Conservative Christian Site Slams Same-Sex Couple Option in Game of Life

March 13, 2009 -

The Christian conservative website WorldNetDaily has got its undies in a twist over an option that permits same-sex couples in Hasbro's The Game of Life.

The downloadable PC title is an update of the classic board game of the same name. WND writes:

The online version of a popular board game from many Americans' childhood includes an option for players to choose homosexual marriage and child-rearing as a way of life... even children can download and play a free trial version of The Game of Life, the first game ever created by Mr. Milton Bradley in 1860.

The player's first option in the online version is to choose a persona based on pictures that clearly depict men and women. Shortly thereafter, the game invites players to choose a spouse, regardless of the potential spouse's sex...

But, as WND notes, the modern version of the board game, created in 1960, allowed for gay unions as well:

The board game did not prevent players in any way from placing two pink or two blue pegs in the front seat [of the playing piece representing the family car], thus depicting a homosexual couple.

GP: Got this tip from none other than Jack Thompson during the course of seeking comment on last night's passage of the Utah video game bill.

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Now, Utah Bill Races Against the Clock

March 12, 2009 -

Despite the Utah State Senate's passage of HB 353 by an overwhelming 25-4 margin, the bill is racing against the clock to survive.

Because the Senate amended the bill (more about that later) it now must go back to the Utah House for approval.

The catch is, that all has to happen by midnight in Salt Lake City. Which means that, as I write this, there are about 5.5 hours to get this done. The House is on a dinner break at this moment, which ends at 7:00 P.M. their time, leaving five hours of actual time to work on legislative business.

It seems doable, but HB 353 isn't listed on the House activity calendar yet, so...

UPDATE: Jack Thompson, who drafted the original version of the bill, commented on the time pressure in an e-mail to GamePolitics:

Now it's back to the House with the amended Senate bill, which applies to all sales, including Internet sales. This is fun, and the question is, does it strike midnight before we win?

UPDATE 2: HB 353 status page shows that the House has concurred with the Senate amendments. Next stop for the bill is Gov. Huntsman's desk.

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BREAKING: Utah Senate Passes Video Game Bill

March 12, 2009 -

Following a lively debate, the Utah State Senate has passed HB 353 by a 25-4 margin.

The bill, originally drafted by disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson, was amended in the Utah Senate prior to this evening's vote.

Because the bill was amended by the Senate, it now goes back to the Utah House which must approve the changes. That step must be completed by midnight when the current legislative session ends.

Sen. Margaret Dayton (R), the measure's sponsor in the Senate, is seen at left speaking about HB 353 during the just-completed debate.

During the debate, Sen. Scott McCoy (D) called the bill a square peg in a round hole. While saying that he personally found Grand Theft Auto disgusting, McCoy also feared that the measure is an inappropriate use of Utah's Truth in Advertising statute and that it will be subject to challenge on constitutional grounds.

Speaking in support of HB 353 was Sen. Chris Buttars (R). The controversial Republican cited the well-known case of Devin Moore, a GTA player who killed two police officers and a dispatcher in 2003. Before being removed from the case by an Alabama judge, Jack Thompson was involved in a wrongful death lawsuit against Rockstar, Sony, Wal-Mart and GameStop based on Moore's rampage. 

Assuming that the House approves the Senate amendment, which seems likely, the measure will proceed to Gov. Jon Huntsman. The Governor may sign it into law or veto the measure.

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Crunch Time: Utah Senate Must Decide Video Game Bill by Midnight

March 12, 2009 -

It's crunch time for HB353, the video game/movie bill under consideration by the Utah State Senate.

The measure must pass the Senate by midnight or it will die. HB353 will begin the day at #26 on the Senate's to-do list.

The bill was approved 70-2 last week by the Utah House.

GamePolitics will be updating the bill's status throughout the day, and you can check for yourself, too. Here's how:

 - at this link, click S2ND, the last entry under "Location." This will tell you where the bill is in line for Senate consideration.

 - check the Senate calendar for today's date. During the hours when the senators are in session, you can watch or listen, live. It's a very nice feature that we wish all legislative bodies offered. FYI, Utah is on Mountain Time.

HB353 has been especially hot over the last few days with the ESRB and bill sponsor Rep. Mike Morley trading rhetoric and the conservative Media Freedom Project calling on Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman to opposed the measure.

For all of GP's HB353 coverage, click here.

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Conservative Media Watchdog Group Urges Utah Guv to Oppose Video Game Bill

March 10, 2009 -

Terming it a "give away to trial lawyers," a conservative media watchdog group has called upon Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R, at left) to oppose HB 353, which is currently under consideration by the State Senate.

The measure would make retailers who advertise that they abide by age restrictions for video games and movies potentially liable under Utah's truth in advertising law. As reported on GamePolitics, HB 353 passed the State House by a 70-2 margin last week.

Derek Hunter, executive director of the Media Freedom Project, wrote to Huntsman yesterday:

In a state famous for hosting the Sundance Film Festival, amending the [law] to include [video game and movie] transactions would have a chilling effect on the film industry, as well as other retail businesses, and further damage an already ailing economy.

