Linda McMahon: Videogame Character

May 19, 2010 -

It's hard to be a candidate who is a part of an industry that makes its money off of gratuitous violence. Linda McMahon, like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has made millions off of an industry that has no problems with using sex, violence and adult themes to sell its image. But the Connecticut senatorial candidate running in the Republican primary shares another distinction with the Governator: she's a playable video game character, as the video in this story shows.

In arguably one of the best wrestling video games ever made -- WWF No Mercy -- Linda, complete her husband's "Mac Stunner" finisher, is an unlockable, playable character. Linda is also part of a storyline involving her daughter Stephanie McMahon and real life husband Hunter Herst Helmsely. In the segment, which starts at the 4:10 mark and ends at the 5:29 mark, Linda enters the ring, makes a ruling on a world championship match against wrestler Kennedy and then gives both her daughter and Triple H a "Mac Stunner" after her daughter attempts to slap her across the face.

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What a Difference a Day Makes

May 19, 2010 -

In politics, 24 hours is a lifetime when you are in the media spotlight. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal can attest to that personally, thanks to a freshly conducted telephone poll of "likely voters" in the state conducted by Rasmussen. In one day, Republican senatorial candidates are closing in on the Attorney General, who once enjoyed double digit leads over every possible opponent this fall. But the darling of the CT political machine has taken a real credibility hit not only in CT but around the country, following a New York Times report that he exaggerated his military record (or at the very least never corrected the record on it).

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NYT: Beer Pong Critic No Vietnam Vet

May 18, 2010 -

Current Connecticut Attorney General (and current senatorial candidate), Richard Blumenthal, has more to worry about than Beer Pong for the Wii and the way the ESRB classifies alcohol use in videogames this morning. According to a New York Times story, Blumenthal has been lying about his service in Vietnam. "Lying" is a strong term for a politician to face, and though he has acknowledged in the past that he didn't actually serve in Vietnam, he certainly has never gone out of his way to correct the record; in many speaking engagements across the state of Connecticut and in front of Veterans groups, he has gone as far as he could to give the impression that he was in fact a Vietnam veteran. He also never corrected the record on being on the Harvard swim team, a widely circulated biographical note that turns out to be false as well.

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Conservative Conference Adds Games, Hopes to be “Off the Hook”

February 17, 2010 -

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicks off tomorrow in Washington D.C. and organizers of the event are turning to videogames and hip-hop in an attempt to ramp up the event’s attraction to a younger audience.

Fox News reports that videogames will be featured in a room called the XPAC Lounge, or as one event organizer termed it, the “hub of fun.” The lounge was the brain-child of radio host Kevin McCullough and actor Stephen Baldwin.

Ten videogame stations will be featured in all, offering attendees the chance to play games such as Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution and Call of Duty.

The XPAC Lounge will also be home to a late night “rap/jam” session on Thursday night. The article questions the viability of such a function in light of Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s (pictured) failed past attempts at interjecting hip-hop culture into conservative principals. Steele previously published a blog entitled “What Up?” that he eventually killed in reaction to ridicule of the name and he also reportedly once described a GOP public relations initiative as “off the hook.”

CPAC Director Lisa De Pasquale seemed to think that “the energy” is flowing more towards conservative candidates right now, adding, “To be a rebel on campus, you have to be a conservative."

5,000 people are pre-registered for the conference, 61.0 percent of whom are students.

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Former LucasArts CEO Launches Bid for Seat in Congress

August 15, 2009 -

Jim Ward, who left the CEO job at video game publisher LucasArts in early 2008, is now hoping to win a seat in Congress.

Ward, a Republican who currently works as a venture capitalist, is running to represent Arizona's 5th Congressional District. That seat is currently held by two-term Democrat Harry Mitchell. The district includes Scottsdale, Tempe and parts of Phoenix.

Ward outlines his philosophy on his campaign website:

I’m not a professional politician.  I’m a businessman.  And I don’t disagree that this country needs change.  But, in my experience, there’s the right kind of change and the wrong kind of change.  I believe what’s happening to this country represents the wrong kind of change...

Ward lists his political philosophy as conservative on Facebook. He has protested (see pic at left) against President Obama's healthcare plan.

Partially via: Kotaku

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Newt Gingrich Tweets About Wii Bowling

August 2, 2009 -

Not for the first time, potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (left) has mentioned Nintendo's Wii on Twitter.

Gingrich, who formerly served as Speaker of the House and was the driving force behind the conservative Contract with America in the mid-1990's, Tweeted yesterday about playing Nintendo's system at a family gathering. Twitter user Konabess offered some follow-up advice and Gingrich responded. Here's how the conversation went:

NewtGingrich: Wii bowling in stevens point wisconsin home of point beer and callista's brother and his family; seven year old is proving tough competition

 

konabess: @newtgingrich keep your elbow in and follow through!

 

NewtGingrich: @konabess good advice I will try this Any advice for wii golf

As GamePolitics reported in March, Gingrich gushed about the Wii his wife Callista received as a birthday present. In February Gingrich dangled the chance to win a Wii as a means of enticing supporters to sign up for the launch of a media campaign.

Partially Via: Kotaku

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Radio Alert: Game-Bashing Eagle Forum Schedules Game-Bashing July 4th Guest

July 3, 2009 -

Last week, GamePolitics broke the news that the ultra-conservative Eagle Forum had filed a "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Calfornia's bid to have its 2005 violent video game law reviewed by the justices.

