Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

July 30, 2010 -

While Prince of Persia director Mike Newell may have the magic touch when it comes to creating a decent movie based on a video game, his actual understanding of video games is almost embarrassing. In a recent interview with Computer & Video Games, Newell had a number of disparaging things to say about games and gamers that have made him this week's whipping boy among the video game chattering classes. But in between slamming gamers and games and even his own son's zombie-like devotion to some unnamed action game, Newell said one thing in particular that ticked a lot of people off: that game's can't convey human emotion that a film can.

But let's pull back the curtain a little more and examine his comments; Newell admits that he can't play games, and that, while making Prince of Persia, he had to rely on an assistant to play through the game while he watched. He said that while he watched the game, he felt nothing - just like when he watched his son play some unnamed action game.

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Netherlands Minister Proposes Ban on Violent Imagery (Update)

July 12, 2010 -

GP denizen PHX Corp pointed us towards a Netherlands petition started in reaction to positioning from the Dutch Minister of Justice Ernst Hirsch Ballin (pictured), which indicated that Ballin is seeking criminal prohibition of extremely violent imagery, including videogames.

Ballin seemed to specifically focus on games in his proposed banning, according to an article from Dutch gaming site Bashers (translated). In a letter to the house, Ballin, who intimated that banning violent games would be easier—and draw less resistance— than banning violent movies, wrote (bad translation, sorry):

Mortal Kombat Film Producer Sues Midway Over IP Rights

June 25, 2009 -

The man who brought Mortal Kombat to the big screen has sued Midway in U.S. Bankruptcy Court over what he claims are his intellectual property interests in the franchise. The suit may interfere with a proposed  $33 million sale of Midway assets to Warner Bros.

In a complaint filed yesteday, Lawrence Kasanoff, through his company, Threshold Entertainment, asked the Court to preserve his IP rights including copyrights to certain MK series characters. Kasanoff also wants to retain the right to create derivative film and television projects based on the popular fighting game franchise.

Kasanoff claims that it was he who made Mortal Kombat more than just a video game:

In 1993, Kasanoff visited Midway... with an idea to launch the Mortal Kombat concept in a totally new direction. Specifically, Kasanoff proposed to develop... a full feature-length motion picture, a television series, and other productions. Midway was initially skeptical, as Kasanoff's idea was revolutionary at the time...

 

The Mortal Kombat series, as it stands today, is far more a creation of Threshold and Kasanoff than of Midway. Midway's creative input was almost entirely limited to the videogames. On their own, the videogames provided only minimal back-story and mythology, and only flat, "stock" characters... Kasanoff and Threshold were responsible for virtually all of the creative input that went into turning the videogame concept into a multimedia enterprise.

In his lawsuit, Kasanoff also claims credit for making MK characters like Liu Kang, Sonya Blade and Scorpion into recognizable names. The suit estimates that the franchise has grossed more than $4 billion over the years.

In petitioning the Bankruptcy Court, Kasanoff seeks to block the proposed sale of Mortal Kombat assets to Warner Bros.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of Kasanoff's complaint here.

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Abraham Lincoln: The Video Game

June 19, 2009 -

Having finished Team of Rivals, a study of Abraham Lincoln's politicial genius, blogger Nate Janewit of Tech Industry Guerilla notes with despair that a Spielberg/Peter Jackson film adaptation may be in the works.

Expecting that the movie won't do justice to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Janewit, a program manager in Microsoft's Bing team, goes on to speculate about what a subsequent video game version of Team of Rivals might be like:

[CUE DEEP-VOICED ANNOUNCER AND IMAGES OF EXPLOSIONS]

ANNOUNCER: From the studios that brought you The Sims and Madden 2009 comes…LINCOLN!

[IMAGE OF LINCOLN SITTING IN A CHAIR THINKING]

ANNOUNCER: Balance the conservative and radical elements of your party…

[IMAGE OF LINCOLN WITH HAND IN THE AIR SURROUNDED BY CROWDS]

ANNOUNCER: Placate the masses with your oratorical skill…

[IMAGE OF SALMON CHASE, PLOTTING AGAINST YOU AS SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY]

ANNOUNCER: Navigate the dangerous waters of political intrigue within your own Cabinet!

I can already picture the crowds of enthusiastic gamers lining up or preordering weeks in advance. For some reason, real history just isn’t as interesting as video games.

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Utah Game/Movie Bill Sent to Governor; Video Game Industry Responds

March 20, 2009 -

UPDATED

Having been passed overwhelmingly by the Utah House and Senate, HB 353, the Jack Thompson-conceived video game/movie bill, is now with Gov. Jon Huntsman (R).

The Guv can decide to sign the measure into law or veto it. He may also do nothing, in which case the bill will automatically become law. Given that Utah conservatives have portrayed the bill as protective of children and Huntsman is rumored to have 2012 presidential aspirations, it's highly unlikely that he will exercise his veto power.

