"Morally Responsible" Investment Firm Goes Gay Bashing in Games

December 2, 2008 -

The Timothy Plan, a Florida investment firm which bills itself as "conservative Christian," is warning holiday-shopping parents away from what it calls the 30 "most offensive" video games.

While the usual suspects (GTA IV, Saints Row 2, Blitz the League II) make the list, there are some surprises as well, including the T-rated Bully: Scholarship Edition and World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.

In its game rankings, the organization displays an obvious anti-gay bias. While it evaluates titles for sex and nudity, a gay/lesbian rating is also included, meaning that a game with a gay sexual encounter might get a double whammy when compared to a game where the sex is of the straight variety. This effect, for instance, pushes Fable II onto the group's most offensive list. Along that line a report prepared by the Timothy Plan contains this rather bizarre comment:

Army of Two: Homosexual Encounters: ...Somewhat homo-erotic undertones between the two main characters are present.

WoW made it onto the dirty thirty, thanks to a high "addiction" rating as well as a high rating for alcohol use (curse you, Noggenfogger elixir!).

How the group determined the addiction rank is really quite unfathomable. WoW received a 3, for example, the worst possible rating, while Lord of the Rings Online got a 1 and Age of Conan a 2. In fact, all of the MMOs were tagged for addiction as well as some multiplayer games like Halo 3. A few games (The Darkness, Devil May Cry 4) were punished for "demonic" references.

Timothy Plan president Art Ally (left) comments:

Many, if not most, parents who buy their kids video games really don't know the extent of sex and violence imbedded in them. From drug use, prostitution, murder and mayhem to vulgar profanity and blasphemy these games have become a powerfully negative influence on our kids...

 

I believe, if parents would take a moment to look at the report we've created, their game selections would be quite different.

The group maintains a corporate "hall of shame" which includes game publishers EA, Take-Two and Microsoft. The Timothy Plan also offers to screen your portfolio to see if any of your mutual funds have investments in shameful companies.

So helpful!

Document Dump: Get the Timothy Plan's game score card here. The group's press release with holiday shopping warnings is here.

In UK, Bully: Scholarship Edition TV Ad Escapes Censure

July 9, 2008 -

As reported by vnunet, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has declined to take action against a commercial for Rockstar's Bully: Scholarship Edition.

The ASA received 31 complaints about the ad:

The game's main character is seen in the ad destroying property, firing a catapult and shielding himself from a burning substance in a science classroom. Two other characters are shown lifting another student by his underpants...

 

Several viewers, some of whom had experienced bullying, described it as 'offensive and distasteful'.

 

Others said that it 'glorified, trivialised and encouraged bullying and violence', and that it was scheduled inappropriately because it could be seen by children.

Take Two argued that the ad was comedic in nature and that sensationalized media coverage of Bully: Scholarship Edition probably led to some of the complaints. 

20 comments

Analyzing Jack Thompson's Would-be Witnesses

May 29, 2008 -

As GamePolitics reported yesterday, controversial attorney Jack Thompson was unsuccessful in a bid to subpoena 33 witnesses for a June 4th sanctions hearing before Judge Dava Tunis.

Tunis, the Florida Supreme Court-appointed referee who presided over the Florida Bar's prosecution of professional misconduct charges against Thompson, quashed the subpoenas in response to a motion from the Bar. In doing so, Tunis ruled that:

[Thompson] is precluded from presenting witnesses or documentary evidence in mitigation in this case due to his failure to comply with the bar's discovery requests.

An order issued by Tunis in October, 2007 elaborates on what the referee terms Thompson's "failure to comply." The upshot is that Judge Tunis will not allow Thompson to subpoena witnesses for next week's hearing. Thompson has indicated that he will boycott the hearing.

