Video of L.A. Mayor Welcoming E3 2009 to Town

June 9, 2009 -

We posted a story on this last Thursday, but here's exclusive video footage from GP's mobile phone which shows Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa welcoming E3 2009 to town.

To the left of Villaraigosa is ESA boss Mike Gallagher.

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Kansas Attorney General Teams Up with ESRB on Ratings Awareness

June 9, 2009 -

Steve Six (D), the Attorney General of Kansas, has become the latest high-level state official to sign on in support of the video game industry's ESRB rating system.

A press release posted last week on Six's website includes the A.G.'s reminder to parents to make use of ESRB ratings:

With school out for the summer, kids may spend more time playing video games.  Parents must be vigilant about the media they allow into their homes. There's simply no substitute for parental involvement and responsibility, and it's important that parents play an active role in choosing games for their children. 

 

ESRB ratings are an effective and informative resource that allows parents to decide if the video game their child wants is appropriate, and rating summaries provide even more insight into exactly what a parent would want to know about in a game.  I'm proud to be educating parents in our state about the tools at their disposal.

Six will deliver the ESRB message on public service announcement on radio and T.V. in Kansas. The televised version PSA can be viewed on the ESRB website (scroll down to "Statewide TV").

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Obama Advisor To Make Second Life Appearance

June 8, 2009 -

Kevin Werbach, who served on the FCC segment of the Obama transition team, remains with the Administration as a part-time advisor on broadband issues.

Over at New World Notes, Wagner James Au reports that Werbach, who is a veteran of the Second Life metaverse, will make an SL appearance later this week:

Werbach will be back in-world this Wednesday at 1pm Pacific to appear on the Metanomics show, for an extremely apropos topic: "The Age of Obama: Virtual Worlds, Open Government, and Policy"...

 

Kevin tells me he can't discuss the particular policy advice he gave the Administration about virtual worlds, but I suspect he'll provide some great insider perspectives on how they're being shaped. 

Werbach and his Second Life avatar appear at left.

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Spotted at E3: L.A. Mayor Cuts Ribbon to Welcome 2009 Expo

June 5, 2009 -

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.
 

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L.A. Mayor To Officially Welcome E3 to Town

June 1, 2009 -

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.

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Boston Mayor to Partner with ESRB on Ratings Awareness Campaign

May 27, 2009 -

He has been one of the video game industry's most aggressive critics in the past, but GamePolitics has learned that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (D) will partner with the ESRB on a public service ad campaign designed to raise parental awareness of the video game rating system.

The campaign, unveiled in Boston by Menino and ESRB President Patricia Vance, will feature T.V. and radio ads as well as outdoor print ads. Of the media blitz, Menino said:

Parents want control of the media that comes into their homes, and the entertainment that their children enjoy. That’s why it’s so imperative that we educate parents about useful and informative tools like the ESRB ratings and rating summaries, so they’ll be empowered to make informed choices about which games they deem appropriate.  I’m proud to be educating parents in our city about the tools at their disposal.

With today's news, Menino joins a number of high-profile elected officials around the country who have partnered with the ESRB on game ratings awareness campaigns over the past several years. Given Menino's track record as a video game industry critic, the turnabout is especially significant.

In 2006 Menino led a campaign to have Grand Theft Auto ads removed from public transit. In 2007 his office flirted with video game legislation authored by Jack Thompson. The Boston Mayor's video game bill was eventually submitted to the legislature in 2008, but died in committee.

Menino, who earlier this year touted Boston as a game industry-friendly city in an effort to attract jobs, is running for an unpredecented fifth term as mayor.

Mayor Hopeful Names Video Games as One of Top Problems Facing Washington, D.C. Youth

May 27, 2009 -

City Councilman Michael Brown (I, at left) hopes to mount a challenge to incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) next year for the top job in Washington, D.C. city government.

The Brookland Heartbeat reports that in a recent speech, Brown listed video games among the top problems facing youth in D.C.:

Mr. Brown criticized Mayor Adrian Fenty and DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee... Mr. Brown also criticized the District’s school modernization program for failing to address what he said were the real problems facing District youth: lack of vocational/technical schools, gunfire, excessive video game playing, and lack of neighborhood amenities such as grocery stores.

