Publisher Responds to "Islam is the Light" DS Game Controversy

January 29, 2009 -

Earlier this week GamePolitics reported on an Indiana mother's complaint that her daughter's Baby Pals game for the Nintendo DS uttered the phrase "Islam is the light."

We asked Crave Entertainment, which publishes Baby Pals, to comment on the claims, which mirror a similar controversy involving a Fisher-Price doll last autumn.

We've just received a response from Crave's Marketing Director, Doug Panter:

In creating the Nintendo DS game “Baby Pals”, the game developer Brain Toys / InXile used sounds files to simulate the life like baby noises and babbling.  The sounds are publicly available for license.  It is a recording of a 5 month old baby babbling non-intelligible phrases.  In over 200 hours of testing the product, no recognizable English words or phrases were discernable.  

The sound in question of this babble may sound like the words night, right or light, but it is only coincidence as the baby recorded was too young to pronounce these words let alone a whole grammatically correct phrase.

We at Crave Entertainment and InXile regret that there was any misinterpretation of the baby noises and in no way have intentionally put any words or phrases into the baby sounds.

We hope this eases any concerns and fans continue to enjoy playing the game.

GP: Crave's explanation that it licensed the baby talk sound file helps make sense of how "Islam is the Light" plagued the Little Mommy Cuddle and Coo doll as well. Fisher-Price probably licensed the same audio.

38 comments

Indiana Mom: "Islam is the Light" Message in Child's Nintendo DS Game

January 27, 2009 -

GameCulture reports on the strange case of an Indiana mother who has complained that her 8-year-old daughter's Baby Pals game for the Nintendo DS speaks the phrase "Islam is the light."

Readers may recall that a remarkably similar controversy last fall centered around Fisher-Price's Little Mommy Cuddle and Coo doll. And, in fact, the mother in this case, Rachel Jones, was also one of those who complained about her child's Cuddle and Coo doll.

In regard to the doll controversy, Mattel issued a statement in October which said that the only scripted word was "mama" and other baby talk sounds were gibberish.

Urban Legends reports that an audio expert experimented with the Cuddle and Coo doll and found that the phrase most closely sounded like "It's not near the light."

In fairness, the sound uttered by the DS game sounds exactly like the one that caused so much controversy in regard to the doll. We're wondering if Crave, publisher of Baby Pals, somehow licensed the same digitized audio file.

GP: So, is this a case of anti-Islamic paranoia or subtle indoctrination of America's youth? What do you think, GP readers?

126 comments

Researcher: Brainy Nintendo DS Claims Are "Charlatanism"

January 26, 2009 -

A French researcher has discounted Nintendo's claims that playing DS titles such as Brain Age and Big Brain Academy can improve memory.

The Times Online reports comments by cognitive psychology Prof. Alain Lieury (left) of the University of Rennes:

The Nintendo DS is a technological jewel. As a game it's fine. But it is charlatanism to claim that it is a scientific test.

Lieury studied four goups of 10-year-old children as they worked on logic problems, memorization, math and interpreting symbols. Two of the groups which had completed a seven-week memory course using the DS did no better - and in some cases, worse - than those who did not use the DS.

While Ryuta Kawashima, the creator of Brain Age, claims positive effects from playing the game on Nintendo's website, Lieury dismisses Japanese neuroscientist's assertions:

There were few positive effects [shown in Lieury's research] and they were weak. Dr Kawashima is one of a long list of dream merchants.

20 comments

Renegade DS Developer Ends Lock-Down Protest Against Nintendo

January 10, 2009 -

Cabin fever has taken its toll on Bob's Game, apparently.

Robert Pelloni, the indie DS developer who promised to barricade himself in a locked room for 100 days unless Nintendo agreed to sell him its official DS software development kit, has ended his protest after just 30 days.

A post on his Bob's Game site indicates that his self-imposed isolation became too much to bear. He has ended his vigil with a lengthy anti-Nintendo screed. A photo from his webcam (left) seems to indicate that his workspace has been trashed:

It was foolish of me to think Nintendo would hear my pleas. They're just another heartless corporation... The core gamers don't matter anymore. It's not about the games or the fans, it's about spreading out and getting casual gamers to buy Wii Fit.


