Protesters Arrested at Army's Video Game Recruitment Center

May 3, 2009 -

This video shows anti-war protesters yesterday as they marched with police escort to the Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia where they delivered a symbolic "criminal complaint" to U.S. Army recruiters and the mall's management company.

The demonstrators were protesting the Army's use of a high-tech, video game-equipped recruitment center located in the mall.

There was a significant police presence as the protesters arrived. They were permitted to enter the mall and stage their rally at the entrance to the Army Experience Center.

As the rally ended, seven protesters, mostly in white masks, were arrested, presumably for refusing to disperse. The arrests were peaceful and appeared to be scripted by the protesters as a symbolic gesture.

UPDATE: A press release on yesterday's protest has been issued by its organizers.

UPDATE 2: The local Fox outlet has a video report.

93 comments

Report: Dad Finds Ecstasy Tablets in Used Copy of Grand Theft Auto

April 8, 2009 -

A British man who purchased a pair of used Grand Theft Auto games discovered what appeared to be ecstasy tablets wrapped in plastic and hidden in one of the game manuals.

The Telegraph reports that Richard Thornhill, 34, bought the second-hand games at a GameStation in Gloucestershire:

When I opened the box up, the cling film wrap fell out. I could not believe it. I have two children and my son plays Xbox all the time. He could easily have opened the box and found them.

I dread to think what the consequences would have been if he had. He is only 12. He could have died. It was a pre-used game, but that should not make a difference. My wife is beside herself over this because she keeps thinking about what could have happened and so do I.

The retailer and local police are investigating.

Police Officials Angered by GTA Mods Featuring Realistic Cop Cars

April 8, 2009 -

A Grand Theft Auto modder's authentic depictions of real police vehicles have angered law enforcement officials in the Washington, D.C. area.

NBC reports that GTA videos of police vehicles from Prince William County, Montgomery County, and Fairfax County are available on YouTube:

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery. But don't tell that to some local police jurisdictions that are upset over YouTube videos depicting their cruisers in a video game...

One video even shows a digital officer getting out of a Fairfax County Police cruiser to gun down citizens on the street.

The Fairfax County Police Department finds the videos in very poor taste," said spokesperson Don Gotthardt. "One of the reasons we find it in poor taste is because of the way the officers are depicted."

THANKS TO: GamePolitics reader mdo7 for the tip!

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Grand Theft Auto Publisher Coughs Up $3.3M to Settle Old Cases

April 2, 2009 -

Aside from the often controversial nature of its best-selling Grand Theft Auto series, Take-Two Interactive has spruced up its corporate image significantly since Strauss Zelnick and his crew seized control in 2007.

Despite that, some legal baggage lingered from the reigns of past CEOs Ryan Brant and Paul Eibeler.

The New York Times reports that T2 has settled those cases with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, respectively.

The GTA publisher paid $3M to the SEC in an an investigation of backdated stock options. In 2007 Brant pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the case. SEC attorney Christopher Conte commented on the charges in a statement:

Take-Two’s seven-year backdating scheme was egregious and pervasive, and caused the company to materially misrepresent its financial condition to investors.

The company also paid the $300,000 cost of the Manhattan  D.A.'s investigation into related matters. A Take-Two press release contains a statement from Zelnick:

We are pleased to have reached a settlement with both the SEC and District Attorney with respect to the Company's historical stock option granting practices. Resolving this issue has been a key objective for Take-Two since the current management team took office in early 2007, and we are gratified to have put this matter behind us.

 


Husband Killed Wife, But She Was The GTA Player

March 31, 2009 -

Wait - isn't the Grand Theft Auto player supposed to be the one who turns violent?

It doesn't always work that way, apparently. The Telegraph reports that a British man stabbed his wife to death, in part over her predilection for playing GTA all through the night:

Malcolm Palmer, 62, turned on the mother of his three children after she became hooked on the violent Grand Theft Auto driving game. He was forced to sleep on a sofa in their conservatory as Carol Cannom, 46, stayed up all night with the 37-inch plasma television screen she brought into their room for her all-night gaming sessions...
 
[Their son] would play... until midnight, after which Ms Cannom would take over, regularly staying up until five or six in the morning, Lincoln Crown Court was told.

"Carol quickly became hooked. He was very unhappy about the amount of time she was playing on the PlayStation," said John Pini QC for the prosecution...

Defence lawyer Timothy Spencer QC told the court: "The genesis of this tragedy bizarrely lies with the purchase of the PlayStation."

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Video Games Get the Blame in Colorado Shooting Spree

March 28, 2009 -

A Colorado police officer has suggested that a troubled 22-year old man who went on a random shooting spree last October may have been influenced by violent video games.

The Denver Post reports that the police investigator made the comment in regard to Stefan Martin-Urban (left), who killed two people and wounded two others before turning his gun on himself:

When Stefan Martin-Urban... pulled a pistol from behind his back and methodically shot strangers, his behavior was eerily similar to characters in the video games he played obsessively.

Those games, authorities said Friday... are the closest police and FBI investigators can come to an explanation for Martin-Urban's actions that killed two and injured two.