 

Specifically, the Media Freedom Project strongly opposes opening up businesses to lawsuits for underage video game or movie sales. This give away to trial lawyers won’t make kids safer, but will build in dramatically higher costs for small businesses who are already working on strategies to keep kids safe...

 

No crisis exists. Parents are not clamoring for government intervention into the lives of their children...

Should the Utah State Senate pass HB 353 (and they have until Thursday midnight to do so), it would be up to Gov. Huntsman to sign the measure into law or veto it.

Sourcewatch reports that the Media Freedom Project is an offshoot of Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform.

GP: Especially fascinating about the Media Freedom Project's involvement is that they are a conservative group lobbying against a bill that was proposed by a conservative legislator, Rep. Mike Morley, in the most conservative of states, Utah. Moreover, the bill enjoys the backing of the ultra-conservative Utah Eagle Forum and was originally drafted by another conservative, disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of the MFP's letter to Gov. Huntsman here.

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PC World: Utah Game Bill "Dangerously Wrong"

March 9, 2009 -

PC World's Matt Peckham weighs in on HB 353, the much-discussed Utah bill originally drafted by Jack Thompson.

Peckham agrees with ESRB President Patricia Vance that the bill could prove to be a disincentive to Utah retailers to do the right thing:

The most recent amended version of H.B. 353 is a sobering bellwether of much worse to come if it passes the Utah state senate... Instead of ensuring game retailers do as they say, the bill in fact encourages them to do the exact opposite and stop promising they won't sell Mature-rated games like Fable 2 and Fallout 3 and Resident Evil 5 to underage kids and/or teens.

That's because Utah's H.B. 353 effectively criminalizes retail sales of video games to customers who don't meet a game's ratings strictures...

 

The non-cynical view: H.B. 353 is an attempt to pull game ratings under the umbrella of Utah's prevailing "truth in advertising" guidelines.

The cynical view: The bill's promoters are trying to backdoor anti-ESRB legislation by using a potentially over-broad state policy to increase governmental control of private sector activities and declare self-regulatory triumphs null and void...

UPDATE: Jack Thompson has posted a reply to Peckham's column:

All [major retailers] have publicly committed, and promised Congress, that they will participate in the game rating system and abide by it... They simply cannot now opt out of the ESRB system... Their public endorsement of the rating system is an "advertisement" under this bill...

 

[ESRB head Patricia] Vance says their is an industry "audit" which says that Utah game retailers are 94% compliant with the game ratings. She refuses to produce the audit...

GP: I must point out that Thompson's assertion that a company's merely signing on to abide by the ESRB ratings constitutes an "advertisement" seems a dubious one, at best.

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Newt Gingrich Gushes About Wife's New Wii on Twitter

March 5, 2009 -

Conservative Newt Gingrich has been posting on Twitter about a Nintendo Wii that his wife, Callista,  received as a birthday present.

The former House Speaker, a hardcore mobile Twitter user, has mentioned the Wii at least twice since last evening:

# Callista got a wii from the cushmans and the lubbers for her birthday A lot of bowling golf and tennis to come ...about 18 hours ago from TwitterBerry

 

# @amlebus callista got a wii for her birthday yesterday. She is excited and wants to golf and bowl with our grandchildren    ...about 7 hours ago from TwitterBerry   

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Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's Testimony on Game Bill

February 26, 2009 -

Earlier this week GamePolitics posted exclusive transcripts of testimony at Monday's hearing before a Utah House committee which was considering Jack Thompson's video game bill.

Among those appearing before the committe was Thompson ally Gayle Ruzicka, the politically formidable head of the ultra-conservative Utah Eagle Forum.

As we reported, Ruzicka, in an urgent tone, beseeched the committee to approve the Thompson bill: 

These [games] are the kind of things that are training our children. This is the vile stuff. The Grand Theft Auto games are cop-killing murder simulators. And when [Devin Moore] was faced with being arrested he knew exactly what to do. He knew how to aim... at the head and each time killed these [officers]. We don't want this for our children. Not at all. Please, please vote yes today on this bill.

 

Anything we can do to protect our children from the violence, from the filthy pornography that the only way they can get into the pornography is being good at the game. They work hard and get to certain levels and when they get to the high enough levels then they get into the pornography - filthy, vile stuff that you would be appalled and never want your children to see. And then as a reward, they get to kill the women...

Ruzicka's protestations caught the attention of game design blog Third Helix where the author tackled her claims, point by point:

...our industry never steps up to defend ourselves in light of their lies. [Ruzicka is] referring to the Grand Theft Auto games, of course, and her inaccuracies are numerous:

    * There is no pornography in GTA, unless your definition of pornography is “any sexual content or reference of any kind”. The closest thing you’ll get is the Hot Coffee mod for GTA:SA, and the (brief) male nudity in The Lost & The Damned. The comically-low resolution of the former, and the non-sexual nature of the latter, clearly distance them from any generally-accepted concept of pornography.