Until those problems are solved, “it doesn’t matter how pretty the school is,” said Mr. Brown...

GP: Ironically, in 2005, while still a member of City Council, Mayor Fenty unsuccessfully tried to legislate the sale of violent video games to minors in D.C.

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Bethesda: We Didn't Seek Bill Clinton For Fallout 3

May 23, 2009 -

Following up on yesterday's report that Blindlight, a Hollywood firm which recruits voice actors for video game projects, had approached Bill Clinton for the role of the president in Fallout 3, Chris Morris of Variety contacted F3 publisher Bethesda, which seemed non-plussed by the news.

Pete Hines, VP of PR for Bethesda, told Morris:

Before they would pitch us on someone like Clinton, they may first go ask if he would do something like that. In no way, shape or form, did we say is President Clinton is who we want for this role or [tell Blindlight to] go chase him.

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Congressional Anti-Piracy Caucus Singles Out Five Nations

May 22, 2009 -

On Wednesday game publishers' lobbying group ESA issued a press release praising members of the bipartisan Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus for singling out Spain, Canada, Mexico, Russia and China as anti-piracy priorities for 2009.

ESA CEO Michael Gallagher praised the IAPC in a press release:

We thank the Caucus for this year issuing a challenge to Canada and Mexico to pass additional legislative protections – such as prohibitions on ‘mod chips’ and other circumvention devices that are used to play pirated games – and to follow through with greater enforcement and border controls.

We also thank the Caucus for highlighting the severe problems that exist for our industry and other copyright industries in Spain. Online and peer-to-peer piracy are rampant and virtually unchecked in Spain and in other major European markets...

But Nick Farrell of the U.K.-based Inquirer, doesn't think much of the caucus, implying that the senators and representatives on the IAPC have been lobbied by the RIAA and other IP rights holders. Farrell writes:

The RIAA has got its tame politicians in the US congress to rail at other nations that don't hold such a jack-booted attitude toward copyright infringement as the Land of the Free...

[IAPC] singled out Baidu, China's largest Internet search engine, as being "responsible for the vast majority of illegal music downloading in China." That's interesting, because Baidu does the same thing as Google which, as a powerful US company, the music industry has not dared to denounce...

It seems almost as though the entertainment mafiaa would like the US to mount a cross-border raid into Canada over its perceived lack of draconian copyright enforcement and wants the US to treat its NATO ally Spain as a pariah for having the temerity to say that peer-to-peer file sharing over the Internet isn't a crime.

Bill Clinton Turned Down Voice-over Role in Fallout 3

May 22, 2009 -

Fallout 3 was maybe the best game of 2008. Could an appearance by Bill Clinton have made it even more memorable?

In an interview with Edge Online, Lev Chapelsky, general manager of Blindlight, a Hollywood-based firm which connects actors, writers and musicians with game projects, mentions that he tried to recruit the former president for voice work in Bethesda's best-selling action/RPG:

Celebrity acquisition applies not just to celebrity actors but to sports figures, politicians – we’ve made offers to Bill Clinton for videogames and gotten great responses with attorneys who have said, ‘The former president will not participate in one of your videogame products, thank you very much’...

What project did you ask Bill Clinton for?

 

I think that might have been to play the president in Fallout 3. Wouldn’t that have been brilliant? You get to that point in game and you hear that voice in the ether coming from off-camera and you’re like, ‘I know that guy!’

Via: Fidgit

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Online Video Game Predators Among Those Targeted by Alabama Bill

May 18, 2009 -

In a time when pedophile cases in which suspects contact their victims through online video game networks are on the rise, Alabama Governor Bob Riley (R) will consider legislation that seeks to protect children from high-tech predators.

WAFF-48 reports that SB 120 is headed to the Guv for his signature after the Alabama House passed the bill on Friday. The measure, proposed by Sen. Myron Penn (D, at left) had previously gained the approval of the State Senate.

