Faced with White House National Security Claim, Public Interest Groups Drop Information Lawsuit on Secret Copyright Treaty

June 24, 2009 -

For nearly a year GamePolitics has been tracking ATCA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

As we have reported, ACTA deals in large part with copyright issues and is being negotiated in secret by the U.S., Japan, Canada, the EU and other nations. Details of ACTA are largely a mystery to consumers despite the fact that dozens of corporate lobbyists have been clued in to parts of the treaty, including Stevan Mitchell, VP of IP Policy for game publishers trade group the Entertainment Software Association.

Sadly, consumer interests suffered a major blow last week as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge dropped a federal lawsuit seeking to cast a little sunshine on the ACTA negotiations. The EFF explained that a recent decision by the Obama Administration to claim a national security exemption for the ACTA talks made the lawsuit unwinnable; federal judges have  little leeway to overrule such claims. The move by the Obama White House extends a similar policy put in place by the Bush Administration.

Public Knowledge Deputy Legal Director Sherwin Siy commented on the decision:

Even though we have reluctantly dropped this lawsuit, we will continue to press the U.S. Trade Representative and the Obama Administration on the ACTA issues. The issues are too far-reaching and too important to allow this important agreement to be negotiated behind closed doors.

The worry, of course, is that the United States will emerge from ACTA with a done deal that favors Big IP in the fashion of the consumer-unfriendly DMCA. Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association, expressed concerns about ACTA earlier this year:

Because ECA supports the balance that must exist between the rights of copyright owners and the right of copyrighted material consumers, we do not think it wise to include any portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) currently being discussed...    

We are concerned that any DMCA language in ACTA may cause enormous, unforeseen negative implications in US law...

GP: As GamePolitics mentioned above, video game publishers lobbying group the ESA is privy to at least a portion of the secret ACTA negotiations while its industry's customers - video game consumers - are barred from knowing anything at all.

That makes us wonder - will the Video Game Voters Network, which is owned and operated by the ESA, commence a letter-writing campaign on behalf of its gamer-members demanding that the White House pull the curtain back on ACTA?

Somehow we doubt it.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The Entertainment Consumers Association is the parent company of GamePolitics.

Portions Via: /.

On Father's Day, Obama Urges Dads To Swap Video Games for Books

June 21, 2009 -

Repeating a theme that he frequently touched upon during his 2008 election campaign, President Barack Obama has once again referenced video games as a metaphor for academic underachievement.

In a Father's Day message published in Parade, Obama writes:

We need to set limits and expectations. We need to replace that video game with a book and make sure that homework gets done... We need to tell our sons, Those songs on the radio may glorify violence, but in our house, we find glory in achievement, self-respect, and hard work.

Interestingly, the Parade feature is Obama's third mention of video games in the last 10 days. On June 11th he told an audience in Wisconsin:

The world has gotten competitive. The Chinese, the Indians, they're coming at us and they're coming at us hard, and they're hungry, and they're really buckling down.

And they watch - their kids watch a lot less TV than our kids do, play a lot fewer video games, they're in the classroom a lot longer.

Last Monday the President mentioned games during a speech to the American Medical Association in Chicago:

[Preventive care] starts with each of us taking more responsibility for our health and the health of our children. It means... raising our children to step away from the video games and spend more time playing outside.

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Obama Names Video Games as Health Concern in Speech to A.M.A.

June 15, 2009 -

In a speech to the American Medical Association in Chicago today, President Obama mentioned video games as a factor in unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles.

As reported by the New York Times, Obama addressed the AMA as part of his drive to build support for sweeping healthcare reform. The Wall Street Journal's Health blog has the full text of the President's remarks. Here's what he said about video games:

The second step that we can all agree on is to invest more in preventive care so that we can avoid illness and disease in the first place. That starts with each of us taking more responsibility for our health and the health of our children. It means quitting smoking, going in for that mammogram or colon cancer screening. It means going for a run or hitting the gym, and raising our children to step away from the video games and spend more time playing outside.

In other speeches, Obama has frequently linked video games to academic underachievement.

