California Files Appeal on Video Game Law Ruling

January 10, 2008 -
According to a press release from the office of State Sen. Leland Yee (D), California has filed its planned appeal of a U.S. District Court ruling which struck down the state's 2005 video game law last August.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) announced in September that his state would appeal Judge Ronald Whyte's finding that the video game law, authored by Yee, was unconstitutional.

Of the appeal, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Yee (left) said:
California’s violent video game law properly seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of interactive, ultra-violent video games. As stated in the appeal, our efforts to assist parents in the fight to keep these harmful video games out of the hands of children should survive Constitutional challenge under all levels of judicial review.

Based on an extensive body of peer-reviewed research from leading social scientists and medical associations, we narrowly tailored this law to serve the State’s compelling interest in protecting children. I am hopeful that the 9th Circuit will overturn the lower courts decision and help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder.

Should California win its appeal, the video game law would levy fines of up to $1,000 on retailers who sell what Yee terms "ultra-violent" games to minors. Although we've not yet seen the appeal filing, Yee's press release quotes from it:
It defies logic to suggest that our founding fathers intended to adopt a First Amendment that would guarantee children the right to purchase a video game wherein the player is rewarded for interactively causing the character to take out a shovel and bash the head of an image of a human being, appearing to beg for her life, until the head severs from the body and blood gushes from the neck.

Or guarantee children the right to purchase a video game where the player can cause the character to wound an image of a human being with a rifle by shooting out a kneecap, pour gasoline on the wounded character, and then set the character on fire while the character appears to be alive and suffering.

Instead, the proper, more reasoned approach to First Amendment jurisprudence recognizes that the rights of minors are not coextensive with those of adults. States must be allowed to legislate to protect the health and welfare of children with certain universally recognized differences between adults and children in mind.

The case won't likely be decided before 2009 at the earliest. Meanwhile, the California law is blocked from taking effect by Judge Whyte's ruling.

Comments

Where in the crap are they getting those gameplay examples????

I have never played a game or seen a game that had those scenarios.

Based on an extensive body of peer-reviewed research from leading social scientists and medical associations, we narrowly tailored this law to serve the State’s compelling interest in protecting children.


So where was that research when the law was originally challenged. If it is that conclusive, don't you think it would have warranted showing to the original judge?

"I am hopeful that the 9th Circuit will overturn the lower courts decision and help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder."

Parents already have the power to make that choice, Mr. Yee. You're taking away those parents' power to MAKE IT.

"It defies logic to suggest that our founding fathers intended to adopt a First Amendment that would guarantee children the right to purchase a video game wherein the player is rewarded for interactively causing the character to take out a shovel and bash the head of an image of a human being"

Maybe because, nine times out of ten, it ISN'T seen as a reward in the game?

"Or guarantee children the right to purchase a video game where the player can cause the character to wound an image of a human being with a rifle by shooting out a kneecap, pour gasoline on the wounded character"

...are you just making these up as you go along for the shock value, Mr. Yee?

"Instead, the proper, more reasoned approach to First Amendment jurisprudence recognizes that the rights of minors are not coextensive with those of adults. States must be allowed to legislate to protect the health and welfare of children with certain universally recognized differences between adults and children in mind."

In other words, you're saying that parents have NO free will, and that the government knows people's children better than the parents do.

Riiiiiight.

Mr. Yee, come back when you're not insulting every parent not only in the state of California, but in the entire country. Maybe then you'll actually sound unbiased.

Senator Yee's gameplay examples are nothing short of exaggerations.

Also, if the research was that conclusive, the bill would have survived the first legal challenge, wouldn't it?

>_>

Can we get this man hooked up to a lie detector? I want to ask him some questions about where he gets these ridiculous scenarios and false reports.

No, seriously, I want this man tested. I'm willing to bet that Gamers would fund the project themselves and we can get this all sorted out once and for all.

Unfortunately I am to move to that place.

How long will it take this bill to die? Isn't this like the 5th appeal?

Perhaps some translation is in order to make the press release more correct:

"California’s violent video game law IMproperly seeks to "protect" children from the UNPROVEN harmful effects of interactive, ultra-violent video games. As stated in the appeal, our efforts to UNDERMINE THE AUTHORITY OF parents REGARDING WHAT THEIR CHILDREN SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT PLAY should survive Constitutional challenge under all levels of judicial review.