SB 120 makes illegal any use of an electronic device to solicit a child and includes cases in which law enforcement personnel are posing as children. From the WAFF report:

The bill outlaws many new ways that predators try to solicit minors... predators can be prosecuted for luring text messages from cell phones, PDA's and even video game systems...

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New York Bill Would Add Fat Tax to Video Games, DVDs, Junk Food

May 14, 2009 -

A bill currently before the New York Assembly would add a one-quarter of one percent tax to the sale or rental of video games and video game hardware.

The measure, A02455, was proposed by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D, at left) of Brooklyn. The bill would also tax the sale and rental of movies, admissions to movie theaters and the sale of snack foods and sweet drinks. In addition, corporations would be barred from taking a New York tax deduction for expenses incurred in advertising any of the affected items, including video games and systems.

The proposal is currently before the Assembly's Ways and Means Committee, where it seems likely to remain. This is Ortiz's fourth attempt at similiar legislation since 2003; none have made it out of committee.

Ortiz's proposal is motivated by his desire to address the current obesity epidemic. In the justification for A02455 he writes:

Almost all experts agree that the primary reasons [for the obesity epidemic] are increased consumption of larger quantities of high calorie foods, snacks and sugar sweetened beverages... and lack of physical activity as vigorous play is replaced by sedentary activities such as watching more television, movies and videos and playing video games.

This bill would raise revenues from modest surcharges on the very food products and sedentary activities that are linked to the lifestyle changes involved in the explosion of childhood obesity in the last 20-30 years.

Ortiz estimates that his bill would raise $50 million in revenue which would in turn be used to fund programs designed to counter childhood obesity. Conservative magazine The American Spectator refers to Ortiz as "perhaps the nation’s most prolific author of vice taxes:"

[Ortiz] has a litany of bills before the New York state legislature imposing a $10 tax on visitors to strip clubs, a 25¢-cent tax on bottles of beer and wine, and a fatso tax on soda, sweets, and video games.

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How Obama's SCOTUS Choice Might Affect Video Games

May 4, 2009 -

With the pending retirement of Justice David Souter from the U.S. Supreme Court, President Barack Obama will have the opportunity to name a replacement.

His choice could have a major impact on the constitutional issues relating to video games, especially if California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decides to ask SCOTUS to consider February's 9th Circuit Court ruling that his state's 2005 video game law is unconstitutional. That decision from Schwarzenegger will come later this month.

Among names being floated for Souter's seat are Gov. Jennifer Granholm (left) of Michigan and 7th Circuit Court Judge Diane Pamela Wood (right). Both have a track record with video game issues.

As Governor, Granholm signed into law a 2005 video game blocking minors from purchasing violent games. The video game industry filed suit and the measure was ruled unconstitutional later that year by a U.S. District Court judge.

For her part, Judge Wood has a rather different history with games. In 2001 she was part of a three-judge Circuit Court panel which overturned an Indianapolis law that sought to limit the access of minors to violent arcade games. That case, AAMA v. Kendrick was the first of what has become an uninterrupted string of court victories in such cases for the video game industry.

Whether Obama appoints Wood, Granholm or another choice, this could be the year that the constitutionality of restricting violent video game sales makes it to the Supreme Court. The possibilities become even more interesting given conservative Justice Antonin Scalia's 2008 comment that such restrictions might pass constitutional muster.

DOCUMENT DUMP: AAMA v. Kendrick

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ESA Cheers as Obama Administration Spanks Canada

April 30, 2009 -

Those pesky Canadians have finally pushed the U.S. Government to the brink.

If the Bushies were still in power we might now be glued to CNN, watching the 82nd Airborne para-dropping into Ottawa. But as it is, the Obama administration has settled for delivering a nasty slap via the office of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk (left).

The issue is copyright protection and the USTR, a cabinet-level post, has been making unpleasant noises in Canada's direction for several years. Today Kirk dropped the hammer, placing Canada on the "Priority Watch List" along with China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand, and Venezuela. From the USTR report:

Canada is being elevated to the Priority Watch List for the first time, reflecting increasing concern about the continuing need for copyright reform, as well as continuing concern about weak border enforcement.

