Call of Juarez: The Cartel Criticism Continues

February 17, 2011 -

Community leaders in city of Ciudad Juarez and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office line up to complain about Ubisoft and Techland's latest game in the Call of Juarez series. The new game, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, is set in the present day, which has put it on the radar of people that are dealing with real-world violence from Mexican drug cartels.

Community leaders in Ciudad Juarez, say that Ubisoft’s new game glorifies the violent lifestyle of drug cartels and being "a hit man."

"Lots of kids say they want to be a hitman, because they are the ones that get away with everything," youth worker Laurencio Barraza told Reuters.

That city, according to Reuters, averaged eight murders a day last year and - at the start of this year - at least 40 residents from El Paso have been murdered while visiting. Barraza works for the  Independent Popular Organization, which tries to keep the youth of the city out of the violent drug cartels.

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Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to Keynote Texas Game On! 2011

February 11, 2011 -

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has been named the keynote speaker for Texas Game On! 2011. Her keynote will address the importance of game-based education. Specifically she will talk about iCivics, a game-based learning platform designed to teach students about the importance of playing an active role in our democracy.

Warren Spector of Junction Point (and the man behind the original Deus Ex and the recent Disney game Epic Mickey) will also speak at the event.

Other sessions scheduled for Game On! Texas 2011 include the panel "Texas Higher Education Game Development Education," and a video game design workshop for amateur developers.

Game On! Texas 2011 takes place April 12 (8:00 AM - 7:00 PM) at the AMD Lone Star Campus in Austin, Texas. Tickets cost $40 per person. For more information check out the event's web site.

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University of Texas at Dallas Students Take on National STEM Video Game Challenge

February 7, 2011 -

Two different teams from The University of Texas at Dallas have submitted entries into the first annual National STEM Video Game Challenge. The two teams are comprised of Arts and Technology (ATEC) and Computer Science students at the university. The students are developing games that meet the criteria of the National STEM Video Game Challenge: to motivate America's youth to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math.

Both teams entered into the Collegiate Prize division, which gives out awards of $25,000 to the top undergraduate or graduate game submission geared toward young children (grades pre-K through 4).

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Texas Business Incentives Help Create 1,700 Jobs

January 4, 2011 -

A new report from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (an analysis of Texas economic development Initiatives) shows that the video game industry has created well over a thousand jobs in the last two years. This is due mostly to the state's Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, which offers incentives to the film, television, commercial, and video game industries.

The report found that the state’s incentive program (enacted in 2007 and expanded in 2009) contributed to the computer and video game industry’s growth in Texas by helping to create an estimated 1,700 jobs between April 2009 and August 2010. The incentive program provides grants for "qualifying productions" including movies, television shows, commercials, and computer and video games that create jobs for Texas residents. Other states have followed the state's initiatives with similar programs including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

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San Antonio GameStops Robbed Three Times in One Week

December 23, 2010 -

A crime spree involving San Antonio, Texas GameStops continues, according to police. In less than a week three GameStop stores have been robbed in the city. The latest robbery took place at the GameStop store on Bandera Road and Mainland on the city's northwest side 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. Two suspects tied up the store's employees with duct tape and put them in the restroom. Police say the thieves escaped with an undetermined amount of cash.

On Tuesday morning, burglars broke into a GameStop in the 600 block of Northwest Loop 410. Thieves pried open the doors, then broke into several drawers, taking an unknown number of games. On Monday afternoon, police say a man walked into the Game Stop in the 6000 block of Northwest Loop 410 claiming he was armed with a gun and knife. He got away with several games.

Police who are investigating all three cases say that they do not believe the robberies are connected.

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Wannabe MMA Fighter Beats up New Videogame Buddy

October 13, 2010 -

Upon visiting a local sports bar, a San Antonio man made a new friend and invited him home to play videogames. Unfortunately the man’s new friend, a “self-proclaimed” mixed martial arts fighter, allegedly beat up the friendly gamer and robbed him.

Patrick Lockhart (pictured) was eventually arrested after his victim picked him out of a lineup. According to WOAI.com, the injured party was purportedly attacked, and knocked out, once the pair entered his home.

The victim suffered a broken jaw and black eye, in addition to having $2,000 in cash and his television stolen.

Lockhart was charged with aggravated robbery.

The potential moral to the story? It’s probably safer to play games on PSN or XBL rather than in person with strangers.

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Games and Aggression Subject of Ongoing Baylor Study

October 5, 2010 -

A Baylor University study examining the relationship between violent videogames and aggression is currently underway, but any hopes that positive results for the game industry might emerge are tempered by the study’s lead already proclaiming that, “There’s a definite link between media violence and aggression.”

