Yesterday we reported that retailer GameStop halted its pre-orders for both models of Nintendo's Wii U console. Today the retailer wants those who didn't get in on the action to get in on a waiting list. The problem is it's only for PowerUp Rewards members. A cynical person would suggest that this is all some clandestine plan by GameStop to boot its PowerUp Rewards membership numbers.
From the FAQ:
Continuing to push the envelope ever-so-slightly, THQ announced that the next retail release to its popular and sometimes adult themed third-person sandbox action game Saints Row The Third will happen on November 6 and will be called "The Full Package." No one will ever think there's something sexually suggestive about that title... Whatever happened to calling this kind of compilation a "Game of the Year" Edition?
One developer who is angry over web sites charging for expedited reviews of mobile game apps has decided to publicly call the web sites out. Luckily most people who consider themselves even casual gamers have never heard of these web sites, but apparently they have been running a racket for quite some time.
You may have heard the announcement that "Black Isle Studios is back," but is it really? The Interplay label responsible for such role-playing game hits as Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment, and many others may be back but it is in name only and the developers that once wandered its hallowed halls are somewhere else working on such games as the upcoming enhanced edition of Baldur's Gate and a South Park PRG.
In a recent interview with Computer & Video Games, Ubisoft's Alex Hutchinson, the creative director of Assassin's Creed 3, said that games journalists are engaging in subtle racism when they give Japanese games a free pass on bad or odd story-telling while putting Western games through the ringer. When asked about why Nintendo can get away with endlessly reiterating the same basic stories with games like Super Mario Bros., Hutchinson offered a blunt response.
While some hay is being made over the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union meeting in Dubai in December, most believe it is much ado about nothing. The way the Internet is regulated internationally will face a review in December, but the United States is already pointing out a number of changes that it will absolutely not allow under any circumstances. The regulations under review are from 1988.
Speaking to TorrentFreak, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom alleges that Vice President Joe Biden ordered the Megaupload shutdown at the behest of former Connecticut Senator (D) and current Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) President Chris Dodd. He claims that he has information from a "reliable source" that the Megaupload case and the subsequent takedown of the file storage site was a "gift to Hollywood."
Ofcom, the regulations body in charge of media in the UK, has released details of a proposed plan that forces British ISPs to send warning letters to subscribers accused of copyright infringement by video game, music, film and other media companies. Under these proposed guidelines, individuals who receive three letters in a 12-month period would have their personal data, downloading and filesharing history handed over to the copyright owners to help them prepare for a lawsuit.
CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) is something that opponents of SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA should be paying attention to. While the goal of the bill purports to be about "cybersecurity," the bill contains vague language that allows companies to spy on Internet users and collect and share this data with third-party companies or Government agencies. The loophole for companies is that they can simply say that violating users' privacy rights were necessary to protect against cybersecurity threats, to gain immunity from civil and criminal liabilities.
If you are a fan of propaganda and that classic art form of stretching the truth, then you might want to check out this New York Times editorial penned by RIAA CEO Cary Sherman. In it he claims that technology companies like Google and Wikipedia were the only driving force behind the letter writing campaigns to lawmakers and website blackouts that happened in protest of SOPA last month.
A TechieBuzz report points out an interesting fact about GoDaddy's initial support of SOPA; that it may have been done as a way to deal with some problems related to some pending legal action against the company by some major Hollywood trade organizations. The report suggests that GoDaddy might have supported the bill to gain immunity from a court-case against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
So imagine for a moment that you are an executive of a company that has a partnership with NBC and you get an email in your inbox telling you to take a position on several bills before congress. And when we say "telling," we mean "telling." Suppliers that want their content or media on NBC's family of networks were told that they'd better support the PROTECT-IP/SOPA bills that are currently before both legislative branches of the U.S. government.
Sledgehammer game is finding itself on the business end of internet hate after one of its developers encouraged fans to manipulate the user ratings for Modern Warfare 3 over at Metacritc.com. Sledgehammer Games lead Glen Schofield tweeted to fans asking them to bring the game's paltry 1.7/10 score up. Critics have been generally kind to the game, giving it an average score of 8.9/10.
