The United States Department of Justice has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Alamance County, North Carolina Sheriff Terry S. Johnson. According to Federal prosecutors deputies of a North Carolina sheriff accused of illegally targeting Latino drivers shared links to a violent and bloody (unnamed) video game in which players shoot people entering the country illegally, including children and pregnant women.
Last December Epic Games president Mike Capps said that he was leaving the role and moving into an advisory role so he could focus his attention on being a father, but it looks like he is walking away from that job as well. In a Facebook post today (reported on by Gamasutra), Capps announced that his plan on advising the company is not working out:
The Research Triangle, North Carolina chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth hosted an event that focuses on the area's growing video game industry. According to ACG, the video game industry in the Research Triangle area now employs an estimated 1,200 people through 30 companies.
In March of last year the state of Illinois decided to pass a law that collected Internet sales tax from online companies like Amazon.com and eBay. Commonly referred to as an "affiliate nexus tax," the law passed by Illinois and other states including California, Connecticut, and New York, required online retailers who advertised on "affiliate sites" that had a physical presence in the same state to collect sales tax. The Illinois law had broad support among lawmakers and the state’s governor, Gov. Pat Quinn (D).
Yesterday we mentioned that the North Carolina Appeals Court would hear oral arguments about two different cases related to video-style sweepstakes games in the state. Today we know a bit more about what each side argued yesterday before the three-judge panel hearing both cases. The cases relate to an Internet sweepstakes ban that took effect last December and followed an earlier state ban on traditional video poker machines.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments today on two lawsuits related to casino-style video games. This comes after two different trial court judges gave different answers last year to the legality of a 2010 law approved by the North Carolina General Assembly. The mixed message delivered by the courts is confusing everyone - from law enforcement to business owners who want to offer their customers access to the machines.
Internet advocacy group Free Press issued a statement today blasting North Carolina lawmakers for caving into the the broadband industry. Most of the anger is directed at North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, who chose not to veto a bill that would "hinder towns’ and municipalities’ ability to build their own broadband networks, ignoring of thousands of phone calls and emails from her constituents and others around the country concerned about communities being stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide."
The bill was pushed through the statehouse by Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink lobbying efforts according to Free Press.
Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:
The Triangle Game Conference announced a new name for its annual East Coast event serving professionals working in the interactive entertainment and serious game industries. Henceforth the Triangle Game Conference will be called the East Coast Game Conference (ECGC).
ECGC also today announced its call for speaker submissions to lead panels, lectures and roundtable sessions at its conference April 13-14, 2011 to be held at the Raleigh Convention Center. The call for submissions will close Friday, January 21, 2011.
The 2011 theme is "Engage and Connect." Speaker session submissions are being accepted online in several categories including technologists and artists developing games, individuals working with advanced learning technologies, and the business of making games. Speakers that want to talk about game development, advanced learning and visual simulation, and the business of games and media convergence, are encouraged to submit ideas.
North Carolina-based Triangle Game Initiative is urging voters of the state to back candidates that back the game industry. Triangle Game Initiative is the trade association for the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina interactive entertainment industry.
Its members include such game development studios as Themis Group, Epic Games, Atomic Games, CDV Software, Vicious Cycle Software, and more. Academic members include NC State University, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, and Wake Tech Community College.
A list of State and National candidates that support the Triangle Game Initiative are listed below:
Rep. Chris Heagerty of Wake
Rep. Pryor Gibson of Anson
Rep. Grier Martin of Wake
Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham
Senator Josh Stein of Wake
Rep. Bill Owens
Rep. Michael Wray
Not everyone, it seems, is a fan of the recently passed North Carolina tax incentives for videogame makers, film producers and other makers of interactive media.
The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law (NCICL) bills itself as a “nonprofit, non-partisan organization devoted to educating the public, bar, and policymakers about constitutional issues,” but what really seems to raise its hackles is “the granting by governmental entities of so-called ‘incentives’ in the form of taxpayers’ money being used for corporate welfare.”
The Raleigh-based organization came out against the recently enacted tax breaks in the latest issue of its newsletter, entitled Corporate Welfare Weekly, writing:
Yesterday North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue signed into law new tax incentives for the videogame industry, among other things. The bill, H1973, was signed at Epic Games headquarters in Cary, North Carolina. The new incentives grant media and content producers a tax credit of 15 percent - 20 percent if they work with a university or community college - on development costs that exceed $50,000. The tax credit can not exceed $7.5 million.In addition to interactive media companies, the measure also provides tax credits for the creation of "eco-industrial parks" and enhances North Carolina’s credit for film production companies, increasing the cap on "qualified expenses" from $7.5 million to $20 million.