Based on an INCREDIBLY SMALL AND NARROW body of peer-reviewed research from leading social scientists and medical associations, IGNORING OTHER CONTRADICTORY YET JUST AS VALID RESEARCH FINDINGS, we narrowly tailored this UNCONSTITUTIONAL law to serve the NANNY State’s compelling interest in protecting children. I am hopeful that the 9th Circuit will overturn the lower courts CORRECT AND REASONABLE decision and help UNDERMINE parents REGARDING the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of UNREALISTIC AND MAKE BELIEVE violence and murder."

"It defies logic to suggest that our founding fathers intended to adopt a First Amendment that would guarantee children the right to purchase a video game wherein the player is rewarded for interactively causing the character to take out a shovel and bash the head of an image of a human being, appearing to beg for her life, until the head severs from the body and blood gushes from the neck."

I dare him to show us the clip of this game. Or even a screenshot. Hell, even tell us what game it is!!!!

"Or guarantee children the right to purchase a video game where the player can cause the character to wound an image of a human being with a rifle by shooting out a kneecap, pour gasoline on the wounded character, and then set the character on fire while the character appears to be alive and suffering."

Again, another make believe scenario from Yee's imagination, where games are apparently photo-realistic.

"Instead, the proper, more reasoned approach to First Amendment jurisprudence recognizes that the rights of minors are not coextensive with those of adults. States must be allowed to legislate to protect the health and welfare of children with certain universally recognized differences between adults and children in mind."

The First Amendment isn't something that you can tailor to your own agenda.

Funny how Yee's appeal contains exaggerations and mis-statements that I would think worthy of Thompson.

It defies logic to suggest that our founding fathers intended to adopt a First Amendment that would guarantee children the right to purchase a video game

Actually, it would be the other way around. This entire 'protect the children' (and the related romantization and extension of 'innocence) stuff came MUCH later. Even obscenity laws are still fairly new.

The entire idea that children can't handle adult material and must be kept 'separate' is a pretty new concept and, IMHO, rather twisted. I've watched far more damage done to children by trying to force some kind of abstract artificial concept of 'childhood' on people rather then letting them learn what they want to learn when.

When the Constitution was written, a 17 year-old man was expected to be married, have children and a home of their own....

But lets not let historical fact get in the way of Yee's grandstanding....

"...a video game where the player can cause the character to wound an image of a human being with a rifle by shooting out a kneecap, pour gasoline on the wounded character, and then set the character on fire while the character appears to be alive and suffering."

Holy crap! This game sounds awesome! I want to buy it for my 6 year old cousin!

Ugg...

Maybe he's getting this "video game scenario" mixed with a movie? Resevoir Dogs? Hostel? Various crappy horror movies?

GP, do you have a phone number/address of Yee's office for people to complain about this frivolous lawsuit?

The Honorable Senator should not use nonsense words like "ultra-violent." That is a fictional word from A Clockwork Orange and a joke derived from "ultraviolet." He seems to have fantasy confused with reality.

DavCube the game he is talking about is Postal 2.

Yet another Big Brother law that will be shot down in court. His examples of videogames are purely exaggerations. I'd like him to show us which game depicts violence that graphic.

You have to understand that Senator Yee has NO FACTS to back up his false claims. So he uses inflammatory and sensationalistic terminology to attempt to deceive the court and other citizens to back his claims.

In fact, this isn't an issue of the First Amendment Rights of children, as Yee has falsely claimed. This is about the Rights of Parents to make THEIR OWN decisions as to what is or is not appropriate for THEIR OWN children. Yee's argument, and the arugment of other politicians, has been "ONLY the government knows what is and is not appropriate for YOUR children and the ONLY resource for information available to Parents should be what the government provides". That last bit is proven by the fact of large amounts of actually existing resources for Parents and individiuals to research regarding specific products but the government, including Yee, falsely claims there aren't any resources for Parents to use.

Parents DO have resources to research and make THEIR OWN decisions and retailers DO have policies in place based on the rating system for video games, unlike movies, music, and books.

Leland Yee also attempts to lie to and deceive the court into believing that ONLY interactive media, video games, will lead someone to have emotional responses which may lead to aggressive behavior which may lead to violent response. Anyone performing INTELLIGENT observations will see that even non-interactive exposures can lead to even violent acts, let alone aggressive behavior or even mere emotional reactions.

Yee perfers to throw "protect the children" around like some sick pervert holding up a child to shield themselves from gunfire. Yee, from time to time, does have some decent points, but he overshadows them with sensationalism, misinformation, and outright lies and deceit. Just like any Tin-Pot-Dictator-Wannbe who wants to force their own personal, religious, and/or political beliefs upon others.

What's next Senator Yee? Are you going to scream "Only Right Minded people think like I do! Everyone else worships Satan!"?