"It could be that he was simply acting out a part in a video game. Maybe he had interjected himself into a game in his mind," Grand Junction police Sgt. Tony Clayton said.

 

Like the thugs in "Grand Theft Auto" and warlocks in "World of Warcraft," Martin-Urban showed no emotion...

Sgt. Clayton's remarks notwithstanding, there are indications that the killer was, like so many other random shooters, a mentally disturbed person who gained access to a gun. From the story:

He had no criminal record and had not exhibited any psychotic behavior. But unbeknown to anyone who might have been alarmed, Martin-Urban had purchased a 9mm semiautomatic Ruger...

The only other clue that something wasn't right was his computer log: He spent an inordinate amount of time playing games where the object is to kill and steal.

He played the games as many as 12 hours a day during the last few months of his life. He holed up in a hotel room in Europe during a family vacation last summer and played the games while his mother and sister went sightseeing.

"In the last year, he had no friends. No boyfriend. No girlfriend. No pets. He was consumed with the video games. He spent an enormous amount of time playing them," Clayton said...

Martin-Urban lived mostly in isolation...  after enrolling in a state college... He stopped going to classes within two weeks.

His father had committed suicide in Alaska four days before the previous Christmas...

He had a profile on YouTube where he wrote that he lived in a world "that some people choose to call 'reality.' " His favorite videos included a prophecy that a 2,000- mile-long spaceship containing cosmic beings was going to appear in the Earth's atmosphere three days after the shooting.

In regard to the YouTube video, a local TV station speculated that Martin-Urban may have been part of a cult which predicted that the world would end within days of his rampage.

The Denver Post report also notes that Martin-Urban was a Grand Theft Auto player and even theorizes a link between his GTA play and the fact that most of his victims were getting into a BMW at the time of the shooting:

One of the fanciful cars in the game — the silver Blista — has taillights that resemble a BMW's.

The Rocky Mountain News reported last October that Martin-Urban's aunt worried that he may have been suicidal.

GP: Martin-Urban's self-imposed isolation, his retreat into obsessive gaming, his dropping out of school, the trauma of his father's suicide, and his apparent fascination with the bizarre cult video would seem to be red flags that Martin-Urban was a deeply troubled young man.

16-Year Old GTA IV Gamer Charged with Grisly S&M Murder of NYC Newsman

March 25, 2009 -

A 16-year old New York youth has confessed to the stabbing murder of a veteran New York City radio newscaster, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

The suspect is an avid video gamer who lists Rockstar's controversial Grand Theft Auto IV as his favorite title.

The NYPD has charged John Katehis (left) with repeatedly stabbing George Weber, 47, last Friday. The pair met after Weber posted a Craigslist ad offering to pay for violent sex. Katehis was to earn $60 for the sleazy encounter at which alcohol and cocaine were reportedly used. Weber, apparently as part of his sado-masochistic fantasy, supplied the knife with which Katehis eventually killed him.

That's not to say that Katehis was a stranger to edged weapons. The New York Daily News, which refers to Katehis as "emotionally disturbed," displays a picture of the teen posing with his exotic knife and sword collection.

Gawker has posted Katehis's MySpace profile, in which says the suspect wrotes:

I enjoy long conversations, drinking, bike riding, hanging out, roof hopping, hanging off trains, any type of Parkour exercise. Extreme violence (chaos, anarchy, etc.) Video Games, Violent Movies and listening to my ipod...

 

I like to do crazy and wild things. I am like an adrenaline junkie. I'm a big risk taker and like to live life on the edge...

The MySpace profile references an account on ibeatyou.com. At that site, Katehis lists Grand Theft Auto IV as the "Hottest PS3 or Xbox 360 Game You've Ever Played" and includes a picture of himself holding a copy of the PlayStation 3 version. Katehis holds up Far Cry 2 in a separate photo.

Additional coverage: Gawker

GP: There are just so many dysfunctional pieces to this story, but video games will certainly be blamed in some quarters.

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U.K. Prof: Youthful Offenders Have Access to Violent Games in Juvenile Lockups

March 24, 2009 -

A Liverpool University Professor told a committe of Parliament that violent young offenders have access to violent video games and movies within U.K. detention facilities.

As reported by the Fleetwood Weekly News, Professor Kevin Browne made his remarks to the Home Affairs Committee:

If you go into local authority secure units or young offender institutions you will find that they are able to borrow from the library DVDs and computer games that are completely inappropriate given that they have been convicted of a violent offence.

They could borrow films like Rambo and violent video games like Carmageddon despite the fact that we recognise they are some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Browne blamed the problem on "laxity" by corrections officials said that violence caused by video games should be considered a public health issue.

GP: The Home Affairs Committee is chaired by Labour MP Keith Vaz, a longtime critic of violent video games. On the committee's website, Vaz explains Prof. Browne's March 20th appearance:

Throughout our inquiry we have tried to explore the reasons why  young people carry and use weapons. Several witnesses have suggested that exposure to violent entertainment such as films or video games may trigger violent behaviour.  We are therefore pleased to take more detailed evidence from Professor Kevin Browne on research in this area.