The Entertainment Software Association, which lobbies on behalf of U.S. video game publishers, was quick to applaud the action in a press release. No surprise there, as the ESA has been pushing hard in recent years for Canada to outlaw mod chips and adopt its own version of the consumer-unfriendly Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

In fact, with DMCA-like legislation an issue that Canada's Parliament will soon be considering, a cynic might be forgiven for thinking that the USTR's action was timed for its persuasive value as much as anything else.

Of today's announcement, ESA CEO Michael Gallagher commented:

Putting Canada on the ‘Priority Watch List’ is a signal of the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthening global intellectual property protection, and its intent to address this issue firmly with the Canadian government. Canada’s weak laws and enforcement practices foster game piracy in the Canadian market and pave the way for unlawful imports into the U.S.

So what does the ESA want from Canada? They have a laundry list:

  • Enact legislation outlawing game circumvention devices, such as “mod chips” and “game copiers,” in line with Canada’s international treaty obligations
  • Create adequate legal incentives for internet service providers (ISPs) to work with copyright owners in combating online piracy
  • Provide Customs officials with adequate authority to make ex officio seizures of counterfeit and pirate product at the border; and,
  • Provide adequate resources to anti-piracy enforcement efforts and make prosecution of intellectual property crimes a high priority.

New iPhone App Delivers Audio & Text of JFK's "Ask Not" Inaugural Address

April 29, 2009 -

For JFK fans or those with an interest in history, a just-released free app for iPhone/iPod Touch delivers the full audio and text of President Kennedy's January, 1961 inaugural address.

The best-known line from that speech, of course, is:

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.

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Quick Exit: ESA's Head Lobbyist Out After a Month

April 24, 2009 -

Earlier this year GamePolitics reported that the Entertainment Software Association hired Jennifer Manner (left) as its new head of government relations (i.e., lobbying).

Apparently, the ESA and Manner were not a good fit. The National Journal reports that the ESA's new head lobbyist is gone after just a month in her new position:

Manner, a long-time Democrat, didn't appear to have extensive Capitol Hill or administration experience. Her background included stints as a vice president of regulatory affairs at Skyterra Communications, chair of the Satellite Industry Association, and senior counsel to former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy. She has also... taught as an adjunct professor of law. ESA is not advertising any new job openings on its Web site.

An association spokesman confirmed that Manner had departed but gave no further information.

By our count, Manner is the third ESA VP to leave in the last 12 months. Others include former senior VP and general counsel Gail Markels and Ed Desmond, whose position was filled by Manner.

As we mentioned when Manner's hiring was announced, an ESA press release made it a point to refer to her as a "long-time Democrat." ESA CEO Mike Gallagher is a former Bush administration official.

Culture clash?

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Game Character Posters, Obama-style

April 22, 2009 -

Games Radar has served up a series of printable posters depicting familiar game characters in the style of the now-famous Obama campaign theme created by visual artist Shepard Fairey.

The characters span a broad range of games, including:

  • Tomb Raider
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Katamari Damacy
  • Half-Life
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Thanks to: Sharp-eyed GamePolitics correspondent Andrew Eisen...

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ECA Pleased To See Time Warner Back Down on Price-Gouging Bandwidth Caps

April 17, 2009 -

Consumers won a big victory this week as Time Warner Cable backed down on a plan that would have placed a cap on bandwidth usage for broadband customers, while at the same time charging users a wildly inflated price per gigabyte.

When Time Warner announced recently that it would expand its broadband caps into New York and North Carolina, Ars Technica reports that the plan immediately ran afoul of Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The two lawmakers helped torpedo Time Warner's scheme.

The Entertainment Consumers Association, which also lobbied vigorously against the Time-Warner plan, was delighted with the cable provider's decision to back down. ECA VP and General Counsel Jennifer Mercurio commented on the outcome:

We're pleased that Time Warner has come to their senses on this issue... Having worked against caps and tiered pricing for over a year, and being the leading consumer rights organization to aggressively defend the American public on this issue, we're glad to see our efforts pay off even as we continue to work with Senator Schumer, Congressman Massa, and others to stop this type of consumer price gauging moving forward.