Dr. Daniel Shafer, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, wants to find out which games are most likely to cause aggression in players as well as what types of people are most susceptible to becoming  “aggressive and hostile” from playing videogames.

Another angle the study will examine is how multiplayer gaming impacts people. As Dr. Shafer stated, “We wanted to see if competition increased hostility more.”

The doctor would also like to eventually perform another study of online gamers, one that would determine if interactions between players are different online versus playing against other gamers in-person, a question which Baylor Gaming Society Founder Forrest Harington (and anyone who has ever plugged in an Xbox Live headset), already seemed to know the answer to.

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Xbox Live Threats Lead to Arrest, Stop Potential School Shooting

February 16, 2010 -

Xbox Live chatter between a Canadian and a Texan turned serious when the latter gamer disclosed plans to shoot up his high school.

The Texas gamer began by detailing his troubles in school to a Port Alberni, British Columbia Xbox Live opponent, which was normal enough, but eventually the Texas gamer spilled details on plans for attacking his school, including rattling off the names of fellow students he was going to target.

The talk alarmed the B.C. gamer enough that he contacted local Royal Canadian Mounted Police personnel, who started a cyber investigation. The RCMP contacted Microsoft and were eventually directed to a teenage suspect in San Antonio, Texas, who was arrested and is facing untold charges.
 
Port Alberni RCMP Staff Sgt. Lee Omilusik commented on the case:

This incident demonstrates the power of the electronic world and how different enforcement agencies can quickly work together to protect the citizens they serve, regardless of obstacles such as international barriers

The arrested boy was 16-years old and a student at John Marshall High School. The school issued a short message (PDF) to parents indicating that the boy would be removed from school “indefinitely.”

Local ABC station KSAT indicated that the gamers were playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.


Thanks Andrew and whoever posted about it in the Shoutbox!

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Not Many Christian Games Left Behind in Wal-Mart

November 5, 2009 -

Left Behind Games, which last month announced a pilot release of its Christian-themed games in 100 Texas Wal-Mart stores, reports brisk sales of their offerings in the Lone Star state.

Stating in a bit of PR that the experiment is “progressing beyond the company’s original expectations,” a company representative claimed that about 25% of their inventory has been sold in the two weeks since the pilot started, which is operating in Houston and Dallas area stores.

CEO Try Lyndon said:

At the rate Wal-Mart inventory is moving, they will be out of games before Christmas, unless they reorder. With seven weeks remaining, and accelerated sales expected as we near the holidays, we believe test results will be favorable leading to a broader national market for Christian based PC games.

In an effort to boost sales, Left Behind Games is sending mailers to areas surrounding Wal-Mart stores that stock their games, offering to send a second free game to anyone purchasing a Left Behind title from the world’s largest retailer.

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Bill Results in Texas-Sized Assistance for Lone Star Developers

October 29, 2009 -

The reworking of a House Bill aimed at providing incentives to attract film, television and videogame creators to Texas has resulted in a boon for videogame developers.

HB 1634 was originally passed in 2007, offering a $22.0 million pool to pull from in order to offer grants worth 5% of a project’s budget. Unfortunately, as The Austin Chronicle reports, the bill paled in comparison to the offering of other states because of tight terms and high budgetary requirements.

HB 873 was passed in April of this year, and while it featured the same name—The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program—it featured loosened terms and leeway for rules to be reworked on the fly, already resulting in an increase in spending in the state.

While film spending within the state in the wake of the shift from HB 634 to HB 873 stagnated, videogame spending increased. The paper reports on the growth in the game sector:

Last year under HB 1634, there were 33 qualifying applicants statewide, spending $58 million and getting $2 million in grants. Under HB 873, there have already been 19 applicants, investing a total of $62 million and receiving nearly $4 million from the state.

Austin’s share of the $62.0 million dollar pie so far? $43.0 million, causing Tony Schum, Director of Economic Development for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce to state:

All the right mixture of elements are here for us to promote gaming, and these incentives are really an accelerator.

Full details of the The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program can be found here.


Christian Games Hit Texas Wal-Marts

October 12, 2009 -

Left Behind Games Inc., a publisher of Christian-themed videogames, has secured a pilot release of its titles in 100 Wal-Mart stores in the Houston and Dallas areas.

Three games will be sold as part of a test to determine the viability of selling the titles in additional Wal-Mart locations. Left Behind Games, also known as Inspired Media Entertainment, believes that Texas is ripe for its offerings, noting that there are over 23,000 churches in Texas, with over 5.0 million Evangelical Protestants and more than 1.7 million Mainline Protestants.

