Crisp, Brandon's father, is urging Microsoft to expedite the process of extracting contact information from the hard drive of the missing boy's Xbox 360, reports CTV. Mr. Crisp made this plea:

The key to finding my son lies in this XBox hard drive. Please, if you can speed up the process of handing this information over to our police, it could mean a big difference in our son's safe return. There are a lot of red tape and legal issues I know that Microsoft probably has, and the police probably have.

CTV has posted video interviews with Steve Crisp as well as with Sgt. Dave Goodbrand of the Barrie P.D.

Cops Organize Big Search for Missing Gamer; Mom Clings to CoD4 Theory

October 24, 2008 -

After 11 days, 15-year-old Canadian gamer Brandon Crisp remains missing.

Rewards in the case have increased to $20,000, while a message on the Facebook group Where is Brandon Crisp? outlines a major volunteer search effort that will begin today and last through the weekend:

The public search for Brandon will take place Friday - Sunday October 24 - 26. The command centre for the search each day will be located at Burl's Creek in Oro, and teams will be organised there to search throughout Oro and Orillia.

In addition to ground-searching, volunteers may be asked to perform support-related duties for the search, canvass neighbourhoods and post flyers in high-traffic locations.

The Command centre will operate Friday Saturday and Sunday from 10 am through 5 pm. As we expect many volunteers, we ask for patience while we organise each volunteer into proper roles; we need to make sure we execute the search to the best of our ability.

Canada's cnews reports that Brandon's distraught mother, Angelika Crisp, clings to the idea that he was taken by a fellow gamer:

She insists her son was taken by some misfit teammate who may be participating in a bizarre video game that has somehow crossed over into reality.

Crisp said her son was "addicted" to the terrorist war game, Call of Duty, and might have met up with team players online.

"I think someone has him," Crisp said.

In addition to the Facebook group (which now has over 9,200 members), a website has been established at FindBrandonCrisp.com


Reward Posted for Missing Canadian Gamer; Police Endorse CoD4 Addiction Theory

October 23, 2008 -

Canada's National Post reports that a $10,000 reward has been offered in the Brandon Crisp case. The teen went missing 10 days ago following a family dispute.

As GamePolitics has reported, Brandon's parents maintain that he was addicted to Call of Duty 4 and they have linked his game play to his disappearance. The local police department seems to be adopting that theory as well. The Ottowa Citizen today quotes Barrie P.D. Sgt. Dave Goodbrand:

Every day gets more and more concerning for his safety, especially with no contact. We're not getting any contact from his (computer) user accounts and his video-game accounts. And that's concerning because he was so addicted and he left home because of that.

Probably correctly, the police doubt that Brandon would log in under a new account:

From my understanding, he has worked so hard to build his [in-game] credibility, and if you start a new profile, you have to start at the bottom.

GP: Anyone with information concerning Brandon Crisp's whereabouts is requested to contact the Barrie P.D.


Tech Deprivation: Did Removal of Xbox Spark Teen's Disappearance?

October 23, 2008 -

All week, GamePolitics has been tracking the search for Brandon Crisp. The 15-year-old Canadian gamer disappeared on October 13th after a dispute with his family which led to the confiscation of his Xbox 360 by his father, Steve.

Mr. Crisp has expressed fears that Brandon's "addiction" to Call of Duty 4 may be somehow connected to the boy's disappearance.

GamePolitics put that question to Dr. Jerald Block, an Oregon psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of Internet porn and online gaming addicts. While Dr. Block would not comment directly about the case, he offered his view on how the removal of a game system or PC might affect a hardcore gamer:

I caution against abruptly "cutting off" people from their compulsive computer use without much thought and preparation.  I often see extreme anger results, directed at oneself or the surrounding world.  When you think about it, it makes sense:  The computer (or gaming console) helps a person who is struggling with emotions (1) metabolize those emotions virtually without acting on them in the Real, (2) chew up time so they do not have the hours to act out in Real life, and (3) provides companionship...even if it is simulated or via Virtual relationships. 


When you cut the cord, you destroy the way someone is dealing with their emotions, you give them 30+ more hours [per week] to occupy, and you kill off their major source of relationships.  Is it any surprise anger often results?
Often the anger is directed at oneself with statements like, "What a waste I have made of my life" or "What do I have to show for the hours I spent in WoW, Civ, etc."  It can lead to suicide attempts or other pathology, like drug use.  Or, the anger can turn external:  "We all live in fantasy worlds, brutal places fabricated and controlled by others.  I'll be damned if I'll let them take away my world, where I am powerful, without first stripping away their fantasies and illusions."  This is what I believe happened at Columbine.

Call of Duty 4 Teen Still Missing

October 22, 2008 -

As GamePolitics reported on Monday, Brandon Crisp, a 15-year-old Canadian gamer, went missing more than a week ago and has not been located.

According to this morning's Toronto Star, Brandon's parents have expressed to police that they believe his disappearance may be related to what they term an "addiction" to the popular, online-playable FPS Call of Duty 4. Brandon's father, Steve Crisp is quoted as saying:

I'm worried he has met someone online through this game. It could be organized crime or someone involved in Internet gambling. Pedophiles can stalk kids through these games.

While it is certainly true that there are documented cases of sexual predators using online video games to locate young victims, Steve Crisp's speculation regarding organized crime or Internet gambling seems a bit far-fetched. Perhaps understandable, though, given the stress which he is under. Certainly, one would expect that the local police are working with Xbox Live to examine any messages between Brandon and other players. They are probably examining his PC as well.