The rambling brief sought to link video games with everything from school shootings to poor grades to sudden death.

The group, founded by conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, wades back into gamer space tomorrow when video game critic Arthur Ally appears as a guest on Eagle Forum Live, a radio show hosted by Schlafly.

Ally bills himself as a morally-responsible fund manager. In December his Timothy Plan investment fund issued a list of 30 "most offensive" video games, including the likes of World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online and Halo 3.

Ally also rather famously criticized Army of Two for "somewhat homo-erotic undertones between the two main characters."

Ironically, the conversation between this pair of would-be censors airs at 11:00 a.m. Central Time on Independence Day.

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Video Games Are Equivalent to Fighting Words, Conservative Group Argues in Supreme Court Brief

June 26, 2009 -

The conservative Eagle Forum has filed an amicus (friend of the Court) brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of California's 2005 violent video game law.

As GamePolitics reported last month, California Attorney General Jerry Brown petitioned the High Court to review a U.S. District Court ruling that the state's 2005 law blocking the sale of violent games to minors is unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court upheld the District Court decision in a February ruling.

The family values group, founded by conservative Phyllis Schlafly (left) in 1967, filed the brief on Monday. The document was authored by Andrew Schlafly, son of Phyllis and founder of Conservapedia (sort of the anti-Wikipedia). In the amicus brief, the Eagle Forum lays an array of societal problems at the feet of violent video games: bad grades, violent behavior, poor graduation rates, school shootings, game addiction and even sudden death.

We'll let the Eagle Forum's laundry list speak for itself (with a little help from GP's trusty red pen):

The First Amendment does not render our nation’s youth defenseless against the predatory, billion-dollar video game industry that churns out increasingly graphic blood and gore for impressionable minds to imbibe...

 

The corruption of our nation’s youth with increasingly deviant video games is a matter of national importance. Our nation’s youth is in crisis, by any measure. A calamitous 30% of our nation’s youth fail to graduate from public high school, and only 32% of those who attend public high school are ever qualified to attend a four-year college...

 

A substantial percentage of teenagers are hooked on these disturbing video games, and spend many hours each week playing them. Moreover, mass killings perpetrated by youngsters are frequently linked to addiction to violent video games...

 

The First Amendment does not forbid state legislatures from keeping this harmful material from children. The California legislature, not known to be conservative, protected its youth against the predatory video game industry. It was an error with national implications for the Ninth Circuit to invalidate the California statute...

Violent video games hurt children in two ways. Their increasingly realistic and disturbing images burn into children’s impressionable minds much as pornography does, and the role-playing inherent in a video game causes the child to buy into the rampages of murder and other heinous crimes that he is acting out...

 

The early market leader in video games was Nintendo, which adopted a policy against “excessive blood and violence,” but it was trounced in sales by a 3 to 1 margin by more gory material produced by Sega, and Nintendo learned the message that “violence sells video games to children...”

 

Numerous studies confirm the obvious: violent video games do cause addiction and harm... There has never been a full First Amendment right to flash highly objectionable and disturbing images specifically at children, or to entice them to participate in destructive role-playing behavior...

Displaying a shocking image to a child is conceptually identical to the utterance of “fighting words” to an adult, which this Court famously held to be out-side of First Amendment protection...

The stress attributed to violent video games can even be physically harmful. Eighteen-year-old Peter Burkowski, an avid video gamer, collapsed and died of a heart attack while playing games in an arcade...

 

Children who play violent video games have difficulty obeying authorities, treating peers properly, and succeeding in school...

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of the Eagle Forum's amicus brief here.

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Evangelical Leader: Some Games Are Okay. Others, Not So Much...

June 13, 2009 -

Rev. James Dobson, the politically influential, conservative evangelical leader of nonprofit group Focus on the Family, has given a green light to some video games while offering warnings about violent an sexual content as well as possible game addiction in regard to others.

Dobson's comments appeared in his newspaper column in response to a question from a parent about their son's video gaming:

Depending on the particular games in question, you may have a valid cause for concern... two University of Michigan researchers concluded in 2007 that violent media, including television, film and video games, pose a significant public health threat...

Furthermore, some video games add unhealthy sexual themes and profanity to the mix, not to mention that the American Medical Association estimates one in 10 video gamers is addicted.

Of course, not all video games are problematic. Certain sports games, for instance, can be loads of fun. Some can even be educational...

I’d advise you to put clear limits on the amount of time your son will be allowed to spend with video games... Insist he avoid the troublesome ones altogether...

GP: Dobson is referring to the 2007 Huesmann-Bushman study.

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Fox News on Rendition: Guantanamo

June 4, 2009 -

Fox News offers its take on the cancellation of Rendition: Guantanamo, including an interview with Pete Hegseth of Vets For Freedom.

Hegseth, who served with the U.S. military in Iraq and as a guard at Guantanamo Bay, was also interviewed by conservative newspaper the Washington Times:

[Rendition: Guantanamo] looked like to us a blatant attempt to twist reality and change the perception of the American soldier...

 

We need to keep [pressure] on guys like [former Guantanamo detainee] Moazzam Begg and what they are trying to do in rewriting history at Guantanamo: That our troops are oppressors and that the detainees are all victims.

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Conservative Mag Calls Upcoming Gitmo Title "Al Qaeda's Xbox Fantasy Game"

June 2, 2009 -

Rendition: Guantanamo, an upcoming Xbox 360 and PC game, has come under fire from The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication owned by Rupert Murdoch.