In any event, GamePolitics has obtained the list of Thompson's proposed witnesses (although not from Thompson, who declined our request). Read on as we analyze the 33 names and guess at Thompson's legal strategy (never an easy task):

  • Jeb Bush: Former Governor of Florida, brother of President Bush; Last week Thompson sent the ex-Guv a rant explaining (sort of) why he wanted him to appear.
  • Strauss Zelnick: Chairman of Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive; a longtime target of Thompson's. Four of the five Bar complaints against Thompson stem from his involvement in cases targeting Take-Two games.
  • Judge Ronald Friedman: presided over the 2006 Bully case; testified against Thompson at last year's Bar trial.
  • Ian Comisky: Partner in Philadelphia law firm Blank-Rome; the firm defended Take-Two in Thompson's Alabama lawsuit and two of its attorneys testified against Thompson at last year's Bar trial.
  • Norm Kent: Florida attorney who has represented shock radio in Florida; he and Thompson have a long and contentious legal history.
  • Gwynne Alice Young: an attorney at the Miami firm where Thompson's wife is a partner; during the course of the Bar's prosecution against him, Thompson has been critical of what he claims is Judge Tunis's lack of sensitivity to his wife's battle against cancer; possibly related to that issue
  • Various Past & Present Florida Bar officials: John Berry, Kenneth Marvin, Tony Boggs, Mary Ellen Bateman, John Harkness, Jan Wichrowski, Lorraine Hoffmann, Arlene Sankel, Barnaby Min, Frank Angones, Jesse Diner, Kelly Overstreet Johnson, Hank Coxe, Barry Richard, Ben Kuehne, John White
  • Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero: unknown why Thompson would single out Cantero from the other justices; the Florida Supreme Court oversees the Bar disciplinary process. Thompson is currently suing the justices in federal court
  • Florida 11th Circuit Court Chief Judge Joseph Farina: Judge Tunis's boss.
  • Al Cardenas: Prominent Florida attorney; his firm's complaint was part of last year's Bar trial (the non-video game related part); Judge Tunis has recommended two findings of guilt against Thompson in regard to Tew-Cardenas
  • David Pollack, Florida attorney: Thompson has claimed in court filings that Pollack was appointed by the Bar to investigate a complaint against Thompson, found no evidence, but was overruled by the Bar
  • Sam Partridge, General Counsel, Alabama State Bar: Alabama Circuit Court Judge James Moore testified against Thompson at his 2007 Bar trial; however, Partridge's specific connection to the case is not known.
  • Oren Wunderman, PhD: Thompson has written that Wunderman gave him a clean bill of mental health.
  • Kenneth Harms, former Miami Police Chief: he was mentioned as a potential witness in Thompson's 2006 attempt to have Rockstar's Bully declared a public nuisance before Judge Friedman in a Miami Court.
  • Janet Folger, Christian conservative commentator, author and activist - possibly a Thompson character witness.
  • Judge Richard Yale Feder: a Florida jurist with experience in Bar disciplinary matters; connection to Thompson's case unknown.
  • Randall Marshall, Legal Director, ACLU of Florida: connection unknown, but Thompson claimed recently that he had joined the ACLU and might be seeking its support on what he deems an issue of expressing his Christian views.
  • JR Rosskamp: Jo Edda Rosskamp filed a lawsuit last year against a partner in the Tew-Cardenas law firm; Thompson represented her. A JR Rosskamp is a South Florida financial advisor. It's unknown to GP whether they are the same person.

 

133 comments

"Morally Responsible" Mutual Fund Won't Invest in GTA IV Publisher

April 28, 2008 -
The Timothy Plan, a Maitland, Florida-based mutual fund group which offers a "biblical choice when it comes to investing," has issued a press release slamming Take Two Interactive (NASDAQ: TTWO), publisher of Grand Theft Auto IV.

From the release:
Take-Two Interactive... has done it again, releasing another video game that contains extreme sexual and violent content... Beyond the intense violence, blood and mayhem, during the game the character can have sex with prostitutes, visit adult clubs, request a private lap dance and drive drunk.