Nightwng2000
NW2K software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

i think he's working along the lines of "if we ensure they're insulated from the world while they're growing up, then when they're fully grown people they'll be fully able to handle everything in the world."

how about no?

Senator, perhaps you should be focusing on helping parents make the right choice, instead of removing that choice.
parents have the power over their children's buying habits. why/how? because they're PARENTS!
durr.

"It defies logic to suggest that our founding fathers intended to adopt a First Amendment that would guarantee children the right to purchase a video game wherein the player is rewarded for interactively causing the character to take out a shovel and bash the head of an image of a human being, appearing to beg for her life, until the head severs from the body and blood gushes from the neck."

I don't know what "game" he might be referring to. Manhunt 2, perhaps?

"Or guarantee children the right to purchase a video game where the player can cause the character to wound an image of a human being with a rifle by shooting out a kneecap, pour gasoline on the wounded character, and then set the character on fire while the character appears to be alive and suffering."

I'm pretty sure there are no games where you can shoot out a kneecap. I think you can shoot people in the legs in RE4, and you can set people on fire in MH2, but I don't think there are any games that do both.

In short, Lee is taking the most violent examples of video games, blending them into 1 imaginary game, and then using his rhetorical game to further his own cause.

@Daniel

Why doesn't he use Custer's Revenge, too?

"It defies logic to suggest that our founding fathers intended to adopt a First Amendment that would guarantee children the right to purchase a video game wherein the player is rewarded for interactively causing the character to take out a shovel and bash the head of an image of a human being"

I'm pretty sure the founding fathers would have intended to adopt a guarantee that a child doing something horrible to an image, would in fact be protected, because they didn't equate drawing a picture of a man being decapitated, and actually decapitating someone.

Otherwise you venture into the realm of thought-crime...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Why do politicians think they know better? I think we ought to make an orbiting land where we can send these delusional control freaks.

Rockstar should sue Yee for intellectual property rights violations.

It would seem that Yee was able to stumble upon the script to the next release of Manhunt.

I've been a game collector since I was 7 years old (I'm 28 now) and I manage a video game store..and I have NO clue to what freaking games this guy is talking about. The main poster children of gaming violence in their eyes (Mortal Kombat series, GTA series, and the Manhunt series) don't have anything like these as far as I have seen. Seriously...shoot someone then poor gas on them? I've seen it in a movie ( a few times) but never in a game. Wonder why he doesn't say anything to a movie company in CALIFORNIA...hmm..wonder why.

If the state knows how to raise kids better than their parents why don't we simply give all our kids over to DCS? Video games have labels which define who they are made for. If a parent buys a video game with out reading the label then they simply aren't doing their job. Rather than spending millions of tax payer dollars trying to get an unconstitutional law passed perhaps you should be spending your time educating parents in your state about the video game rating system. At least that would be a public service.

you know what, in principle I agree with what the good doctor is trying to do, get retailers to adhere to the ESRB ratings, unfortunately Lee is not backing up the ESRB, hes not writing legislation that states 'no retailer shall sell a game rated M to someone under the age of 17,' instead he's taking the vague road of "ultra-violent" games, and exactly who sets what is ultra-violent and what isn't, him?

however, instead of trying to write some of the most vague legislation imaginable and fighting the first amendment, and losing i might add, why doesnt Lee A, jump on board and actively support the ESRB, and B, go talk to the retailers and go along with this whole 'industry self-regulation' thing, on the whole i think that self-regulation is working out quite well, instead he's trying to look the victim here, that his law to 'protect the children' is being unjustly stopped by the courts, grow up guy, stop acting like a child, and get off your high horse and do something smart for a change

@ SounDemon

In Metal Gear Solid, Meryl gets her kneecap shot out. Of course, you're not the one doing the shooting and it's a cutscene. Although IIRC, if you shoot someone in the knee in MGS, they'll start limping.

Not like Yee's FUD and BS holds up, though.

Yes, children have no rights. Therefore the Government must make the choices for them. Soon it will be teenagers who lack rights to make decisions, then adults. I'm not normally an alarmist but when they come for one, they eventually come for us all.

"wherein the player is rewarded for interactively causing the character to take out a shovel and bash the head of an image of a human being, appearing to beg for her life, until the head severs from the body and blood gushes from the neck.

Or guarantee children the right to purchase a video game where the player can cause the character to wound an image of a human being with a rifle by shooting out a kneecap, pour gasoline on the wounded character, and then set the character on fire while the character appears to be alive and suffering."

What games let you do that? I would SO love to play those games. Just to tick this guy off. I have always hated how we treat children like they are empty headed little robots that don't actually exist as individual entities until the magic age of 18.