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XBL Indie Game Turns Obama Into Side-Scrolling Scrapper

June 15, 2009 -

A recently-released Xbox Live Community Game (MS recently announced that these will soon be called Indie Games) features President Obama as a side-scrolling, 2-D brawler.

Angry Barry is available for 400 points on Xbox Live. We didn't spring for the game although we did check out the free demo.

Hillary Clinton makes an appearance in the game and the screen shot at left appears to feature Sarah Palin. From the game's XBL page:

Angry Barry is a sidescrolling, political parody, 1-2 player 2D beat 'em up in the tradition of many classic arcade games. Take control of Barry as he tries to take over the Presidency of the United States!

Obama: Chinese & Indians Kids Play Fewer Video Games, "Coming At Us Hard"

June 12, 2009 -

Returning to a theme that he touched upon often during the 2008 presidential campaign, President Barack Obama told the audience at a town hall meeting in Wisconsin that American kids spend too much time playing video games and watching television.

But Obama added a new wrinkle to yesterday's remarks, linking them to the United States' ability to compete in the global marketplace:

Even with the good schools, we've got to pick up the pace, because the world has gotten competitive. The Chinese, the Indians, they're coming at us and they're coming at us hard, and they're hungry, and they're really buckling down.

And they watch - their kids watch a lot less TV than our kids do, play a lot fewer video games, they're in the classroom a lot longer.

So here's the bottom line. We've got to improve, we've got to step up our game. While the average public school is actually doing a reasonably good job... we are falling behind when it comes to math; our kids are falling behind when it comes to science...

We used to be head and shoulders above other countries when it came to education. We aren't anymore. We're sort of in the middle of the pack now among wealthy, advanced, industrialised countries.

Via: IANS

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Video of L.A. Mayor Welcoming E3 2009 to Town

June 9, 2009 -

We posted a story on this last Thursday, but here's exclusive video footage from GP's mobile phone which shows Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa welcoming E3 2009 to town.

To the left of Villaraigosa is ESA boss Mike Gallagher.

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Kansas Attorney General Teams Up with ESRB on Ratings Awareness

June 9, 2009 -

Steve Six (D), the Attorney General of Kansas, has become the latest high-level state official to sign on in support of the video game industry's ESRB rating system.

A press release posted last week on Six's website includes the A.G.'s reminder to parents to make use of ESRB ratings:

With school out for the summer, kids may spend more time playing video games.  Parents must be vigilant about the media they allow into their homes. There's simply no substitute for parental involvement and responsibility, and it's important that parents play an active role in choosing games for their children. 

 

ESRB ratings are an effective and informative resource that allows parents to decide if the video game their child wants is appropriate, and rating summaries provide even more insight into exactly what a parent would want to know about in a game.  I'm proud to be educating parents in our state about the tools at their disposal.

Six will deliver the ESRB message on public service announcement on radio and T.V. in Kansas. The televised version PSA can be viewed on the ESRB website (scroll down to "Statewide TV").

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Obama Advisor To Make Second Life Appearance

June 8, 2009 -

Kevin Werbach, who served on the FCC segment of the Obama transition team, remains with the Administration as a part-time advisor on broadband issues.

Over at New World Notes, Wagner James Au reports that Werbach, who is a veteran of the Second Life metaverse, will make an SL appearance later this week:

Werbach will be back in-world this Wednesday at 1pm Pacific to appear on the Metanomics show, for an extremely apropos topic: "The Age of Obama: Virtual Worlds, Open Government, and Policy"...

 

Kevin tells me he can't discuss the particular policy advice he gave the Administration about virtual worlds, but I suspect he'll provide some great insider perspectives on how they're being shaped. 

Werbach and his Second Life avatar appear at left.

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Spotted at E3: L.A. Mayor Cuts Ribbon to Welcome 2009 Expo

June 5, 2009 -

On Tuesday Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa officially welcomed E3 back to the City of Angels with a presentation to ESA boss Mike Gallagher and a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

And, why not? As the Los Angeles Times reports, E3 2009 generated more than $15 million in commerce for the city.

There's no truth to the rumor, by the way, that those giant scissors are a new Wii peripheral.
 

