Dare to be Digital is expanding thanks to financial support from the Scottish government. Organizers say that this investment will allow the design event to be expanded to include more participants from Finland and Iceland. Students from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, China and India are scheduled to take part in the University of Abertay's annual game design competition, thanks to a £85,700 grant from the Scottish government.
"Scottish creativity and our great strengths in the computer games industry are internationally-renowned. Through our Creative Industries Strategy, we intend to build on that reputation and on the talent that already exists in Scotland in order to secure economic growth," said culture minister Fiona Hyslop.
The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences announced today that it would induct BioWare co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk into its hall of fame. The duo responsible for some of the greatest role-playing game series ever made (Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age - to name a few) will also speak at AIAS' 2011 D.I.C.E. event.
Epic Games president Mike Capps will present the award to the duo on February 10 at the Interactive Achievement Awards at the D.I.C.E. summit in Las Vegas.
Comic-Con is usually a pleasant place filled with cosplayers, fun panels about everything from comic books to films and the occasional celebrity thrown in among booths filled with all kinds of groovy merchandise.
But for two people who attended the event, Comic-con turned into a crime scene. According to reports, two people got into an altercation over respecting each others' "personal space" at a Resident Evil: Afterlife presentation.
The fight started when one man argued with another man over being too close to him. Then one man snapped and attacked the other with a pen, cutting him on the eyelid. Not exactly the norm at Comic-con. Here's what the police had to say about the whole affair:
Shadow Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey (left), a consistent supporter of the UK's video game industry, said this week that the British Government was too focused on the video game violence issue and not paying enough attention to helping the industry grow.
I’m delighted to be speaking to the London Games Conference. The games sector is one of the most successful creative industries in the UK, but it has been forgotten by Government.
While Canada and France aggressively compete to attract talent, all our politicians can talk about is video games violence.
Yet games should be a dream for a politician – it recruits people qualified in difficult subjects, like maths and computer science; it’s regional; and it’s successful and world-beating. Government backing should be a no-brainer.
Organizers of last weekend's PAX convention in Seattle have reported that there are confirmed swine flu cases among attendees. The news comes by way of the show's official Twitter feed. A Boston game developer who was at PAX was reportedly the first official case.
But he's not the only one. An updated list of post-PAX flights taken by additional confirmed swine flu sufferers includes planes headed to Boston, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta and St. Louis. Thus are epidemics spread.
Kotaku has a quote on the outbreak from Robert Khoo of Penny Arcade:
This is the real thing. If you get this number of people together in this close a proximity it is the perfect storm for these kind of wild fire virus spreads. We just want to make sure everyone is informed.
For more information on swine flu, check out the web page of the Center for Disease Control.
We’ve heard video games blamed for a lot of crazy things over the years but the “death of our planet”?
Well, that’s a new one.
Yoshiyuki Tomino (left), creator of the long-running Mobile Suit Gundam series, delivered the keynote at Japan’s CEDEC 2009 game developers’ conference and offered a rather strong negative opinion on the subject of video games and how they affect our lives.
I think that video games are evil. [Gaming] is not a type of activity that provides any support to our daily lives, and all these consoles are just consuming electricity! Let's say we have about three billion people on this planet wasting their time, bringing no productivity at all. Add 10 billion more people, and what would happen to our planet? Video games are assisting the death of our planet!
Those are some pretty surprising comments coming from a man whose franchise has spawned more than 100 video games over the last couple decades. Tomino, who thinks nothing’s bested Tetris since it came out over 20 years ago, offered the attending developers advice on how to proceed from here on out.
You have to find the median -- that games are not evil, perhaps not necessarily good either, but something that can be considered a pastime…
This is what I want to tell you: I want you to create a game that does not negatively affect our daily lives and is something that is considered more productive.
AE: I can’t help but imagine a slack-jawed look of disbelief from the game developers in attendance.
