Crytek Developer Offers Frightening Account of German Game Crackdown

December 15, 2006 -
Tim Partlett (left) is an Enlishman and a game designer. He works for the German developer Crytek, best known for the hit first-person shooter Far Cry. Gamers are also waiting impatiently for Crytek's next release, Crysis.

In a recent post on the Quarter to Three forums, Partlett described his view of how bad the environment in Germany has gotten for game developers:
When I tell people in Germany what I do for a living, they usually react with a mixture of pity and disgust, like I had admitted to them I was a male prostitute.

For computer games both the press and public are histrionic, and the politicians are keen to tap into every reactionary outrage...

At the time of the (2002 Erfurt school) shooting, we were already in development of... Far Cry... We were just across the state border from Erfurt in northern Bavaria. Tensions in the region were high...

In 2004 the Bavarian authorities sent in the state troopers... When the small tech team appeared to inspect our computers, they were accompanied by over one hundred flak-jacketed riot police, all armed with Heckler and Koch sub-machine guns.

It was a total overreaction... They arrived first thing in the morning, and kicked down our doors. They even raided the nearby private residences...

I was caught just outside the office...  We were all shepherded into our Mo-Cap room, and there we were forced to remain until questioned, prevented from leaving by dozens of armed guards...

(Now,) Dr. Günther Beckstein... Interior Minister for the state of Bavaria, has drafted a new law... (GP: see recent coverage)

It seems that the politicians are largely just reacting to hysteria in the public and press. The general consensus is that the government won't pass this law, and even if they did, they would find themselves in conflict with local state laws, and overarching EU laws. EU laws are designed to protect free trade between nations... we aren't packing our bags just yet...

With a majority of Germans thinking you are evil and the press and politicians baying for you to be thrown in jail, it can make life uncomfortable... I love Frankfurt. I love Germany. I think it's a great country to live in. I really hope they don't make me leave.

GP: Read all of Partlett's comment at the Quarter to Three forums. Many thanks to GamePolitics reader Clay Oehlke for alerting us to this amazing story.

Comments

I don't know what's scarier: The fact that they sent scary guys with guns to frighten a game development company, or the fact that the *official story* is that BSA *can and will* send scary guys with guns to your company if they have even a whiff of suspicion of pirated software being used...

maybe you just go on and whine "welcome back to WWII" and cry "1984" and all, cause america especially is so "free" and "liberal" and all. i guess that makes sense. just look at them. there is no jack thompson. there was never a hot coffee crusade. they never ever in their history made any error.

besides: bavaria is still as much "germany as a whole" as texas can be mixed up with new york.

besides: our politicians ARE just reacting and ARE just trying to make something out of the hype of the recent incidents. they are ruthless, worthless and don't know a thing about gaming. just like some president i heard of. he just has more pressing matters in some other countries with other people's houses to raid, far from home and tv teams.


back to topic: i hope this is a generation problem and will eventually just evaporate when younger politicians will take over - some who played, just like we do.

Let me start of with a sorts of a disclaimer

*I am a member of the European Union, residing in Holland and I play games with violent content regularly. O yeah, and English is not my native language*

Because we Europeans lack a "constitution" (with the kind regards of the Dutch and the French) it may be possible that legistlation gets approved by members of the union(individual countries). While the union as a whole has agreements which states the contrary. I will explain further on by example*


I believe that any activity we humans undertake does have an effect on us, may it be physically or menthally. Concerning this subject it all boils down to the publics persception. If politicians believe that a lot of people are ignorant enough to swallow a load of crap, then they will serve it to them. Banning games will NOT stop the crazy people!!!

Banning the games, will only open up a market for illigal activities. A warning sticker with an age indication (like they have already) works better I believe. Besides, a lot of the people who are yelling about to much violence in games, are not gamers themselves.

Let me try and explain my point of view.
I miss in these discussions the concept of "responsability of the individual". When I get into my car, after playing a racing game. I should know that if I crash there won't be a "reset" button. If I do believe there will be a reset button, and crash my care. At least I could be sure there won't be a politician screaming that we should ban racing games.