Also unclear is the exact CoD game that Brandon was supposedly addicted to. The Star report includes these passages:

[Brandon] left home following a dispute with his parents over the Xbox online war game, Call of Duty 4, which he spent countless hours and days playing over the last 18 months...


"He has a good heart," Steve said of his son, who was a straight-A student until his obsession with gaming started in 2006. The boy purchased Call of Duty with Christmas money and Steve subscribed to Xbox online at his son's urging.

Call of Duty 4, however, was not released until November 5 of last year. Previous games in the series were released for Xbox 360, so, given the stressful circumstances, it's an understandable mistatement.

Anyone with information on Brandon's whereabouts is urged to contact the Barrie Police Department. A Facebook group, Where is Brandon Crisp? has over 5,600 members so far.

GP: A reporter from the Globe and Mail asked me yesterday whether the gaming community, using online resources, might be helping in the search for Brandon. It's very possible.

What do you think, GP readers? How would you look for Brandon?

Missing Teen is Call of Duty Player; Dad Blames Game

October 20, 2008 -

The father of a 15-year-old boy who has been missing for a week said that his son's disappearance was triggered by a family dispute over his video game play.

As reported by the Toronto Star, Brandon Crisp left home last Monday and hasn't been seen since. From the newspaper account:

"He left because we took his Xbox away," said Steve Crisp, Brandon's father. He says his son was losing sleep because he spent so much time playing Call of Duty, a World War II-themed shooting game. "This was his addiction."

...Although police have determined that he hasn't logged onto his Xbox since he left, they are still trying to track down anyone he might have met playing Call of Duty.

"My personal feeling is that he's met someone online through this game," said Steve. "As a parent, you fear the worst when you don't hear anything for seven days."

Brandon's parents had tried to limit his Xbox use, but it didn't work, prompting them to take the console away.

"(Kids) play these games and it becomes an addiction. It becomes their whole life," he said.

GP: Anyone who has seen Brandon is asked to contact the Barrie Police Department at 705-725-7025 Barrie P.D. has more about the investigation on its website.


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PHX Corpand now it's ready to go for everyone08/31/2015 - 9:35pm
PHX Corpok, done http://www.twitch.tv/trustygemtwitch I have to put on one more finishing touch and it is ready to go08/31/2015 - 9:19pm
Andrew EisenFeel free to leave us suggestions on Facebook or Twitter too. We're going to be busy but we'll try our best to keep an eye on 'em.08/31/2015 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenIt's an interesting idea though. If we do anything, we probably won't know until after the site goes offline so keep an eye on GP social media for announcements.08/31/2015 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenYeah, we could use my Twitch chat box too. There's always IRC but we don't currently have a GamePolitics channel.08/31/2015 - 8:57pm
Goth_SkunkThough I think the limit is 9 at a time in the hangout, so anyone who can't get in would be stuck out in the 'on air' portion.08/31/2015 - 8:57pm
Andrew EisenFor the show, I'd like the chat open to anyone who wants to watch.08/31/2015 - 8:55pm
PHX CorpI could Set Up a Temporary chatroom on My twitch.TV page while GP is busy updating the site(since I'll be Fighting Megaman Legacy Collection on Xbox one)08/31/2015 - 8:54pm
Goth_SkunkI don't see a problem with inviting viewers. It's not like I'm advocating this to be an open forum, just something specific to GP members.08/31/2015 - 8:53pm
Andrew EisenThat's why I embed the chat box from my Twitch Page. Can't get chat on the YouTube page to work either.08/31/2015 - 8:49pm
Andrew EisenI do but I haven't seen a way to incorporate viewers to chat without specifically inviting them to the event.08/31/2015 - 8:49pm
Goth_SkunkThough I'm surprised you'd not be familiar with this, Andrew. Do you not use Google Hangouts when you do S.P.A.C.?08/31/2015 - 8:45pm
Andrew EisenGP Movie Night!08/31/2015 - 8:41pm
Big PermEveyone should be too busy with phantom pain to notice GP is down. Hail Vidya!08/31/2015 - 8:40pm
Goth_SkunkBut such a hangout *could* be a neat idea. It could be used, for example, for all us GPers to get together and watch the new FemFreq video, and then discuss amongst ourselves in real time what our thoughts are.08/31/2015 - 8:38pm
Goth_Skunkcacophany of voices all trying to talk at once.08/31/2015 - 8:37pm
Goth_SkunkVideo is entirely optional. The only criticism I have of the hangout system is that I don't believe the moderator has the ability to "give the floor" to any one particular individual. Without mutual respect and tact, a Google Hangout can be reduced to a08/31/2015 - 8:37pm
Andrew EisenWell, I can't stream anything because I'm at work all day (still am).08/31/2015 - 8:28pm
Goth_SkunkIt seemed simple enough to me. During a shift at work I was bored and hopped on a Google Hangout that was GamerGate themed and streamed on YouTube. Granted, I was not the host, but joining in seemed fairly straightforward.08/31/2015 - 8:24pm
Andrew EisenSo, like a space where we can all hang out and chat while the site is down? I can dig it. No idea how to do that though. Is there a way to create a public chat in Google Hangout?08/31/2015 - 8:23pm

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