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Senior Correspondent Andrew Eisen…
Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli seems determined to find a new base of operations if the German Bundestat passes a ban on the production and distribution of violent games next month. Crytek's games, of course, include the first-person shooter franchises Far Cry and Crysis.
Joystiq reports that Yerli made his comments while delivering the keynote address at GDC Europe in Cologne:
[This proposed ban] means that Crytek will be literally forced out of the country... If you move a company, you think of it as: let's move the company strategically, so we get more benefit out of this country. But moving it because a law comes in is too reactive for us. We're not thinking of moving unless the law happens.
As GamePolitics reported, Yerli made similar remarks earlier this month.
Electronic Art has apparently backed off a Comic Con promotion which encouraged attendees to "Commit an act of lust" with booth babes hired for the event.
Negative Gamer reports on EA's mea culpa:
Costumed reps are a tradition at Comic-Con. In the spirit of both the Circle of Lust and Comic-Con, we are encouraging attendees to Tweet photos of themselves with any of the costumed reps[...]
We apologize for any confusion and offense that resulted from our choice of wording, and want to assure you that we take your concerns and sentiments seriously.
It's all by way of promoting the publisher's upcoming Dante's Inferno. GamePolitics readers will recall an earlier controversy around the game when EA hired fake Christian protesters to march outside the Los Angeles Convention Center during E3.
In addition to his debate with Mark Methenitis at the recent SGC09, disbarred attorney Jack Thompson engaged in an open forum Q&A session with attendees.
Thompson, who was paid $2,000 to appear, was on his good behavior for the event. That said, the questions from the audience were largely softballs.
The video offered by SGC09 is an edited version of the session.
If you didn't make it to SGC09 a couple of weeks back, Screw Attack has posted video of the debate between gamer/attorney Mark Methenitis and disbarred attorney Jack Thompson.
We've embedded the full Monty, but there is also a 16-minute, edited version.
Over at Law of the Game, gamer/attorney Mark Methenitis writes about his recent debate with Jack Thompson at SGC09.
Mark also notes that video of the debate will be available at the ScrewAttack site next week. Along that line, ScrewAttack Program Director Craig Skistimas told GamePolitics earlier this week that video of Thompson's open forum Q&A session will be available as well. Here's what Mark had to say about the debate:
For those who didn't make it out to SGC, the event was outstanding, and the entire ScrewAttack crew deserves any and all praises you may have seen on their forums about the event. I also really appreciate Jack for making the trip out to the convention and participating in the debate.
By all accounts, the Independence Day debate between Jack Thompson and gamer/lawyer Mark Methenitis was a froth-free success. Thompson, who can be a charmer when he cares to, appears to have impressed the SGC09 audience with a respectful demeanor and self-effacing humor.
Of course, expo attendees sampled but a small slice of the disbarred attorney's act. Naturally, he didn't compare any of them to Saddam Hussein and didn't report them to various law enforcement agencies. Tactfully, Thompson also avoided dredging up any of the various negative generalizations he has made about gamers over the years, such as our personal favorite, "Nobody shoots anybody in the face unless you're a hit man or a video gamer."
We are still hoping to see full-length video of the debate and a subsequent Q&A session, but have been tracking some of the early reactions by attendees. Destructoid's Jim Sterling live-blogged the debate:
After seeing JT's unvetted Q&A earlier, I don't think this'll be the trainwreck people are expecting. Thompson was level-headed and well-behaved earlier...
JT... calls GamePolitics his favorite videogame site. [GP: LOL]
"We are getting to the point where we will understand that adult-rated games are just as harmful as seeing two naked people have intercourse"... "I'm the pro liberty, pro personal choice guy here..."
[JT said] that he got disbarred because he went on 60 Minutes but he'd do it all again.
The normally cynical Sterling, who appears to have sipped liberally from Thompson's Kool Aid, was even more complimentary toward the disbarred attorney in his coverage of the SGC09 Q&A session:
I think Jack Thompson did an amazing job yesterday. I don't agree with all his views, and I certainly disagree with the way he's put them across over the years. I think everyone who watched him yesterday will agree, however, that if he continues the rest of his crusade in the polite and intelligent manner with which he carried himself at SGC, he really wouldn't be such a bad guy to have around.