On the other hand, if games have such a profound impact on us and have behavior altering capabilities beyond the power of my own free will (or common sense for that matter). I can't help but wonder why we don't hear about the positives...will I become a better manager, from being a commander in Battle field 2? Are my people skills improving from when I join a group in WoW. And not to forget the earlier mentioned improved hand eye coordination ofcourse.

But regardless, positive or negative alike, I as a person still have to deside too do something with my newfound skills. None of the games I've played "told" me to try and do the same thing in real life! Although when I am in game I do tend to get lost in it, forget my real life for a moment and only be a character in a game. I worry for my character as if it was a part of me, hope and do the best so I or my team will win in the end...

They tell me it's called entertainment.

*In Holland one is "allowed" to posses weed (canabis), but it must be for personal use only. And a person may not cary/purchase more then 5 gramms at a time. But by law weed IS illigal, we just choose not to (completely) enforce it on this product. The Dutch call weed "soft" drugs and therefore the police will not arrest you for smoking it. You can buy it at coffeeshops and the owner of that shop pays taxes like any other store owner. Because buyers of softdrugs can go to shops, they won't have to go to streetdealers that (also) sell "hard" drugs (cocaine, XTC etc.)
And yet we are a member of the EU, where other countries have banned the use of canabis and smoking a joint WILL get you arrested in those countries. (In Holland everybody over the age of 18 can buy it, but only a few keep on smoking for the rest of their lives)

Daniel
actautly wine and a few other alcoholic drinks are good for your body in a large amounts no but then nothing is good for you in large amounts,the stigma on pot is even more silly its not worse than a smoking version of booze and even then smoke it is just one options to get it into the system the fact it works wonders for chemo and glaucoma patients the nly reason it has been baned is because of the the hard to change goverment and its prudes in power.

I would like to apologize to brokenscope for accusing him of being on drugs, I was angry when I wrote that comment (not because of brokenscope's comment but because of something else).

@ Brokenscope

I wasn't at all saying that smoking is healthy. Where did you get that idea? I was saying the exact opposite. I was saying that smoking, drugs and alcohol are unhealthy, man. I have also said many times that I only like to see fake violence. Real violence is bad! All movies and games are FAKE! Also I said that I'm against sexual content in games and rape is sexual content.

If you want to know what I like about Reservoir Dogs, I like the story and the soundtrack as well as the violence. I also like the fact that you get to be the bad guy which means that if someone dies, you don't fail the mission because of it. I prefer to be the bad guy because that means no escort missions most of the time.

About what I said of Mr. Lowenstein stepping down, I've read letters on the internet that say that Jack Thompson would love nothing more than to get rid of Doug Lowenstein. I realize that he hasn't done much to fight against Jack Thompson, but anyone that he bashes that much must be good. I don't want him to get what he wants with the dismissal of Doug Lowenstein. Also, Brokenscope, I want to know do you read my entire post or only part of it? Please read the whole thing, man.

@ Father Time

Thank you, man. I'm glad that someone finally understands what I'm trying to say. I like fake violence on a screen NOT real violence. I've never said anything in favor of real violence and I'm glad that finally you see what I'm trying to say. Fake violence=good. Real violence=bad.

@ Babus

Oh, great, so Jack Thompson's not as bad as the *German police*.

Jack Thompson is a rational, intelligent and moderate allie of the video game industry... compared to his European equivalents apparently.

@brokenscope
How about those videos of those poor bastards they beheaded in Iraq? Do you enjoy those Daniel? Its on a screen and its violent, its a great deal of fun for you. How about a woman being raped ons screen? Its on a screen and its violent so it must be fun for you.

I have now lost a great deal of respect for you with this comment

I like Daniel love to see violence in movies and video games, i like to see the blood flow splatter the walls and the guiy die in some overexaggerated death. But that's not the point, the point is as you SHOULD know just because you enjoy FICTIONAL violence doesn't mean you enjoy REAL violence. Do you really think Daniel can not seperate the over exaggerated deaths of video games characters between the very real deaths of Iraq soldiers? I like the violence partially because I know its not real and that I can load the game and they'll be back unharmed and that unlike real people pedestrians in GTA don't have a family. Also how the fuck can you compare liking violence to wanting to see a woman getting raped that is like saying anyone who reads playboy will just LOVE having sex with dead bodies and carving up babies with a hacksaw.