When Mercurio mentions price gouging, she's not kidding. Price comparison done by Nate Anderson of Ars Technica show how blatantly Time Warner planned to rip off its customers:

As TWC expands its test markets for the data caps, it offers plans with 5GB of monthly data transfer for $30. Plans with 40GB of data go for $55... That base rate works out to a truly jaw-dropping $6 per GB per month, and it's so far out of line with competitors' plans as to shock even the most cynical heart.

Take AT&T's DSL, for comparison... AT&T DSL comes out to 9¢ per GB. Verizon's fiber-optic FiOS system... this comes out to $.11 per GB. Upgrading to the much faster 50Mbps service for $144.95 a month still means that the charge per GB is only 36¢.

The situation is similar at other cable operators. Comcast offers Internet service starting at $42.95 per month and has a 250GB cap in place; this works out to 17¢ per GB.

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

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Austin Mayoral Candidate Wants to Attract Video Game Companies

April 14, 2009 -

A mayoral candidate in Austin, Texas has made attracting game developers and other creative media types a key part of his campaign platform.

Brewster McCracken (D) mentions attracting game developers in response to the Austin American-Statesman's request for candidates to outline their vision for the city.

McCracken, currently a member of Austin's City Council, sees game development as a way to help the city weather the recession:

Starting with a vision of independent film, independent music and 3-D animation leadership in digital media... We will need elected leaders to personally recruit creative economy employers. We will need expanded incentives to recruit films and TV series. We will need to recruit video game and music publishers and firms with expertise in digital media distribution to empower local creative artists.

GP: We should mention that Austin already has a thriving game development community. McCracken wants to attract additional talent to the city.

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California Bill Would Limit Game Time, Content for Day Care Kids

April 13, 2009 -

A Santa Monica legislator wants to limit the amount of time that children in day care spend playing video games. California Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D) also wants to ensure that any games played are of the educational or exercise varieties.

To that end Brownley has introduced AB627. Her bill is aimed at addressing California's rampant childhood obesity problem.

As noted by the San Francisco Chronicle:

[The bill would] require child care centers receiving state reimbursement for their food programs to limit sugary sweets and drinks, prohibit deep-fat frying, mandate servings of vegetables and limit TV, computer and video-game use to one hour per day, among other regulations.

A reading of the bill suggests that games like Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution would be acceptable if AB627 becomes law:

For children in full day care, screen time, including, but not limited to, television, video games, and computer usage, shall be limited to a maximum of one hour per day and shall be limited to
educational programming or programs that encourage movement.
For children in less than full day care, screen time shall be reduced proportionately.

The measure has been referred to the Assembly's Human Services Committee.

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Obama Administration Rolls Back Secrecy on Copyright Treaty

April 9, 2009 -

On several recent occasions, GamePolitics has reported on ACTA, the international copyright treaty being negotiated in secret by various governments, including the United States.

Here in the U.S., IP rights holders - including the video game industry - have been granted access to information concerning ACTA negotiations. John Q. Public has been shut out, however.

But the Obama administration's promised commitment to open government appears to be pulling back the curtain on ACTA, at least a bit.

IDG reports that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has released a six-page summary of ACTA negotiations, which have been going on behind the scenes since 2006. Gigi Sohn, President of Consumer rights group Public Knowledge praised the info release:

The dissemination of the six-page summary will help to some degree to clarify what is being discussed. At the same time, however, this release can only be seen as a first step forward. It would have been helpful had the USTR elaborated more clearly the goals the United States wants to pursue in the treaty and what proposals our government has made, particularly in the area of intellectual property rights in a digital environment.

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Nintendo's Reggie: Obama Too Busy To Worry About Video Games

April 1, 2009 -

Issues such as the recession, healthcare and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to keep President Barack Obama's attention away from video games, said Reggie Fils-Aime (left).

The Nintendo of America chief also believes that the video game industry is in a better position politically than it has been in the past.