The Timothy Plan, a morally responsible family of mutual funds, refuses to invest in companies like Take-Two Interactive because of their involvement in the anti-family entertainment and pornography industry.

Timothy Plan president Arthur Ally (left) is quoted in the press release: 
This $30 billion a year [video game] business is exploiting sex and violence more than ever in their products. We hope more parents will not continue to fall into a category that four out of ten often do by relying simply on the ESRB rating and leave their children alone while they are playing video games.

While the ESRB system is a step in the right direction, the ratings are confusing and incomplete at best.

Ally also criticized another Rockstar game, Bully: Scholarship Education, because protagonist Jimmy Hopkins can kiss other boys in the game.

Take Two is among several dozen publicly-traded companies listed on the Timothy Plan's Hall of Shame. Others include Starbucks, PlanetOut, Wal-Mart, Microsoft and would-be Take Two acquirer, Electronic Arts.

While it's not clear exactly how these firms have transgressed in the Arthur Ally's view, the Timothy Plan is anti-gay, pro-life and opposed to investing in companies which deal in alcohol, tobacco, gambling or pornography.

Bully Bashing Moves to Australia

April 17, 2008 -
The public outcry over the recent release of Rockstar's Bully: Scholarship Edition has largely been confined to Canada.

Until now.

The Syndey Morning Herald reports that Australian educators and parent groups are giving Bully a bit of a wedgie. Jane King, head of Parenting Australia, is a Bully critic:
It's scary, it's outrageous, it's gross. I do think the [game content] classification system needs to be reviewed. I would be very concerned if my 13-year-old son played a game like that. I think the message of solving violence with violence is extremely disturbing.

Jane Roberts, president of Young Media Australia, also voiced concerns:
I'm not sure about what the developers of this game don't get. We have had major efforts right across Australia in schools trying to get the message across that violence doesn't solve anything. For people who have been the victim of bullying, there is nothing entertaining about it.

Australian Education Union head Angelo Gavrielatos added:
What we are concerned about is the continuing production and development of such games that glorify violence and bullying. There's a point where the corporate world must take some responsibility to regulate these games. In a world where the issues of bullying and violence are a concern, the production of these games is not acceptable.

However, a spokesperson familiar with how Bully: Scholarship Edition was rated for the Australian market told the newspaper:
During the game the player is not encouraged to attack innocent bystanders or undertake acts of bullying and is not rewarded for doing so. The missions players undertake are generally about thwarting acts of bullying, exploitation or discrimination. If the player does bully another player out of context a punishment type bar increases and when full it causes the character to be apprehended by authority figures.
40 comments

Free Speech On the Run in Brazil? Judges Ban Bully, Wordpress Blogs

April 11, 2008 -
Free expression does not seem to be an especially important concept in Brazil these days.

The nation which banned Counter-strike and Everquest in January has now blocked sales of Rockstar's T-rated Bully. As reported by the Associated Press:
Judge Flavio Rabello prohibited the game from being imported, distributed, sold or promoted on Web sites or in stores in Latin America's largest nation, said Rio Grande do Sul state prosecutor Alcindo Bastos. Companies have 30 days to comply with the judge's order.

"The aggravating factor is that everything in the game takes place inside a school," Bastos said. "That is not acceptable."

There are also reports that a judge has issued an order to block Brazilians from accessing blogs hosted by Wordpress.com. Of this news, the Brazilian blog Terramel writes:
Is Brazil the new China?

...The order to block wordpress.com was sent to Abranet who sent it to all associated ISPs. In an interview, Eduardo Parajo, Abranet’s president said: “We must not discuss a court order, we must obey it. Since it’s not possible to block only the [particular] blog’s address, all the access to any wordpress.com sites will be forbidden in Brazil”.

Now lets think a little about it… They didn’t said what is the blog and the reason to block it.. Is there really a blog and reason? Or may it be just an excuse to shut up bloggers, who are seen as a threat by the brazilian government, the brazilian justice and the brazilian tradicional media? There are millions of brazilian bloggers speaking about the corruption in the our government and in the brazilian court.