 

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In Wake of German Rampage, Harvard Crimson Urges Politicians to Look at Guns, Not Games

March 23, 2009 -

Violent video games have been under fire in Germany following the horrific school shooting carried out by a 17-year old earlier this month.

But while some German political and law enforcement officials have called for bans on violent games, the Harvard Crimson urges the government not to rush a judgment against the medium.

Instead, suggests an editorial, political officials' efforts would be better channeled toward keeping real guns, not virtual ones, away from toubled youth:

Few crimes are more disturbing than violent murders at schools... In the aftermath [of the recent German rampage], a call has gone out to remove violent video games from store shelves. Banning video games or enforcing a blanket social restriction, however, is not the answer.

After a tragedy such as this, video games often receive immediate scrutiny... Studies may have found corollary evidence linking violent games to violent behavior, but... correlation does not equal causation, and there is no convincing evidence of a causal effect here. There are simply too many lurking variables—socially awkward teenagers may play violent video games, but so do many perfectly happy teens. We cannot prove that playing the games somehow morphs teens into serial killers.

Many people are concerned and look to lawmakers to respond. We must be reasonable, however, in our expectations. There will always be sociopaths and oddballs... We cannot hope to make every single person happy or non-violent. Exaggerating the link between video games and teen violence in this case smacks more of political ploy than effective measure...

More of the weight of such crimes must fall on the parents and others who leave such weapons in reach... Stricter penalties and regulations on gun sales could help keep such weapons out of troubled hands, but, as long as licensed guns are available, we must work harder to keep them secure.

Head of German Police Union Calls For Ban on Violent Video Games

March 22, 2009 -

The head of Germany's police union in the state of Hesse has called for a ban on violent video games in the wake of a horrific school shooting earlier this month.

Echo Online cites comments made by Heini Schmitt, head of the Hessen German Police Union (DPolG):

It is known that in every situation in which a violent rampage (Amoklauf) has occurred, the perpetrator has had a remarked addiction to so-called killergames. The manner of the deed is astonishingly similar to virtual examples.

 

For him, the fact that roughly a third of children and youths "regularly and addictively escape into a virtual world" sets off alarm bells. Age restrictions for such games are often ignored.  There is admittedly no proof "that these frequent escapes into virtual killerworlds can contribute to such insane deeds", said Schmitt, "But neither can the role killergames be completely dismissed." 

 

When a chance to remove a probable cause exists, it must be used, insisted the chief of the national police union. "The world would be no poorer if there were no more killergames."

GP: Thanks to GamePolitics Forum mod Hannah for the translation!

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U.K. School Arson Thwarted After Threat Posted on Game Site

March 21, 2009 -

A message (see pic at left) posted on popular game download site Newgrounds has led to the arrest of a 16-year-old British youth.

According to a CBC report, 21-year-old J.P. Neufeld, a college student in Montreal, noticed the teen's message which indicated that he planned to burn down his school:

"I saw this thread started by this guy. It didn't seem serious at first. It said that today at 11:30 a.m. GMT I will commit violence and other forms of arson against my school [in Norfolk]. He had posted a picture of a gas can"...

 

Police were able to track down information about the suspect and school—leading them to an arrest. A 16-year-old male in possession of a knife, matches and canister of flammable liquid was taken into custody outside the school.

Via: Gizmodo

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Cybercop: No Good Reason For Adults to Own Animal Crossing

March 17, 2009 -

Law enforcement is an increasingly challenging job, so GP likes to see police officers well trained and well-informed.

Moreover, with an uptick in the number of incidents in which alleged pedophiles have made contact with their victims through online games, this is clearly a venue that the police need to be able to understand and deal with effectively when the need arises.

That being said, we hope these comments by an investigator with the Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force were somehow misquoted or taken out of context:

"There is no reason an adult should have [Animal Crossing: City Folk]," says Andy Anderson, Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force.

Anderson says adults playing "Animal Crossing" and similar games are likely doing it for the wrong reasons.

Actually, there are many adults who enjoy the Animal Crossing series.

GP: Personally, I haven't had time to get into AC: City Folk, but I enjoyed the original Animal Crossing on GameCube and once passed an entire Philly-LAX flight playing AC: Wild World on the DS. So, it's kind of disheartening to see adult ownership of Animal Crossing eyed with suspicion by the police.

Thanks to: GamePolitics reader eugaet for the tip!

UPDATE: Crispy Gamer caught up with KMIZ News Director, Curtis Varns, who retreated a bit from the original story:

I think Detective Anderson’s comments did take the story down an unintended path. We decided to do the story to let viewers know children had been contacted inappropriately through the game. It was not intended to be an indictment of the game or a smear piece on any form of interactive entertainment.

 

The point of the story was to make parents aware so they could decide whether or not they needed to keep a watchful eye on their kids’ activities. The reporter even wrapped the story up by stressing police were not putting this information out to make people paranoid rather trying to make them aware. Upon reviewing the story, I fear much of the intent has been lost because of the comments we allowed into the story.

Looks like a case of good intentions, but flawed execution by KMIZ.