That is what disturbs me. It is one thing to react numbly to violence because you have seen so much of it, but to actively enjoy the violence because it is violence hints at something very wrong.

This just in GTA is the top selling video game in existence and there is absolutely no way to get anywhere in the game without resorting to violence, if its a best seller then that must mean people are enjoying the violence so I guess the world is full of 'disturbed people'

Brokenscope please lay off the drugs or at least keep you hair trigger rants under control you're starting to come off as a violent disturbed person (how else can you compare liking fictional violence to liking rape).

I feel LITERALLY sick reading this...I agree with the 1984 comment...I also think Fahrenheit 451 is another thing you should think about...

@Daniel

Once again you missed what I am saying.
Every time you extol the praises of whatever game you have a chubby for at the moment you say the violence is great, and the violence makes the game great.

Never once have I heard you say man that game had good game play or man, that was an interesting puzzle or WOW, I really felt for those characters.

In your last post even "I think it’s a great deal of fun to see violence", now before someone tries to rip me a new on the context, I know. I will finish the quote in a moment.

The fact is MOST normal people do not, DO NOT, enjoy the game because of the violence. The violence is part of the game play. The violence is part of the story. The violence is the challenge, to overcome that challenge is the goal.

For you the entirety of the game experience is the violence. Without violence the game experience is lacking.

"I think it’s a great deal of fun to see violence on a screen."

What if someone made a game with one scene and one button, and all you do is push this button . Every time you push said button a bone saw is pulled back and forth across the leg of a person. You hear the screaming and you see the blood. Is that great deal of fun? Its on a screen so it must be fun. How about those videos of those poor bastards they beheaded in Iraq? Do you enjoy those Daniel? Its on a screen and its violent, its a great deal of fun for you. How about a woman being raped ons screen? Its on a screen and its violent so it must be fun for you.

That is what disturbs me. It is one thing to react numbly to violence because you have seen so much of it, but to actively enjoy the violence because it is violence hints at something very wrong.

With the exception of your "reservoir dogs story makes me smile".

Are you saying smoking isn't unhealthy?

You are wrong about the things on a screen not affecting your mind and health at all. Gamers tend to have better hand eye coordination. The question is are their noticeable negative affects.

[...] Source: [Game Politics] [...]

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Welcome to 1984.

I find this kinda of crazy. A complete over-reaction and they couldn't do anything about it? I feel bad for all the employees working that day, because that musta made the crap their pants and then some. Cause I sure as hell would.

Wow, nice to see Germany's changed a lot since WWII...

@ Brokenscope

I think about it like this. If I were the only one who likes violent games and films, they wouldn't exist because no one could make a profit off them. There must be a lot of other people out there like me who like violent games and films which means I'm not the only one. I think it's a great deal of fun to see violence on a screen. I always liked it. In fact, I love Reservoir Dogs to the point where I can't even think about it without smiling, but that doesn't mean I'm crazy. It just means that the story puts a big smile on my face.

As for what I said up there, I was saying that violent games don't make people crazy. They either are or they aren't and video games and movies have nothing to do with a person's mind or genetic tendencies that determine that. I think no one goes crazy over entertainment. As for violent entertainment being unhealthy, well I feel very healthy. I would say to that argument that drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking and drugs are unhealthy. Images on a screen have nothing to do with health physical or mental.

@Daniel

But you seem to have an attraction to the most violent games you can find. Some would argue that your obsession with violence is unhealthy.

Ups, didn't think they would use that heavy force. I wonder on what grounds, use of such heavy force is usually only approved by judges in case of imminent danger - which I just fail to see somewhere in a game studio.

Anyway, I live in northern Bavaria, and I have to say that the Bavarian government is always on the populistic side. If anything is likely to give them higher poll ratings, they will gleefully do it with the greates enthusiasm conceivable, claiming to do the right thing, and much better than the federal government, too. (I don't agree with that party, and I most certanly don't elect them, but the consistenly got 50+ percent in all elections since 1949, so it's either accept them or move away)

A few month ago there was another hostage/shooting incident in a german school (In Paderborn, if you want to google for it) which was commited by a pupil of that school. Soon after, a map of that particular school for some First-Person Schooter was found by a major german magazine (the "Stern"), and of course the concerns that playing "those Murder Simulators" (i.e. FPS) were the trigger for the shooting were suddenly transformed into unrefutable truth in that magazine's opinion. As if solely playing a FPS would transform an innocent child into a murdering machine... argh.