Via: Techdirt
45 comments

The Bar Trial of Jack Thompson (Part 9): Recap, About the Series, What's Next for Thompson?

March 28, 2008 -

Click here to see the entire series: The Bar Trial of Jack Thompson...

It's fair to say that Miami attorney Jack Thompson is an iconic figure among the video game community, although not in any happy sense.

Since immersing himself in the game violence debate in the late 1990's, he has become the embodiment of what many gamers perceive as a lack of acceptance by non-gaming society and the mainstream media. In some ways, he seems to relish the role.

Thompson's frequent television appearances, during which he typically blames violent video games for all sorts of mayhem, have positioned him as the go-to guy when the media (primarily Fox News, of late) needs a sound bite lamenting the havoc which video games are supposedly wreaking on modern youth.

No other critic, no other watchdog, has ever come close to Thompson's recognition factor. There are gamer-created songs about the guy. Cartoons, too, as well as video skits, t-shirts, toilet paper, website parodies and Photoshop contests.

To be fair, though, Thompson works at it. His media appearances, his propensity for acid-tongued verbal attacks, his lawsuits, threats of lawsuits and incessant e-mails containing Urgent! alerts make him difficult to ignore.

341 comments | Read more

The Bar Trial of Jack Thompson (Part 8): Thompson's Closing Statement

March 27, 2008 -

We're coming to the end of our exclusive series detailing the video game-related testimony in controversial attorney Jack Thompson's professional misconduct trial by the Florida Bar.

In today's episode, GamePolitics will present Thompson's closing argument. There is no cross-examination during a closing. It's an attorney's chance to summarize the case for the Court, recalling evidence presented and touching on points of law. As such, except for a couple of procedural matters, this is Thompson speaking.

In tomorrow's finale, GP will recap the series, including an explanation of how it all came together. If you've missed any of the previous installments, just click the Bar Trial series tag to catch up.

(In today's excerpted transcript, JT is Thompson, TUMA is prosecutor Sheila Tuma and DT is Judge Dava Tunis, who is presiding over the case…)

JT: Okay. By way of closing argument... here's the text of the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Did I give you that?...

TUMA: Yes.

JT: It says... "Exercise of religion means an act or refusal to act that is substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the religious exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious beliefs... The Government may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if it is demonstrated that application of the burden to the person is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest, is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest... A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief."

I'm simply making the argument, Judge, that my motivations - which I have tried to make clear, maybe to the point of nausea - are religious and that my efforts against the distribution of adult material, pornographic material, violent material, adult rated material to children is violative of the law as well as violative of Scripture. I quoted the biblical passage where Jesus says, reportedly: "If any one of you should cause one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better that a millstone be tied around your neck and that you be cast in the uttermost depths of the sea."

If I am disbarred, which is the wish of these [Florida Bar] people... I will continue to do what I'm doing on these issues whether they disbar me or not because this is what I was called to do, this is what I was enabled to do more effectively as a lawyer...

388 comments | Read more

The Bar Trial of Jack Thompson (Part 7): Thompson Cross Examines the Bully Case Judge

March 26, 2008 -

For this segment we'll assume that you have at least read Part 6 of GamePolitics' Bar Trial of Jack Thompson, the direct testimony of Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Friedman.

What follows is Thompson's cross examination of Judge Friedman, who became a target of Thompson's ire after he refused to grant the controversial attorney's 2006 motion to have Bully declared a public nuisance in Florida.

(In the excerpted transcripts that follow, RF is Judge Ronald Friedman. JT is Thompson, TUMA is prosecutor Sheila Tuma and DT is Judge Dava Tunis, who is presiding over the case…)

JT: Judge, first things first. My lawsuit wasn't, as you testified, to prohibit the distribution of this game [Bully], was it?