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L.A. Mayor To Officially Welcome E3 to Town

June 1, 2009 -

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D, at left) will extend an official welcome to E3 2009 tomorrow afternoon, according to a press release issued by the Entertainment Software Association, which operates the expo.

The 3:30 p.m. ceremony will mark the official opening day of E3 and will feature a ribbon cutting by Mayor Villarigosa, ESA boss Mike Gallagher and Mark Liberman, head of LA INC.

The event will take place outside the West Hall lobby of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

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Boston Mayor to Partner with ESRB on Ratings Awareness Campaign

May 27, 2009 -

He has been one of the video game industry's most aggressive critics in the past, but GamePolitics has learned that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (D) will partner with the ESRB on a public service ad campaign designed to raise parental awareness of the video game rating system.

The campaign, unveiled in Boston by Menino and ESRB President Patricia Vance, will feature T.V. and radio ads as well as outdoor print ads. Of the media blitz, Menino said:

Parents want control of the media that comes into their homes, and the entertainment that their children enjoy. That’s why it’s so imperative that we educate parents about useful and informative tools like the ESRB ratings and rating summaries, so they’ll be empowered to make informed choices about which games they deem appropriate.  I’m proud to be educating parents in our city about the tools at their disposal.

With today's news, Menino joins a number of high-profile elected officials around the country who have partnered with the ESRB on game ratings awareness campaigns over the past several years. Given Menino's track record as a video game industry critic, the turnabout is especially significant.

In 2006 Menino led a campaign to have Grand Theft Auto ads removed from public transit. In 2007 his office flirted with video game legislation authored by Jack Thompson. The Boston Mayor's video game bill was eventually submitted to the legislature in 2008, but died in committee.

Menino, who earlier this year touted Boston as a game industry-friendly city in an effort to attract jobs, is running for an unpredecented fifth term as mayor.

Mayor Hopeful Names Video Games as One of Top Problems Facing Washington, D.C. Youth

May 27, 2009 -

City Councilman Michael Brown (I, at left) hopes to mount a challenge to incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) next year for the top job in Washington, D.C. city government.

The Brookland Heartbeat reports that in a recent speech, Brown listed video games among the top problems facing youth in D.C.:

Mr. Brown criticized Mayor Adrian Fenty and DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee... Mr. Brown also criticized the District’s school modernization program for failing to address what he said were the real problems facing District youth: lack of vocational/technical schools, gunfire, excessive video game playing, and lack of neighborhood amenities such as grocery stores.

Until those problems are solved, “it doesn’t matter how pretty the school is,” said Mr. Brown...

GP: Ironically, in 2005, while still a member of City Council, Mayor Fenty unsuccessfully tried to legislate the sale of violent video games to minors in D.C.

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Bethesda: We Didn't Seek Bill Clinton For Fallout 3

May 23, 2009 -

Following up on yesterday's report that Blindlight, a Hollywood firm which recruits voice actors for video game projects, had approached Bill Clinton for the role of the president in Fallout 3, Chris Morris of Variety contacted F3 publisher Bethesda, which seemed non-plussed by the news.

Pete Hines, VP of PR for Bethesda, told Morris:

Before they would pitch us on someone like Clinton, they may first go ask if he would do something like that. In no way, shape or form, did we say is President Clinton is who we want for this role or [tell Blindlight to] go chase him.

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Congressional Anti-Piracy Caucus Singles Out Five Nations

May 22, 2009 -

On Wednesday game publishers' lobbying group ESA issued a press release praising members of the bipartisan Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus for singling out Spain, Canada, Mexico, Russia and China as anti-piracy priorities for 2009.

ESA CEO Michael Gallagher praised the IAPC in a press release:

We thank the Caucus for this year issuing a challenge to Canada and Mexico to pass additional legislative protections – such as prohibitions on ‘mod chips’ and other circumvention devices that are used to play pirated games – and to follow through with greater enforcement and border controls.

We also thank the Caucus for highlighting the severe problems that exist for our industry and other copyright industries in Spain. Online and peer-to-peer piracy are rampant and virtually unchecked in Spain and in other major European markets...