Of course the fact that hundreds of millions of people worldwide play those games (meaning they are very prevalent throughout the pouplation) and that therefore it is not hard to locate someone playing FPS in the vincinity of pretty much any arbitrary person couldn't simply mean that finding an FPS at the shooter's or any of their friends' places could be pure coincidence.

Also the number of one real-life shooting every few years opposed to many millions of gamers in germany alone is well below the threshold of statistical noise and can't possibly be used to construct any causal chain without further investigation among a wider populace of gamers.

Another small story I'd like to tell for your amusement:
I happen to own a PSP and often use it to play on my way to university which is about a 30-minutes train ride. Some while ago, I think it was sometime this summer, I sat in the train and proceded to putt, hoping to finish my course with one under par - I was playing "Everybody's Golf". A woman, somewhere between the age of 20 and 30 (my guess) sat in the seat facing me, and after a while she adressed me in a rather rude tone:
She:"I bet you're playing Counter-Strike"
Me: "Excuse me?"
She:"I said I bet you're playing Counter-Strike and kill people there in your game"
After a brief (yet futile) explanation that CS wasn't even available for the PSP, she told me that "she knew everything about those bad killer games". I asked her if she had ever played CS, and her answer was:
"No, but I had once accompanied my Boyfriend to a LAN-Party, so I know everything about Counter-Strike. You just run around and kill everyone you see".
Me:"Well, if you say so".
At this point I grew tired of her stubornness and obvious lack of knowledge, and showed her that I was playing a harmless golf simulator. Not that it would have been any of her business, but I wanted her to shut up. But she wouldn't let loose. "I bet you got Counter-Strike on there, too".
I didn't answer anymore, I just grabbed my bag and left for another seat. Luckily that was the only occurence of this kind I ever had.

So, there might be some resentiment against FPS here in Germany, but apart of that one occurence I have never had anybody talk about gaming in such a negative way - like somebody else here said, it may very well be a media hype.

@RealityBites:

"Fuck off, your employer was being busted for software piracy, it was absolutely fuck-all to do with Video-games. Stealing software is illegal and your employer didn’t pay for the software they were using to build multi-million dollar projects."

Be that as it may, one could argue that a two-to-one ratio of armed SWAT officers to game programmers is a bit overkill.

@Yuuri Sama:

"What’s even funnier, is that after they put out the card game, the government wanted it either stopped or a piece of the action."

You have got to be kidding me.

What is it with Germany? Have they been listening to raving lies of Jack Thompson? Every time somone goes crazy, they always want to put it on games. Let me tell you all something. I just finished my fall quarter at college and for the last few nights, I've stayed up until 3:30 in the morning playing Reservoir Dogs and Mortal Kombat Armageddon on my XBOX, two very violent games, they are a lot more violent than the original Doom and Counterstrike. I don't feel crazy. I'm not going to do anything insane. Why? Oh, could be because I'm not insane and I wasn't insane to begin with? Germany, listen closely. These games are NOT murder simulators and they don't make people violent. STOP IT!!

hey konrad_arflane not only was Steve Jackson Games raided, they eventually put out a card game based on the experince. Cause not only did they take the computers, they took a manuscript that was 2 weeks away from going to the printers.

That little raid nearly put the company into bankruptcy (sp?).

What's even funnier, is that after they put out the card game, the government wanted it either stopped or a piece of the action. A judge told them hell no.

I happen to have the game and it explains the story in a bit of detail.

Honestly, if they truly believe that it's violent video games causing shooting, they deserve to be transformed into pixels and put into the game. If one can't keep one's own love of chainsaws, guns, explosions and slaughter, they've got bigger issues than playing violent video games.

Fuck off, your employer was being busted for software piracy, it was absolutely fuck-all to do with Video-games. Stealing software is illegal and your employer didn't pay for the software they were using to build multi-million dollar projects.

What confuses me is that Germany is trying to get away from the thought of the Haulocast by trying to ban video games that have a Nazi symbol on it (evan though the player is killing Nazis), when yet they don't realize that banning items became a tradition in the Haulocast era. So is Germany trying to escape Nazism, or supporting it, but not realizing that they are.