CEO Troy Lyndon has high hopes for the Christian game market:

The US market for Christian video games could reach $648 Million within the next five years based upon just 3% of video game sales being in the Christian segment.

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Forbes Releases List of the Best States for Business

September 24, 2009 -

As everyone knows, the economy is pretty bad. There are signs it is getting better, but none of the 50 states have been immune, according to Forbes magazine. To that end, it released its yearly list of the states with the best business climate for 2009. Virginia tops the list at number 1.

Two states with a large video game foundation made the top 10. Washington came in at number 2, bolstered by the Microsoft behemoth. Texas came in at number 8, no doubt in part to the growing video game development community in Austin and the vicinity. California, home to many of the big video game publishers and developers, rose two spots from numer 40 last year to number 38.

Forbes detailed how it determined the rankings:

Our Best States ranking measures six vital categories for businesses: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. We factor in 33 different points of data to determine the ranks in the six main areas. Business costs, which include labor, energy and taxes are weighted the most heavily. We relied on nine different data providers. Moody's Economy.com is the most-utilized resource.

Many of the top states showed a more educated workforce, the magazine said.

For those who have trouble with the written word, Forbes also included a look at their list in pictures. If you want to digest all the data at once, then you can look at the handy table provided.

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Jack Thompson Puts Best Foot Forward at SGC09 Debate

July 6, 2009 -

By all accounts, the Independence Day debate between Jack Thompson and gamer/lawyer Mark Methenitis was a froth-free success. Thompson, who can be a charmer when he cares to, appears to have impressed the SGC09 audience with a respectful demeanor and self-effacing humor.

Of course, expo attendees sampled but a small slice of the disbarred attorney's act. Naturally, he didn't compare any of them to Saddam Hussein and didn't report them to various law enforcement agencies. Tactfully, Thompson also avoided dredging up any of the various negative generalizations he has made about gamers over the years, such as our personal favorite, "Nobody shoots anybody in the face unless you're a hit man or a video gamer."

We are still hoping to see full-length video of the debate and a subsequent Q&A session, but have been tracking some of the early reactions by attendees. Destructoid's Jim Sterling live-blogged the debate:

After seeing JT's unvetted Q&A earlier, I don't think this'll be the trainwreck people are expecting. Thompson was level-headed and well-behaved earlier...

JT... calls GamePolitics his favorite videogame site. [GP: LOL]

"We are getting to the point where we will understand that adult-rated games are just as harmful as seeing two naked people have intercourse"... "I'm the pro liberty, pro personal choice guy here..."

[JT said] that he got disbarred because he went on 60 Minutes but he'd do it all again.

The normally cynical Sterling, who appears to have sipped liberally from Thompson's Kool Aid, was even more complimentary toward the disbarred attorney in his coverage of the SGC09 Q&A session:

I think Jack Thompson did an amazing job yesterday. I don't agree with all his views, and I certainly disagree with the way he's put them across over the years. I think everyone who watched him yesterday will agree, however, that if he continues the rest of his crusade in the polite and intelligent manner with which he carried himself at SGC, he really wouldn't be such a bad guy to have around.

Overly Positive offers its impressions of the debate:

It seems the audience left the presentation and Q&A with at least a small amount of respect for Jack Thompson, not just for making his points in a rational manner, but for showing up at all. It seems that even if this is to some cynics a desperate grab for relevance, that Thompson honestly believes that presenting his side of the video games violence debate is worthwhile.

SCG09 attendee Sean Hinz also live-blogged the debate.

GP: I caught Thompson's debate performance at VGXPO 07. He is, as described by various SGC09 attendees, an engaging speaker. If he behaved that way all of the time he would almost certainly still have his law license and might still be an effective advocate for his cause.

UPDATE: More in the vein of the Miami Jack we remember here at GP, Thompson e-mailed his reaction to our coverage:

Dennis, pay attention, you might learn something:
 
1.  The comment about GP being my favorite game site was a joke, and everyone knew it.  That's why the laughter.  Not a lot of folks there care for you or GP.  
 
2.  I got about a 60-second standing ovation after the Q & A.  Did you talk to Craig, who is the head of ScrewAttack, about his impression of me? [GP: we did send Craig an e-mail inquiry this morning; no response so far]
 
3.  I don't need advice from you about how to be effective. I'm the guy making a difference not you, and it bugs the Hell out of you.

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Jack Thompson Debate Back On at SGC09

July 1, 2009 -

The on-again, off-again July 4th debate between disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson and gamer/attorney Mark Methenitis is apparently back on.