In a blog entry The Weekly Standard's Thomas Joscelyn writes:

One of the more popular former [Guantanamo] detainees is Moazzam Begg, who regularly appears in anti-American documentaries on television... Begg is a big hit with the global left... Begg is upping the ante by trying to win even more hearts and minds with an Xbox videogame...

 

By the sound of it, the videogame will allow users to pretend they are Gitmo inmates shooting at American servicemen... The director of the firm that is producing the game, Zarrar Chishti, denies this, of course, saying that “no US or British soldiers get killed in it.” Chisti claims: “The only ones being killed are mercenaries.”

Right...

Joscelyn writes in detail about Moazzam Begg (left), linking him to reports of jihadist beliefs and Al Qaeda training:

[Begg's] release [from Guantanamo] by the personal intervention of President Bush... was done, many think, as a political palliative to his friend and war supporter British prime minister Tony Blair, who was under much criticism at the time for not demanding immediate release of all British citizens held at Guantanamo...

Begg’s propaganda efforts will now include a disgusting video game in which Begg... gets to target “mercenaries” -- in reality, stand-ins for American servicemen...

Meanwhile, CBS News reports that Zarrar Chisti expects Rendition: Guantanamo to sell well in the Middle East. Begg, who has a financial stake in the game, said that his earnings will be donated to a charity devoted to the rights of Guantanamo detainees.

UPDATE: Gawker reports that Microsoft has denied knowledge of Rendition: Guantanamo. That's a key piece of information, since MS would have to license the game for it to appear on the 360. From Gawker:

In a statement, Microsoft said: "We are unaware of this game and have not been contacted by this developer. As such, we don't have enough details about the game to even comment about it."

More info upcoming...

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Utah Congressman Says He's Way Better at Halo Than Rock Band

May 7, 2009 -

Perhaps more than any freshman congressman in recent memory, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has a knack for getting his name mentioned by the media.

Here at GamePolitics, we've covered Chaffetz for his Rock Band duet with Stephen Colbert. The Republican Congressman is also an active Twitter user (jasoninthehouse) and just a tad to the right of Attila the Hun. After all, he is from Utah.

But his conservative rants got the best of GP yesterday and we couldn't resist sending him a jab via Twitter:

Will you be doing anything with Rock Band again any time soon? Otherwise I may have to stop following your updates.

Chaffetz is nothing if not a good sport. He quickly followed up with a private tweet and we couldn't help but laugh:

I suck at Rock Band. Best if I stick to Halo.

By the way, Chaffetz isn't kidding about his Rock Band suckitude. Check out that 24% score from the Colbert show appearance. In any case, it's reassuring to know that at least one member of Congress enjoys a round of Halo now and again.

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Conservative Phyllis Schlafly Talks Games with Fund Manager Who Claimed Homo-Eroticism in Army of Two

April 24, 2009 -

When an arch-conservative chats up a guy who thinks he detected homo-erotic overtones in EA's action shooter Army of Two, you just know that video games are in for a beat-down.

Eagle Forum president Phyllis Schlafly (left) is scheduled to interview Arthur Ally, president of the Florida-based Timothy Plan, tomorrow at noon EST on the Eagle Forum Live radio program.

Schlafly is a longtime opponent of gay rights and Ally bills himself as a morally-responsible fund manager. In December Ally's Timothy Plan issued a list of 30 "most offensive" video games, including the likes of World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online and Halo 3.

A promo for the program on the Eagle Forum site reads:

Do you know detailed information about the content of the most popular video games? Join us as we talk with the president of an investing firm that has done extensive research into the video game industry.

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Utah Bill Sponsor Apologizes to Colleagues for Jack Thompson

April 22, 2009 -

Although anti-game activist Jack Thompson's latest campaign to pass video game legislation in Utah got off to a fast start, it is ending both unsuccessfully and with rancor.

In the latest development, GamePolitics has learned that Rep. Mike Morley (R), the Utah House sponsor of the Thompson-authored HB 353, circulated an e-mail to his legislative colleagues last week in which he apologized for Thompson's behavior.

Morley's apology came in response to the flap caused by an Easter Sunday e-mail sent by Thompson to numerous Utah legislators. The e-mail, which ultimately prompted State Sen. President Michael Waddoups (R) to threaten Thompson with prosecution, depicted GTA IV 's Nico Bellic receiving a lap dance from a pair of strippers. Thompson also included links to videos of graphic GTA IV content.

Here is Morley's e-mail:

Subject: My apologies for Jack Thompson
Dear Fellow House Members:

Over the past few days, I have received three emails from Jack Thompson regarding his concerns about mature video games being sold to minors.  Certainly, I am concerned about the graphic violence and sexuality of some of the mature video games, I am apalled by his use of what I view as pornographic images.  I want to make it clear that I had no previous knowledge of his intention to send the images and I apologize to each of you who received his email and were offended as I was.

Mr. Thompson is a nation [sic] advocate for this cause, but he doesn't speak for me nor do I condone or appreciate his actions nor some his tactics.

Mike Morley

When asked for comment by GamePolitics, Thompson said that he hadn't seen Morley's e-mail and "couldn't care less." Within minutes, however, he fired off an e-mail of his own to Utah largely conservative legislators:

I understand that Mike Morley apologized to you all for the shocking image I sent you of two women in bikinis in a strip club.  Sorry, Utahns, but you can see that on a beach.  To see more explicit material as to what is in the GTA IV game, you had to click on the two links I provided, and that was your choice. I warned you what you would see if  you chose to do so.
 