The Westboro Baptist Church pretends that it supports morality, but it's hard to take anything away from what the group does other than to draw the conclusion that they are in it for publicity and controversy. If you need an example of this, then I refer you a recent tweet by top church member Margie J Phelps. This morning she tweeted via her iPhone that the church planned to protest Apple founder Steve Jobs' funeral:
If you are a member of Sony's PlayStation Network, chances are you were greeted with an email from the company this morning telling you that that the terms of service for the network are about to change. The big change, in case you haven't received that email yet, relates to your ability to sue them. From section 15 comes this wonderful new clause:
Australian Content Industry Group spokeswoman Sabiene Heindl pens an editorial in The Australian praising the recent deal between Internet Service providers and content creators in the United States (you know the deal that has basically turned ISP's into Internet traffic cops). Heindl starts out by calling the deal "good news for anyone who has released an album, made a movie, developed a video game or software, or written a book anywhere in the world."
According to a survey conducted by video game price comparison site Playr2.com, gamers age 18 - 40 may end up dedicating almost two years of their lives playing video games. The company conducted a survey of 1,452 of its members, asking a variety of questions about their gaming habits. The survey found that the average gamer will spend about 1.8 years of their life playing games on various platforms.
The average starting age of gamers was around 9.1 years. Most said they spend an average of 9.2 hours a week playing games. Most surveyed said they planned on giving up gaming when they turned 45 years old.
A bill that proposes a felony charge to anyone that "illegally streams copyrighted content online" has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee today and will head to the full Senate for a vote. The bill, S. 978 (or "Commercial Felony Streaming Act"), brings the penalties for illegal streaming in line with the penalties for illegal downloading. What used to be a misdemeanor will now become a serious crime if the law gets passed. In other words, illegal streaming could get you a five year sentence in jail. Websites that offer illegally streams of copyrighted content 10 or more times during an 180-day period can be prosecuted if the bill becomes law, although it is unclear how the bill deals with individual streamers.
How do you give money to politicians without actually giving them a big fat check directly? Write a check to a charity they are closely associated with. That is just what AT&T has been doing, and it is getting the attention of the public and media outlets.
AT&T has given a substantial amount of money to charities connected to several lawmakers including Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), who just happens to be the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has direct jurisdiction over the Federal Communications Commission. A charity associated with Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), who just happens to be on the Senate Appropriations Committee. AT&T also gave a generous contribution to a charity associated with Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina), the No. 3 House Democrat. His daughter, Mignon Clyburn also happens to be a member of the Federal Communications Commission.
A British tabloid report of record returns on 3DS units to retailers are apparently grossly overblown, according to Nintendo. British tabloid The Sun reported that the 3DS "left thousands with dizziness and headaches", leading to a record number of returns. But all parties involved - from retailers to Nintendo, say that the report is erroneous.
For example, retailer GAME told Eurogamer that they have had five consumers complain about the 3DS:
"We've had less than five people complain that they feel sick and want to return [the 3DS]," a GAME rep. told the publication.
Retail chain HMV thinks that The Sun may have become confused over figures for trade-ins for games and hardware, which retailers used to reduce the cost of the new 3DS. The retailer added that they are not "refunding fully" the price of the 3DS as The sun has claimed.
Nintendo also denied the claims:
An episode of The People's Court litigates a case involving Wii copyright infringement, piracy, and mod chips. But the case isn't really about all that - it's about a guy that wants a couple of hundred bucks over a modding deal gone sour. The judge, the plaintiff and the defendant never grasp the fact that something very illegal is going on here. Luckily for Nintendo, everyone's name is splashed on the screen for more dramatic litigation down the road - should they find out. We have a feeling they probably will..
And frankly, these two guys get what they deserve for going on a nationally syndicated show to fight each other over both committing multiple DMCA violations. Watch the video, be amazed at the stupidity. Thanks to Andrew Eisen's nameless friend who passed this hilarious video along.
This Valentine’s Day, a girl gave me something I honestly wasn’t expecting. Granted, she also gave it to everyone else in her address book but hey, I’m not jealous.
Yes, yesterday, Carole Lieberman finally provided the blogosphere with “examples of research linking video games to real life violence (including rape).” Do the various studies, papers, and opinion pieces she provided actually back up her claims? I’ll leave that to you.
-American Psychological Association’s Resolution on Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media
-How Fantasy Becomes Reality (Karen Dill)
-Attorney General's Commission on Pornography (1986)
World of Warcraft gold sellers using PayPal as their preferred method of payment are getting a surprise from the wholly-owned eBay subsidiary: a threatening letter.
Last week Blizzard sent out complaints to PayPal, accusing gold and virtual property resellers of " intellectual property." This week PayPal jumped on a number of companies, issuing the following letter:
"You were reported to PayPal as an Intellectual Properties violation by Blizzard Entertainment Inc. for the sale of World of Warcraft Merchandise.