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Cops: Suspected Pedophile Targeted 11-year-old Via PlayStation 3

March 16, 2009 -

A 24-year-old Kentucky man is under arrest, charged with persuading an 11-year-old Texas girl to send nude photos of herself through her PlayStation 3.

As reported by Houston's ABC-13, police allege that Anthony Scott O'Shea's manipulation of his victim was managed entirely via the console. Sgt Gary Spurger told ABC-13:

He used the PS3 for everything, checked his email, played on the internet, on his PS3 and of course, played his games on PS3, but had no computer...

 

[O'Shea] asked for pictures of her breasts. She said no. He said friends do things for each other. You're on my friends list. If you don't, I'm gonna remove you, at which point she feels nervous and scared and sent the pictures.

Police say that Shea mailed the girl's pictures to others around the country. The suspect's bail is set at $300,000.

For its part, Sony provided investigators with technical assistance in the case.

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Nasty Prank: Woman's Child Offered for Sale on Xbox Live

March 11, 2009 -

A Florida woman is understandably upset after someone posted a message on Xbox Live advertising that her two-year-old daughter was for sale - and included her home phone number. The offer included free shipping.

As reported by the Charlotte Sun, Christa Manos of Punta Gorda began receiving angry phone calls from Xbox Live users on Saturday night.:

The [first caller] was furious Manos would consider putting a price tag on her child.

At first, it sounded like a prank. But the phone kept ringing, with more and more angry voices from across the United States. Some just cursed at Manos. Others called her a bad mother. She didn't know what they were talking about.

"By the 18th or 19th call, I knew something wasn't right," Manos said.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office is investigating.

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New Zealand Censor: Prosecute Parents Who Give Violent Games to Kids

March 7, 2009 -

New Zealand's chief government censor has called for the prosecution of parents who give their children access to violent video games, according to stuff.co.nz.

Bill Hastings (left) hopes that such cases - apparently enabled by Kiwi law - will provide "shock value" to deter other parents from making similar choices in regard to their children's media consumption:

They might think the offence is silly, but it ain't... That's what the law says, but... you're not going to have police officers in every bedroom... There would certainly be some shock value to prosecuting a parent who gives their under-18 child access to a restricted game. It would send out a message that the enforcement agency means business.

I think the word 'game' can mislead people for sure. It's not checkers. For the first time in history, kids are more savvy with technology than parents... parents need to get up to speed on the digital divide. They need to look at what their kids are playing and doing...

 

It should be the pleasure in being able to sleep at night knowing that you have done the right thing by your kids. That should be the motivating factor.

Under the law, parents could be fined up to NZ$10,000 or imprisoned for three months.

GP: But if the parents are in jail, who will monitor the kids then?

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Trial for Pirate Bay Operators Gets Underway in Sweden

February 16, 2009 -

Four Swedish men who founded the popular torrent site The Pirate Bay face criminal accusations today in a Stockholm courtroom.

As reported by afterdawn, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundstroem are charged with "promoting violations by other people of laws protecting royalties." The quartet is also being sued for US$17.6 million by the video game, movie and music industries.

Meanwhile the Guardian reports that The Pirate Bay crew has worked to create a festive air around the court case:

The Pirate Bay team held a press conference on Sunday complete with a small brass band, which they have posted on mobile video site Bambuser. In fact, there is a 'spectrial' channel on Bambuser to follow breaking developments...

While the hashtag is useful, some of the best Twitter coverage is coming from Sofia, a Swede in San Francisco. Due to the 140-character limit on Twitter, she is using a abbreviations, which she explains on her blog. Blogger Zondron also has a good list of links for live audio feeds and blogger coverage of the trial.

However, a lawyer for the film biz isn't buying into the fun. Monique Wadsted said:

It's not a political trial, it's not the trial that has as its purpose to shut down some kind of people's library or to prohibit any file-sharing technique. It's a trial that regards four persons that have conducted the commercial activity, earning a lot of money in providing the possibility for others to make pirate copies of big commercial productions, movies, music and popular computer games.

The operators of The Pirate Bay face up to two years in prison as well as large fines if convicted.

70 comments

No Mention of Games in Police Profile of NIU Shooter

February 15, 2009 -

Despite assertions from some quarters that violent video games played a role in the February, 2008 shooting rampage at Northern Illinois University, CNN reports that shooter Steven Kazmierczak had a troubled mental health history and was obsessed with the Saw series of horror films.

Games are not mentioned by CNN, which reports that it was granted access to a copy of the NIU investigative report by an author who claims to have obtained it from a law enforcement source.

GamePolitics readers may recall that, in the days following the shooting, disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson alleged a violent game connection and threatened to sue NIU for records relating to Kazmierczak's supposed use of violent games.

In addition, Illinois legislator Rep. Robert Pritchard (R) blamed violent video games while absolving guns in the rampage.

From the CNN story:

Kazmierczak was known as "strange Steve" to roommates, studied the Virginia Tech and Columbine massacres and idolized the sadistic killer in the "Saw" horror films, according to documents from the year-long investigation into the NIU killings.