Yee doesn't seem to be familiar with teh concept of the First Amendment, is he? How the hell did he get to where he is?

I have to say I'm not too worried about this appeal. So far, legislation like this is 0-9 in courts, with no reason to believe that the trend will not continue. IMO, this appeal is a waste of time and money that could both be better spent educating parents about how to make more informed decisions about their kids media intake across the board (tv, internet, games, books).

Mr. Yee's so called facts are flawed and a lot of the people here have not only shown that, but have also shown the truth of the matter.

Sadly, being from California, I must admit that Mr. Yee isn't the only stupid person here who likes to grandstand and thinks that the needs of the few out weigh the needs of the many. More often than not you get an individual, or small group of individuals who are convinced that they are right and everyone else is wrong; meaning that they have full right to force everyone else to obey their ideas and attempt to overturn laws voted by the majority of the population (i.e. Gaven Newsom, the medical majuana groups, Leland Yee, Hollywood celebs, ect). In many ways it's very much a group of social facists who decide that they, as a small group of people, have the right to dictate what the rest of the population can or cannot do because they 'have their best interests in mind'. Frankly, they really seem to think that they only way for people to live is to have the constant meddling of political bodies to tell us all what to do, how to act, what we are allowed to say or think, and what we can or cannot believe in becuase we are all unable to make correct decisions for ourselves.

Judging by how blindly the people here have accepted some 1984'ish laws, I'd say not only do they agree, but are being led around blindly like sheep.

@ PeterWDawson: He's from a district in California that would vote for Ann Coulter or Jerry Falwell if they had a (D) next to their names.

@everyone

He's likely talking about Postal 2, which you can only buy from the developer's website, with a credit card, and can NOT buy it in a retail store.

@JQ

Yep, San Fran-freakshow. Being across the bay from that city I seriously think that it should be split from the Union because of the huge show of disrepect they've shown to serving US soldiers (family has a long history of military service in 5 major wars; it's a sensitive issue in the family).

FYI, from the wiki entry on him:
On September 4, 2007 it was revealed that IP addresses registered to computers in the California Senate office had made changes to its Wikipedia entry favoring Leland Yee. [5] It was reported that they removed the 1992 shoplifting allegations and the video game controversies sections.

Also along the same train of thought as JT. When in doubt, hide the truth.

it defies logic to think that the founding fathers would treat children like bottles of nitroglycerine.

during the founding of our country, children were put to work as soon as they could haul crap and take an order. they were treated as miniature adults.

@GO
"Being across the bay from that city I seriously think that it should be split from the Union because of the huge show of disrepect they’ve shown to serving US soldiers (family has a long history of military service in 5 major wars; it’s a sensitive issue in the family)."

well obviously you don't value the constitution enough to know it is their right to disrespect soldiers and their duty as citizens to demand the government be held accountable for its actions.

we took an oath to protect the constitution and the union for all citizens, not just the ones who buy those shitty little magnetic yellow ribbons.

Or to sum it all up ... People from California, that sound you hear is your tax dollars being flushed down the toilet ... again.

OK, OK, time to sit down and listen. I've seen this argument come up countless times, but it really does deserve questioning:

"The player is rewarded for interactively causing the character to take out a shovel and bash the head of an image of a human being..."

Nope. Sorry. In many of these ultraviolent games, the only reward for being excessively violent is the self-satisfying thrill of being excessively violent. Postal does not congratulate you for setting someone on fire. GTA does not provide you with tasty treats for running over prostitutes (though sometimes you might cause them to drop a pitifully small amount of cash, it is hardly a reward when completing a simple mission will get you 10,000 times as much). Skateboarding through a plate glass window in THUG2 rewards you by letting you, um, see a window smash.

Violence against innocents in games is typically something that simply *can happen*. This is where people seem to get the wrong end of the stick: The reward is seeing the consequences of your actions without actually experiencing the consequences in the real world. That's it. What happens if you plant a mine in a pond and then set someone on fire? You can do it in BioShock and have fun watching what happens.

Violent sandbox games reward morbid curiosity with morbid scenes. The depravity you see in these games is only as extreme as your own desire to see it, then scaled back by the limitations of the technology.

I am a San Francisco, California resident, and a registered Democrat (I'd even consider myself somewhat of a liberal). On behalf of other San Francisco Dems, I apologize for the behavior of my obviously confused State Senator.

"It defies logic to suggest that our founding fathers intended to adopt a First Amendment that would guarantee children the right to purchase a video game wherein the player is rewarded for interactively causing the character to take out a shovel and blah blah blah blah..."