Overly Positive offers its impressions of the debate:
It seems the audience left the presentation and Q&A with at least a small amount of respect for Jack Thompson, not just for making his points in a rational manner, but for showing up at all. It seems that even if this is to some cynics a desperate grab for relevance, that Thompson honestly believes that presenting his side of the video games violence debate is worthwhile.
SCG09 attendee Sean Hinz also live-blogged the debate.
GP: I caught Thompson's debate performance at VGXPO 07. He is, as described by various SGC09 attendees, an engaging speaker. If he behaved that way all of the time he would almost certainly still have his law license and might still be an effective advocate for his cause.
UPDATE: More in the vein of the Miami Jack we remember here at GP, Thompson e-mailed his reaction to our coverage:
Dennis, pay attention, you might learn something:
1. The comment about GP being my favorite game site was a joke, and everyone knew it. That's why the laughter. Not a lot of folks there care for you or GP.
2. I got about a 60-second standing ovation after the Q & A. Did you talk to Craig, who is the head of ScrewAttack, about his impression of me? [GP: we did send Craig an e-mail inquiry this morning; no response so far]
3. I don't need advice from you about how to be effective. I'm the guy making a difference not you, and it bugs the Hell out of you.
The on-again, off-again July 4th debate between disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson and gamer/attorney Mark Methenitis is apparently back on.
The debate, planned for this weekend's SGC09 in Dallas, went off the rails rather suddenly yesterday morning when Thompson complained to event host Screw Attack (and cc'd GamePolitics) that:
After posting a story detailing Thompson's assertion that he was canceling his appearance, GamePolitics rather unexpectedly found itself in the middle of a day-long flurry of e-mails between Screw Attack personnel and Thompson. Event organizers were clearly seeking to assuage Thompson's concerns and salvage the debate. By late Tuesday afternoon, it appeared that Thompson, who is apparently under contract and being paid $2,000 for his appearance, was softening his position after receiving assurances from Screw Attack Program Director Craig Skistimas.
As recently as this morning, however, Thompson demanded that a post by a Screw Attack user be removed. While it was not taken down, the author, who was also behind the parody video that Thompson found offensive, e-mailed the disbarred attorney a lengthy apology; that seemed to satisfy Thompson.
Next, Thompson e-mailed Skistimas a "proposed text" to be used as his introduction at the debate. The 12-sentence intro mentioned his 2008 lifetime disbarment very briefly, referring to it as "illegal" and blaming the loss of his law license on "lawyers for Take-Two, the makers of the Grand Theft Auto games."
GP asked Skistimas whether the introduction would actually be used at SGC09. Skistimas told us, "I have yet to review his intro but Jack and I will work together to find an intro that fits both his needs and the time format of the debate at SGC."
A conference call between Thompson and the Screw Attack team planned for noon today was canceled when the parties decided in late morning that the debate was back on and Thompson was satisified.
Skistimas also said that the site would release a video tomorrow to reinforce the fact that Thompson will appear at SGC09.
It appears that a much-anticipated Independence Day debate between Jack Thompson and gamer/lawyer Mark Methenitis is off. (GP: however, see updates below)
Back in April Mark Methenitis announced that he would debate Thompson on July 4th at the ScrewAttack Gaming Convention in Dallas. In fact, Methenitis posted a reminder about the debate just yesterday on his excellent Law of the Game blog.
But an angry e-mail received a short time ago from Thompson indicates that he will not appear. The disbarred attorney was apparently upset by an event organizer's request for a two-line bio as well as a parody video (screen shot at left) posted on the Screw Attack website by a user. Here's a just-received e-mail from Thompson to Methenitis:
Mark, the goofs at ScrewAttack have managed to sabotage my debate with you this Saturday... Don't blame me. I wanted to do the debate. I would have used the $2000 to help me in bringing down The Florida Bar...