Mike Morley's apology is ridiculous.  I didn't scandalous [sic] anyone with an image of two clad women.  What is really going on here is that I upset the Republican club that runs Utah, and those in that club are seizing upon this harmless image as a ruse to scold the outsider who unfortunately showed that some in Utah aren't serious about protecting children.  Your Governor isn't serious, and we sure as heck know your AG is not.  Heck, he takes money from the video game industry to say how well the ratings are working... Incredible.
 
The only apology that is owed is by each of you for not insisting upon an override session [of Gov. Huntsman's HB 353 veto]...  Your family values stance is a sham.  

GP: Pictured: Gov. Huntsman, Rep. Morley, Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka, Thompson.

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Tax Day Tea Party Staged in Second Life

April 17, 2009 -

With federal income tax returns due yesterday, conservative "tea party" protests were staged at a variety of locations around the United States.

For those who prefer their political activism to be of the virtual type, the Second Life metaverse featured a Tax Day tea party of its own.

The Second Life Newspaper reports:

A diverse crowd of dozens of men and women gathered... They picked up various protest signs: “Born Free, but taxed to death,” “Give Me Liberty ... not debt!”  ...A video screen on display played a short movie with a man portraying Thomas Paine speaking out against the expansion of today’s government...

 

The Tea Party in SL was sponsored by the GOP Cafe... The big topic was what the participants saw as runaway government spending gone out of control...

A few times, the sim was griefed with floods of particles. Twice, a strange loud voice pierced the air for about half a minute. Some joked this was the work of liberals, “they can’t stand the criticism...”

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Keith Olbermann Takes On Glenn Beck Over Grand Theft Auto Rant / Pittsburgh Police Slayings

April 9, 2009 -

Earlier this week GamePolitics pointed out that in 2008 conservative talking head Glenn Beck held video games and popular media responsible for real-world violence.

In the wake of Sunday's horrific murder of three Pittsburgh police officers by a paranoid gun owner, however, Beck has insisted that his own media rants on gun control couldn't be blamed:

Blaming anyone except the nut job for what happened in Pittsburgh is crazy.

In this clip MSNBC's liberal commentator Keith Olbermann points out the obvious contrast between Beck's willingness to blame video games for real-world violence yet reluctance to admit that his own fervent anti-gun control rhetoric may have helped influence the Pittsburgh killer.

Thanks to: GamePolitics reader BlindJustice15...

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Did Glenn Beck's On-air Rhetoric Fuel Cop Killer's Rampage?

April 7, 2009 -

Conservative T.V. talking head Glenn Beck has entertained the notion that video game violence leads to the real thing, but in the aftermath of Sunday's triple cop slaying in Pittsburgh, some critics are drawing a connection between Beck's on-air political rants and accused killer Richard Poplawski's horrific rampage.

The Daily Beast reports that the 22-year old Poplawski is a white supremacist and conspiracy theorist who harbored fears that President Obama will seek to establish some type of "new world order" and remove guns from private citizens.

Poplawski is also a Beck fan:

The alleged killer posted a YouTube clip to [white supremacist site] Stormfront of top-rated Fox News host Glenn Beck contemplating the existence of FEMA-managed concentration camps... Three weeks later, Poplawski posted another Youtube clip to Stormfront, this time of a video blogger advocating “Tea Parties,” or grassroots conservative protests organized by Beck and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich against President Barack Obama’s bailout plan...

David Neiwert, a veteran reporter on right-wing militia movements... explained that by co-opting conspiratorial rhetoric from the farthest shores of the right, mainstream conservative talkers can inflame the passions of paranoiacs like Poplawski to a dangerous degree...

 

"What it does is unhinge fringe players from reality and dislodges them even further. When someone like Poplawski hears Glenn Beck touting One World Government and they’re gonna take your gun theories, they believe then that it must be true. And that’s when they really become crazy.”

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Video Game Bill Fuels Conservative Talk Radio in Utah

April 6, 2009 -

Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) may have vetoed HB 353, the Jack Thompson-devised video game bill, but the debate over the bill certainly hasn't ended.

Thompson recently spent two hours bashing the Guv, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and the video game industry on the Utah Eagle Forum Radio Show.

A caller gets into a heated argument with Thompson and the program host at about 30 minutes into the second hour. A second caller gets into it with Thompson and the host right at the end of the second hour.

Of note, we didn't hear the word "disbarred" during the two-hour program.

You can catch the program here: Hour 1   Hour 2

HB 353 sponsor Rep. Mike Morley (R) debates the merits of the bill with Sean Bersell, VP of Public Affairs on Inside Utah Politics (fast forward to 28:00).

Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, urges an override of Huntsman's veto on yet another episode.

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Utah Attorney General to Thompson: Bring it on, Jack

April 1, 2009 -

On Monday GamePolitics reported on disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson's vague threat to "proceed" against Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R) if the popular, third-term A.G. didn't immediately take action against major retailers like Best Buy, Target and Wal-mart for alleged sales of Grand Theft Auto IV to minors.

On that score, we should note that no law enforcement official anywhere in the United States has done what Thompson is suggesting Shurtleff do.

The backstory to Thompson's ire seems to stem from Gov. Jon Huntsman's veto last week of HB 353, the video game/movie bill conceived by Thompson. Following the veto, Shurtleff told the Salt Lake Tribune that he had been troubled by concerns about the legality of the bill. Going further back in history, in 2007 Thompson called for Shurtleff's impeachment after the A.G. gave a legal opinion that a measure proposed by Thompson was unconstitutional.