The golden days of video games are long gone...

I've had enough. I'm ending the protest. I give up on getting the SDK. I really tried my best. Show's over. It's just not going to work. Sorry, everyone. I just can't stay in here. My head won't stop pounding. I feel like I'm losing my mind. It's like I'm splitting in half. I keep seeing these posts that I apparently wrote, but I can't remember writing them. I'm afraid I'm becoming someone else entirely.

Nobody even takes me seriously anymore- how is Nintendo supposed to? Everyone thinks it's some kind of viral ad. It's obviously not. I'm one guy that can't get a break. Don't you think that maybe I might get a little angry being locked in here for a month with no response? ...I know I lost. I've been completely disgraced and humiliated...
My head hurts, so I'm ending this post. Sorry, everybody. Whatever. Why does this HURT so much?!

GP: Pelloni's comments are somewhat disturbing. We wish him well.

49 comments

GTA Chinatown Wars Rated 18 For British Market

January 9, 2009 -

No surprise here.

The British Board of Film Classification has assigned an 18 rating to the upcoming Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

No edits to the game were required, although the BBFC issued warnings that GTA Chinatown Wars "contains very strong language and drug references".

The game is scheduled for a March 20th release in the UK.

UPDATE: GameSpot notes that the 18 rating assigned to GTA Chinatown Wars is the first ever assigned to a DS game by the BBFC. The game's rating for the North American market is not yet listed on the website of the ESRB.

Nintendo Sued for $236K over Faulty DS Adapter

December 19, 2008 -

An insurance company has sued Nintendo for $236,304, alleging that a faulty Nintendo DS AC adapter ignited a January, 2007 fire at a residence in Kentucky.

According to the complaint, the home owner was compensated for "substantial" fire damage by the Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company. Liberty Mutual is attempting to recover its costs from Nintendo. In addition to the $236K, the company seeks interest and court costs.

The suit, filed yesterday with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, notes that Nintendo previously conducted a product recall of DS units due to overheating issues. From the complaint:

The [DS] was defective in design, manufacture and/or because it failed to warn consumers as to dangers associated with it... due to defects existing within the Product which caused a risk of overheating and fire, the Product was recalled by Nintendo.

UPDATE: Download the complaint here.

22 comments

Nintendo May Be Recession-Proof, Rest of Game Biz, Not So Much

December 15, 2008 -

While much has been made of the supposedly recession-proof video game industry, a Bloomberg report says that if you remove Nintendo from the mix, the economic picture for the rest of the industry sags considerably.

U.S. sales of games, players and accessories rose 10 percent to $2.91 billion in November, researcher NPD Group Inc. said last week. Nintendo, maker of the Wii console, accounted for almost three-fourths of the growth, leaving the rest of the industry with a gain of 3 percent or less...

“If you’re worried about your job, are you going to buy a $400 PS3?” said Mike Hickey, an analyst for Janco Partners in Greenwood Village, Colorado. “Christmas is not going to have the same glow.”

The Wii, outselling PS3 and Xbox together by almost 2-1, also is having an impact in software. Five of the top 10 titles last month were for the Nintendo player...

 

The company also is leading in sales of handheld devices. Consumers purchased 1.57 million DS machines last month, up 2.6 percent from a year earlier, according to NPD. Sony’s sales of 421,000 PSP players were down 26 percent from last year.

GP: Bloomberg makes sense on this one. After all, EA is hurting. Sony is a disaster right now. Midway's future beyond January 31st is questionable. NCsoft has cut back. And they're not the only companies that are hurting.

21 comments

ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial Slur Incident

December 8, 2008 -

Last week GamePolitics reported on a bizarre incident in which more than a dozen prominent game journalists were sent Animal Crossing: Wild World Nintendo DS cartridges which contained a racial slur.