But Nick Farrell of the U.K.-based Inquirer, doesn't think much of the caucus, implying that the senators and representatives on the IAPC have been lobbied by the RIAA and other IP rights holders. Farrell writes:

The RIAA has got its tame politicians in the US congress to rail at other nations that don't hold such a jack-booted attitude toward copyright infringement as the Land of the Free...

[IAPC] singled out Baidu, China's largest Internet search engine, as being "responsible for the vast majority of illegal music downloading in China." That's interesting, because Baidu does the same thing as Google which, as a powerful US company, the music industry has not dared to denounce...

It seems almost as though the entertainment mafiaa would like the US to mount a cross-border raid into Canada over its perceived lack of draconian copyright enforcement and wants the US to treat its NATO ally Spain as a pariah for having the temerity to say that peer-to-peer file sharing over the Internet isn't a crime.

Bill Clinton Turned Down Voice-over Role in Fallout 3

May 22, 2009 -

Fallout 3 was maybe the best game of 2008. Could an appearance by Bill Clinton have made it even more memorable?

In an interview with Edge Online, Lev Chapelsky, general manager of Blindlight, a Hollywood-based firm which connects actors, writers and musicians with game projects, mentions that he tried to recruit the former president for voice work in Bethesda's best-selling action/RPG:

Celebrity acquisition applies not just to celebrity actors but to sports figures, politicians – we’ve made offers to Bill Clinton for videogames and gotten great responses with attorneys who have said, ‘The former president will not participate in one of your videogame products, thank you very much’...

What project did you ask Bill Clinton for?

 

I think that might have been to play the president in Fallout 3. Wouldn’t that have been brilliant? You get to that point in game and you hear that voice in the ether coming from off-camera and you’re like, ‘I know that guy!’

Via: Fidgit

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Online Video Game Predators Among Those Targeted by Alabama Bill

May 18, 2009 -

In a time when pedophile cases in which suspects contact their victims through online video game networks are on the rise, Alabama Governor Bob Riley (R) will consider legislation that seeks to protect children from high-tech predators.

WAFF-48 reports that SB 120 is headed to the Guv for his signature after the Alabama House passed the bill on Friday. The measure, proposed by Sen. Myron Penn (D, at left) had previously gained the approval of the State Senate.

SB 120 makes illegal any use of an electronic device to solicit a child and includes cases in which law enforcement personnel are posing as children. From the WAFF report:

The bill outlaws many new ways that predators try to solicit minors... predators can be prosecuted for luring text messages from cell phones, PDA's and even video game systems...

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New York Bill Would Add Fat Tax to Video Games, DVDs, Junk Food

May 14, 2009 -

A bill currently before the New York Assembly would add a one-quarter of one percent tax to the sale or rental of video games and video game hardware.

The measure, A02455, was proposed by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D, at left) of Brooklyn. The bill would also tax the sale and rental of movies, admissions to movie theaters and the sale of snack foods and sweet drinks. In addition, corporations would be barred from taking a New York tax deduction for expenses incurred in advertising any of the affected items, including video games and systems.

The proposal is currently before the Assembly's Ways and Means Committee, where it seems likely to remain. This is Ortiz's fourth attempt at similiar legislation since 2003; none have made it out of committee.

Ortiz's proposal is motivated by his desire to address the current obesity epidemic. In the justification for A02455 he writes:

Almost all experts agree that the primary reasons [for the obesity epidemic] are increased consumption of larger quantities of high calorie foods, snacks and sugar sweetened beverages... and lack of physical activity as vigorous play is replaced by sedentary activities such as watching more television, movies and videos and playing video games.

This bill would raise revenues from modest surcharges on the very food products and sedentary activities that are linked to the lifestyle changes involved in the explosion of childhood obesity in the last 20-30 years.

Ortiz estimates that his bill would raise $50 million in revenue which would in turn be used to fund programs designed to counter childhood obesity. Conservative magazine The American Spectator refers to Ortiz as "perhaps the nation’s most prolific author of vice taxes:"

[Ortiz] has a litany of bills before the New York state legislature imposing a $10 tax on visitors to strip clubs, a 25¢-cent tax on bottles of beer and wine, and a fatso tax on soda, sweets, and video games.