The debate, planned for this weekend's SGC09 in Dallas, went off the rails rather suddenly yesterday morning when Thompson complained to event host Screw Attack (and cc'd GamePolitics) that:

  • he objected to a one- or two-line introduction ("I have never been introduced with 1 or 2 sentences.  Nobody can be introduced in that fashion...")
  • he objected to a user-created parody video posted (and since removed) on the Screw Attack site; Thompson may have believed the video, "Questions Not to Ask Jack Thompson" at SGC," was official Screw Attack content

After posting a story detailing Thompson's assertion that he was canceling his appearance, GamePolitics rather unexpectedly found itself in the middle of a day-long flurry of e-mails between Screw Attack personnel and Thompson. Event organizers were clearly seeking to assuage Thompson's concerns and salvage the debate. By late Tuesday afternoon, it appeared that Thompson, who is apparently under contract and being paid $2,000 for his appearance, was softening his position after receiving assurances from Screw Attack Program Director Craig Skistimas.

As recently as this morning, however, Thompson demanded that a post by a Screw Attack user be removed. While it was not taken down, the author, who was also behind the parody video that Thompson found offensive, e-mailed the disbarred attorney a lengthy apology; that seemed to satisfy Thompson.

Next, Thompson e-mailed Skistimas a "proposed text" to be used as his introduction at the debate. The 12-sentence intro mentioned his 2008 lifetime disbarment very briefly, referring to it as "illegal" and blaming the loss of his law license on "lawyers for Take-Two, the makers of the Grand Theft Auto games."

GP asked Skistimas whether the introduction would actually be used at SGC09. Skistimas told us, "I have yet to review his intro but Jack and I will work together to find an intro that fits both his needs and the time format of the debate at SGC."

A conference call between Thompson and the Screw Attack team planned for noon today was canceled when the parties decided in late morning that the debate was back on and Thompson was satisified.

Skistimas also said that the site would release a video tomorrow to reinforce the fact that Thompson will appear at SGC09.

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Jack Thompson Says He Won't Appear for July 4th Debate at SGC 09

June 30, 2009 -

It appears that a much-anticipated Independence Day debate between Jack Thompson and gamer/lawyer Mark Methenitis is off. (GP: however, see updates below)

Back in April Mark Methenitis announced that he would debate Thompson on July 4th at the ScrewAttack Gaming Convention in Dallas. In fact, Methenitis posted a reminder about the debate just yesterday on his excellent Law of the Game blog.

But an angry e-mail received a short time ago from Thompson indicates that he will not appear. The disbarred attorney was apparently upset by an event organizer's request for a two-line bio as well as a parody video (screen shot at left) posted on the Screw Attack website by a user. Here's a just-received e-mail from Thompson to Methenitis:

Mark, the goofs at ScrewAttack have managed to sabotage my debate with you this Saturday... Don't blame me.  I wanted to do  the debate. I would have used the $2000 to help me in bringing down The Florida Bar...

Here's a second e-mail from Thompson to a number of individuals at ScrewAttack:

Yesterday, I get an email... that I either I submit a "1 or 2 sentence" introduction of myself, or I won't be introduced.  I have spoken and debated on more than 200 college campuses, and I have never been introduced with 1 or 2 sentences.  Nobody can be introduced in that fashion...
 
Finally, I went to your site this morning and I have viewed [a since removed] idiotic [video] clip...  It is a gross misrepresentation... you know full well that the reason I wanted to do this event... [is] to debate the issues of violence in video games... 
 
Finally, how many references to me as a "butt" did you think you had to put into your adolescent video?  You even take a swipe at Christians in the video...
 
All you have managed to do, as related above, is make the event an impossibility.  I expected the event to feature some hostiility [sic]. What I did not expect was that the people putting it on would ratchet it up and in doing so create a security problem...

GamePolitics has a request in to Screw Attack for more information and to see whether, from their perspective, the debate and a planned open forum with Thompson are salvageable. Methenitis is hoping that the event will go forward but referred us to Screw Attack for specifics.

GP: If the SGC 09 debate is canceled, it will not the first time that a proposed debate involving Thompson and the video game crowd has ended in bitterness. See our coverage of similar events proposed for PAX 07 and GDC 08. Thompson did, however, complete a debate with game designer Lorne Lanning at VGXPO 07 in Philadelphia.

That said, it's rather difficult to believe that the debate would be lost over the length of an introduction. As for the Screw Attack user-created video, let's just call it ill-advised and unfunny.

UPDATE: Thompson has confirmed to GamePolitics that he is under contract to appear. An e-mail from Thompson to Methenitis, cc'd to GP, indicates that the debate may yet be salvageable.