 

    * GTA does not have “levels”, as it is primarily a sandbox game. The closest analogue is “missions”, which do not always have a strictly linear progression, and the games’ content does not become any more explicit as players progress.

 

    * Explicit content is not used as a reward for gameplay. It is simply the overall tone of the games, and many well-regarded movies do exactly the same thing.

 

    * Killing the prostitutes is not a reward for anything at all, nor is it encouraged. It does provide a marginal “reward” in that you gain a small amount of cash — should you choose to pick it up — but this amounts to virtually nothing in the overall game economy and is not generally worth doing.

I understand that people like Ms. Ruzicka are concerned about their children (and other people’s children, too, apparently). But it would be nice if the things such people are afraid of were actually real, and not inventions of rumor and fevered imagination...

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Jack Thompson Bill Overwhelmingly Approved by Utah House Committee

February 24, 2009 -

He wasn't on hand to testify and his name wasn't mentioned, but the influence of disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson was apparent in yesterday's meeting of the Business and Labor Committee of the Utah House of Representatives.

By a 10-3 vote, committee members approved H.B. 353, a bill drafted by Thompson and sponsored by Rep. Mike Morley. The measure targets the video game and film industries by amending Utah's current Truth in Advertising law. Retailers and movie theaters which advertise that they don't sell M-rated games or R-rated movie tickets to underage buyers and then do so would be liable for fines of $2,000 per incident.

Those testifying on behalf of the bill included Alan Osmond, the most senior of the Osmond Brothers vocal group and Gayle Ruzicka, the politically powerful head of the ultra-conservative Utah Eagle Forum.

For his part, Osmond, read into the record verbatim passages from an e-mail circulated earlier yesterday by Thompson. Osmond, however, did not identify Thompson as the author:

This link shows a montage of sex scenes from the Grand Theft Auto IV game which has been sold and is presently being sold at BestBuy.com, WalMart.com, Target.com, GameStop.com, and at other retailers’ sites, with no age verification whatsoever.

As you can see, there are graphically depicted lap dances in a “gentleman’s club” in this game, including simulation of oral/anal sexual intercourse between women.  The hero in the game then has intercourse, clearly depicted...  The hero then kills the woman by gunfire and running her over with his car.

Now that’s entertainment...

Utah must do something about these major retailers who are flat-out lying to the public when they assert they are not selling this and other similar pornographic “games” to kids when in fact they are...

Conservative power broker Gayle Ruzicka also testified on behalf of the bill with a Thompson-esque flavor, mentioning Devin Moore, the GTA-playing Alabama teen who murdered three police officers in 2004. Thompson, representing the officers' families, subsequently brought suit against Rockstar Games, Sony and others before being thrown off the case by an Alabama judge for professional conduct violations in November, 2005.

For those familiar with Thompson's anti-GTA crusade, Ruzicka's testimony had a familiar tone:

These [games] are the kind of things that are training our children. This is the vile stuff. The Grand Theft Auto games are cop-killing murder simulators. And when [Devin Moore] was faced with being arrested he knew exactly what to do. He knew how to aim... at the head and each time killed these [officers]. We don't want this for our children. Not at all. Please, please vote yes today on this bill.

 

Anything we can do to protect our children from the violence, from the filthy pornography that the only way they can get into the pornography is being good at the game. They work hard and get to certain levels and when they get to the high enough levels then they get into the pornography - filthy, vile stuff that you would be appalled and never want your children to see. And then as a reward, they get to kill the women...

Dick Cornell of the Utah Association of Theater Owners was among those who testified against the bill:

235 comments | Read more

Utah Legislature Will Consider Video Game Bill Today

February 23, 2009 -

A committee of the Utah House of Representatives will conduct a hearing today on video game legislation drafted by disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson.

As GamePolitics has reported, HB 353, sponsored by Rep. Mike Morley (R), would amend Utah's truth in advertising law. Retailers who advertise that products such as M-rated video games or R-rated DVDs will not be sold to underage buyers could face liability if they fail to uphold that standard.

The House Business and Labor Standing Committee will meet at 4:10 local time today to consider the measure.

For more on the background of the bill, check out GP's revealing interview with Rep. Morley.

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Hearing on Utah Video Game Bill Postponed

February 20, 2009 -

There was supposed to have been a hearing this morning in the Utah House of Representatives on HB 353, the video game/movie bill authored by disbarred attorney Jack Thompson and proposed by Rep. Mike Morley (R).

Late yesterday, however, the hearing was postponed.

We're speculating, but the reason for the delay may be related to the availability of Thompson ally Gayle Ruzicka (left) of the ultra-conservative Utah Eagle Forum.

The influential Ruzicka, who supports Thompson's bill and would almost certainly have appeared on its behalf, will likely be tied up this morning in an attempt to salvage the political career of another ally, Utah State Sen. Chris Buttars (R). Buttars is in hot water with Senate leadership over some ugly remarks he made about gay people for a documentary film. Buttars has been quoted as saying:

[Gay rights activists are] mean. They want to talk about being nice. They're the meanest buggers I have ever seen... It's just like the Muslims. Muslims are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it’s been taken over by the radical side.