With HB 353 landing on Huntsman's desk, game publishers' lobbying group the Entertainment Software Association has upped the pressure ante a bit. The ESA-owned Video Game Voters Network is running an e-mail campaign which urges Huntsman to veto HB 353.

ESA VP of Communications and Industry Affairs Rich Taylor also criticized the bill in an interview with Salt Lake City public radio station KCPW:

Essentially, what it does it has the unintended consequence of creating liability exposure which could force many retailers to either abandon their voluntary policies to enforce video game rating systems, or maybe perhaps choose not to sell video games at all.

Here you have broadly drawn legislative language that seeks to address a fairly small instance of retailers failing to enforce their policies as promoted. The vast, overwhelming majority of retailers are complying, but now they fall within this swinging sight of harm that this legislation introduces.

For his part, Jack Thompson has challenged ESA CEO Mike Gallagher to a debate on the bill, but that's an unlikely occurrence.

Assuming that Huntsman signs the bill into law, it will take effect on January 1, 2010. If and when Huntsman signs, the video game industry will decide whether to challenge the measure in federal court.

Also unclear at this point is where the motion picture industry stands on HB 353. If the ESA and EMA (game retailers) sue, will the MPAA join in?

UPDATE: An industry executive who has been actively involved in the fight against HB 353 assures GamePolitics that the MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners are fully engaged in opposition to the bill.
 

L.A. Times: If Japanese Rape Game Was Banned From Amazon.com, Why Did Film with Brutal Rape Scene Get R-rating?

March 12, 2009 -

Just yesterday, Los Angeles Times entertainment columnist Patrick Goldstein suggested that RapeLay, the controversial Japanese hentai game, was sleazier than any Hollywood movie.

Today, he is apparently not so sure.

What happened to change his mind? Goldstein writes that he wasn't aware of the new film The Last House on the Left:

I guess I owe the makers of RapeLay, the vile Japanese rape-simulator video game, an apology... the [Last House on the Left] remake is even more graphic and disturbing than the [original]. The film's rape scene has already aroused widespread critical outrage...

Roger Ebert, the dean of American critics... lamented: "So now my job as a film critic involves grading rape scenes..."

 

How is it possible that the MPAA ratings board could give a film with this much brutal, graphic violence an R rating instead of an NC-17? I mean, what would it take for the clueless MPAA, which is supposed to serve concerned parents, not powerful studios, to ever draw the line and say to a filmmaker: "You've gone too far..."

 

If the MPAA is willing to give an R rating to "The Last House on the Left," which would allow me to take a bunch of kids to see this new film, then why shouldn't Amazon be allowed to sell Japan's RapeLay video game? It sounds to me like the movie and the video game are really playing in the same "How low can you go?" ballpark.

GP: For clarification's sake, there is no regulatory bar to stop Amazon from selling RapeLay. The giant online retailer voluntarily removed the game, which was being offered by an obscure third-party re-seller.

43 comments

Film Project Captures Faces of Kids as they Play Violent Games

December 16, 2008 -

Asylum reports on The Immersion Project, a short film by British fillmaker Robbie Cooper which captures the faces of 9-16 year-olds as they play violent video games.

UK newspaper the Telegraph offers more details:

Head-on film footage [captures] children as they play a number of more or less violent videogames - Halo 3, Call of Duty, GTA 4, Tekken and Star Wars Battlefront...

The results are variable, and intriguing. The children who are most expressive in class, according to their teachers, are also the most expressive in front of the screens. Others - particularly the hardened gamers - remain utterly expressionless: 'Nothing. Not a glimmer of emotion. If you couldn't see the hands moving, you wouldn't know anything was going on at all.'

(There is one expression - an agonised open-mouthed gape, with lips pulled in to cover the teeth - that is seen on several children's faces playing the first-person shooter Call of Duty. It seems, oddly, to be unique to that game.)

Ultimately, reports the Telegraph, Cooper plans to settle on 75 kid subjects and film them for 18 months as they interact with a variety of violent images, including games, films, TV news footage and online videos. Their facial expressions will be recorded and then interpreted by a psychologist and a sociologist.

71 comments

Toubled Teen in Ben X is an MMO Gamer

October 24, 2008 -

A New York Times review of Ben X notes that the indie film's troubled protagonist escapes from real world difficulties by playing MMOs.

(GPDon't we all, Ben, don't we all...)

From the review:

To Ben... school is a nightmare of peer cruelty and home... a vortex of parental frustration. To cope, he escapes into an online fantasy universe where his heroic avatar spends hours immersed in a popular video game alongside a generously endowed virtual honey known as Scarlite...

Integrating live action with Ben’s gaming exploits, “Ben X” crawls inside a troubled mind with more stylistic commitment than narrative competence...

Ben X opens today in Manhattan.

 

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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

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