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How Obama's SCOTUS Choice Might Affect Video Games

May 4, 2009 -

With the pending retirement of Justice David Souter from the U.S. Supreme Court, President Barack Obama will have the opportunity to name a replacement.

His choice could have a major impact on the constitutional issues relating to video games, especially if California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decides to ask SCOTUS to consider February's 9th Circuit Court ruling that his state's 2005 video game law is unconstitutional. That decision from Schwarzenegger will come later this month.

Among names being floated for Souter's seat are Gov. Jennifer Granholm (left) of Michigan and 7th Circuit Court Judge Diane Pamela Wood (right). Both have a track record with video game issues.

As Governor, Granholm signed into law a 2005 video game blocking minors from purchasing violent games. The video game industry filed suit and the measure was ruled unconstitutional later that year by a U.S. District Court judge.

For her part, Judge Wood has a rather different history with games. In 2001 she was part of a three-judge Circuit Court panel which overturned an Indianapolis law that sought to limit the access of minors to violent arcade games. That case, AAMA v. Kendrick was the first of what has become an uninterrupted string of court victories in such cases for the video game industry.

Whether Obama appoints Wood, Granholm or another choice, this could be the year that the constitutionality of restricting violent video game sales makes it to the Supreme Court. The possibilities become even more interesting given conservative Justice Antonin Scalia's 2008 comment that such restrictions might pass constitutional muster.

DOCUMENT DUMP: AAMA v. Kendrick

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ESA Cheers as Obama Administration Spanks Canada

April 30, 2009 -

Those pesky Canadians have finally pushed the U.S. Government to the brink.

If the Bushies were still in power we might now be glued to CNN, watching the 82nd Airborne para-dropping into Ottawa. But as it is, the Obama administration has settled for delivering a nasty slap via the office of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk (left).

The issue is copyright protection and the USTR, a cabinet-level post, has been making unpleasant noises in Canada's direction for several years. Today Kirk dropped the hammer, placing Canada on the "Priority Watch List" along with China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Chile, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand, and Venezuela. From the USTR report:

Canada is being elevated to the Priority Watch List for the first time, reflecting increasing concern about the continuing need for copyright reform, as well as continuing concern about weak border enforcement.

The Entertainment Software Association, which lobbies on behalf of U.S. video game publishers, was quick to applaud the action in a press release. No surprise there, as the ESA has been pushing hard in recent years for Canada to outlaw mod chips and adopt its own version of the consumer-unfriendly Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

In fact, with DMCA-like legislation an issue that Canada's Parliament will soon be considering, a cynic might be forgiven for thinking that the USTR's action was timed for its persuasive value as much as anything else.

Of today's announcement, ESA CEO Michael Gallagher commented:

Putting Canada on the ‘Priority Watch List’ is a signal of the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthening global intellectual property protection, and its intent to address this issue firmly with the Canadian government. Canada’s weak laws and enforcement practices foster game piracy in the Canadian market and pave the way for unlawful imports into the U.S.

So what does the ESA want from Canada? They have a laundry list:

  • Enact legislation outlawing game circumvention devices, such as “mod chips” and “game copiers,” in line with Canada’s international treaty obligations
  • Create adequate legal incentives for internet service providers (ISPs) to work with copyright owners in combating online piracy
  • Provide Customs officials with adequate authority to make ex officio seizures of counterfeit and pirate product at the border; and,
  • Provide adequate resources to anti-piracy enforcement efforts and make prosecution of intellectual property crimes a high priority.

New iPhone App Delivers Audio & Text of JFK's "Ask Not" Inaugural Address

April 29, 2009 -

For JFK fans or those with an interest in history, a just-released free app for iPhone/iPod Touch delivers the full audio and text of President Kennedy's January, 1961 inaugural address.

The best-known line from that speech, of course, is:

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.

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Quick Exit: ESA's Head Lobbyist Out After a Month

April 24, 2009 -

Earlier this year GamePolitics reported that the Entertainment Software Association hired Jennifer Manner (left) as its new head of government relations (i.e., lobbying).