RF: I do believe it was.

JT: Well, let's go to Exhibit 46... page 21 thereof... Why don't you read paragraph D. This is under the caption Injunctive Relief.

RF: "An order prohibiting Take Two from selling all of its mature-rated video games directly or indirectly to anyone under 17 years of age, which practice is violating the strictures of the [ESA] and of the [ESRB] as well as solemn promises made under oath to Congress and to others."

JT: So do you want to change your testimony about what the purpose of the lawsuit was?

RF: No. That's the way I read that.

JT: Prohibit the distribution.

RF: To adults? No. To teenagers, yes.

JT: Okay. I take prohibit to mean prohibit, and that is to prevent the distribution.

RF: That is exactly what it appears to be, to prevent the distribution to anyone under age 17.

JT: Right. Not across the board... But... we didn't have a hearing on that, did we?

RF: We certainly did have some [courtroom] argument.

The Bar Trial of Jack Thompson (Part 6): Bully Case Judge Testifies

March 25, 2008 -

Whatever you think about Jack Thompson, there are times when he can play the media like a Stradivarius. And so it was that he managed to hold the attention of both the mainstream and gaming press for several weeks in 2006 while he sought to block the release of Rockstar’s Bully in Florida.

Thompson’s unusual suit, which charged that the T-rated Bully was a public nuisance, came before Judge Ronald Friedman on the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. In an early-round win for Thompson, Friedman ordered Take Two to produce the game for an in-chambers viewing prior to its retail launch.

That would be Thompson’s only victory in the case, which quickly turned contentious (anyone surprised?). Thompson blasted Friedman endlessly following the judge’s ruling that he would not grant Thompson's petition to block Bully’s release. Thompson upped the ante by announcing that he would run for Friedman’s seat in 2008. We note that Thompson does not appear to be following through on that claim.

For his part, Judge Friedman wasted little time in filing a complaint against Thompson with the Florida Bar. The Friedman complaint was one of several on which the Bar opted to take Thompson to trial last November. In this multi-part series GamePolitics has been publishing excerpted transcripts from the video game-related portions of the Thompson Bar trial. Today's edition covers the direct testimony of Judge Friedman. Due to the length of Friedman's testimony, Thompson's cross examination of the judge will appear in the next installment.

( In the excerpted transcripts that follow, RF is Judge Ronald Friedman. JT is Thompson, TUMA is prosecutor Sheila Tuma and DT is Judge Dava Tunis, who is presiding over the case…)

TUMA: Can you tell us what Mr. Thompson asked you to do to make the determination of entering an injunction [to bock the release of Bully]?

RF: He wanted me to review the game and prohibit its distribution, which was scheduled a few days later, maybe a week later.

TUMA: Did you entertain his request?

RF: I did... I heard arguments from both sides. The counsel for the defendants [Take Two] did not think it was necessary to do any of this because under the First Amendment, they had a right to make the distribution.

Bully Debate... Teacher: Gamers Don't Get It... Developer: Teachers Should Play the Game

March 13, 2008 -

The debate over Bully: Scholarship Edition continues to rage, primarily in Canada.

There, Mary-Lou Donnelly, head of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, pens an op-ed slamming the game in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. Among her points: Gamers just don't get it:
 

Reporters, newspaper editors and game promoters have tried to downplay the game, saying that teacher organizations are overreacting... One accused teachers of not giving students enough credit to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Another said that teachers had missed the boat because the game could be used as a teaching tool against bullying...


 

Clearly, the creators and promoters of the game just don’t get it... A game such as Bully: The Scholarship Edition, which reduces bullying to a mere lark... contributes nothing positive to youth culture. Indeed, it contradicts everything that educators are trying to accomplish...

Well, here’s a hard fact: Bullying is never fun! 