MTV Multiplayer's Stephen Totilo, who broke the story, reports that he subsequently queried used game seller GameStop and the ESRB as to whether the Animal Crossing incident exposes a flaw in the system whereby embedded user-generated content might exceed the content rating.

Both GameStop and the ESRB view the Animal Crossing episode as an anomaly and deny a larger problem. MTV's Totilo writes:

ESRB spokesperson Eliot Mizrachi, told me... “Just as with online-enabled games that allow features like chat, ESRB ratings cannot anticipate and therefore consider user-generated content in the ratings we assign,” he wrote. “Besides, as you mentioned, saving content to the actual game medium is pretty uncommon in today’s games. Most games are read-only with the saved content being stored on the system and not on the game medium itself.”...

The ESRB may not have much reason to worry that questionable content will make it to consumers because gaming chain GameStop claims to be scrubbing the content from re-sold games. Chris Olivera, spokesman for GameStop, told me in a phone interview that his company has a “proprietary” process that wipes consoles and games clean before they are sold back to consumers...

GP: GameStop and the ESRB make a good case here. It's important to remember that the offending DS cart was not purchased through retail channels, but rather was mailed out by Nintendo's own PR department.

25 comments

Brits Seize Counterfeit DS Systems

December 5, 2008 -

Customs officials in the UK have cautioned consumers regarding the appearance of counterfeit Nintendo DS and DS Lite systems on the market.

As reported by pocketgamer uk, hundreds have been seized already. Most were purchased from Asian websites which advertised "genuine Nintendo products."

Beyond the fact that the systems aren't the geniune article, officials report that some are packaged with faulty electric adaptors which could catch fire.

Pamela Rogers, head of IP enforcement for HM Revenue & Customs, commented:

UK consumers must be vigilant when purchasing goods online. Buy from a reputable or regulated site and, if purchasing from outside the UK or a new website, research the site – check all the facts before you buy.

 

At best, these consoles would have led to disappointment on Christmas morning; at worst, they could have caused serious harm or injury. Counterfeit goods also cause considerable damage the UK economy by undermining genuine UK retailers and small businesses who are honest and abide by the rules.

While game publishers group ELSPA lauded the seizures, pocketgamer had a bit of a whinge over its perception that industry-generated system shortages may drive frustrated parents to look beyond normal retail channels for their holiday shopping:

It's hard not to raise a cynical eyebrow... ELSPA's comments actually highlight a difficulty that these console-shopping parents – who typically aren't as aware what they're buying in a jargon-saturated market – suffer from when manufacturers continually imply, and even are accused of deliberately causing, product shortages on the run up to Christmas.

When a website offers a solution that Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and others are unwilling to provide, it's hard to blame those parents for taking the chance at not disappointing their kids come Christmas morning.

Keeping a diligent eye peeled is always good advice, of course – we just recommend that eye is sometimes turned towards those big companies who appear to indirectly support the piracy industry through their own greed and attempts to play the consumers against the retailers. There, we've said it.

9 comments

Nintendo Addresses Racial Slur Shipped with Animal Crossing Review Kits

December 4, 2008 -

Nintendo is in damage control mode after a DS cart shipped to game reviewers was found to contain a commonly used racial slur.

Kotaku reported yesterday that editor Brian Crecente received a pre-played copy of Animal Crossing: Wild World for the DS. The 2005 title, shipped with secrets unlocked, was intended to show reviewers how content could easily be migrated from the DS game to the recently-released Wii title, Animal Crossing: City Folk.

However, as Kotaku explains, things soon went awry:

When you come upon Baabara, the town's resident sheep, you're greeted with a racial epithet. The word is used repeatedly in your conversation with the sheep.

"I almost forgot about you, N—-a" "So got any juicy gossip for me, N—-a?" "Just thinking about it gets me all excited, N—-a."

Nintendo quickly issued a statement, blaming WiFi for the screwup:

Previously played copies of the were sent to 14 members of the media to demonstrate the ability of players to transfer items to the new Animal Crossing: City Folk for Wii. We regret that an offensive phrase was included without our knowledge via a wireless function that allows user-generated catchphrases to spread virally from one game to the next.