Given the nature of the public attacks on Shurtleff by Thompson (which include referring to the A.G. as "dead meat"), GamePolitics interviewed Attorney General Shurtleff yesterday on the HB 353 fallout:

GP: You’ve come under severe criticism from Jack Thompson in recent days in regard to the video game bill vetoed by Gov. Huntsman last week. Can you comment?

Shurtleff: Well, I just consider the source. I don’t take what Jack Thompson says – give it much credence. This latest demand that I prosecute certain crimes shows me that he knows about as much about criminal law as he does about constitutional law...

GP: Thompson, as you probably know, was given a lifetime disbarment last year by the Florida Supreme Court.

Shurtleff: Right. Yes.

GP: Given that fact, does it seem odd that he was invited to Utah and apparently met with the Lt. Governor and other political forces there to help craft the video game legislation?

Shurtleff: Yes. Absolutely. I do think that’s odd. I also think it’s odd that he received some kind of award from [the] 4th of July celebration in Provo last year. (click 'Read more' below for the rest...)

Columnist Praises Guv, Spanks Thompson Over Utah Video Game Bill

March 29, 2009 -

In a Saturday column, Salt Lake Tribune political reporter Paul Rolly praises Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) for his recent veto of HB 353, the Jack Thompson-conceived video game/movie bill. Thompson, however, comes in for some heat:

Gov. Jon Huntsman's veto of House Bill 353 underscores the importance of the constitutional checks that can be imposed on the Utah Legislature, whose members often are influenced by ideological extremists or questionable special interest groups.

In this case, while 25 of 29 senators and 67 of 75 representatives voted for the bill that supposedly protected children, it was Huntsman who proved to be the adult, protecting us all from the childlike antics of the legislators and their puppet masters.

In discussing Thompson's involvement with the vetoed legislation, Rolly cites a pair of GamePolitics stories. The first was our February interview with HB 353 sponsor Rep. Mike Morley (R). That interview's bizarre turn of events offered clues as to who wielded the real political clout behind HB 353. Hint: It wasn't Morley:

Thompson teamed up with Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka to push the legislation, a fact that Morley seemed reluctant to admit when he was interviewed by Game Politics, a publication that tracks the video-game industry.

The SL Trib columnist also dug up a 2007 GamePolitics interview with Jack Thompson. At the time Thompson was pushing a different piece of video game legislation in Utah. When Attorney General Mark Shurtleff suggested that the measure was unconstitutional, Thompson called for his impeachment. In the interview, I asked Thompson how such over-the-top verbiage was helpful to his cause. Ever the charmer, he called me a "goofball" and referred to Shurtleff as a "moron."

Thompson's involvement in Utah's legislative process is clearly troubling to Rolly:

This is a guy who is guiding legislation in Utah, the latest example of the influence certain ideologues can have on a Legislature controlled by one political party and too often predisposed to approve legislation, no matter how bad or bizarre, from right-wing zealots.

Pictured: Gov. Huntsman, Rep. Morley, Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka, Jack Thompson

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Utah Attorney General: We Had Concerns About Jack Thompson Video Game Bill

March 27, 2009 -

The Salt Lake Tribune reports this morning that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R) harbored reservations about the legality of HB 353, the video game/movie bill conceived by Jack Thompson.

Trib reporter Robert Gehrke writes:

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff... told me last night that his office had expressed its concerns "with several different iterations of the bill" while it was pending before the Legislature.

"Ultimately, we could probably make an argument to defend it, but we will be sued, it will be costly. If we lose we will pay attorneys fees. Wouldn't you rather spend that money educating people about the rating system?" he asked. "The governor apparently decided it wasn't worth the risk."

There would seem to be little love lost between Shurtleff and Thompson. During the disbarred attorney's previous attempt to legislate games in Utah, he called for Shurtleff's impeachment after the A.G. opined that Thompson's 2007 bill was constitutionally-challenged. The bill was subsequently tabled by the Utah House.

Thompson, who apparently got wind of Shurtleff's comments in advance, disputed the A.G.'s remarks in a harshly-worded e-mail sent last evening:

We told you for weeks that if you had any constitutional concerns, we wanted to provide you any information you wanted in that regard.  I offered repeatedly to meet with you and talk with you, and you ignored my repeated plaintive requests to do so... 

We heard absolutely NOTHING from you as to the bill’s alleged unconstitutionality, and yet now we hear... that you were badmouthing it in that regard, I presume to Gov. Huntsman as well... 

For his part, Shurtleff has been both a critic of violent video games as well as a supporter of the ESRB rating system. In 2005, for example, he urged Utah retailers to boycott Eidos's controversial cops-and-robbers shooter, 25 to Life.

In 2006 Shurtleff made an industry-funded public service announcement in which he urged parents to utilize ESRB ratings. As GamePolitics has reported, Shurtleff received a $3,000 campaign donation from the ESA in May of 2008.

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Grover Norquist High-Fives Utah Guv Over Video Game Bill Veto

March 26, 2009 -

A nationally-prominent conservative has given props to Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) for vetoing HB 353, the video game/movie bill crafted by disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson.