"This was a result of a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated, passionate people," said Wayne Watkins, project manager for Wake County Economic Development.Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, and Virginia have all enacted similar provisions within the last 18 months, according to Watkins.
Source: Biz Journal by way of E. Zachary Knight
A Charlotte, North Carolina teen was shot by a friend early Tuesday morning while playing a videogame, according to police, but the motive for the crime is still a "mystery." Investigators have charged another 15 year old - who was described as a friend of the victim - with murder Tuesday afternoon. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is not releasing the name of the juvenile suspect due to his age, but they did identify the victim as Trevall Rembert.
Police say Rembert was killed while playing video games with several friends. According to sources speaking to WMFB News, at least a dozen teens were inside Rembert house at 2220 Tate Street in northwest Charlotte when the incident occurred.
The shooting, which is being described by some accounts accidental, occurred because the teens in the room were passing around a loaded shotgun. Police say they have interviewed all the teens that were at the scene but are frustrated because many of them are not being "up front about what happened, making it difficult for detectives to piece together what actually happened inside the house."
North Carolina House Bill 1973, also known as the Keep North Carolina Competitive Act, features a slew of incentives for interactive entertainment developers.
The Bill, which passed the state’s House and has been referred to the Senate, features a provision that would bestow tax credits of 15% upon a qualifying production that cost at least $50,000 to produce. Additionally, if a company creates at least 20 new full-time jobs during a 24-month period, and sustains those positions for three years, that company would be eligible for a tax credit of $5,000 per new job.
The Bill also contains provision for tax benefits for datacenters, major industrial facilities and for general production companies. Representatives Bill Owens (D), Pryor Gibson (D), William Wainwright (D) and Harold Brubaker (R) are the Bill’s primary sponsors.
North Carolina, while home to quite a few game developers, does not offer tax incentives to those creating interactive entertainment, which may be costing the state in its attempts to entice more companies to take up residence within its borders.
A piece in the NewsObserver offers this sentiment after attending the recently concluded Triangle Game Conference in Raleigh. State Representative (D) Pryor Gibson (pictured) has previously sponsored bills that would grant 15.0 percent tax breaks to interactive developers, but that legislation “has gone nowhere,” and the outlook for such a bill passing in the future is bleak, due to the state’s “budget crunch.”
Gibson doesn't appear to have given up though, and is said to be working “with fellow legislators on a bill for the coming session that will be attractive to video-game companies looking to expand and that will help retain existing businesses.”
Hal's presentation is billed as a conversation with Russ Pitts of The Escapist. The format sounds similar to Hal's well-received appearance with Spike TV's Geoff Keighley at PAX 08. The conference listing indictates that Hal will discuss:
The future of games as a media and a business, the role of the Electronic Consumers Association and the many key issues facing consumers today, including DRM, Net Neutrality, the economy and the ESRB.
FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.
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.
An interesting legislative turnabout is underway in North Carolina.
A state senator who twice in the past introduced bills designed to restrict the sales of mature-themed games to minors has now proposed that the state offer financial incentives to game developers.
Yesterday, Sen. Julia Boseman (D) introduced S525, a new bill that would permit game developers to take advantage of a tax credit of up to 15% for qualifying expenses.
While the measure does not restrict M-rated games as did an earlier proposal in Oklahoma, it does preclude material which qualifies as "obscene" under North Carolina law:
Limitation. – No credit is allowed under this section for qualifying expenses with respect to digital interactive media that contain material that is obscene, as defined in G.S. 14-190.1.
North Carolina's News-14 reports that state legislators are considering a proposal to levy sales tax on digital purchases, including video games, music, movies and software.
Such a measure could bring as much as $12 million annually to state coffers. Like many other recession-plagued states, North Carolina is facing a large budget deficit.
Rep. Paul Luebke (D, left) told News-14 that taxing digital goods makes sense:
We used to think of everything in terms of being tangible. Nobody thought of how you could possibly download anything.
So if you buy a book in a bookstore, you're going to have to pay sales tax on it. If you're downloading a book from a book seller, you should have to pay sales tax on that as well.
As GamePolitics reported last month, New York is considering a similar measure.