Apparently, the ESA and Manner were not a good fit. The National Journal reports that the ESA's new head lobbyist is gone after just a month in her new position:

Manner, a long-time Democrat, didn't appear to have extensive Capitol Hill or administration experience. Her background included stints as a vice president of regulatory affairs at Skyterra Communications, chair of the Satellite Industry Association, and senior counsel to former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy. She has also... taught as an adjunct professor of law. ESA is not advertising any new job openings on its Web site.

An association spokesman confirmed that Manner had departed but gave no further information.

By our count, Manner is the third ESA VP to leave in the last 12 months. Others include former senior VP and general counsel Gail Markels and Ed Desmond, whose position was filled by Manner.

As we mentioned when Manner's hiring was announced, an ESA press release made it a point to refer to her as a "long-time Democrat." ESA CEO Mike Gallagher is a former Bush administration official.

Culture clash?

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Game Character Posters, Obama-style

April 22, 2009 -

Games Radar has served up a series of printable posters depicting familiar game characters in the style of the now-famous Obama campaign theme created by visual artist Shepard Fairey.

The characters span a broad range of games, including:

  • Tomb Raider
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Katamari Damacy
  • Half-Life
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Thanks to: Sharp-eyed GamePolitics correspondent Andrew Eisen...

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ECA Pleased To See Time Warner Back Down on Price-Gouging Bandwidth Caps

April 17, 2009 -

Consumers won a big victory this week as Time Warner Cable backed down on a plan that would have placed a cap on bandwidth usage for broadband customers, while at the same time charging users a wildly inflated price per gigabyte.

When Time Warner announced recently that it would expand its broadband caps into New York and North Carolina, Ars Technica reports that the plan immediately ran afoul of Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The two lawmakers helped torpedo Time Warner's scheme.

The Entertainment Consumers Association, which also lobbied vigorously against the Time-Warner plan, was delighted with the cable provider's decision to back down. ECA VP and General Counsel Jennifer Mercurio commented on the outcome:

We're pleased that Time Warner has come to their senses on this issue... Having worked against caps and tiered pricing for over a year, and being the leading consumer rights organization to aggressively defend the American public on this issue, we're glad to see our efforts pay off even as we continue to work with Senator Schumer, Congressman Massa, and others to stop this type of consumer price gauging moving forward.

When Mercurio mentions price gouging, she's not kidding. Price comparison done by Nate Anderson of Ars Technica show how blatantly Time Warner planned to rip off its customers:

As TWC expands its test markets for the data caps, it offers plans with 5GB of monthly data transfer for $30. Plans with 40GB of data go for $55... That base rate works out to a truly jaw-dropping $6 per GB per month, and it's so far out of line with competitors' plans as to shock even the most cynical heart.

Take AT&T's DSL, for comparison... AT&T DSL comes out to 9¢ per GB. Verizon's fiber-optic FiOS system... this comes out to $.11 per GB. Upgrading to the much faster 50Mbps service for $144.95 a month still means that the charge per GB is only 36¢.

The situation is similar at other cable operators. Comcast offers Internet service starting at $42.95 per month and has a 250GB cap in place; this works out to 17¢ per GB.

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

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Austin Mayoral Candidate Wants to Attract Video Game Companies

April 14, 2009 -

A mayoral candidate in Austin, Texas has made attracting game developers and other creative media types a key part of his campaign platform.

Brewster McCracken (D) mentions attracting game developers in response to the Austin American-Statesman's request for candidates to outline their vision for the city.

McCracken, currently a member of Austin's City Council, sees game development as a way to help the city weather the recession:

Starting with a vision of independent film, independent music and 3-D animation leadership in digital media... We will need elected leaders to personally recruit creative economy employers. We will need expanded incentives to recruit films and TV series. We will need to recruit video game and music publishers and firms with expertise in digital media distribution to empower local creative artists.

GP: We should mention that Austin already has a thriving game development community. McCracken wants to attract additional talent to the city.