Earlier today, Grover Norquist (left), president of Americans for Tax Reform, forwarded the Guv a congratulatory letter, and GamePolitics has obtained a copy. From Norquist's message to Gov. Huntsman:

In vetoing such a clearly unconstitutional bill you have spared the taxpayers of your state the fate of too many others, picking up the legal tab for those that challenge the bill...

 

Your veto spared not only the legal costs states like the now nearly bankrupt California ($282,794) and Illinois ($545,078), but the harm to retail outlets in these difficult economic times, as well as the interference of parental rights by the state...

 

I know there is a push by well-intentioned groups... to override your veto, but that is a bad idea. Beyond the obvious First Amendment violation this bill presents and the dubious nature of making legally binding voluntary industry ratings, H.B. 353 violates the Dormant Commerce Clause of the Constitution as well...

 

As you know, Americans for Tax Reform opposed passage of H.B. 353 and supported a veto. I thank you for standing up for the taxpayers of Utah in this matter and encourage you to stand strong and fight against attempts to override that veto.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of Norquist's letter to Gov. Huntsman here (pdf).

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Reactions to Utah Veto...

March 26, 2009 -

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's dramatic veto of the Jack Thompson-conceived HB 353 has drawn reaction from a variety of quarters:

We support the efforts of the Entertainment Merchants Association and other industry groups in battling this legislation. It was extremely broad and could have fostered ancillary anti-consumer consequences, such as pushing retailers and publishers to stop promoting and using ESRB ratings, which have been extremely effective in educating consumers about game content. Jennifer Mercurio, Director of Government Affairs, Entertainment Consumers Association

A very laudable decision. National Coalition Against Censorship

This is an absolute win for families. Utah’s parents will benefit from Governor Huntsman’s leadership and thoughtfulness on this issue. His decisive action helps caregivers and prevents businesses from being opened to unproductive, wasteful civil litigation and needless expense. Parents can be assured that the strength of the ESRB rating system remains intact and continues to serve as a valuable resource and will continue to effectively serve them. Michael Gallagher, CEO, Entertainment Software Association

EMA and video game retailers are grateful to Governor Huntsman for his courageous veto of this ill-conceived and inappropriate initiative. We are heartened to see an elected leader look beyond the emotion, rhetoric, and distortions surrounding video games and evaluate a proposal on its merits. As we have consistently noted, House Bill 353 would have been counterproductive for the consumers of Utah, because it would likely have led retailers to abandon their commitments to enforce the video game and motion picture ratings at the point of sale. Sean Bersell, VP of Public Affairs, Entertainment Merchants Association

We appreciate Governor Huntsman’s decision to defend the Constitution and protect retailers by vetoing this bill. The bill may have been well intentioned but it would have undermined the video game and movie rating systems and possibly book age recommendations while leaving local businesses with the constant threat of frivolous lawsuits. David Horowitz, Executive Director, Media Coalition
 

GP: Via e-mail, we've asked Utah Eagle Forum boss Gayle Ruzicka for her reaction. We've asked HB 353 sponsor Rep. Mike Morley, too. So far, we've received no response from either.

(more to follow as we receive them...)

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

17 comments

Jack Thompson Lashes Out at Utah Guv Following Game Bill Veto

March 26, 2009 -

Following abortive attempts to bring video game legislation to Utah in 2006 and 2007, Jack Thompson's fortunes in the conservative Western state seemed to be improving this time around.

Despite early confusion as to whether Thompson or bill sponsor Rep. Mike Morley deserved credit for dreaming up HB 353, the bill quickly gathered momentum. The Utah House and Senate passed the measure overwhelmingly and it was known to enjoy the support of Utah power broker - and Thompson ally - Gayle Ruzicka, head of the ultra-conservative Utah Eagle Forum.

Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman pulled the rug out yesterday, however. Huntsman vetoed the bill, citing constitutional concerns and the potential for "unintended consequences."

For his part, Thompson went on the offensive. A letter from the disbarred attorney to the Governor took a harsh tone and threatened even more restrictive legislative action in the future:

You got suckered [by the video game industry]. Further, there is no constitutional, First Amendment problem... 

If your veto is not overridden, then we will be back with a bill to ban the sale of these products altogether, in light of the recent massacres in Germany and in this country directly caused by these murder simulation products that are being copycatted by teens who are being fraudulently sold them.

GP: The threat to ban violent games for players of all ages - including adults - would appear to be highly suspect, in light of the First Amendment. We asked Thompson about that, but he did not respond.

Thompson also circulated public records showing a May, 2006 campaign contribution of $500 from video game publishers' lobbying group the ESA to Huntsman. In an e-mail, Thompson accused the industry of buying Huntsman's veto.

We have verified that the $500 contribution from the ESA was received on behalf of Huntsman's 2004 campaign fund. But for Thompson's assertion to be correct, the ESA would have been prescient, indeed, to forsee - and pay for - a gubernatorial veto three years in advance. One would also have to accept the premise that the Guv could be bought. We asked Thompson about this, but again did not receive a response. 

UPDATE: Some GP readers have requested the Thompson letter to Gov. Huntsman. It follows after the jump.

143 comments | Read more

Utah Bill Sponsor Blames Guv's Veto on Gamer E-mails

March 26, 2009 -

As GamePolitics reported yesterday, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman vetoed HB 353, the Jack Thompson video game/movie bill that would have targeted retailers who sold M-rated games or R-rated movies to minors.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Mike Morley (R-UT), told the Salt Lake Tribune:

I think it's simply a result of an e-mail campaign from a lot of gamers that misrepresent the bill and [the governor's staff] has not studied it closely enough to recognize that is not the case. I think it was crafted very carefully to avoid those issues and I think they're mistaken.