The still-unreleased police file on the shootings, which also left 18 students wounded, shows that 27-year-old Kazmierczak had been hospitalized several times as a teenager for psychiatric issues and had a history of suicide attempts...

freshman suitemates recall him as being obsessed with infamous figures such as Adolf Hitler and Ted Bundy...

GP: As we have pointed out in the past, Kazmierczak was 27 at the time of the NIU rampage. Even if he had been a fan of violent games, no age-based content restriction would have applied to him.

But, the fact that games were mentioned in connection with the NIU killer once again reinforces GP's theory that games will invariably come in for blame when mass shooters are under 30 (see: How Old Is Too Old For Game Blame).

UPDATE: Our old pal Jack Thompson writes in to remind us (and call me a "lying son of a bitch" in the process) that there were reports that Kazmierczak played the first-person shooter Counter-strike.

Note to Jack: we've already covered that several times here on GamePolitics.

Today's story, however, is about the CNN coverage of the NIU investigative report which mentions only Kazmierczak's mental health issues and his affinity for horror films.

THANKS TO: GamePolitics reader Jason Bentley for the tip!

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Honolulu Mayor Vetoes Ban on Gaming, Texting While Driving

February 13, 2009 -

The mayor of Honolulu has vetoed a recently-passed law that would make it illegal to text or play a video game while driving.

As reported by the Honolulu Star, Mayor Mufi Hannemann (left) notified City Council by letter that he was exercising his veto power over concerns about enforcement of the measure. The gaming/texting while driving law was passed by City Council late last month. The Mayor explained his veto in his letter:

I applaud the Council's intent to address this public safety matter. A police officer operating a motor vehicle will only have a second or two to determine if the driver is committing a violation by text messaging or playing a video game.

As GamePolitics has previously reported, Honolulu's police chief also expressed concerns about the ability of his officers to enforce the measure. Mayor Hannemann has indicated that he would support a more generalized ban on cell phone use while driving.

Meanwhile, City Councilman Charles Djou criticized the Mayor's decision:

The facts are as they stood two weeks ago. The Council should override, and the only reason a Council member should change one's mind is politics.

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In Australia, MMOs May Be Target of Police Crackdown

February 4, 2009 -

Could Australian police soon be rounding up retailers who sell World of Warcraft and other massively multiplayer online games?

That's one possible scenario.

As reported by the Syndey Morning Herald, a controversy has arisen Down Under as to whether MMOs need to be rated for content under Australian law.

Government officials believe that - like all other video games - they do. Meanwhile, the Aussie game industry has taken the opposite view. Ron Curry, who heads the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia told the newspaper that MMOs do not fall under content classification requirement because they are hosted outside of Australian territory:

There are different classification requirements for games depending on how they are accessed by consumers. For instance, for a game sold off the shelf, where the media material is stored on a disk in the package, the classification requirements are straight forward and you will see the classification label on the box.

However, in some instances the box sold in a retail outlet contains an access key to the game which can only be accessed online. If such a game is hosted locally it falls under the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Services Act, but if it is hosted internationally, it’s classified in the country that hosts the game, rather than in Australia.

However, a spokesman for New South Wales Attorney-General John Hatzistergos (left) disagreed:

The NSW [game rating] legislation covers computer games bought online as well as those bought in stores, and treats single, multi-player and online games the same way... If there is any suggestion that any business is trading illegally, police need to know, and it should be reported.

Ditto, said a representative of Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland:

The National Classification Scheme does not distinguish between games based on whether or not they contain a single player component. Online games are computer games within the meaning of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 and are covered under the existing legislation.

In the North American market, MMOs are rated by the ESRB just as are single-player games. Time and money are involved in that process. Those factors are likely behind the stance adopted by the Australian game publishers.

Feds Say Xbox Live Predator Targeted California Teen

February 3, 2009 -

For the second time in less than a week, authorities have nabbed an alleged pedophile who met his victim on Xbox Live.

In the latest case, federal investigators allege that 27-year-old Edward Stout traveled from Missouri to California, where he engaged in sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl. The two met on Xbox Live more than a year ago.

Last week GamePolitics reported on the arrest of a 19-year-old Ohio man who is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old Ohio boy he met on XBL.

Fresno's CBS-47 has a video report.

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Police Accuse Gamer of Threatening to Blow Up Bomberman Publisher

February 2, 2009 -

Here at GamePolitics, we love to see game consumer activism. But police in Japan accuse a local gamer of taking the concept way too far.

29-year-old Takao Ike apparently became disenchanted with game offerings from Hudson Entertainment. Ike sent nearly a dozen threatening messages to the Japanese publisher. In one he said that a bomb would kill everyone at the firm. In another he attempted to extort money.

In a confession to police, Ike said:

I did it because I posted my demands concerning the games, but the games didn't improve.

Ironically, Hudson publishes the Bomberman series.

Via: Kotaku

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Younger Half of Father-son Spy Duo Smuggled Russian $$$ in PlayStation Case

January 30, 2009 -

It's bad enough that rogue CIA agent Harold Nicholson (left) sold out his country for money. But it's simply unconscionable that Nicholson dragged his son into his traitorous world.