It seems that whenever a story appears on here about germany trying to clamp down on video games the nazis are mentionned, well in all honesty when a pefectly legitimate company doing nothing illegal is raided by cops armed with machine guns you can't help but compare the german goverment to th nazis and it's sad that in this day and age things like this are happening.

germany is supposed to be a member of the EU yet it seems they have totall disregarded the european convention of human rights (thats the closest thing we have to a constitution over here) so why haven't incidents like this been brought up in the EU parliment??

@Ashton, Billy, Grahamr

Careful now, in Germany talk like that will get you sent to prison ;P

I'm curious as to why Crytek didn't sue the pants off the Bavarian LKA and whoever made the call for the raid. He makes it -sound- as if they had pretty good evidence that the police exceeded their mandate and as far as I know there's nothing in German law that holds public officials or offices immune from a civil tort.

Meh, Im currently in Germany and quite honestly I have seen very little on the subject. It's seems to all be for show, I think very little will come out of this. Realise the CS:S is in the top 5 selling games here even after this happend. Give it a month or two and it will blow over. Just goes to show what failed gun control laws do.

Also I play CS:S and BF2 in public and hardly ever get a reaction out of people. The only person who ever came over to talk to me wanted to know, If I knew of any lan events in the area.

Isn't all of what they did just a tad excessive on the part of the Bavarian government? Isn't arresting them, questioning them, and sending in computer techs and riot police a bit excessive? I mean even if the games are supposedly a bad influence, it still does not justify violating a person civil rights. Or doesn't Germany, or at least parts, of it have similar standards on civil rights as we do?

I am so glad the police in the States don't act like that -- not over video games, at least. :P

If things are really degenerating this quickly overseas, one has to wonder how long it'll be before gamemakers work ou t of a select few countries. We might have issues battling the politicians in the U.S., but apparently other countries seem to be losing to their own governments.

Dear God I hate idiots. -.- Especially old, narrowminded idiots with power.

Sounds like someone in Bavaria was watching that stupid CSI: Miami episode where the game developers were trying to hype their game by handing out guns to hardcore players...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

O Shit! The Nazis are Back!


I wonder what jackolantern has to say about this.....

Please note that this happened in Bavaria, which is controlled by it's own political party separate from the rest of Germany: the Christian Social Union of Bavaria:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Social_Union_of_Bavaria

As much as we all gripe and moan about how messed up things are here in the states, reading things like this remind me why I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Maybe they realize something after they have banned Tetris and people are still killing each other. :D

Jesus. If this is true, we have politicians trying to stamp out fictional violence in games with REAL VIOLENCE? You know, for the first time I'm actually swayed toward thinking game politics and repression of games in general in the future might not just be something to rant about in online blogs, but have actual real world implications in that gaming freedoms not just on release of a game, but during the actual development, are severely repressed.

Scary thought :\ 1984, here we come.

>It seems that the politicians are largely just reacting to hysteria in the public and press.

I disagree here. This "hysteria" to me seems to be generated on purpose by a bunch of journalists and politicians who want to rid the world of graphical violence. On the political side a lot of preparation was done since the last school shooting to make sure they could make best possible use of the next one.

Slyfox, if my experiences with the newer generation are any indication, we'll be even more screwed than before.

Oh yeah... It's time to replace the members of major world governments with a newer generation that knows how to think on a more intelligent level.

I did a little research on the matter. Press statement and news items in german online media don't mention any connection to the shootings or any FPS. The reason behind this raid is stated as "a crackdown against software piracy and use of unlicensed software copies". They also state that Crytek has allegedly cause six figure a loss. (But we all know that the software industry always stated the "value" of pirated copies "a little" high, so I wouldn't give too much on that figure). Apparently some fired employee called the police.

Could it be that Mr. Partlett has (deliberately or accidentialy) misstated the reasons behind that police raid?

Sources:
http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/46094
http://winfuture.de/news,13124.html
http://www.bsa.org/germany/presse/newsreleases/Verdacht-auf-illegale-Sof...
(Sorry, german only, couldn't find any english sources)

Note that the Italian site Video Ludica also asks which future video games can expect in Italy after the "Rule of the Rose" hysteria ( http://www.videoludica.com/news.php?news=480 ). It's Italian-speaking, but with a google translation you can understand the essential.