 

This version is limited to 14 copies created for media review purposes only and is not available at retailers. We sincerely apologize for the incident and are working with media who received the game cards to return them to Nintendo immediately.

47 comments

Classic Book Collection Headed to DS

December 1, 2008 -

They say that confession is good for the soul, so I'll cop to a belief that Sony's PSP is, from a technical standpoint, cooler than the DS.

But the PSP is damned near on life support while the DS not only has a ton of games, but awesome and innovative DS non-games that keep popping up as well. First there was a DS cartridge to teach yourself Chinese. Then there was an SAT prep course on DS; a quit smoking self-help DS title; even a cookbook. And soon, readers will be able to own 100 classic tomes on a single DS cart.

Eurogamer reports that Nintendo, in partnership with publisher Harper-Collins, will release the 100 Classic Book Collection for DS on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) in the European market:

You read holding the DS like a book, and flicking through the pages with the stylus. There are search and bookmark functions - and additional works available to download via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

Amazon has the full list of books included. You get 21 Shakespeare plays, 13 Dickens novels, and all the canonical corset-busting classics you'd expect from Jane Austen, Charlott Bronte, Thomas Hardy, Herman Melville and the like.

The collection has a lighter side too, though, with a couple of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries, some high adventure from Alexandre Dumas, Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, wit from Wilde, Swift and Twain, an Edgar Allen Poe collection, and even a bit of racy old D. H. Lawrence for bored housewives everywhere.

Check out the Amazon UK product page.

GP: So, is this product coming to the U.S. market, or does Nintendo think that we Americans are illiterate barbarians?

Via: Destructoid

51 comments

Columnist Uses Fobidden Mod Chip for Legit Homebrew Gaming

October 27, 2008 -

While the video game industry views the R4 chip as the Devil's work, Darren Gladstone of PC World reports that he used the device to play perfectly legitimate homebrew games on his Nintendo DS.

Darren writes that he bought the R4 on a side street in San Francisco's Chinatown district from a seller who placed an ad on Craigslist:

Why do I feel so dirty? Because Nintendo--and some members of the media--tell me to feel that way...

I'm no pirate! I support the guys who make my games! ...But the R4 isn't just the key to pirate booty. The homebrew community has latched onto this elusive, illicit device too. Yes, some unsavory sorts pirate software, but indie game designers are crafting their own DS software and sharing it freely with the world. Sudoku puzzles. "Choose Your Own Adventure"-type "books." Legal emulators for freeware adventure games, such as ScummVM. Arcade-worthy shooting games. Heck, folks have even made Web browsers, photo viewers, MP3 players, and e-book readers.

That brings me back to my "dark deed": I bought an R4--not to pilfer games illegally, but to try incredible indie projects...

Darren proceeds to list some of the great (and free) homebrew titles he enjoyed, courtesy of his R4, but points out that Nintendo and 54 other companies are suing the maker of the R4 in a Japanese court. Tom Buscaglia - aka The Game Attorney - told Darren:

U.S. copyright laws have become more and more aggressive over the years. Not only is piracy illegal, but creating and selling a technology that facilitates piracy is also outlawed here... It's sad that some developers will end up being deprived of the opportunity to release innovative little games on an open DS platform...

 

I'm torn on it, to be honest, because I'm all for the innovation and inspiration of the independent developers. The sad truth is that they don't have the resources to become certified developers.... But you can't really blame Nintendo for protecting its revenue stream.


28 comments

Does Nintendo DS Mod Chip Pose a Threat?

October 8, 2008 -

How much of a threat are mod chips to game publishers?

Quite a big one, according to U.K. newspaper The Independent. A lengthy article from today's edition deals primarily with a Nintendo DS mod chip known as the R4:

The R4 is a tiny Chinese-made device – costing around £14 – that for more than seven million owners of Nintendo's hand-held console, the DS, has blown wide open its capabilities. Combined with a small memory card and plugged into the back of the DS, it enables the console to play MP3s and videos, as well as store copies of games you already own.