The New York Times reports that the FBI has charged Nicholson and his 24-year-old son Nathan with espionage.

From his jail cell, the elder Nicholson allegedly recruited his son to make contact with his former Russian handlers:

Prosecutors said Nathan Nicholson, a former Army paratrooper, had returned from his visits with the Russians with at least $35,000 in cash, some of it in a PlayStation video game case.

 

The money was intended in part to settle a “pension” that Harold Nicholson said was owed him from his days as a C.I.A. spy for the Russians before his arrest in 1996, the prosecutors said.

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Police Dismiss Video Game Link in Portland Shooting Rampage

January 30, 2009 -

It appears that investigators in Portland, Oregon are not focusing on rampage shooter Erik Ayala's fondness for violent video games.

The Portland Mercury spoke with Detective Mark Slater of Portland P.D., who commented on reports that linked linked the 24-year-old Ayala to Left 4 Dead and Resistance: Fall of Man:

[Local newspaper] The Oregonian prompted controversy on Monday, January 26, when it reported that "one of the things that bought Ayala joy" was playing violent videogames. Slater said a copy of the videogame Grand Theft Auto III was found at Ayala's apartment, but said police were not pursuing a link between videogames and the shooting.

"There were a lot of videogames in the apartment," said Slater. "Of a wide variety of the kind you might find in any 24-year-old's apartment."

In regard to the video game angle, GamePolitics has learned that anti-game violence activist Jack Thompson unsuccessfully attempted to involve himself in the Ayala case. Thompson forwarded GP a copy of a January 26th e-mail in which the disbarred attorney complained to Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer that detectives weren't acting on his theory that video games prompted the rampage:

Dear Chief Sizer:

I have information that would be useful to establish further the apparent causal link between the violent video game play of alleged killer Ayala and the recent incident at the teen club.

Some detective in the Bureau with whom I spoke has been compromised by the video game industry, and he was anticipating my call.

I think your Bureau and you put public safety ahead of the pro-video game bias and gaming activities of this detective.

Please have some responsible detective contact me on this, as these incidents tied to games are popping up all over the place.  Thanks.

As GamePolitics has documented over the years, Thompson characteristically makes contact with law enforcement personnel in the wake of shooting rampages to suggest that violent video games played a role.

Those contacts between Thompson and law enforcement officials have at times become contentious.

In 2007, for example, Thompson sued the Omaha Police Department for information concerning a troubled 18-year-old who opened fire at a local mall. Last year, Thompson threatened to sue the Public Safety Department of Northern Illinois University following a campus shooting spree committed by a 27-year-old man with a history of mental health problems. In both cases, the disbarred attorney sought evidence of video game play on the part of the shooters.

GP: Thanks to GP reader Cabel Sasser for the link to the Mercury story!

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19-Year-Old Xbox Live Gamer is Alleged Traveling Pedophile

January 27, 2009 -

Police in Ohio have charged a 19-year-old Michigan man with traveling to Parma and raping a 12-year-old boy.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Codey Hawks (left) met his victim on Xbox Live where he played an unspecified online game with the boy and his father.

From the newspaper report:

Hawks... called the victim's family when he arrived [in Ohio] and asked if he could stay with them. Hawks said he'd joined the National Guard and was to ship out in February.

At some point, the parents became suspicious and confronted their son about his relationship with Hawks. They called police after learning its nature.

Compton said Parma detectives questioned Hawks and he admitted that he assaulted the boy while staying at the family's home when the parents weren't there. Hawks now is in the county jail.

Police are looking for other victims...

41 comments

Rampage Shooter Willed PlayStation 3 to Roommate in Suicide Note

January 26, 2009 -

Erik Ayala (left), the 24-year-old Oregon man whose weekend shooting rampage  left two dead and seven wounded, willed his PlayStation 3 to a roommate before embarking his murderous mission.

The Oregonian reports that a suicide note found by police in Ayala's apartment even specified how much his roommate might earn by selling his PS3:

And to my friend, (redacted)

I am especially sorry. I know it's not much consolation but as my friend and roommate you are entitled to everything that I own. Maybe these things can bring in a few bucks.

Good luck in this shitty world...

You know my ps3 is special. Similiar USED ps3's go for AT LEAST $450-$500. Our landlord guy wants a ps3 like mine. Let him know that $400 would be a GOOD deal. If he doesn't want it, format the drive by going to Settings>System>Format Utility. You can say it "comes with the latest firmware software" to help market it on the internet. In case you don't know, it's the special "100% backwards compatible" (60 GB) ps3.

I'm sorry to put all this on you buddy, good luck.

As GamePolitics noted earlier today, Ayala, who remains in critical condition after shooting himself in the head, was reportedly a fan of FPS game Resistance: Fall of Man and Left 4 Dead.

UPDATE: Ayala has died, reports The Oregonian.

46 comments

Portland Shooter Played Left 4 Dead, Resistance: Fall of Man

January 26, 2009 -

A man who killed two girls and wounded seven other people at a teen club in Portland, Oregon on Saturday night, was a player of two popular first-person shooter games, according to a report in The Oregonian.