Fils-Aime made his comments during a wide-ranging interview with GameDaily:

We have the first sitting president with a multiple gaming household, between the Wii and the DS. I believe that our president has more pressing issues to deal with, from the economy to the military conflicts.

 

Certainly, as an industry, we've met with representatives of Congress and other parts of our government. What they see is an industry that is mainstream, is creating jobs and is creating vibrant forms of entertainment. Those are all positive things for this country. So we are in a more favorable legislative environment compared to five or six years ago.

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Barack Obama Portrayed in Quirky Japanese Super Mario Scene

March 31, 2009 -

We don't know the origin of this video other than to point out the obvious: that it's from a Japanese television show, features a comic Super Mario scene using real actors, and has an improbable cameo appearance by a faux Barack Obama.

Still, it's pretty cool. Be sure to watch it all the way through.

The link was circulated by Wendu Xu on Twitter.

Via: Kotaku

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New Video Game Tax: Louisiana Rep. Mulls "No Child Left Indoors"

March 28, 2009 -

A Louisiana legislator has withdrawn a bill that would impose a 1% sales tax on video game equipment and television sets.

The Monroe News-Star reports that Rep. Robert Billiot (D) hoped to use revenue collected by the tax to create a "No Child Left Indoors Fund." Those funds would in turn be channeled into recreational facilities and state programs to combat childhood obesity.

However, Ark-La-Tax Politics reports that Billiot withdrew the measure while he re-evaluates its revenue potential. The legislator said that he may resubmit the tax proposal before Louisiana's legislative session begins on April 27th.

As GamePolitics reported, A similar measure proposed in New Mexico last year failed to pass.

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Obama & Kids Call Astronauts, Want to Know: Can You Play Video Games in Space?

March 24, 2009 -

Video games came up when President Obama made a long-distance phone call to the International Space Station this morning.

As reported by ABC News, Obama, some members of Congress and a group of Washington, D.C. school kids spent 28 minutes videoconferencing with the crew of the shuttle Discovery.

The Prez was friendly and conversational with the astronauts. When it came time for some questions from the students, the first one was, "Can you play video games in space?"

Obama dutifully relayed the question to the crew. Perhaps surprisingly, the answer that came back was yes, you can play video games in space.

In fact, one of the astronauts (we're not clear as to which one) replied:

We can, in fact. And in fact a few years ago when I was up here for six months I had a video game that I used to play in my spare time. Unfortunately, we don't have much spare time.

 

So we can, we have a lot of laptop computers. But for the most part we stay real busy doing real work.

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Techie Blogger Mom Calls For Guv to Veto Utah Video Game/Movie Bill

March 21, 2009 -

A Utah mom has come out swinging against HB 353. The Jack Thompson-conceived bill, overwhelmingly passed by the Utah House and Senate, is currently just a stroke of Gov. Jon Huntsman's (R) pen away from becoming law.

Misty Fowler (left) is a software developer, mother of two and activist Democrat.

She also pens the politically-oriented Saintless blog.

Fowler writes:

I didn’t feel like [Utah Senate sponsor Margaret] Dayton [R] and [Utah House sponsor Mike] Morley [R] came out to share details of the bill, but to introduce it with the idea that this isn’t a punitive bill, so that maybe we would all have warm fuzzies about how good this was for our children. Because really, think of the children, will you?...

As a parent, I feel very strongly that it’s my responsibility to my children to educate them about what they can play, and why...


The ESRB is accomplishing what it should... The Utah Legislature seems to be approving of ESRB by trying to enforce it...

I don’t want this law passed. Not because I don’t want to protect children. But, because I think it’s a bogus attempt to regulate the ESRB, and won’t do anything for our children. It will cost local businesses money, and is likely to remove some great tools I have in making decisions about video games as a parent.

Ask Governor Huntsman to veto it.

Fowler also questions the bill, given Jack Thompson's involvement.

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Michigan Senator Wants Ban on Texting, Gaming While Driving

March 20, 2009 -

A Michigan State Senator has proposed legislation that would ban texting or playing video games while driving, reports ClickOn Detroit.