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California Bill Would Limit Game Time, Content for Day Care Kids

April 13, 2009 -

A Santa Monica legislator wants to limit the amount of time that children in day care spend playing video games. California Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D) also wants to ensure that any games played are of the educational or exercise varieties.

To that end Brownley has introduced AB627. Her bill is aimed at addressing California's rampant childhood obesity problem.

As noted by the San Francisco Chronicle:

[The bill would] require child care centers receiving state reimbursement for their food programs to limit sugary sweets and drinks, prohibit deep-fat frying, mandate servings of vegetables and limit TV, computer and video-game use to one hour per day, among other regulations.

A reading of the bill suggests that games like Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution would be acceptable if AB627 becomes law:

For children in full day care, screen time, including, but not limited to, television, video games, and computer usage, shall be limited to a maximum of one hour per day and shall be limited to
educational programming or programs that encourage movement.
For children in less than full day care, screen time shall be reduced proportionately.

The measure has been referred to the Assembly's Human Services Committee.

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Obama Administration Rolls Back Secrecy on Copyright Treaty

April 9, 2009 -

On several recent occasions, GamePolitics has reported on ACTA, the international copyright treaty being negotiated in secret by various governments, including the United States.

Here in the U.S., IP rights holders - including the video game industry - have been granted access to information concerning ACTA negotiations. John Q. Public has been shut out, however.

But the Obama administration's promised commitment to open government appears to be pulling back the curtain on ACTA, at least a bit.

IDG reports that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has released a six-page summary of ACTA negotiations, which have been going on behind the scenes since 2006. Gigi Sohn, President of Consumer rights group Public Knowledge praised the info release:

The dissemination of the six-page summary will help to some degree to clarify what is being discussed. At the same time, however, this release can only be seen as a first step forward. It would have been helpful had the USTR elaborated more clearly the goals the United States wants to pursue in the treaty and what proposals our government has made, particularly in the area of intellectual property rights in a digital environment.

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Nintendo's Reggie: Obama Too Busy To Worry About Video Games

April 1, 2009 -

Issues such as the recession, healthcare and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to keep President Barack Obama's attention away from video games, said Reggie Fils-Aime (left).

The Nintendo of America chief also believes that the video game industry is in a better position politically than it has been in the past.

Fils-Aime made his comments during a wide-ranging interview with GameDaily:

We have the first sitting president with a multiple gaming household, between the Wii and the DS. I believe that our president has more pressing issues to deal with, from the economy to the military conflicts.

 

Certainly, as an industry, we've met with representatives of Congress and other parts of our government. What they see is an industry that is mainstream, is creating jobs and is creating vibrant forms of entertainment. Those are all positive things for this country. So we are in a more favorable legislative environment compared to five or six years ago.

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Barack Obama Portrayed in Quirky Japanese Super Mario Scene

March 31, 2009 -

We don't know the origin of this video other than to point out the obvious: that it's from a Japanese television show, features a comic Super Mario scene using real actors, and has an improbable cameo appearance by a faux Barack Obama.

Still, it's pretty cool. Be sure to watch it all the way through.

The link was circulated by Wendu Xu on Twitter.

Via: Kotaku

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New Video Game Tax: Louisiana Rep. Mulls "No Child Left Indoors"

March 28, 2009 -

A Louisiana legislator has withdrawn a bill that would impose a 1% sales tax on video game equipment and television sets.

The Monroe News-Star reports that Rep. Robert Billiot (D) hoped to use revenue collected by the tax to create a "No Child Left Indoors Fund." Those funds would in turn be channeled into recreational facilities and state programs to combat childhood obesity.

However, Ark-La-Tax Politics reports that Billiot withdrew the measure while he re-evaluates its revenue potential. The legislator said that he may resubmit the tax proposal before Louisiana's legislative session begins on April 27th.

As GamePolitics reported, A similar measure proposed in New Mexico last year failed to pass.

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Obama & Kids Call Astronauts, Want to Know: Can You Play Video Games in Space?

March 24, 2009 -

Video games came up when President Obama made a long-distance phone call to the International Space Station this morning.

As reported by ABC News, Obama, some members of Congress and a group of Washington, D.C. school kids spent 28 minutes videoconferencing with the crew of the shuttle Discovery.