What is the morals of a gay person? You can't answer that because anything goes... [The radical gay movement is] probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of.

Last year, Buttars caused similar outrage in the African-American community after he made offensive comments on the Utah Senate floor. Referring to an education bill then under consideration, Buttars said:

This baby is black... this is a dark, ugly thing.

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Conservative Blogger Who Triggered 2008 Mass Effect Debacle Equates Obama Stimulus Plan with Rape Game

February 18, 2009 -

Just when you thought the RapeLay mini-scandal was over...

Kevin McCullough, the conservative blogger who in 2008 lit the fuse that would eventually detonate as pop psychologist Cooper Lawrence's misguided attack on Xbox 360 hit Mass Effect, is back.

In a piece for the conservative Townhall blog, McCullough draws similarities between the despicable RapeLay PC game and President Obama's just-signed stimulus package.

You can't make this stuff up. Here's what McCullough, who eventually backed off of his incorrect allegations against Mass Effect, wrote regarding RapeLay and the stimulus package:

This week Amazon.com after many complaints finally decided to ban a virtual reality game called "Rapelay." Defenders of the game say it's not real rape because it only occurs between computer animations. There are no genuine side effects. And it won't impact reality.

Sort of like what liberals sound like when it comes to our money. The money we work increasingly harder to earn. And with one uber-partisan vote they take away. Taken faster than the speed of light or at least in shorter than being allowed to read the legislation that does so.

In the game Rapelay, reviewers have stated that the player must first sexually assault a mother character and her two daughters before being allowed to then "pick" their next series of victims.

In the Congress of Washington DC liberals have seen to it that our mothers and daughters will have less money in the home budget working for their protection and welfare.

In the game Rapelay the reviews indicate that the rapist can even convince one of the animated computer characters that they like what's happening to them.

In Washington DC liberals in Congress sent their lapdog "Mr. President" out to the masses to do the same thing...

 

I've tried to be as tasteful as possible in explaining this comparison, and due to the passion of the natural man that was not an easy thing to do!
 

Class act, that Kevin McCullough...

Via: N'Gai Croal

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GP Interviews Sponsor of Utah Game Legislation... And Things Take a Bizarre Turn

February 13, 2009 -

In recent weeks GamePolitics has devoted a substantial amount of ink to H.B. 353, the video game bill currently under consideration in Utah.

Yesterday, GP spoke with Rep. Mike Morley (R), the sponsor of the measure in the Utah House of Representatives. Morley offered his take on the proposal, which would amend the state's existing truth in advertising law to encompass products such as video games and movies which have age-based content recommendations.

Under Morley's bill, retailers who advertise that they won't sell certain types of content to minors and then do so would be at risk for false advertising claims.

Things got rather strange after the interview, as you will see. It's an instructive lesson in Utah power politics, among other things.

PART I: THE INTERVIEW

GP: Rep. Morley, can you address the origins of H.B. 353?

MM:  I think that there’s a general concern that there are mature video games that are not appropriate for children but somehow end up in the hands of children, even despite best efforts of parents. And I think other friends and peers talk about some of [the games] that would be very inappropriate and they go in and purchase those. So the idea is simply to try to encourage retailers to live by their own policies, if they have those policies in place, and monitor that to the best of their ability.

It’s a small incremental step, and it’s not  - I think we’ve taken it in a direction that I don’t know has been taken before. And it’s not, I don’t think it encroaches into the free speech or any of those areas. We’re not saying that, if a video retailer has a policy to go ahead and sell to minors, then that’s fine, there’s nothing that we can do about that. But if they purport to not sell to minors and they do that as a matter of practice I think that this just calls attention to that.

GP:  What would be the penalties under the proposal if, for example a company said that they wouldn’t sell an M-rated game to a minor and one did get sold. What would be the penalty for that?

MM: Well, I don’t know if one got sold, I think we’re looking at it as a matter of practice. But it’s not trying to be a sting operation. What it does is that it basically opens [game retailers] up to the same code and the same civil penalties – it’s not a criminal action.  So it would be the same penalties that they would be subjected to if they engaged in any other truth in advertising problem or claim. I’m not certain what the penalty is but it would be the same as any truth in advertising claim in Utah.

GP: I track the video game industry on a daily basis. They have made some strides over the last few years in their enforcement levels as measured by the Federal Trade Commission in enforcing their ratings. I think it was up to [an] 80% success rate in the most recent FTC report, and that's been increasing every year. Is there a concern that if now they have to feel like they are on the hook for this [new law], they may just not participate, [they may not bother to] say that they don’t sell games to minors. Is there a concern about that?

MM: I don’t think so. I think that most all retailers, in fact most all of the large ones have entered into a pledge not to do that. I think it encourages them to enforce their own standards and encourages them to be a little bit vigilant and say, hey, let’s not do this. But obviously, if they decide that [promising not to sell to minors] is too onerous, and they decide that that’s not a claim that they want to make, then, there would be no penalty under this provision.