Here's a second e-mail from Thompson to a number of individuals at ScrewAttack:
Yesterday, I get an email... that I either I submit a "1 or 2 sentence" introduction of myself, or I won't be introduced. I have spoken and debated on more than 200 college campuses, and I have never been introduced with 1 or 2 sentences. Nobody can be introduced in that fashion...
Finally, I went to your site this morning and I have viewed [a since removed] idiotic [video] clip... It is a gross misrepresentation... you know full well that the reason I wanted to do this event... [is] to debate the issues of violence in video games...
Finally, how many references to me as a "butt" did you think you had to put into your adolescent video? You even take a swipe at Christians in the video...
All you have managed to do, as related above, is make the event an impossibility. I expected the event to feature some hostiility [sic]. What I did not expect was that the people putting it on would ratchet it up and in doing so create a security problem...
GamePolitics has a request in to Screw Attack for more information and to see whether, from their perspective, the debate and a planned open forum with Thompson are salvageable. Methenitis is hoping that the event will go forward but referred us to Screw Attack for specifics.
GP: If the SGC 09 debate is canceled, it will not the first time that a proposed debate involving Thompson and the video game crowd has ended in bitterness. See our coverage of similar events proposed for PAX 07 and GDC 08. Thompson did, however, complete a debate with game designer Lorne Lanning at VGXPO 07 in Philadelphia.
That said, it's rather difficult to believe that the debate would be lost over the length of an introduction. As for the Screw Attack user-created video, let's just call it ill-advised and unfunny.
UPDATE: Thompson has confirmed to GamePolitics that he is under contract to appear. An e-mail from Thompson to Methenitis, cc'd to GP, indicates that the debate may yet be salvageable.
UPDATE 2: Thompson has forwarded a copy of a conciliatory e-mail from Screw Attack which describes the video in question as user-created content; it has apparently been removed. Thompson, however, continues to make demands of the event organizers:
This thing will start to get back on track if the person in charge... makes a very prominent and public statement at ScrewAttack.com and to the media (yes, that even includes GamePolitics, which is run as if it were Strauss Zelnick's house organ) [GP: LOL] stating that ScrewAttack disavows that video, that ScrewAttack KNOWS that the reason Jack Thompson is taking a day out of his life and away from his family is that he cares about the ISSUES in this debate, and that anybody, ANYBODY, who says or does anything out of line at this event will be escorted from the event immediately...
UPDATE 3: Stop the presses! The debate is not canceled, at least not yet. Thompson and the Screw Attack crew have scheduled a conference call for tomorrow to - hopefully - sort out their issues.
The 2009 Game Education Summit will kick off in Pittsburgh tomorrow.
The conference features an impressive array of speakers, including some names that will be familiar to GamePolitics readers. These include Savannah College of Art & Design prof Brenda Brathwaite and Jason Della Rocca, former head of the International Game Developers Association.
The conference will take place at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center and runs through Wednesday.
The 5th annual Games For Health Conference formally kicks off tomorrow in Boston.
The conference, which runs through Friday, will feature a "Games Accessibility Day" today, devoted to examing way to make games playable by those with physical and cognitive disabilities.
The main conference agenda which begins on Thursday will feature more than 40 sessions:
Topics include exergaming, physical therapy, disease management, health behavior change, bio-feedback, epidemiology, training, cognitive exercise, nutrition and health education.
During Tuesday's E3 state-of-the-industry speech ESA boss Mike Gallagher touched on a number of issues. In this post we'll take a look at his comments on politics and the video game industry:
On Barack Obama's Xbox Live campaign ads:
Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama purchased advertising space within video games during his presidential campaign... In doing so, Obama became the first presidential candidate to use video games to engage voters and court their support. Others will inevitably follow...
On state-funded financial incentives for video game developers:
You may recall that Texas Governor Rick Perry delivered our keynote address last year... A true advocate for the industry, he backed up his words over the past year. He proclaimed February 3 “Entertainment Software Day” in Texas. Then, in April, he supported [legislation] tripling the economic incentive programs in Texas for digital interactive media production...