UPDATE 2: Thompson has forwarded a copy of a conciliatory e-mail from Screw Attack which describes the video in question as user-created content; it has apparently been removed. Thompson, however, continues to make demands of the event organizers:

This thing will start to get back on track if the person in charge... makes a very prominent and public statement at ScrewAttack.com and to the media (yes, that even includes GamePolitics, which is run as if it were Strauss Zelnick's house organ) [GP: LOL] stating that ScrewAttack disavows that video, that ScrewAttack KNOWS that the reason Jack Thompson is taking a day out of his life and away from his family is that he cares about the ISSUES in this debate, and that anybody, ANYBODY, who says or does anything out of line at this event will be escorted from the event immediately...

UPDATE 3: Stop the presses! The debate is not canceled, at least not yet. Thompson and the Screw Attack crew have scheduled a conference call for tomorrow to - hopefully - sort out their issues.

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Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game Risks

June 10, 2009 -

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) warns parents about a variety of potential threats which he says video games pose to children in an editorial for the Hill Country Times.

Abbott, GamePolitics readers may recall, sued GamesRadar in 2007 for allegedly failing to adequately protect the privacy and safety of children who frequent the website. Abbott later withdrew the suit after GameRadar's parent company, Future, Inc., agreed to make appropriate changes.

While online game predators are the primary focus of his editorial, Abbott also reminds parents about parental control features built into console systems as well as the use of ESRB ratings. The A.G. previously partnered with the ESRB on a 2007 campaign to raise awareness of the video game industry's content rating system. In today's editorial Abbott writes:

When we were young, our parents warned us not to talk to strangers... Today, children are more likely to frequent a digital playground that can be even more dangerous. For example, many game systems have evolved dramatically and now have many of the same capabilities as home computers. In particular, these games’ online interfaces allow users to interact with each other using text, voice or even video chat. Parents should beware of the potential for child predators to use these systems to prey upon and contact their children...

 

Parents should also consider participating in their children’s game-playing activities. Hand-held gaming devices also pose potential risks to children. Many of these devices have wireless-communication capabilities and are popular among kids who use them to communicate with others who are within range, usually about 30 feet. Child predators may be able to exploit this feature in certain public settings...

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In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has Implications for Game Developers

May 19, 2009 -

Tax breaks and other government incentives for developers are a terrific benefit to the video game industry. But, as GamePolitics has previously reported, in Texas they come with strings attached, allowing the state to withhold funding based on the content of a project.

Those strings have now reared their ugly head, at least for one filmmaker.

The Waco Tribune-Herald reports that Texas Film Commission Director Bob Hudgins has denied funding to the producers of Waco, a film project based on the 1993 shootout and subsequent standoff at the Branch Davidian compound:

Hudgins [said] he made the decision after reviewing the script and talking with journalists and law enforcement people involved in the incident.

Under the provisions of the recently enacted Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, state financial incentives can’t go to film, video or video game projects that inaccurately depict the state or actual events in the state.

An earlier report suggested that the incentives were blocked due to “opposition from an unnamed state senator.” However, Hudgins denied that, saying that the decision was his.

The producers have suggested they may relocate to neighboring Louisiana, where state incentives have no such content restrictions.

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Texas Guv Puts Secession Plans on Hold, Signs Game Biz Tax Break

April 23, 2009 -

When not making bizarre references to seceding from the United States, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is  good friend to the video game industry.

The Guv, who delivered last year's E3 keynote in Los Angeles, today signed into law HB 873. The bill increases the amount of state grants available to video game, film and other digital media production companies.

As reported by the San Marcos Daily Record, Perry was enthusiatic about the legislation at the bill signing ceremony:

With this legislation, we are strengthening our state’s investment in a vital industry that not only shows off our state to the rest of the world, but also draws investment and creates jobs for Texans.

ESA CEO Mike Gallagher praised Perry via press release:

I commend Governor Rick Perry and the Texas state legislature for recognizing the contributions that the video game industry already has made in the state, and for acting quickly and decisively to ensure that the industry has the opportunity to reach its full potential. Today, Texas showed its strong willingness to stay competitive with other states that are seeking to attract video game developers and publishers.

KVUE has a video report on the bill signing.

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What Impact Will Texas Secession Have on Video Game Biz?

April 21, 2009 -

Late last week Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) indicated that seceding from the United States was an option for his state, albeit an unlikely one.

The Guv, rumored to have presidential aspirations of his own, is upset about the economic policies of the Obama administration.

It would appear that Perry, who delivered the keynote at last year's E3 (that's him along with ESA boss Mike Gallagher at left), has forgotten what happened the last time secession was attempted in 1861: There was a bit of a disgreement that is commonly known as the Civil War.

But wouldn't a Texas secession make a great real-time strategy game? Call it Six Days in Austin. Konami could publish it.