(hit the jump for the rest...)

38 Studios Head Curt Schilling is NOT an Obama Fan

February 12, 2009 -

Curt Schilling, lately of the Boston Red Sox, is a longtime gamer.

The former World Series ace, who started his MMO development company 38 Studios in 2007, likes to play the political game as well.

As GamePolitics reported last year, Schilling stumped for - and contributed to - the failed presidential campaign of Republican John McCain.

Schilling, however, doesn't seem inclined to take a wait-and-see posture on the three-week old administration of Democrat Barack Obama. In a blog entry headlined Wasn't The Rest of the World Supposed to Start Loving Us? the right-hander recycles a lengthy anti-Obama screed originally penned by conservative British journalist Peter Hitchens:

The swooning frenzy over the choice of Barack Obama as President of the United States must be one of the most absurd waves of self-deception and swirling fantasy ever to sweep through an advanced civilization... If you can believe that this undistinguished and conventionally Left-wing machine politician is a sort of secular saviour, then you can believe anything...

 

I was in Washington DC the night of the election... As I walked... there had been a few white people blowing car horns and shouting, as the result became clear. But among the Mexicans, Salvadorans and the other Third World nationalities, there was something like ecstasy.

They grasped the real significance of this moment. They knew it meant that America had finally switched sides in a global cultural war... The United States, having for the most part a deeply conservative people, had until now just about stood out against many of the mistakes which have ruined so much of the rest of the world.

Suspicious of welfare addiction, feeble justice and high taxes, totally committed to preserving its own national sovereignty, unabashedly Christian in a world part secular and part Muslim, suspicious of the Great Global Warming panic, [the United States] was unique...

And now the US, like Britain before it, has begun the long slow descent into the Third World. How sad...

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Utah Legislator Officially Submits Jack Thompson Video Game Bill

February 11, 2009 -

Utah Rep. Mike Morley has officially introduced video game legislation drafted by disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson.

As GamePolitics previously reported, H.B. 353 would amend Utah's current Truth in Advertising statute. If passed, retailers who claim that they don't sell M-rated games to underage buyers could be held liable if they did. The measure would also apply to R-rated DVDs as well as tickets to R-rated movies.

The language of the amendment has changed slightly from that which GP reported on Sunday. It now reads:

[Deceptive trade practices occur when, in the course of a person's business, vocation, or occupation that person:]

 

(u) (i) advertises that the person will not sell a good or service labeled with an age restriction or recommendation to a person under the age restriction or recommendation; and (ii) sells that good or service to a person under the age restriction or recommendation.

For his part, Thompson issued a press release this morning which says that the purpose of the bill is to "punish major American retailers who falsely claim they do not sell Mature-rated video games and R-rated movies and movie tickets to kids under 17."

While Thompson claims that H.B. 353 has no free speech implications, that remains to be seen; the bill clearly targets certain types of media content.

As GamePolitics readers may recall, Thompson also claimed that his 2006 Louisiana bill was constitutional (it wasn't) and that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was a "device," not a form of speech, (he was wrong about that, too).

So, please excuse us while wait for a real constitutional expert to weigh in.

Hearings on the proposal may begin as early as next week.

GP: Thanks to Nathaniel Edwards of LegalArcade.com for the artwork.

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Sneak a Peek at Jack Thompson's Utah Game Legislation

February 7, 2009 -

"Advertises that a good or service will not be sold to a certain age group when it is."

That single phrase is the essence of the much-talked about Jack Thompson video game legislation currently under consideration in Utah.

Thompson has forwarded GamePolitics a draft of the measure, dated January 27th. As previously reported, Rep. Mike Morley (R) will sponsor the bill in the legislature (although, based on recent local news reports, Morley doesn't sound especially enthusiastic about the prospect).

Thompson's proposal seeks to amend Utah's existing Truth in Advertising law. If it is successful, game retailers who advertise that they don't sell M-rated games to underage buyers would be at risk if they did.

Although Thompson often complains that online retailers don't properly age-gate video game buyers, the current language of the proposal does not address Internet sales.

Document Dump: Grab a copy of the draft legislation here.

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Utah Sponsor: Jack Thompson Game Bill May Have Little Impact

February 7, 2009 -

A proposed amendment to Utah's Truth in Advertising Law may have little impact on the sale of M-rated games to minors, according to its sponsor.

Rep. Mike Morley (R) discussed the measure, which was conceived by disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson, with Salt Lake Tribune reporter Glen Warchol:

Morley tells me his bill... takes a radically different approach than ill-fated past proposals... It would work like this: A store, Target for instance, could advertise that it takes precautions not to sell mature-content games to kids, presumably to attract business from concerned parents. But if one of its clerks did sell an inappropriate game to a kid—the parents could sue the store...

 

Of course, the stores can simply [decide to] not make any such advertising promises.

If this doesn't sound to you like a rigorous way to control video game sales, you're right. Morley acknowledged as much to me:

    This approach is constitutional. Will it be effective? Maybe not.