A growing number of elected officials increasingly view incentives for video game companies as an essential component in any plan designed to revive a local economy... This year, 18 states have actively considered legislation to create or significantly expand existing incentive programs for digital interactive media development and production...
On restrictive video game content legislation:
Of course, there remain some in government who still seek to lay society’s ills at our doorstep. We are vigilant in defending the interests of the video game ecosystem...
We have seen demonstrable proof that [the Video Game Voters Network's] powerful activism can stop a bad legislative proposal from becoming an even worse law. In Utah, for example, gamers stepped up, encouraging Governor Jon Huntsman to reject a piece of flawed legislation. The governor heeded their call and, in March, vetoed the bill. This decision represented a great win for both gamers and the industry at large. For the first time, a governor vetoed legislation that would have profoundly affected video games, consumers and the industry...
GP: With all due respect to Gallagher, from here it seemed that the industry's substantial lobbying efforts in Utah had far more to do with Gov. Huntsman's veto than e-mails generated by the VGVN.
That said, Gallagher's speech was a notable improvement over the 2008 version for a couple of reasons. First, it was moved to the L.A. Convention Center's comfortable and cozy theater. Last year's speech was delivered in a cavernous - and mostly empty - meeting room. More importantly, after wrapping up this year's talk Gallagher provided a question-and-answer period, something he didn't offer his audience in 2008.
During the Q&A I took the opportunity to ask Gallagher about the U.S. Supreme Court's pending consideration of California's violent video game law. If the Court rejects California's bid, I asked, did the ESA boss think the other 49 states would take notice and stop attempting to legislate games?
No, [they] won't... 12 times we've been to federal court and had those statutes overturned, [but] they continue to do it... We'll face challenges in different states at different times. What I can you tell you is, our advocacy and the growth of our industry is beginning to turn that issue around. An example I would point to is the number of legislators who introduce these bills has stopped. They didn't do it this year. That happened in North Carolina, it happened in Massachusets, it happened in Michigan and other states. And in some of those cases, we've taken our harshest critics and turned them around to where they are sponsoring legislation to give our industry incentives to locate in their state. So I see opportunity for this industry to continue to make its case...
We are going to turn that issue. And we are having an impact today. But we continue to have to be very vigilant...
On Tuesday Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa officially welcomed E3 back to the City of Angels with a presentation to ESA boss Mike Gallagher and a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
And, why not? As the Los Angeles Times reports, E3 2009 generated more than $15 million in commerce for the city.
There's no truth to the rumor, by the way, that those giant scissors are a new Wii peripheral.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D, at left) will extend an official welcome to E3 2009 tomorrow afternoon, according to a press release issued by the Entertainment Software Association, which operates the expo.
The 3:30 p.m. ceremony will mark the official opening day of E3 and will feature a ribbon cutting by Mayor Villarigosa, ESA boss Mike Gallagher and Mark Liberman, head of LA INC.
The event will take place outside the West Hall lobby of the Los Angeles Convention Center.
There's one in every crowd.
While the video game press is generally enraptured by the prospect of E3 returning to its former glory, Cnet's Dan Ackerman serves up a cautionary note, saying that this year's expo "may be too little, too late."
The 2009 version of E3 is being unofficially billed as a return to form... Of course, many of these grand plans were hatched before the current economic recession hit, and some of these game companies may be experiencing buyer's remorse over investing so heavily in an E3 show modeled on the free-spending glory days.
We're eager to see how excessive the show's booths are (previous years resembled an arms race to see who could build the biggest, most ostentatious display), and whether the game publishers will feel like they got their money's worth from their sizable investment -- which is why the show was scaled back three years ago in the first place... If not, this could very well be E3's third strike, and the end of a 15-year run.
Somewhat lost in the pre-E3 buzz is the 6th Annual Games For Change Festival, currently underway in New York City.