If you feel your sales do not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of the Reporting Party, please complete the attached Objection to Infringement Report by January 21, 2011."
Companies can certainly appeal the ruling (to what end we do not know), but to be compliant they have to cease their activities and remove all incidents of "intellectual property violations. "
According to Boing Boing, 115 leaked diplomatic cables from the latest Wikileaks document dump were related to the upcoming intellectual property law in Spain.
El Pais, a Spanish newspaper that has all of the 115 documents from the US Embassy in Madrid, has released 35 of them. The first batch of documents confirms what has been widely believed to be true: that the U.S. trade representative (working in conjunction with U.S. trade groups) wrote the country's upcoming copyright/Internet law.
Spain's new copyright law is being put to a vote this month. Boing Boing has some text in Spanish released from El Pais. Admittedly, trying to translate it via various online services (I’m looking at you Google), doesn't do the text justice.
A unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has published a pair of North Korean-developed mobile games, causing some pundits to wonder about the legality of such dealings.
As detailed by Bloomberg, North Korea’s General Federation of Science and Technology developed the games: a 2007 bowling game named Big Lebowski Bowling and another based on the Men in Black movies. Both games were sourced through the Nosotek Joint Venture Company, which is billed as the “first western IT venture” in North Korea, and offers to provide invoices through “a Hong Kong or Chinese company.”
It’s the game that has enraged populaces around the world and now Italy has apparently noticed that Rapelay can indeed be found on the Internet.
Italian newspaper Il Corriere (translation here) has a story up which features an assemblage of important types screaming about the game being just a series of tubes away from common citizens.
Giorgia Meloni, Minister of Youth, said that he would speak to Postal and Communications Police to get the game removed from the Net, while the Mayor of Rome himself, Gianni Alemanno, called for the game to be banned.
Gabriella Moscatelli, President of Telefono Rosa, a group that fights violence against women, also came out against the availability of Rapelay, saying that it was an “incitement to commit a crime.”
Also joining in the condemnation of Rapelay were Barbara Saltamartini from the People of Freedom (PDL) party and Dorina Bianchi of the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC), who said something along the lines of “while spending commitment and energy to propose and promote policies to support women, we discover that the creators of a video game put the same amount of commitment to train a generation of rapists. I drop my arms.
GP: Just to clarify, the premise for the game is sick, there’s no doubt about that. The furor that continually crops over it each time a country “discovers” it however is bizarre, as are the subsequent attempts to scrub it from the Internet. Rapelay is definitely a uniter, in that it has virtually zero backers (other than Penn Jillette perhaps), making it the ultimate safe target for attack."
Thanks to reader ItaliAnon for the link and translation assistance!
Jo Frost, best known stateside as the principal in the show Supernanny, has a new show airing in the UK and in its debut episode she attempted to tackle the issue of violent videogames.
The Guardian has a run down of the program (Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance), in which Frost, with the assistance of Iowa State University’s Dr. Douglas Gentile, conducted an experiment on 40 boys.
In one experiment, the boys were split in half, with 20 playing a football game for 20 minutes while the other 20 played a first-person shooter for the same amount of time. Following their game play session, all 40 boys watched violent news footage and had their heart rate monitored. Boys who played the FPS were found to have slower heart rates while watching the violent on-screen reports versus those who played the sports game, leading to a voice over that declared, “Shockingly, just twenty minutes of violent gameplay was enough to densensitise the boys.”
Author Keith Stuart took the methodology to task, writing, “I'm no neuroscientist, but with the biological stress response recently engaged, surely it's no surprise that in the few minutes after violent gameplay, test subjects react differently to violent stimuli?”
So really, what does this all say about the long-term effects of exposure to violent videogames? I would suggest very, very little.
An additional experiment, in which Gentile knocked over a can of pencils in front of each boy individually, was supposed to measure empathy. Reportedly only 40.0 percent of the boys who played the FPS helped to pick up the pencils, versus 80.0 percent of those who played the football game.
The combination of the two tests, and the resulting conclusions, were a bit too much for Stuart to take:
Cognitive neuroscience is a complex field - it is perhaps not something to be prodded and poked at during a piece of realty TV voyeurism masquerading as documentary material.
…if just 20 minutes of exposure is enough to turn normal boys into desensitized monsters, our streets should be filled with violence. They're not.