Meanwhile, game developer Clint Hocking, writing for his Click Nothing blog, has issued a challenge to the educators who are protesting Bully:
 

Since I haven't even played Bully - and probably neither [have the teachers who are protesting it], I wonder if we even can contribute anything? Ought we enter into debate about public access to media that we have not even engaged ourselves? That seems unethical to me...

Instead, I am going to invite [the teachers] to examine it with me, and to enter into a critical discussion of its merits and the difficulties it may or may not pose to students and to teachers... I extend an open invitation to play Bully with me, and once we have all finished we can collectively engage in an informed dialogue about the merits or failings of the game.


Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), debated Ms. Donnelly on CBC last Sunday (video here). Della Rocca writes about the Bully controversy on his Reality Panic blog:
 

The teachers are missing a prime opportunity to make progress... I’d argue that teachers could have leveraged Bully to both better understand the social politics of high school (by embodying a troubled teen) and open a much needed dialog with students about bullying...


 

While some argue that Bully could have been an even more scathing critique of school life, the challenge is that many simply do not look to games for meaningful social commentary (like The Breakfast Club, for example)...


 

Ultimately, we all want to stop bullying and built safe/effective schools, and there’s no doubt that games can play an important role in that effort. We’ll see what happens next…

 

80 comments

Canadian Pol: Bully Bad, 3rd-6th Graders Favor Grand Theft Auto

March 9, 2008 -
A Canadian legislator has weighed in with support for a teachers' group which is seeking to regulate Rockstar's controversial Bully: Scholarship Edition.

John Nuraney (left), a member of British Columbia's Legislative Assembly, told Burnaby Now that he "totally agrees" with the British Columbia Teachers Federation's call to boycott Bully:
The dangers are known to all. I think it's a question of jurisdiction. The only thing it seems right now is to bring more awareness.

Nuraney recently spoke about video games in the Assembly, saying:
It may be of interest to this house to know that one of the top video games for boys in grades 3 to 6 is Grand Theft Auto. While it is admirable that our children of today adapt very quickly to this technology, it is also alarming that without proper guidance and supervision, they can fall victims to the unscrupulous predators.

The basis for Nuraney's comments about GTA is not known. GamePolitics has a request in for more information and we'll update if a response is forthcoming.
59 comments

Editorial: Teachers Should Forget Bully Ban

March 8, 2008 -
Bully...

It’s back and so is the absurd controversy surrounding it.

Earlier this week, GamePolitics reported on an international coalition of teachers who are concerned about the negative effects Rockstar's game could have upon release.  Seemingly unaware of the fact that Bully has been out for well over a year, they are still calling for retailers to ban the game.

A recent editorial in the Globe and Mail has a few harsh words for the teacher group.
They seem to think that the young generation will become a veritable Hitler Youth of bullying automatons if exposed to this silly, satirical video game...

This gives little credit to young people's intelligence and ignores the role of parents in helping their children screen out or deal with negative influences. In Bullying: Scholarship Edition, the teachers have found a convenient scapegoat for a serious social problem.

Nor is the editorial's author impressed with the general controversy surrounding the title.
There's more than a little hysteria at play here. One needs to view Bullying: Scholarship Edition to grasp the extent of it. It will be immediately obvious to any viewer, even children under 10, that the video game is a satire on hideous boarding schools, a sort of Roald Dahl gone interactive… Of course it exploits the very violence it satirizes - it is a video game, after all - but it is no less obvious a fantasy than Bugs Bunny, and about as harmful.

-Reporting from San Diego, GP Correspondent Andrew Eisen
49 comments

Journalist: Teacher Group's Bully Bashing Deserves an F

March 6, 2008 -
Steve Tilley, who covers games and gadgets for Canada's Sun newspapers, writes that he is disheartened by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation targeting of Bully: Scholarship Edition.

Steve, we feel your pain.

As reported by GamePolitics earlier this week, the teachers' group called for retailers to be responsible - whatever that means. Usually it means following the rating guidelines, and Bully: Scholarship Edition is rated T, suitable for those 13 and older. Said Tilley:
What’s really unfortunate is seeing the people responsible for teaching the importance of critical thinking to this country’s kids making attacks on something they clearly haven’t taken the time to fully experience or understand.