Sen. Buzz Thomas (D), the sponsor of the measure, said:

There is no need to be sending a text while driving your car, it’s one of the most dangerous things a driver can do. If it’s really that important, pull over and send your message, or just wait until you get to where you are going.

 

This is the second session in which I have introduced this bill, and hopefully we can all realize the urgency and just get this passed.

If the bill becomes law, violations would carry a $100 fine.

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Obama Circuit Court Nominee Issued 2000 Ruling Upholding Video Game Legislation

March 18, 2009 -

While an overwhelming majority of federal court judges have found state and local laws restricting video games to be unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge David Hamilton is an exception. In 2000, Hamilton ruled in favor of an Indianapolis law which would have barred unaccompanied minors from playing violent games in coin-op arcades.

Hamilton's eight-year-old opinion in American Amusement Machine vs. Kendrick, while subsequently overturned by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court, could once again be a source of concern to the video game industry.

The Associated Press is reporting that President Barack Obama has nominated Hamilton for an opening on the 7th Circuit, which covers appeals arising from federal district courts in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. From the AP:

Obama on Tuesday nominated [Hamilton] to serve on [the 7th Circuit], his first act in reshaping the federal judiciary and preparing for a possible Supreme Court opening...

 

Three of the appeals courts [including the 7th] can gain a majority of Democratic-appointed judges if Obama's nominees are confirmed for existing vacancies...

 

The White House acted before Hamilton's nomination to make sure that his home-state Republican senator, Dick Lugar, was on board... Lugar's support for Hamilton would make it difficult for Republicans to filibuster his nomination...

 

The American Bar Association gave Hamilton a "well qualified" rating...

GP: As a practical matter, the chances of video game legislation reaching the 7th Circuit any time soon seem slim. Illinois, burned financially by disgraced ex-Guv Rod Blagojevich's 2005 video game law, is unlikely to try again. That leaves only Indiana and Wisconsin. While both have dabbled with legislative proposals aimed at video games in recent years, neither has gotten very far with such proposals.

Moreover, the 7th Circuit already has a precedent-setting video game case in the Kendrick ruling.

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Boston Mayor's Flip-Flop: Former Critic Now Courts Game Biz

March 14, 2009 -

Boston Mayor Tom Menino (D) who, as recently as last year tried to legislate video game sales, is now courting the video game industry in a big way.

It's all about the economics, apparently.

As reported by the Boston Business Journal, Menino announced the launch of PoweringUpBoston.com, a website designed to promote the region's video game industry with news, job postings and additional resources.

Menino, who spoke at the Congress Street offices of FableVision, pointed out that game development at Harmonix, 2K Boston, Turbine and 73 other firms employs over 1,500 people in the area. During his speech, Menino declared:

Boston is a game industry friendly city.

The Boston Mayor has not always been so game-friendly, however. In 2007 and 2008 he pushed for video game sales restrictions similar to those found unconstitutional by federal courts around the country.

In 2006 he led a campaign to have ads for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories removed from local public transit vehicles.

Edge Online has more on Menino's game initiative:

The Boston-area videogames steering committee is made up of key members from local game firms, and will advise the mayor and the Boston Redevelopment Authority staff in "strengthening the Boston-area game development presence, raising Boston's profile as a global leader in digital media and specifically the game industry."

The group, which has members from Blue Fang Games, Metaversal Studios and Northeastern University, has been meeting since October 2008.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has also been working hard to bring game industry firms to the area. As GamePolitics reported, Patrick recently visited high-tech firms on the West Coast, including game publishers EA and Microsoft.

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In Congress, Dennis Kucinich Urges Elimination of Funding for Army Recruitment Game

March 12, 2009 -

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has requested that Congressional leaders remove funding for the Defense Department's Virtual Army Experience, according to a report on the raw story.

The VAE is a recruiting and public relations exhibit which the Army deploys at large public events around the United States. It has generated protests at a number of venues.