Morley assures me the Legislature has plenty of time to deal with pointless bills like this and still take care of the people's real business.

Morley made similar comments to Utah's Deseret News:

[Morley] acknowledged that his proposal was relatively limited in scope and would have little to no effect on some segments of the video game industry.

"If they're one of those places that thinks, 'Well, as long as they have a heartbeat and some money we'll sell to them,' then this won't have any impact on them," Morley said.

 

Morley said he hasn't been able to get a feel for the level of enthusiasm among House Republicans for yet another bill directed at the video game industry.

GP: Hardly a ringing endorsement from Rep. Morley for his own legislative proposal...

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Source: Game Biz in for a Fight Over Jack Thompson's Utah Legislation

February 6, 2009 -

Despite a decade-long string of legal victories against video game legislation, the game industry appears headed for a fierce political battle in Utah.

As GamePolitics reported earlier this week, State Rep. Mike Morley (R) will soon introduce a new bill written by longtime game biz nemesis Jack Thompson. Having apparently abandoned past efforts to have violent games declared harmful to minors (an approach that he swore was constitutional), Thompson's new legislative angle would put retailers at risk of false advertising charges if they sell mature-themed games or films to minors.

While there is a tendency in the game community to automatically dismiss any legal theory proposed by the permanently disbarred Thompson, the reality is that Utah could prove to be a battleground state for the video game industry. A lobbyist who is familiar with media content issues explained to GP that Utah's ultra-conservative political landscape offers Thompson a window of opportunity:

This year the industry may face a tougher fight in Utah even with Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's help. The reason is that the conservative wing of the [Utah] Republican Party deposed the moderate Republican Senate President, John Valentine, and replaced him with the conservative Senate President Michael Waddoups. 

 

[For example,] one of Waddoups most recent victories was defeating the Governor's effort to modernize Utah's antiquated liquor laws. Waddoups defeated the bill because he opposed "kids being able to see adults pour drinks."  Well, if he thinks seeing a drink poured in a restaurant is going to corrupt a kid, what will he think about your average video game?

 

Moreover, [Jack Thompson's] new approach targeting false advertising could encourage and energize legislators to try yet again to pass a [video game] law that would survive judicial review.  

In reality, [Thompson's proposal] is unlikely to withstand judicial review, as it would chill protected speech. However, legislators may be willing to roll the dice one more time. It is not their money.

 

38 comments

Utah Legislator Will Sponsor Jack Thompson Video Game Bill

February 3, 2009 -

The Salt Lake Tribune has confirmed that a Republican state legislator will introduce a video game bill crafted by Jack Thompson.

Trib reporter Glen Warchol tracked the story down this afternoon at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City. As GamePolitics recently predicted, Gayle Ruzicka, a Thompson ally and head of the ultra-conservative Utah Eagle Forum, found a legislator to propose the disbarred attorney's bill.

Warchol writes:

Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka is remote controlling Rep. Mike Morley [left] to introduce yet another bill to regulate those cop-killing video games...

Morley is picking up where other lawmakers have failed. (Yes, I checked and his pupils appear to be dilating properly...)  Florida-based wingnut crusader and disbarred lawyer Jack Thompson apparently has roughed out the bill for Gayle...

I talked to Attorney General Mark Shurtleff [who] says he has been told the bill will be completely different from earlier versions, but "They keep changing the language." He says the evidence that Thompson keeps quoting hasn't stood up in court. Looks like Thompson will have to call for Shurtleff's impeachment again.

GP: In 2007 Thompson demanded the impeachment of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff after the A.G. suggested that a video game bill proposed by the anti-game activist was unconstitutional.

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Utah Newspaper Gives Jack Thompson Ink to Discuss His Mystery Bill

February 3, 2009 -

In an op-ed for today's Deseret News, disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson writes about the Utah video game legislation that he has been promising for several weeks.

Here's the bill in Utah: It doesn't define what content is "harmful to minors," so we avoid the phony First Amendment arguments Hollywood loves to make. The bill simply states: If you promise the public you don't sell adult-rated entertainment to kids, then you had better be telling the truth, because if a parent catches you selling this stuff to his or her kids, then you're guilty of fraud under the Truth in Advertising Law.

 

The Entertainment Software Association bragged this week that it spread $4.2 million around to "lobby" politicians at the federal level, with more spread around to state politicians...

Despite Thompson's assertion, we don't remember the tight-lipped ESA mentioning its lobbying expenditures at all, much less "bragging" about them. The $4.2 million lobbying figure which Thompson refers to was tracked down by Gamasutra via a public records search and subsequently detailed in a recent news report.

Since we've been unable to locate Thompson's measure on the website of the Utah legislature, GamePolitics asked Thompson to identify the bill and its sponsor. He declined, saying only:

I have a sponsor and a bill, and [the video game] industry is in trouble.

Layton Shumway, who pens a video game column for the Deseret News, suggests that HB14 might be the Thompson bill, but that seems unlikely. In a comment to his op-ed, Thompson offers what could be a carefully-worded hint on the future of the mysterious bill:

I look forward to returning to Utah, possibly this week, to testify for the passage of this bill. I met with state government officials last month in Salt Lake, and there is great enthusiasm for this approach...