From a video game industry perspective, establishing a new, independent nation of Texas would certainly impact publishers' lobbying group the Entertainment Software Association, which is chartered to represent the interests of video game publishers in the United States.

Canada has its own ESA and there are plenty of game industry firms based in Texas. If the Lone Star state gains independence, perhaps there will be a need for an ESA Texas as well.

Or perhaps Gov. Perry is just going off the deep end.

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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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Law of the Game's Mark Methenitis to Debate Jack Thompson

April 2, 2009 -

What are the odds of having two Jack Thompson debate stories in a single day?

That's how today, played out, though.

Just after GamePolitics posted about tonight's Thompson-Gerard Jones debate, Law of the Game blogger - and practicing attorney - Mark Methenitis e-mailed to say that he will be debating Thompson at SGC 09 on July 4th. Mark believes that he is the first attorney to debate Thompson on video game issues.

The Screw Attack website adds that there will be more just the Thompson-Methenitis ten-rounder:

In addition to the debate, Thompson will also participate in a special pre-screened question and answer panel where attendees will have the opportunity to pick the brain of one of gaming’s most notorious critics.

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A Roundup of Sin Tax Proposals for Video Games

April 2, 2009 -

We've covered all of these video game sin tax proposals on GamePolitics at one point or another, but Reason has a concise roundup of legislative attempts to levy special taxes on games:

Texas ended up adopting a subtler system, in which the legislature created a video game subsidy and steered the money toward efforts that meet the state's "general standards of decency." I hope that means some programmer in Austin is making a game that lets you smoke some weed with Willie Nelson, hook up with Anna Nicole Smith, and then head down to the Alamo for a bloody standoff with Santa Anna.

The New York Times' Freakonomics blog weighs in on the topic as well:

Some proposals aim to tax only violent games (who knows it if would affect the forthcoming adaptation of Dante’s Inferno, in which sinners are the exclusive targets of horrific violence). Seriously, though, one can see the populist appeal of Louisiana’s “No Child Left Indoors” proposal, which would impose a 1 percent tax on video game equipment and televisions to fund outdoor recreation facilities.

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ESA Lobbies for Bigger Tax Breaks in Texas

March 13, 2009 -

As legislators in Texas consider expanding financial incentives for game developers and other producers of entertainment media, ESA boss Michael Gallagher weighs in with an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman:

With over 90 development companies in Texas, the video game industry accounted for more than one-third of the moving media industry's $345 million investment in the state in 2007. In addition to the more than 7,500 jobs that the industry currently supports in Texas, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts found in a recent report that video games "have a ripple-effect and spread technological innovations to other industries..."

The opportunity now falls on the Texas state legislature, however, to pass the bills that will keep the industry's momentum in the Lone Star State going. Texas currently risks falling behind several states in economic incentive programs for the entertainment industry. This year alone, thirteen states are actively considering legislation that will either create or significantly expand their existing incentive program for digital interactive media development and production...

While economic incentives for the video game industry are a sound investment for Texas' cultural legacy, they are an even better investment for the people of Texas.

Texas, Louisiana Guvs Renew Support for Game and Movie Incentives

March 10, 2009 -

A pair of Republican governors are backing renewed or expanded support for financial incentives to encourage video game and other types of media development.

In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry, last year's E3 keynote speaker, proposed a two-year state budget which includes $60 million worth of sweeteners for the entertainment industry, reports KBMT-12. Speaking at a rally in game development hub Austin last week, Perry said that Texas was losing business to competing states New Mexico and Louisiana.

Speaking of Louisiana, the News-Star reports that Gov. Bobby Jindal hopes to renew inventives aimed at video game, film and music production. The packages currently in place expire by 2010:

The proposals will cost the state $8 million a year when investors cash in the credits, he said, but the state gains much more from having movies, recordings and video games produced here.

“We want to make sure Louisiana keeps a competitive edge,” Jindal said at a press conference.

Both Perry and Jindal are mentioned as possible contenders for the Republican presidential nod in 2012.

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Guv Declares "Entertainment Software Day" in Texas

February 3, 2009 -

´╗┐Gov. Rick Perry (R, at left) has proclaimed today "Entertainment Software Day" in Texas.

The declaration is apparently the first of its kind in the United States.

In addition, both chambers of the Texas legislature have passed resolutions recognizing the video game industry's contributions to the Lone Star State. Those resolutions were sponsored by State Sen. Bob Duell (R) and Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D), both of whom have worked on financial incentives for Texas game developers in the past.

The news comes by way of a press release from the Entertainment Software Association. The trade group which represents U.S. video game publishers enjoys a strong connection to Gov. Perry. GamePolitics readers will recall that the Guv delivered the keynote speech at E3 2008.