The show has a terrific lineup of speakers, including Ian Bogost, Henry Jenkins, Clive Thompson, Lucy Bradshaw, N'Gai Croal, and James Paul Gee.
For updated G4C Festival news, check out the official Games For Change Twitter feed.
Two more video game publishers have pulled their Japanese employees out of the upcoming E3 Expo in Los Angeles due to concerns over swine flu.
Develop reports that Square Enix and Koei join Capcom in withholding Japanese employees from the highly-anticipated show:
Square Enix has cancelled plans for its Kingdom Hearts team to attend the show, whilst Koei has confirmed that an unspecified number of its Japanese employees will not be travelling to the event...
However, like Capcom, both publishers will be represented at E3 by U.S. and European staffers. According to Develop, neither Sony nor Nintendo plan to withhold employees due to swine flu.
AFP reported this morning that there are 281 confirmed cases in Japan, although most are mild. There have been no deaths attributed to the virus in Japan so far and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso urged the public to be calm.
Bird flu, mad cow disease, and now swine flu. It’s probably just a ruse engineered by farm animals to keep themselves off my dinner table.
Be that as it may, H1N1 Influenza A continues to make headlines and gamers want to know if it’s going to negatively affect that annual orgy of video game news that is E3. Last week, the ESA announced that the gaming expo would proceed as planned and the LA Convention Center Administration Department has now echoed that sentiment in comments to Eurogamer:
The swine flu has not yet affected this part of Los Angeles County (Downtown LA) and we do not expect the outbreak to spread any further than it has already. The swine flu has in fact declined over the last few days in Los Angeles County.
We hope that by the time E3 is in the building, swine flu will be a thing of the past and no longer a threat to the health of Los Angeles and the rest of the country and world.
Still, just because the ESA and LACC aren’t anticipating an issue with the swine flu doesn’t mean attendees are excused from acting like a pig:
As a precaution, guests are urged to wash their hands regularly and cover their mouths when coughing.
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics correspondent Andrew Eisen...
DOCUMENT DUMP: An earlier swine flu-related statement by the LACC, issued on April 27th.
The Entertainment Software Association will incorporate a variety of charitable efforts into next month's E3 Expo in Los Angeles.
According to an ESA press release, in addition to all of its usual gaming goodness, E3 2009 will feature:
Hal's presentation is billed as a conversation with Russ Pitts of The Escapist. The format sounds similar to Hal's well-received appearance with Spike TV's Geoff Keighley at PAX 08. The conference listing indictates that Hal will discuss:
The future of games as a media and a business, the role of the Electronic Consumers Association and the many key issues facing consumers today, including DRM, Net Neutrality, the economy and the ESRB.
FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.
The European Parliament will convene a video game conference next week, reports Edge Online.
The gathering will promote the economic and cultural benefits of the game business. Dutch MEP Jules Maaten (left), who is coordinating the event, said:
Europe has to encourage the further development of creative sectors like the games industry. Everybody would gain from such additional focus: the developers, the economy, but also the consumer and I’m advocating an EU programme for the stimulation of the European games industry.
Registration has opened for the fifth annual Games For Health Conference.
This year's event will be held in Boston on June 11-12.
Nintendo's best-selling Wii console looks to be a hot topic. Of 31 GFH sessions listed so far, 20% are specific to either the Wii or to the Wii-dominated topic of exergaming. These sessions include:
What are the odds of having two Jack Thompson debate stories in a single day?
That's how today, played out, though.
Just after GamePolitics posted about tonight's Thompson-Gerard Jones debate, Law of the Game blogger - and practicing attorney - Mark Methenitis e-mailed to say that he will be debating Thompson at SGC 09 on July 4th. Mark believes that he is the first attorney to debate Thompson on video game issues.
The Screw Attack website adds that there will be more just the Thompson-Methenitis ten-rounder:
In addition to the debate, Thompson will also participate in a special pre-screened question and answer panel where attendees will have the opportunity to pick the brain of one of gaming’s most notorious critics.