Of course, returning to Utah "possibly this week" also means possibly not this week, or possiby not even during the current legislative session.

From Thompson's description, his bill seems aimed at movies as much as video games. Indeed, he cites poor R-rating enforcement by movie theaters but fails to mention the video game industry's significant, FTC-documented progress at stopping M-rated sales to minors.

We note also that Thompson is identified by the Deseret News as "a former practicing attorney," which does not seem to fully convey his permanently disbarred status to readers of the Utah newspaper. 

134 comments

Live Blog: Jack Thompson Tells Utah Conservative Group of Plans to Legislate Games

January 17, 2009 -

A live blog of Jack Thompson's Saturday morning keynote address to the ultra-conservative Utah Eagle Forum has been published at Mormon Bloggers.

Judging by the post, Thompson delivered his standard anti-video game rap. The disbarred attorney apparently also laid out his latest strategy to legislate games:

The impact of aggressive, violent, and pornographic videos simply can’t be denied. Jack cited case after case in which people like a young Devin, immersed in things like Theft in the City, went home and shot his parents, saying to the police,  something to this effect: “Everybody has to die, just like in video games.”

 

The man who killed on Trolley Square, said Jack Thompson, was apparently training on Theft in the City or something similar.  One part of that violent video illustrates an individual going to a high point in a mall and shooting in random people he doesn’t know.  This training ground has made victims in Columbine, in Miami, in  Paduka [sic], and needs to stop here.

 

Jack Thompson– attorney, crusader in fighting the entertainment media’s marketing of violent materials to minors, and  author of Out of Harm’s Way–is supportive of an upcoming a bill, which if drafted properly and put in the hopper here in Utah will stop the sale of these games to minors.

 

Currently, the Fraud and Deceptive Trade Pact Act says that if you sell a product and misrepresent what it does or is, it is simply fraudulent.  Walmart, Target, Best Buy assert in corporate sites, statements, and press releases that they will not sell a mature-rated violent to a minor.  Age verification software, though available through Ideology and other programs, are dismissed by these companies.  This is something we can enforce.

 

If you’d like to know more, check with Eagle Forum.  If you are informed and are willing to make a call, please let your legislators know that this bill should be passed.

GP: Couple of points here... The blogger characterizes Thompson as an attorney, but as GamePolitics readers know, he was disbarred for life by the Florida Supreme Court in October. As we pointed out last week, the agenda for the Utah Eagle Forum event also lists him as an attorney. At this time it is unknown whether the audience for Thompson's keynote address was told of his permanently disbarred status. If so, the blogger makes no reference to it.

Clearly unfamiliar with video game issues, the live blogger also gets a few of the details wrong. But that's not unexpected as Thompson was apparently going on about several cases in which he blames video games for violent crimes. The "Devin" mentioned by the blogger, for example, would be Devin Moore, who killed two police officers and a dispatcher in Alabama, not his parents.

Most amusingly, "Theft in the City" would be Grand Theft Auto, of course.

UPDATE: In relation to Thompson's scheme to legislate games in Utah, the question now becomes whether the disbarred attorney has any state legislators on board. We would suspect that Gayle Ruzicka, the politically influential president of the Utah Eagle Forum and an ally of Thompson's, will be able to persuade someone in the legislature to introduce Thompson's bill.

Could the sponsor end up being one of three Utah legislators who also spoke at the UEF convention? Those would be the controversial Sen. Chris Buttars (R) as well as Reps. Carl Wimmer (R) and Christopher Herrod (R).

UPDATE 2: In its coverage of the UEF convention, the Deseret News makes no mention of the proposed video game legislation, but quotes Thompson's verbal shot at President-elect Barack Obama:

Outside of social issues, conventioneers and speakers alike expressed concern about the upcoming term of President-elect Barack Obama.

 

"On Jan. 20 we are entering what I believe will be a time of peril for this country," said speaker Jack Thompson. "And that is Barack Obama."

UPDATE 3: Thompson e-mailed GP to assert that he made his disbarment known to the UEF convention audience:

I told everyone there I was disbarred, and said in my first speech that I was a 'recovering attorney.'

133 comments

Jack Thompson Working on New Game Legislation in Utah?

January 10, 2009 -

GamePolitics received a press release from disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson this morning in which he claimed to be "working with" state officials in Utah to pass video game legislation.

Regarding the supposed legislation, Thompson writes:

Thompson will be in Utah this coming week to work with Utah state officials to pass a new state law that will stop, dead in its tracks, the continuing marketing and sale of “Mature” video games to kids. Utah’s new approach to this problem will be constitutional and it will become a model for other states to follow.

A bit of digging shows that Thompson is scheduled to be in Utah next Saturday, where he will be the keynote speaker at the annual convention of the ultra-conservative Utah Eagle Forum. Indeed, the group appears to be a significant part of Thompson's ongoing connection to Utah. A convention agenda mentions that Thompson:

...will be talking about the research proving exposure to graphic violence leads to violent children and this year's legislation to prevent it.