Tilley took issue with Emily Noble, president of the CTF, who said, "This is a game that glorifies bullying and glorifies violence and we’re saying that is not the way to do it."
I’d certainly agree with Ms. Noble that glorifying violence and bullying is a bad thing. Thing is, Bully, in fact, does neither... Doing well in your classes is essential for getting ahead in Bully...

The game doesn’t glorify the serious issue of bullying in schools any more than the movie Heat endorses bank robbery or Star Wars encourages civil insurrection...

Just because a piece of entertainment is about a thing doesn’t mean it condones that thing. Why does this even need to be said, especially to teachers of all people? And why do we give kids so little credit for being able to distinguish between fiction from reality?

For that matter, why do video game opponents get away with calling for bans on games they’ve never played? Why do we not treat them with the same scorn aimed at people who try to ban books they’ve never read?...

One can sense Tilley's righteous indignation in the Sun piece. He really gets on a roll, making excellent points which are too numerous to list here. It's definitely worth a full read.

REAL Bully problems: We note reports of freezing and frame rate problems in the Xbox 360 version of Bully: Scholarship Edition. In fact, GP's own copy locked up on an early mission to hack a bully's combination lock. Rockstar is said to be "horrified" by the tech issues and working on a fix.
25 comments

Bully Boy-Kiss Brouhaha Recalls Maxis SimCopter Scandal

October 31, 2006 -

Bully is not the first game with guy kissing built in.

It's just the first one in which the smooching was company-authorized. But some GamePolitics readers may remember a similar scandal that rocked the gaming world a decade ago.

On November 20th, 1996 Maxis released SimCopter for the PC. Within a short time, famed designer Will Wright himself discovered that one of the Maxis programmers, a gay man named Jacques Servin, had secretly coded in hunky men who would kiss on certain occasions. 78,000 copies of the game were shipped before Servin's unauthorized easter egg was discovered.

Based on comments made to the Associated Press and other media at the time, Servin seemed to be making a sort of gay rights statement:
 

My job was to make the little people with a body and animation editor. The artist who used my editor to make the bodies ... was aggressively heterosexual, and made several 'bimbos,' which was my boss's term. At a certain point I wondered, 'Bimbos -- why not studs?...'
39 comments | Read more

Thompson's Latest Tactic Equates Bully with Porn

October 30, 2006 -

Having failed to convince a Florida judge that Bully is a public nuisance, controversial attorney Jack Thompson has a new tactic in what seems to be a never-ending crusade against the game.

Thompson's latest approach is that the game's boy-kissing scenes are essentially porn, thus making Bully illegal to sell to minors. Although Thompson does not use the P-word, the statute he cites would generally relate to such material.

In a letter sent yesterday to several major retailers, Thompson writes:
 

"It turns out that the school violence simulation game Bully also contains homosexual activity between the game’s hero, Jimmy Hopkins, and other male students."


 

"It is my legal opinion that the sale of this game to minors, which is presently occurring at your stores in Florida, violates Florida’s 'Sexual Material Harmful to Minors Statute,' Florida Statute 847.102.  Each such sale to a minor constitutes a separate felony." 

"Such sales are occurring to children of all ages because of the game’s wholly inappropriate “Teen” rating, as opposed to the 'Mature' rating it deserves..."


GP offers a couple of points here:

First, the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said that pornography is hard to define, "but I know it when I see it." We agree, and we're definitely not seeing it with Bully's silly boy-kissing scenes.

Free Speech Lawyer Offers to Defend Bully For Free

September 29, 2006 -

It's not like Take-Two Interactive can't afford to hire lawyers.

But First Amendment attorney Larry Walters is willing to do legal combat with those who would bully the company's upcoming game Bully - for free.