However, a source close to Utah state politics told GamePolitics yesterday that Gov. Huntsman was the subject of intense lobbying from retailers. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Entertainment Software Association mounted a major lobbying campaign as well.

Morley complained to the Deseret News that the Guv didn't give him a courtesy call before vetoing the bill:

I would have thought that just common courtesy would have been to call me.

Legislators are now deciding whether to pursue an override of the veto.

32 comments

Utah Game/Movie Bill Sent to Governor; Video Game Industry Responds

March 20, 2009 -

UPDATED

Having been passed overwhelmingly by the Utah House and Senate, HB 353, the Jack Thompson-conceived video game/movie bill, is now with Gov. Jon Huntsman (R).

The Guv can decide to sign the measure into law or veto it. He may also do nothing, in which case the bill will automatically become law. Given that Utah conservatives have portrayed the bill as protective of children and Huntsman is rumored to have 2012 presidential aspirations, it's highly unlikely that he will exercise his veto power.

With HB 353 landing on Huntsman's desk, game publishers' lobbying group the Entertainment Software Association has upped the pressure ante a bit. The ESA-owned Video Game Voters Network is running an e-mail campaign which urges Huntsman to veto HB 353.

ESA VP of Communications and Industry Affairs Rich Taylor also criticized the bill in an interview with Salt Lake City public radio station KCPW:

Essentially, what it does it has the unintended consequence of creating liability exposure which could force many retailers to either abandon their voluntary policies to enforce video game rating systems, or maybe perhaps choose not to sell video games at all.

Here you have broadly drawn legislative language that seeks to address a fairly small instance of retailers failing to enforce their policies as promoted. The vast, overwhelming majority of retailers are complying, but now they fall within this swinging sight of harm that this legislation introduces.

For his part, Jack Thompson has challenged ESA CEO Mike Gallagher to a debate on the bill, but that's an unlikely occurrence.

Assuming that Huntsman signs the bill into law, it will take effect on January 1, 2010. If and when Huntsman signs, the video game industry will decide whether to challenge the measure in federal court.

Also unclear at this point is where the motion picture industry stands on HB 353. If the ESA and EMA (game retailers) sue, will the MPAA join in?

UPDATE: An industry executive who has been actively involved in the fight against HB 353 assures GamePolitics that the MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners are fully engaged in opposition to the bill.
 

Scottish MP Says Games Don't Deserve Bad Rep

March 20, 2009 -

A member of Scotland's Parliament believes that video games have a bad reputation that is unjustified.

Edge Online reports that Gavin Brown, a Conservative, spoke out earlier this week during a debate over tax breaks for Scottish video game developers. Noting the large number of games suitable for young children, Brown said:

[We] must ensure that a positive perception of games is promoted, instead of the negative perception that some games might have attracted... Gaming is extremely popular, but only 3 percent of games sold have a mature or 18 rating. It is important for us to emphasise the positive aspects of gaming.

14 comments

Did Utah Senate Work From Jack Thompson's Playbook to Pass Video Game Bill?

March 13, 2009 -

Following a lively debate last night, the Utah State Senate passed HB 353 by an overwhelming 25-4 margin.

But photos taken during the Senate debate suggest that the influence of disbarred anti-game activist Jack Thompson stretched all the way from Miami to Salt Lake City, perhaps impacting the outcome of the HB 353 vote. As GamePolitics has previously reported, the bill was originally conceived by Thompson.

One of those who rose in support of HB 353 last night was Sen. Chris Buttars (R). A strong supporter of conservative causes, Buttars has been in political hot water in recent times over controversial remarks concerning African-Americans and gays.

Speaking during the debate, Buttars recounted the story of Devin Moore, the 18-year-old Grand Theft Auto gamer who killed two police officers and a dispatcher during a 2003 rampage in an Alabama police station. Jack Thompson later filed a $600 million wrongful death suit against Rockstar, Take-Two, Sony, Wal-Mart and GameStop in the case. Thompson, however, was later thrown off the case by an Alabama judge.

Buttars also commented on the developing teenage brain - another recurring theme of Thompson's. In fact, while following the live webcast of the debate, GP issued several tweets noting the apparent Thompson influence:

Sen. Buttars up now. He is Gayle Ruzicka's ally. He is telling the Devin Moore story (GTA player who killed 3 police in Alabama).

Clearly a Jack Thompson influence here. JT sued Rockstar, Sony, GameStop, Wal-Mart over the case until judge threw him off the case in 2005

Buttars now offering brain physiology lesson, also courtesy of the man from Miami.

This morning we received an e-mail from Salt Lake Tribune columnist Glen Warchol who forwarded a pair of pictures he took during the debate last night. The photos confirm the Thompson connection. In one, Buttars is seen reading from a book while addressing the Senate. In another, Jack Thompson's 2005 book Out of Harm's Way is shown resting on Buttars's desk on the Senate floor. The audio of Buttars' comments includes this verbatim quote of NIMF head Dr. David Walsh, found on page 182 of Thompson's book:

The impulse control center of the brain, the part of the brain that enables us to think ahead, consider consequences and manage urges, that's the part of the brain right behind our forehead called the prefrontal cortex. That's under construction during the teenage years. In fact, the wiring of that is not completed until the early twenties.

After reading the passage, Buttars told his Senate colleagues:

You got a problem here. You got an epidemic here... We need to pass this bill.