We also note that, despite his disbarment, Thompson remains listed as an attorney in the program.

Via e-mail, we asked Thompson if he was talking to any specific legislators about a game bill and whether he could elaborate on what he meant by "working with." So far, we have received no response.

Still, given the local clout wielded in Utah by the UEF and its president, Gayle Ruzicka, we wouldn't doubt that some type of Thompson-authored legislation will surface there. Indeed, four state legislators are also scheduled to serve as speakers at the UEF convention.

To be sure, Thompson has quite a history with Utah:

In 2006, then-State Rep. David Hogue (R) tried - and failed - to pass a bill equating violent video games with pornography. Language used by Hogue during legislative hearings mimicked Thompson's frequent comments on game violence. Gayle Ruzicka spoke out in favor of the bill.

In 2007, Rep. Scott Wyatt's Thompson-authored bill failed as well, but not before Thompson called for the impeachment of Utah's popular Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Shurtleff's offense? He had the temerity to offer a legal opinion that Thompson's bill was unconstitutional.

In 2008, only weeks after a referee recommended to the Florida Supreme Court that Thompson be disbarred for life, the controversial anti-game violence campaigner was honored with a Freedom Award at the annual America's Freedom Festival in Provo. Given the circumstances, we found his selection a curious choice.

130 comments

 
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Andrew EisenNow, having said that, what sites are you reading that are claiming that if "you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem" or that gamers are "obligated to stop harassment"? Or was that hyperbole too?09/21/2014 - 1:03am
Andrew EisenFirst of all, ONE person in the Shout box suggested an obligation to call harassers out on their harassing but only after YOU brought it up. Plus, Techno said "when you see it happening." If you don't see it, you're not under any obligation.09/21/2014 - 1:02am
Sleaker@Craig R. - at this point I don't even know what the hashtags are suppsed to be in support of. what does GamerGate actually signify.09/21/2014 - 12:21am
Sleaker@AE - Hyperbole for the first 2, but it seems like some of the comments in the shout are attempting to place blame on fellow gamers because they aren't actively telling people to stop harassing even though they don't necessarily know anyone that has.09/21/2014 - 12:16am
Andrew EisenSleaker - Who the heck are you reading that is claiming "all gamers are bad," we "need to pass laws or judgement on all gamers," that if "you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem," or that gamers are "obligated to stop harassment"?09/20/2014 - 9:44pm
erthwjimhe swatted more than just krebs, I think he swatted 30 people http://krebsonsecurity.com/2014/05/teen-arrested-for-30-swattings-bomb-threats/09/20/2014 - 9:31pm
Craig R.Btw, the guy who swatted security expert Brian Krebs? He got picked up recently. It can be done.09/20/2014 - 8:55pm
Craig R.Such things are not done in a vacuum... hence why the 4chan and other logs show what fools you've all been, tricked into doing the trolls' work09/20/2014 - 8:49pm
Sleaker@Technogeek - How do you call someone out that anonymously calls in a SWAT team, or sends threats to people?09/20/2014 - 7:04pm
Technogeek"It also doesn't mean you're obligated to stop harassment from all gamers that are doing so." I'd say you're certainly obligated to call them out when you see it happening.09/20/2014 - 5:17pm
SleakerNow if you disagree with anything in my last 2 posts then we obviously have a difference in world view, and wont come to any sort of agreement. I'm fine with that, maybe some people aren't?09/20/2014 - 5:09pm
SleakerIt also doesn't mean that just because a news outlet says that Gamers are the problem and you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem. It also doesn't mean you're obligated to stop harassment from all gamers that are doing so.09/20/2014 - 4:59pm
SleakerJust to re-iterate: People getting harassed is wrong. Just because someone is harassed by so called 'gamers' doesn't mean that all gamers are bad. nor does it mean that you need to pass laws or judgement on all gamers.09/20/2014 - 4:56pm
SleakerAnd furthermore just because someone doesn't 'crusade against the evil' that doesn't make them the problem. You can have discussion with those around you. There's a thing called sphere of influence.09/20/2014 - 4:54pm
Sleaker@Conster - one person getting harassed is a 'problem' only so far as the harassee's are doing it. Just because a select few people choose to act like this doesn't make it widespread. Nor does it immediately make everyone responsible to put an end to it.09/20/2014 - 4:54pm
james_fudgeno worries09/20/2014 - 4:15pm
TechnogeekI misread james' comment as "we can't have a debate without threatening" there at first. Actually wound up posting a shout about death threats and "kill yourself" not technically being the same thing before I realized.09/20/2014 - 3:59pm
james_fudgeDon't hit me *cowers behind Andrew*09/20/2014 - 3:20pm
ConsterYou take that back right now, james, or else. *shakes fist menacingly*09/20/2014 - 3:00pm
james_fudgeOur community is awesome. We can have a debate without threatening to kill each other.09/20/2014 - 2:50pm
 

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