24-year-old Erik Salvador Ayala, who remains in critical condition after shooting himself in the head, is described as quiet with an interest in video games and computers. Acquaintances said that had not previously exhibited violent tendencies and they were unaware that he owned a gun. From the report:

One of the things that brought him joy was playing video games such as "Resistance: Fall of Man," in which an Army Ranger fights an alien race that is trying to take over the world, or "Left 4 Dead," where the object is to slay fighting zombies.

Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer told the press:

At first blush this incident appears to be a random act of violence of the kind that makes you despair for America.

53 comments

Prison Tycoon Game Gets a Beatdown from Bloggers

January 22, 2009 -

A strategy game which challenges players to create and manage a private prison empire has outraged some observers.

Of ValuSoft's Prison Tycoon 4: Supermax, the Criminal Justice blog writes:

[Building] a private prison? Who would want to spend free time building an elaborate cage, allowing gang wars, drugs and racial violence to fester in an attempt to earn more money? This is the fourth version of the game, so apparently someone is playing it.

I guess there's a video game version of nearly everything one can imagine. But the existence of this game... highlights the disturbing prevalence of prisons in our society. This game takes for granted that prisons are everywhere and that they are simply a tool for profit. That's a sad place to be.

The architecturally-oriented BldgBlog couches its dismay in sarcasm:

The description of Prison Tycoon 4: SuperMax... urges players to experiment in the architectural framing and administrative implementation of prison life.

 

"Build a profitable privately run prison from the ground up... Grow your facility to SuperMax capabilities, housing the most dangerous and diabolical criminals on earth – all for the bottom line."

 

Putting moral limits on our imaginations temporarily aside, perhaps we could even conceive of Prison Tycoon 5: Guantánamo Bay, or Prison Tycoon 6: Austrian Basement Edition. Prison Tycoon 7: Gulag. Prison Tycoon 8: Escape from Abu Ghraib...

Prison Photography takes a more blunt view:

Prison Tycoon is less gratuitous than Grand Theft Auto and the like. But I don’t know if this is any comfort. To manipulate a virtual prison population with “friendly interaction and fighting between inmates dependent upon mood and gang affiliation” and to rely on “guards [who] will subdue aggressive prisoners, medical staff to treat injuries, chaplains administer to prisoner’s spiritual needs and therapists talk to prisoners to lift their spirits” seems a bit too sinister and calculated for an evening of gaming...

Really, why does this game exist? I suppose it is just completing the loop - the gamer, as a God of Pixels, can create criminals in his other games and then manipulate them in this one.

24 comments

Destructoid's User Records Compromised

January 19, 2009 -

Irreverent video game site Destructoid is cleaning up a bit of a mess this morning.

According to an e-mail we received from Destructoid editor Niero, a hacker cracked the site's user database over the weekend:

This is the letter every web site operator hopes he never has to write: it seems a glitch in our web site allowed someone to exploit the database this weekend. We have confirmed that the intruder succesfully obtained everyone's username and password.

As soon as we were alerted we shut down all servers, changed all passwords, took our forums offline, and notified everyone via email... We're doing everything we can do prevent this from ever happening again and deeply apologize for this incovenience.

On the bright side, we intentionally store very little personally identifiable information. However, you may still be at risk: If you frequently use the same password for other web services... we strongly urge you to update your password ASAP...


Destructoid has reported the incident to IC3 (FBI's internet crime complaint
arm)... We are also offering a $1,000 award to anyone with information that leads us to prosecuting the intruder...

9 comments

"Mortal Kombat Killer" Gets 36 Years in Child's Death

January 19, 2009 -

Lamar Roberts is going away for a long time.

In December, the 18-year-old pleaded guilty in the December, 2007 death of 7-year-old Zoe Garcia, the step-sister of Roberts' girlfriend, Heather Trujillo. Roberts and Trujillo reportedly acted out moves from Mortal Kombat on Zoe.

9News reports that a Colorado judge has sentenced Roberts to 36 years in prison. Of the sentence, Roberts told the court:

I do agree to get what I get. I'm not a monster, your honor. I'm truly sorry (for) what happened.

Roberts, who was 17 at the time of the slaying, was tried as an adult. Trujillo received 18 years, but her sentence will be suspended if she successfully completes a six-year program for youthful offenders.

43 comments

Judge Comes Down Hard on Video Games in Halo 3 Murder Trial

January 13, 2009 -

As GamePolitics reported yesterday, a judge in Lorain County, Ohio ruled that 17-year-old Daniel Petric was guilty of shooting his parents in a dispute over whether or not the teen could play Halo 3. Petric's mother was killed in the 2007 incident.

A comment made by Judge James Burge during the delivery of his verdict in the case of gamer Petric is getting wide play in both the mainstream and gaming press:

I firmly believe that Daniel Petric had no idea at the time he hatched this plot that if he killed his parents, they would be dead forever.