Over at the IGDA's Sex in Games SIG, Brenda Brathwaite reports that Walters, who operates the GameCensorship.com website, didn't take kindly to one of Florida attorney Jack Thompson's recent threats to block the October 17 release of the controversial game, which Thompson has described as a "Columbine simulator".

In a message posted to the Sex in Games SIG's mailing list, Walters wrote:

"Thompson is at it again. His letter to Take Two, below. If he files suit, we hereby offer to assist Take-Two and defend their Free Express rights on a pro bono basis. This is absurd."

Absurd, indeed.

Brenda Brathwaite, by the way, is the author of the recently-published Sex in Video Games.

 

 
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MaskedPixelantehttp://www.nintendolife.com/news/2014/11/two_tetris_downloads_to_be_removed_from_the_3ds_eshop_in_europe Tetris to be removed from the 3DS VC at the end of the year in Europe. Other regions unknown, but will probably all happen too.11/28/2014 - 9:16am
Andrew EisenThe story you just linked to? The story you asked if anyone had seen? Yes, THAT obnoxiousness. I've heard it parroted for nearly two years now.11/27/2014 - 7:57pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen: That shes an ex con man?11/27/2014 - 7:54pm
Andrew EisenI've heard the same obnoxious horse poo for years. It's nothing new.11/27/2014 - 7:45pm
ZippyDSMleeAlso anyone see this? http://guardianlv.com/2014/11/anita-sarkeesian-unmasked-feminist-icon-or-con-artist/11/27/2014 - 7:28pm
ZippyDSMleeEvil within is a badly designed game.11/27/2014 - 7:28pm
Andrew EisenSure but you said "widens," hence my confusion. Looking into it, yep, there's a tweak to completely re-frame the image, adding more info at the top and bottom. You apparently need a fairly beefy rig to keep it running smooth when you do that though.11/27/2014 - 6:48pm
Matthew Wilsonthere is vertical fov, not just horizontal fov11/27/2014 - 6:38pm
Andrew EisenWell, you can widen it to 3:1 or even 10:1 but I don't know why you'd want to. From what I understand it's the missing visual info at the top and bottom that some object to, not that there isn't enough on either side.11/27/2014 - 6:36pm
Matthew WilsonI think it widenss the fov, so you get to see more.11/27/2014 - 6:31pm
Andrew EisenI don't see how as doing so would not add any visual information to the top or bottom of the screen.11/27/2014 - 6:04pm
Matthew Wilsonfrom what I read, getting rid of the black bars and stretching it out made for a better play experience.11/27/2014 - 5:59pm
Andrew EisenFrom what I hear, there's a ton of "look up and shoot at the guys above you" stuff in the game that the wider frame doesn't accommodate such actions well.11/27/2014 - 5:55pm
Andrew EisenHaving a game run in scope is not necessarily a bad thing but like any aspect ratio, you have to compose your shots correctly.11/27/2014 - 5:55pm
Neo_DrKefkaThe Evil Within was pretty bad and to make it worse the way the screen size made it hard for you to see even on a big screen it really hurt the game. Being Artistic is great but when you focus on art rather than what sells you run the risk of that happen11/27/2014 - 5:33pm
Matthew WilsonI kinda hope this is not true. http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2014/11/nintendo_might_not_be_making_more_gamecube_controller_adapters_at_the_moment11/27/2014 - 1:34pm
Matthew WilsonI saw that. I wish people would stop preording, but sadly that will never happen.11/27/2014 - 1:26pm
Papa MidnightUbisoft has cancelled the Season Pass for Assassin's Creed: Unity (http://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/2ni2ac/ubisoft_cancel_season_pass_for_ac_unity/)11/27/2014 - 1:08pm
NeenekoBut now I can use the christmas discount justification too,11/27/2014 - 11:46am
NeenekoI am also sorely temped by Civ:BE, mostly because I have a demo coming up and I know my productivity will tank.11/27/2014 - 11:45am
 

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