GamePolitics asked Thompson to comment:

I had never heard of Buttars until you wrote about him.  I have never talked with him, never communicated with him.  I'm delighted he read from my book.  Most in the legislature, I assume have read it.  I asked nobody to read from my book, and I would never do such a thing.  But it's a fabulous book, as you know.   

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab an mp3 of Buttars channeling Thompson during last night's Utah Senate debate (3:29, 3mb).

Conservative Christian Site Slams Same-Sex Couple Option in Game of Life

March 13, 2009 -

The Christian conservative website WorldNetDaily has got its undies in a twist over an option that permits same-sex couples in Hasbro's The Game of Life.

The downloadable PC title is an update of the classic board game of the same name. WND writes:

The online version of a popular board game from many Americans' childhood includes an option for players to choose homosexual marriage and child-rearing as a way of life... even children can download and play a free trial version of The Game of Life, the first game ever created by Mr. Milton Bradley in 1860.

The player's first option in the online version is to choose a persona based on pictures that clearly depict men and women. Shortly thereafter, the game invites players to choose a spouse, regardless of the potential spouse's sex...

But, as WND notes, the modern version of the board game, created in 1960, allowed for gay unions as well:

The board game did not prevent players in any way from placing two pink or two blue pegs in the front seat [of the playing piece representing the family car], thus depicting a homosexual couple.

GP: Got this tip from none other than Jack Thompson during the course of seeking comment on last night's passage of the Utah video game bill.

176 comments

Now, Utah Bill Races Against the Clock

March 12, 2009 -

Despite the Utah State Senate's passage of HB 353 by an overwhelming 25-4 margin, the bill is racing against the clock to survive.

Because the Senate amended the bill (more about that later) it now must go back to the Utah House for approval.

The catch is, that all has to happen by midnight in Salt Lake City. Which means that, as I write this, there are about 5.5 hours to get this done. The House is on a dinner break at this moment, which ends at 7:00 P.M. their time, leaving five hours of actual time to work on legislative business.

It seems doable, but HB 353 isn't listed on the House activity calendar yet, so...

UPDATE: Jack Thompson, who drafted the original version of the bill, commented on the time pressure in an e-mail to GamePolitics:

Now it's back to the House with the amended Senate bill, which applies to all sales, including Internet sales. This is fun, and the question is, does it strike midnight before we win?

UPDATE 2: HB 353 status page shows that the House has concurred with the Senate amendments. Next stop for the bill is Gov. Huntsman's desk.

56 comments

 
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Matthew Wilson@pm I doubt it. Google seems to be distancing themselves from G+07/25/2014 - 9:31pm
Papa MidnightGoogle+ Integration is coming to Twitch!07/25/2014 - 8:41pm
MaskedPixelanteThis whole Twitch thing just reeks of Google saying "You thought you could get away from us and our policies. That's adorable."07/25/2014 - 2:52pm
Sleaker@james_fudge - hopefully that's the case, but I wont hold my breath for it to happen.07/25/2014 - 1:08pm
SleakerUpdate on crytek situation is a bit ambiguous, but I'm glad they finally said something: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-07-25-crytek-addresses-financial-situation07/25/2014 - 1:07pm
E. Zachary KnightMan Atlas, Why do you not want me to have any money? Why? http://www.atlus.com/tears2/07/25/2014 - 12:06pm
Matthew WilsonI agree with that07/25/2014 - 10:45am
james_fudgeI think Twitch will have more of an impact on how YouTube/Google Plus work than the other way around.07/25/2014 - 10:22am
IanCWelp, twitch is going to suck now. Thanks google.07/25/2014 - 6:30am
Sleaker@MP - Looked up hitbox, thanks.07/24/2014 - 9:40pm
Matthew WilsonI agree, but to me given other known alternatives google seems to the the best option.07/24/2014 - 6:30pm
Andrew EisenTo be clear, I have no problem with Google buying it, I'm just concerned it will make a slew of objectively, quantifiably bad changes to Twitch just as it's done with YouTube over the years.07/24/2014 - 6:28pm
Matthew WilsonI doubt yahoo has the resources to pull it off, and I not just talking about money.07/24/2014 - 6:15pm
SleakerI wouldn't have minded a Yahoo purchase, probably would have been a better deal than Tumblr seeing as they paid the same for it...07/24/2014 - 6:13pm
MaskedPixelanteIt's the golden age of Hitbox, I guess.07/24/2014 - 6:08pm
Matthew Wilsonagain twitch was going to get bought. It was just who was going to buy it . Twitch was not even being able to handle the demand, so hey needed a company with allot of infrastructure to help them. I can understand why you would not want Google to buy it .07/24/2014 - 5:49pm
Andrew Eisen"Google is better than MS or Amazon" Wow. Google, as I mentioned earlier, progressively makes almost everything worse and yet there are still two lesser options. Again, wow!07/24/2014 - 5:43pm
Andrew EisenI don't know. MS, in my experience, is about 50/50 on its products. It's either fine or it's unusable crap. Amazon, well... I've never had a problem buying anything from them but I don't use any of their products or services so I couldn't really say.07/24/2014 - 5:42pm
Matthew WilsonGoogle is better than MS or Amazon.07/24/2014 - 5:33pm
Sleaker@AE - I've never seen youtube as a great portal to interact with people from a comment perspective. like ever. The whole interface doesn't really promote that.07/24/2014 - 5:28pm
 

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