ESA CEO Mike Gallagher commented on the Texas-sized salute to the game biz:

The support of Governor Perry, Senator Duell and Representative Dukes for the entertainment software industry in Texas is an endorsement of the artistic and economic contributions our industry has made to the state.

These lawmakers are helping grow our industry as we work to create new jobs for Texans; boost the state’s economy; and help discover new ways computer and video games can improve the ways Americans live, work and play.

According to the ESA, Texas's game industry adds $395 million to the state's economy.

Proposed Oklahoma Tax Break Excludes M-Rated Games

January 23, 2009 -

From the good news/bad news department:

An Oklahoma state senator has proposed tax incentives for game developers - but only if their project is eligible for a T (13+) or lesser rating from the ESRB.

It was longtime GamePolitics comment moderator E. Zachary Knight who alerted us to the measure, SB644. The proposal by Sen. Anthony Sykes (R), would make game projects eligible for tax breaks which already apply to films, commercials and TV productions in the state.

The video game rating requirement is spelled out in the language of the bill:

“Video games” mean products that are intended for commercial use or are produced for distribution on electronic media and which include an appreciable quantity of at least three (3) of the following types of data: text, sound, fixed images, animated images and 3D geometry and which are rated or will be rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board with the ratings of Early Childhood, Everyone, Everyone 10+ and Teen.

While games are restricted to projects appropriate for those under 17, the only eligibility requirement placed on film content is that it be neither child pornography nor obscene. By that standard, R-rated films and MA-17 television programs would easily qualify for the tax break.

EZK spoke to Sen. Sykes yesterday about the rating requirement and filed this report with GamePolitics:

[Sen. Sykes]... would rather not include the ratings restriction. Unfortunately, as he went around to his fellow senators asking for their support, the first question out of their mouths was whether there would be ratings restrictions.

He is well aware of the [failed] game legislation of [2006] and many of the people who voted for that bill are still in office and were some of the people who demanded the restriction...

He also raised some concerns about [possible] lobbying against the bill... His final concern was whether he could get enough support during such economic turmoil. Oklahoma is facing a budget shortfall this year and that may not make such a tax break very appealing to many people.

GamePolitics readers will recall that Oklahoma's 2006 video game content law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in September, 2007.

If the measure is passed, Oklahoma will join neighboring Texas as the only states tying game developer incentives to content restrictions.

52 comments

Texas Guv Wants More Incentives for Game Developers

January 23, 2009 -

Austin's KeyeTV-42 has a video report on Texas's burgeoning video game industry, including news of a renewed push by Gov. Rick Perry (R) for additional incentives for game developers:

Last year the governor's office estimated there were nearly 100 game and software development companies in Texas. Many companies are based in the Austin area.

Governor Perry has said he wants to make the state the leader in the industry. He has vowed to push lawmakers this session to increase incentives to lure more game makers here.

GamePolitics readers will recall that Perry delivered the keynote address at E3 2008.

2 comments

Texas Legislator's Office Features Retro Mario Bros. Game

January 23, 2009 -

In most legislative offices, the most exciting thing you'll find are brochures.

In Rep. Joe Pickett's office, however, you can try your hand at classic Mario Bros.

As reported by the Austin American-Statesman, Mario isn't the only thing that's different about the Texas Democrat's office in the Capitol Building in Austin.

At his own expense, Pickett has remodeled his digs to look like a 1950s-era burger joint, complete with juke box. Visitors are offered free gumballs, soda and ice cream. As for Mario, the game helps keep state politics from getting too tense: 

[Pickett's] chief of staff, says the old "Mario Bros. " video game is a mood elevator. One day a guy who wanted to argue some issue or other marched in with a fierce face, ready to rumble.

 

"He walked in and saw the old Mario Bros. video game," Chambers recalled. "He looks and says, `Awwwwwwww, I love that game.' It even destressed him."

13 comments

GP at Independent Game Conference Today

November 21, 2008 -

Posting was a bit light yesterday as I was traveling from Philly to Texas for the Independent Game Conference in Austin.

I'll be presenting at the conference later today. My ramblings aside, the IGC has some terrific speakers lined up, including Gordon Walton of BioWare Austin, Alex Seropian of Wideload Games and author/developer Sheri Graner Ray (Gender Inclusive Game Design-Expanding the Market).

It should be a fun day. I'll try to post a recap later on.

UPDATE: The group which attended my session was an interesting mix. The conference is mostly attended by game developers and game development students. As I traced the nexus between video games and politics for the audience, I was a bit surprised to hear from a couple of attendees who were quite concerned about violence in games. I don't normally hear that from industry types and I was pleased to see that it kicked off a spirited discussion.