Pretty negative toward games, right? But Burge's full remarks are much worse. GamePolitics created the transcript below from a video of the sentencingwhich is posted on the website of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

By way of context, Judge Burge explains that expert testimony during Petric's trial failed to establish an insanity defense, forcing him to find Petric guilty as charged. But the judge apparently believes that the young man is deeply troubled and that video games are a primary factor:

The Court must enter a finding of guilty on the counts set forth in the indictment. That being said, it's my firm belief as a human being - and not as a jurist - that Daniel does suffer from a serious defect of the mind.

 

This Court's opinion is that we don't know enough about these video games. In this particular case, not so much the violence of the game because I believe in the Halo 3, what it amounts to is a contest to see who can shoot the most aliens who attack.

 

It's my firm belief that after a while the same physiological responses occur that occur in the ingestion of some drugs. And I believe that an addiction to these games can do the same thing. The dopamine surge, the stimulation  of the nucleus accumbens - the same as an addiction. Such that when you stop, your brain won't stand for it.

 

The other dangerous thing about these games, in my opinion, is that when these changes occur, they occur in an environment that is delusional. Because you can shoot these aliens, and they're there again the next day. You have to shoot them again. And I firmly believe that Daniel Petric had no idea, at the time he hatched this plot, that if he killed his parents, they would be dead forever.

Burge's parting shot seems to indicate a belief on the judge's part that we haven't heard the last of Daniel Petric and his supposed video game issues:

But I believe there is hope here. I believe that it will start here and, uh, at some point when all is known about Daniel and what occurred here we will be able to achieve a greater sense of justice.

142 comments

 
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NeenekoAh yes, because by building something nice they were just asking for people to come push them out. Consequences are protested all the time when other people are implementing them.04/17/2014 - 2:06pm
Matthew Wilsonok than they should not protest when the consequences of that choice occur.04/17/2014 - 1:06pm
NeenekoIf people want tall buildings, plenty of other cities with them. Part of freedom and markets is communities deciding what they do and do not want built in their collective space.04/17/2014 - 12:55pm
Sora-ChanI realize that they have ways getting around it, but one reason might be due to earthquakes.04/17/2014 - 4:42am
Matthew WilsonSF is a tech/ economic/ trade center it should be mostly tail building. this whole problem is because of the lack of tail buildings. How would having tail apartment buildings destroy SF? having tail buildings has not runed other cities around the US/world04/16/2014 - 10:51pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the issue is you can not build upwards anywhere in SF at the moment, and no you would not. You would bring prices to where they should have been before the market distortion. those prices are not economic or socially healthy.04/16/2014 - 10:46pm
ZippyDSMleeYou still wind up pushing people out of the non high rise aeras but tis least damage you can do all things considered.04/16/2014 - 10:26pm
ZippyDSMleeANd by mindlessly building upward you make it like every place else hurting property prices,ect,ect. You'll have to slowly segment the region into aeras where you will never build upward then alow some aeras to build upward.04/16/2014 - 10:25pm
Matthew WilsonSF have to build upwards they have natural growth limits. they can not grow outwards. ps growing outwards is terable just look at Orlando or Austin for that.04/16/2014 - 4:15pm
ZippyDSMleeIf they built upward then it would becoem like every other place making it worthless, if they don't build upward they will price people out making it worthless, what they need to do is a mix of things not just one exstreme or another.04/16/2014 - 4:00pm
Matthew Wilsonyou know the problem in SF was not the free market going wrong right? it was government distortion. by not allowing tall buildings to be build they limited supply. that is not free market.04/16/2014 - 3:48pm
ZippyDSMleeOh gaaa the free market is a lie as its currently leading them to no one living there becuse they can not afford it makign it worthless.04/16/2014 - 3:24pm
Matthew WilsonIf you have not read http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/introducing-steam-gauge-ars-reveals-steams-most-popular-games/ you should. It is a bit stats heavy, but worth the read.04/16/2014 - 2:04pm
Matthew Wilsonthe issue is when is doesn't work it can screw over millions in new york city's case. more often than not it is better to let the free market run its course without market distortion.04/16/2014 - 9:36am
NeenekoTrue, and overdone stagnation is a problem. It is a tricky balance. It does not help that when it does work, no one notices. Most people here have benifited from rent controls and not even realized it.04/16/2014 - 9:23am
ZippyDSMleehttp://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2014/04/15/riaa_files_civil_suit_against_megaupload04/16/2014 - 8:48am
ZippyDSMleeEither way you get stagnation as people can not afford the prices they set.04/16/2014 - 8:47am
Neenekowell, specifically it helps people already living there and hurts people who want to live there instead. As for 'way more hurt', majorities generally need less legal protection. yes it hurt more people then it helped, it was written for a minority04/16/2014 - 8:30am
MaskedPixelantehttp://torrentfreak.com/square-enix-drm-boosts-profits-and-its-here-to-stay-140415/ Square proves how incredibly out of touch they are by saying that DRM is the way of the future, and is here to stay.04/16/2014 - 8:29am
james_fudgeUnwinnable Weekly Telethon playing Metal Gear http://www.twitch.tv/rainydayletsplay04/16/2014 - 8:06am
 

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