The Prez was friendly and conversational with the astronauts. When it came time for some questions from the students, the first one was, "Can you play video games in space?"

Obama dutifully relayed the question to the crew. Perhaps surprisingly, the answer that came back was yes, you can play video games in space.

In fact, one of the astronauts (we're not clear as to which one) replied:

We can, in fact. And in fact a few years ago when I was up here for six months I had a video game that I used to play in my spare time. Unfortunately, we don't have much spare time.

 

So we can, we have a lot of laptop computers. But for the most part we stay real busy doing real work.

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prh99The unflattering characterization "‘Games culture’ is a petri dish of people who know so little about how human social interaction..." would be a knock out punch.10/02/2014 - 1:52am
prh99Probably not many as it was purely a vindictive move. The headline alone was plenty of ammo. For those that did read and complain..10/02/2014 - 1:42am
Andrew EisenI wonder how many of those who complain about that article actually read past the headline.10/02/2014 - 1:37am
prh99http://bit.ly/1rGPHOY http://intel.ly/Zu6go9 it isn't surprising "Gamers are over" didn't go over very well.10/02/2014 - 1:34am
Papa MidnightCan you parlay that to #WriteAGawkerArticle? The cesspool of horrid crap over there extends far beyond Kotaku.10/02/2014 - 12:34am
Andrew EisenWow! Intel dropped Gamasutra due to GameJournoPros? Over Matt Matthews? The only Gamasutra guy in the group? Who hasn't written a single thing about #GamerGate at the site? Where did you read that?10/02/2014 - 12:32am
Neo_DrKefka#WriteAKotakuArticle "#GamerGate is responsible for breaking millions of Intel powered macbooks after angry SWJ hipsters slam them shut" or "How Toxic Processors from Intel causes sexism. "10/02/2014 - 12:15am
Neo_DrKefkaSo Intel has dropped Gamesutra due to there support of your Gaming News Cabal Fudge. Anti GamerGate article soon? Or like your e-mails are you hoping this narrative dies down soon?10/02/2014 - 12:14am
Andrew EisenWell, time to eat some dinner and work on the Hyrule Warriors guide until bedtime!10/02/2014 - 12:11am
Andrew EisenJust finished my stream. That... could have gone better. Technical issues prevented me from playing a console game so I instead played and bitched about The Walking Dead for two hours. Oh well, the folks watching still seemed to enjoy it.10/02/2014 - 12:09am
Matthew Wilsonwe all know valve can not cout to 3.10/02/2014 - 12:08am
MechaTama31Who cares? Gimme Portal 3!10/01/2014 - 9:38pm
quiknkoldAndrew : Mostly I decided there were better people who could explain what was going on, or fight any battles that may come up. so I decided not to talk about it anymore.10/01/2014 - 8:49pm
Andrew EisenI don't recall you promising that. GamerGate is not a taboo discussion here. Anyway, thanks for the link. Very interesting.10/01/2014 - 8:47pm
quiknkoldI know I promised to not talk about Gamergate again, but Intel just pulled sponsership from Gamasutra over it http://techraptor.net/2014/10/01/gamasutra-intel/10/01/2014 - 8:40pm
quiknkoldP.T. is a game I just cannot play alone. I puss out hard on it. need somebody with me when I play that. Kojima was right. it is Pants Shittingly Scary10/01/2014 - 6:17pm
quiknkold@james_fudge not playin all the way through. P.T, Silent Hill(Not sure which), Resident Evil Gamecube Remake, Alien Isolation, Ghostbusters, Outlast, Super Castlevania 410/01/2014 - 6:04pm
james_fudgeI wish I could like that last shout.10/01/2014 - 5:48pm
MechaTama31Tried out Sims 4 on my brother in law's pc. Promptly got my sim exhausted, to soil himself, then sent him without cleaning up to mock people at the museum. Good times...10/01/2014 - 5:33pm
E. Zachary KnightSo they figured out how to share CPU cycles between pools and their advanced emotions engine? Sweet.10/01/2014 - 2:53pm
 

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