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11 comments

ESA Boss Lauds Texas Game Dev Incentives, Dings Content Restrictions

October 28, 2008 -

Love the incentives, hate the content restrictions.

As reported by the Austin American-Statesman, that pretty much sums up what ESA CEO Michael Gallagher told the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce during a recent visit to Texas. While praising a grant package for film makers and game developers passed in 2007, Gallagher rightly criticized:

...a content requirement about not disparaging Texas. Those types of speech restrictions in general are not viewed in favor by the courts. They tend to lead to a lot of problems down the road.

The ESA boss reminded the Chamber crowd that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) gave the keynote at this year's E3 (although he probably avoided mentioning how few E3 attendees showed up for the Guv).

The newspaper also mentions a concern that some Texas politicos have about providing grants to developers:

Legislators are warming to the idea of providing state funds to video game companies, but there is still some reluctance. Some fear that a political opponent could accuse them of voting to spend state funds on games like the violent "Grand Theft Auto."

 
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PHX Corp@Adam802 We'll break out the popcorn in June12/19/2014 - 9:23pm
ZippyDSMleeMaskedPixelante: I'm itching to start it too but I will wait till the patch goes live. >>12/19/2014 - 7:52pm
Adam802Leland Yee and Jackson get trial date: http://sfbay.ca/2014/12/18/leland-yee-keith-jackson-get-trial-date/12/19/2014 - 5:24pm
MaskedPixelanteNevermind. Turns out when they said "the patch is now live", they meant "it's still in beta".12/19/2014 - 5:07pm
MaskedPixelanteSo I bought Dark Souls PC, and it's forcing me to log into GFWL. Did I miss something?12/19/2014 - 5:00pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/12/republicans-may-have-plan-to-save-internet-providers-from-utility-rules/ this is intreasting. congress may put net nutrality in to law to avoid title 2 classification12/19/2014 - 2:45pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.polygon.com/2014/12/19/7421953/bullshit-cards-against-humanity-donated-250k-sunlight-foundation I have to admit I like the choice o organization. congrats to CAH.12/19/2014 - 1:51pm
E. Zachary KnightIf you are downloading a copy in order to bypass the DRM, then you are legally in the wrong. Ethically, if you bought the game, it doesn't matter where you download it in the future.12/19/2014 - 12:06pm
InfophileEZK: Certainly better that way, though not foolproof. Makes me think though: does it count as piracy if you download a game you already paid for, just not from the place you paid for it at? Ethically, I'd say no, but legally, probably yes.12/19/2014 - 11:20am
ZippyDSMleeAnd I still spent 200$ in the last month on steam/GOG stuff sales get me nearly every time ><12/19/2014 - 10:55am
ZippyDSMleeMaskedPixelante:And this is why I'm a one legged bandit.12/19/2014 - 10:51am
ZippyDSMleeE. Zachary Knight: I buy what I can as long as I can get cracks for it...then again it I could have gotton Lords of the Fallen for 30 with DLC I would have ><12/19/2014 - 10:50am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/12/19/marvel-vs-capcom-origins-leaving-online-storefronts-soon/ Speaking of "last chance to buy", Marvel vs. Capcom Origins is getting delisted from all major storefronts. Behold the wonders of the all digital future.12/19/2014 - 9:59am
MaskedPixelanteSeriously, the so-called "Last Chance" sale was up to 80% off, while this one time only return sale goes for a flat 85% off with a 90% off upgrade if you buy the whole catalogue.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
E. Zachary KnightInfophile, Tha is why I buy only DRM-free games.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
MaskedPixelanteNordic is back on GOG for one weekend only. And at 85% off no less, which is kind of a slap in the face to people who paid more during the "NORDIC IS LEAVING FOREVER BUY NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE" sale, but whatever...12/19/2014 - 9:28am
InfophileRe PHX's link: This is one of the reasons the digital revolution isn't all it's cracked up to be. There's also the flip side where Sony can block access to games you've bought if they ban your account for unrelated reasons. All power is theirs.12/19/2014 - 8:52am
MaskedPixelantehttp://uplay.ubi.com/#!/en-US/events/uplay-15-days You can win FREE GAMES FOR A YEAR! Unfortunately, they're Ubisoft games.12/18/2014 - 6:29pm
Papa MidnightAh, so it was downtime. I've been seeing post appear in my RSS feed, but I was unable to access GamePolitics today across several ISPs.12/18/2014 - 6:06pm
james_fudgeSorry for the downtime today, folks.12/18/2014 - 5:54pm
 

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