It seems to me that our founding fathers adopted the First Amendment precisely to prevent the kind of abuse of free speech that Yee is perpetrating, all to further his political career. Whether or not the content is too violent for kids should be left up to the parent, not up to second-rate politicos. Yee is just offering up another excuse for people to have kids and avoid the responsibility of raising them. I'll be doing all that I can to see to it that he's not re-elected, even if it means *gasp* voting Republican.

I think that when he means that gamers are "rewarded" for performing violent acts in games, he is really saying that there is a lack of punishment for violent actions in games.

I wonder if he would approve of a violent game in which the player character was arrested and sent to jail for the crimes the player made the character perform. Perhaps.

@GryphonOsiris

(i.e. Gaven Newsom, the medical majuana groups, Leland Yee, Hollywood celebs, ect). In many ways it’s very much a group of social facists who decide that they, as a small group of people, have the right to dictate what the rest of the population can or cannot do because they ‘have their best interests in mind’

Sounds like the "moral majority" who are rarely moral and never a majority. They were and are a very loud minority that tends to get thier way because through bitching, griping or twisting the meaning of the law. Then are able to trample their ideas over the majority who does not know or does not much care (apathy can be dangerous).

Such groups cannot be ignored or even taken lightly as they have had impact in the past such as Prohibition and removing Cigarette ads from TV (while leaving alcohol).

The cure or at least offset for those is as always knowledge. Make the true majority aware of the situation and they can (and have) slap down the loud whiners. The trick if getting the attention and interest of said majority.

California’s violent video game law properly seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of interactive, ultra-violent video games. As stated in the appeal, our efforts to assist parents in the fight to keep these harmful video games out of the hands of children should survive Constitutional challenge under all levels of judicial review.


.
..
...
....
If you didn`t believe it youself, no one else would.

Fail. Equal Protection. Yee is an idiot.

Well, he's obviously using examples from Postal 2. That's it. One game. Yes, you can do those things in the game, but...it's still a game. As I've said before, people that can't distinguish the difference between the game and the real world are the problem here, not the game itself. They are the ones that view the world without consequences, and they honestly do it without the help of any stimuli. That's why in each of these school shooting cases, each of the attackers was shown to be a mentally distressed individual, who just happened to also play video games, as well as, you know, breathe.

If the government is so serious about keeping violent videogames out of the hands of minors why not try a plan that doesn't violate the first amendment. Personally I would fully support a bill that rewarded retailers for following the ESRB rather than punishing them for not following it. Personally I don't want my eight year old cousin's playing grandtheft auto, and I told my aunt just that. That doesn't mean I think I have the right to come in and take the game away form her children. THE FIRST AMENDMENT DOES NOT APPLY ONLY WHEN IT'S CONVENIENT.

Since when did i lose my rights because I can't vote.

“…we narrowly tailored this law to serve the State’s compelling interest in protecting children.” –Yee

And completely failed.

Read Judge Whyte’s ruling. You can’t just say you have a compelling State interest to protect children from psychological harm and call it a day. You have to do three very important things:

1. Prove there’s something out there that’s psychologically harming children that the state needs to protect them from. (Sorry, increased aggression doesn’t constitute psychological harm.)

2. Prove that your law will actually protect children from psychological harm. (Does the law keep kids from playing the games? No? Then it fails.)

3. Prove that your law would be more effective then the measures already out there. (Will a sales restriction work better then game ratings, parental involvement, parental controls, and the oodles of readily available information? No. Especially considering that well over ninety percent of the time, kids aren’t the ones buying the games anyway!)


Andrew Eisen

Yee, just shut the hell up.

Honestly, all he does is spread lies about video games to get his way.

@Icehawk

Around here, if the talking head on the box says it's true then people don't argue with it and follow blindly. Of course this is also the state where prozac and Starbucks keep the population in an artificial happy bubble where everything here is great and everyone else is some tolitarian trying to take away their rights and freedoms.

@EZK:

"Where in the crap are they getting those gameplay examples????"

Same place all the other 'crap' they come up with comes from. ;)

Ah, yes, ye olde 'the founding fathers could never have imagined [insert something]' excuse; battle cry of "living document" authoritarians everywhere. If the framers had intended to shield children from violent speech (and there was plenty at the time of the revolution, much of which was spoken by the framers themselves) or, well, any speech, they wouldn't have written that "Congress shall make no law."

And, besides, during the revolution, "children" as young as 13 (and possibly younger) were wounding real, live human beings with actual rifles. As such, I seriously doubt the imaginary wounding of "an image of a human being with a rifle" would have upset them much.

Anyhow, since this is the 9th Circus we're talking about, I won't be surprised to see a narrow majority rule in favor of the law..
 
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