In a letter to the House Armed Service Committee, Kucinich writes:

I urge you to eliminate budget authority for the Virtual Army Experience (VAE) in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010. The VAE is a state-of-the-art, interactive recruiting tool used by the Army to give participants as young as 13 years old a naïve and unrealistic glimpse into the world of Soldiering...

 

The VAE shields participants from the realities of killing while glorifying the taking of human life in a thinly veiled attempt to recruit new soldiers. Making matters worse, if a child wants to take part in the simulation, the Army collects his or her contact information, as well as an assessment of the child’s performance in the simulator.

The VAE travels around the country to family oriented venues such as amusement parks, air shows and county fairs. When the VAE came to the Cleveland Air Show in 2008, I raised concerns and objections with the Army. Allowing children as young as thirteen years of age to participate in a simulation endorsed by the United States Government that glorifies and sanitizes extreme violence is unacceptable.

Kucinich conducted an unsuccessful campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

GP: For clarity's sake, Kucinich is targeting the traveling VAE, not the PC-based, freely-distributed America's Army computer game.

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MaskedPixelanteThis whole Twitch thing just reeks of Google saying "You thought you could get away from us and our policies. That's adorable."07/25/2014 - 2:52pm
Sleaker@james_fudge - hopefully that's the case, but I wont hold my breath for it to happen.07/25/2014 - 1:08pm
SleakerUpdate on crytek situation is a bit ambiguous, but I'm glad they finally said something: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-07-25-crytek-addresses-financial-situation07/25/2014 - 1:07pm
E. Zachary KnightMan Atlas, Why do you not want me to have any money? Why? http://www.atlus.com/tears2/07/25/2014 - 12:06pm
Matthew WilsonI agree with that07/25/2014 - 10:45am
james_fudgeI think Twitch will have more of an impact on how YouTube/Google Plus work than the other way around.07/25/2014 - 10:22am
IanCWelp, twitch is going to suck now. Thanks google.07/25/2014 - 6:30am
Sleaker@MP - Looked up hitbox, thanks.07/24/2014 - 9:40pm
Matthew WilsonI agree, but to me given other known alternatives google seems to the the best option.07/24/2014 - 6:30pm
Andrew EisenTo be clear, I have no problem with Google buying it, I'm just concerned it will make a slew of objectively, quantifiably bad changes to Twitch just as it's done with YouTube over the years.07/24/2014 - 6:28pm
Matthew WilsonI doubt yahoo has the resources to pull it off, and I not just talking about money.07/24/2014 - 6:15pm
SleakerI wouldn't have minded a Yahoo purchase, probably would have been a better deal than Tumblr seeing as they paid the same for it...07/24/2014 - 6:13pm
MaskedPixelanteIt's the golden age of Hitbox, I guess.07/24/2014 - 6:08pm
Matthew Wilsonagain twitch was going to get bought. It was just who was going to buy it . Twitch was not even being able to handle the demand, so hey needed a company with allot of infrastructure to help them. I can understand why you would not want Google to buy it .07/24/2014 - 5:49pm
Andrew Eisen"Google is better than MS or Amazon" Wow. Google, as I mentioned earlier, progressively makes almost everything worse and yet there are still two lesser options. Again, wow!07/24/2014 - 5:43pm
Andrew EisenI don't know. MS, in my experience, is about 50/50 on its products. It's either fine or it's unusable crap. Amazon, well... I've never had a problem buying anything from them but I don't use any of their products or services so I couldn't really say.07/24/2014 - 5:42pm
Matthew WilsonGoogle is better than MS or Amazon.07/24/2014 - 5:33pm
Sleaker@AE - I've never seen youtube as a great portal to interact with people from a comment perspective. like ever. The whole interface doesn't really promote that.07/24/2014 - 5:28pm
Andrew EisenNor I. From a content producer's perspective, almost every change Google implements makes the service more cumbersome to use. It's why I set up a Facebook fan page in the first place; it was becoming too difficult to connect with my viewers on YouTube.07/24/2014 - 4:50pm
Sleakerwonder if anyone is going to try and compete with google, I'm not a huge fan of the way they manage their video services.07/24/2014 - 4:41pm
 

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