 

Crucially, however, it also enables the user to play pirated games from the internet [which] can be downloaded for free. Add to this that it's simple to use, and available through retailers such as Amazon, and you can see why the R4 and devices similar to it are bringing video game console piracy to the mainstream.

Enabling a DS to play digital music and video is a wonderful thing. Obviously, playing pirated games is not.

In mentioning Amazon, the article is believed to be refering to Amazon UK. Mod chips are illegal in the United States under the terms of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). An English appeals court, however, held recently that the devices do not infringe on copyrights in and of themselves.

On the other side of the coin, British parent Nick Welsh explains why the R4 is attractive:

The trouble with kids is you pay £20 or £30 for a game, and they could only play it once. Let's say I sit down and download 10 new games, the way it ends up is they'll only really play one or two or those, and the others get replaced. I wouldn't be able to afford that number of games.

 

You can have 70 or 80 games on a 2GB card, and they're all on the back of the machine. There's no fiddling around with cartridges – it's all there to hand... If there was some sort of iTunes equivalent where it was relatively easy and you could try a game for a week for a quid, and pay another four quid to keep it, then I think it's likely I would use it.

In addition to publishers, some game retailers are concerned about the popularity of the R4, which they link to declining sales of DS game cartridges.

25 comments

 
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Poll

Have you visited a video game arcade in the last year?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
MechaTama31I sure have. Dorky's barcade in Tacoma, WA.08/20/2014 - 5:56pm
Matthew WilsonI have not been to a arcade in years. I know arcades are still big in japan.08/20/2014 - 5:38pm
Sleaker@AE - Ah no it's called GroundKontrol - I was just referring to it as a Bar-Arcade.08/20/2014 - 4:39pm
Andrew EisenStill looking for confirmation that High Moon Studios (dev behind the PS3/360 versions) isn't working on it.08/20/2014 - 4:38pm
ZenGotcha.08/20/2014 - 4:37pm
Andrew EisenI already updated the story with it!08/20/2014 - 4:36pm
Zenhttp://www.gonintendo.com/s/235574-treyarch-isn-t-working-call-of-duty-advanced-warfare-for-wii-u-either08/20/2014 - 4:36pm
ZenLet me send the link for the Tweet as well...they state Treyarch is not working on it. Grabbing it now.08/20/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenWhere does it say that "NO dev is working on it"?08/20/2014 - 4:33pm
ZenHere's the link for my last comment: http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/08/20/call-of-duty-advanced-warfare-not-coming-to-wii-u08/20/2014 - 4:24pm
ZenWell, Call of Duty is skipping Wii U completely it seems...they updated that NO dev is working on it. Great way to just skip a market.08/20/2014 - 4:24pm
Andrew EisenYeah, Dave and Busters back in 2011 was the last time for me.08/20/2014 - 4:16pm
ZenWell, I tried lol. We just got a Dave and Busters on the beach but haven't been there yet...may go this weekend.08/20/2014 - 3:52pm
Andrew EisenIt's called The Bar-Arcade? Missed opportunity. I would have gone with Barcade.08/20/2014 - 3:25pm
SleakerThe Bar-Arcade however did have a lot of good pinball machines, they were however always taken as the place was packed..08/20/2014 - 1:17pm
Sleakerso I've been to an Arcade-Bar, not that great of a place has some okay machines, but generally over-packed. And then all the kid-friendly ones have is ticket-games nothing actually good unfortunately :(08/20/2014 - 1:14pm
Andrew EisenIf it has an area dedicated to arcade machines, I'd say it counts. Arcade machine in your house though, nope.08/20/2014 - 12:16pm
ZenDoes it count if you have actual arcade machines in your house?08/20/2014 - 12:01pm
E. Zachary KnightWith the current poll, I guess it all depends on how one defines "arcade". If Chuck E Cheese or similar multipurpose businesses count, then that is a yes for me.08/20/2014 - 11:59am
ZenLet the ax fall Sleaker...lessons MUST be learned...08/20/2014 - 11:44am
 

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