So we have Italy. We have Germany. I wish I could say situation is better here in France, but not really.

That's whack! But you have to admit, when the Germans want something done, they make it work. H&K SMGs were a bit much though.

if you are into Tetris you shall check out this online tetris website where you can play all kinda tetris games online :-)

video game nazi's

Whoa, they sicked one hundred state troopers with SMGs on a video game company that has not done anything wrong? Wow, the government in Bavaria is truly insane. What did they even question them about? Did they expect to find RPGs in their offices or something? This scapegoating of games has gotten out of control. I'm just glad the police here haven't done anything like what this guy described.

This reminds of a story I once read about a small PnP RPG developer, I think it was Steven Jackson's company, which was raided by the US federal authorities in a similar manner. The reason for that raid was that they'd been selling a game supplement themed around cyberspace and hacking. Since hackers at that time were considered the latest great threat to civilization, and some clueless paper-pusher thought they were selling an actual real-life hacking manual, they did a similar stunt to what's described here. They also confiscated their computers and didn't give them back (at least not for a few years).

Holy hell.
I'd be more afraid of the politcal overreaction than what a "murder simulator" manufacturer was making, over there.

HIEL MEIN FUHRER!

If I was a developer, I'd be honored to have 100 troopers armed with riot gear raiding my studio... seems like a compliment. I would have thought that a police search warrent would do.

Terminator44> I know! It's just silly. There wont be any RPGs in there- Crytek are an FPS developer.

*badum-tish*

/b
 
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Matthew WilsonIf you have not read http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/introducing-steam-gauge-ars-reveals-steams-most-popular-games/ you should. It is a bit stats heavy, but worth the read.04/16/2014 - 2:04pm
Matthew Wilsonthe issue is when is doesn't work it can screw over millions in new york city's case. more often than not it is better to let the free market run its course without market distortion.04/16/2014 - 9:36am
NeenekoTrue, and overdone stagnation is a problem. It is a tricky balance. It does not help that when it does work, no one notices. Most people here have benifited from rent controls and not even realized it.04/16/2014 - 9:23am
ZippyDSMleehttp://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2014/04/15/riaa_files_civil_suit_against_megaupload04/16/2014 - 8:48am
ZippyDSMleeEither way you get stagnation as people can not afford the prices they set.04/16/2014 - 8:47am
Neenekowell, specifically it helps people already living there and hurts people who want to live there instead. As for 'way more hurt', majorities generally need less legal protection. yes it hurt more people then it helped, it was written for a minority04/16/2014 - 8:30am
MaskedPixelantehttp://torrentfreak.com/square-enix-drm-boosts-profits-and-its-here-to-stay-140415/ Square proves how incredibly out of touch they are by saying that DRM is the way of the future, and is here to stay.04/16/2014 - 8:29am
james_fudgeUnwinnable Weekly Telethon playing Metal Gear http://www.twitch.tv/rainydayletsplay04/16/2014 - 8:06am
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SeanBJust goes to show what I have said for years. Your ability to have sex does not qualify you for parenthood.04/15/2014 - 9:21pm
NeenekoSo "worked" vs "failed" really comes down to who you think is more important and deserving04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
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TheSmokeyOnline gamer accused of murdering son to keep playing - http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2014/04/15/21604921.html04/15/2014 - 11:50am
Matthew Wilsonyup, but curent city rules do not allow for that.04/15/2014 - 11:00am
ZippyDSMleeIf SF dose not start building upwards then they will price people out of the aera.04/15/2014 - 10:59am
Matthew Wilsonthe issue rent control has it reduces supply, and in SF case they already has a supply problem. rent control ofen puts rent below cost, or below profit of selling it. rent control would not fix this issue.04/15/2014 - 10:56am
NeenekoRent control is useful in moderation, NYC took it way to far and tends to be held up as an example of them not working, but in most cases they are more subtle and positive.04/15/2014 - 10:24am
PHX CorpBeating Cancer with Video Games http://mashable.com/2014/04/14/steven-gonzalez-survivor-games/04/15/2014 - 9:21am
 

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