Activision Cuts 30 Jobs at Minneapolis Office

October 31, 2012 -

Activision has confirmed that it has eliminated 30 full-time positions at its Minneapolis office. The Minneapolis Minnesota office was mostly recently responsible for licensed titles such as the Cabela hunting games. The reduction in staff is due to Activision's new strategy for 2013 which will offer substantially fewer licensed titles in 2013.

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Free Coursera Courses Off Limits to Minnesota Residents

October 19, 2012 -

The state of Minnesota apparently doesn't like free online education that could benefit its citizens. The state has decided to tell California-based online education startup Coursera that it is not allowed to offer its online courses to the state’s residents without first getting permission from the state and paying a registration fee. Coursera was founded by Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, and partners with top universities around the world to offer certain classes online for free to anyone who wants access to them.

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Minnesota Lawmakers Seek to Ban Community Broadband

March 9, 2012 -

It seems like state legislators are lining up to pass legislation designed to protect the interests of corporations in the business of providing broadband services. Minnesota is the latest state to offer legislation meant to forbid community broadband projects, joining states like Georgia and North Carolina. The bill before lawmakers in Minnesota, "HF 2695," specifically bars any community from building a broadband network within the state.

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Pawlenty: We Need Curriculum that Fees Like Call of Duty 3

March 9, 2011 -

Speaking at Iowa State University this week, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said that one of the best ways to deal with the ever-escalating costs of a higher education might be found in video games and technology. Pawlenty is on the stump because - many believe - he will take a run at becoming president in 2012. Pawlenty mentioned remote learning during a brief question & answer session with ISU Republicans. His answer was in response to a question about how he reconciles his goal of improving education with spending cuts.

"Let’s say you can scale the best Econ 101 lecture and not a lecture, not some guy standing in a room lecturing but let’s say it has all the sights and sounds and video and visual components of Call of Duty 3, but now it’s Econ 101. Or instead of learning about WW II, you’re fighting in WW II."

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Rasmussen College Adds Game Curriculums

September 23, 2010 -

Looks like the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) will have to update its list of U.S. colleges and universities offering videogame courses and degrees, as Rasmussen College is about to become the latest institute of higher learning to offer game-related curriculums.

Franken, FCC to Speak at Future of the Internet Forum

August 19, 2010 -

Minnesota senator and funny man Al Franken will give the opening remarks alongside FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn (who were both invited by Franken) at the Free Press-sponsored Future of the Internet forum in Minneapolis today - says Politico. Speaking to Tech Daily Dose, Franken's office said that the hearing "comes in the wake of Google's pact with Verizon to build toll lanes on the Internet," a reference to the proposal last week from the two companies as an alternative to FCC regulations.

The invite for the event reads: "Members of the community are encouraged to attend and to share their ideas, experiences and concerns with the commissioners. The meeting will focus on the FCC's responsibility to protect the open Internet for consumers and to foster universal broadband access across the country."

The event will take place at 6 p.m. in Minneapolis, and is co-hosted by Free Press, the Main Street Project and the Center for Media Justice.

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Target Faces Ire of Gay Rights Advocates over Campaign Contribution

August 18, 2010 -

Target is feeling a fair amount of heat over donations it made to a Minnesota politician who opposes gay marriage this week. According to a Politico report, the company isn't backing down from its decision to do that and has rebuffed suggestions that it donates a similar amount to pro-gay candidates. Decidedly liberal group MoveOn.org is cheesed off about all of that and is taking the fight to airwaves and the street.

The group has created a 30-second ad slamming Target and asking consumers to boycott the nationwide retailer. The battle is all about Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who received a $150,000 donation from Target. Human Rights Campaign and other gay rights groups are trying to apply pressure and turn public opinion against the company for its support of the would-be governor because of his staunch opposition to gay marriage.

We're not sure that it is working, but MoveOn is certainly a powerful force when it excerts to full measure of its wrath on a target.

Target this week issued a statement claiming that it "maintains and fully supports the gay and lesbian community in its workplaces and through corporate sponsorships."

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Target Facing Backlash over Campaign Donation

July 30, 2010 -

Minneapolis-based retailer Target has raised some eyebrows concerning a $150,000 donation the company made to a “Republican-friendly” political group in the state.

As if choosing a political side wasn’t enough to anger some Target shoppers, the contribution to MN Forward is also being used to run ads for Republican Gubernatorial Tom Emmer, who, according to CBS News, opposes same-sex marriage, angering another whole segment of consumers.

The embedded video shows former Target customer Randi Reitan, who has a gay son, returning a full shopping cart of merchandise to Target in protest over the donation.

Target donated $100,000 in cash to MN Forward and another $50,000 in brand consulting.  CBS also reports that Target’s fellow Minnesota-based retailer Best Buy donated $100,000 to MN Forward as well.

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Minnesota Gains Media Arts School

October 30, 2009 -

The Madison Media Institute (MMI) is set to opena new branch in Minnesota that will offer multiple degree paths, including Game Art & Animation and Digital Media Design & Production.

Dubbed the Minnesota Media Institute, the Edina-based campus is set on the former home of legendary producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who had called it Flyte Tyme Studios. Grammy-award winning producer and engineer Tom Tucker was part of a group that purchased the space with a goal of launching a world-class training center.

MMI President Chris Hutchings said:

We`re excited to establish a Twin Cities location for MMI, and we’re very much looking forward to bringing our expertise to an already thriving arts community.

An open house to celebrate the branch’s grand opening is scheduled for November 28th.

2 comments

Obama's Exclusive Super Bowl Party Guest List Includes Congressional Game Biz Critics

February 1, 2009 -

Between the food, the football, the commercials and the schmoozing, it's unlikely that the topic of video game regulation will come up at President Barack Obama's White House Super Bowl party this evening.

But if it does, at least two of the Congressional types on his small, bipartisan guest list have some background on the issue.

In December, 2007 Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) stood with Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and Family as Walsh zinged the video game industry for what he referred as "an ominous backslide."

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who is known for almost never missing a vote, proposed a 2005 Congressional resolution directing the FTC to investigate the Hot Coffee scandal. In 2006 he sponsored the  Video Game Decency Act, a piece of legislation which ultimately failed to pass.

Perhaps more interesting than the (admittedly unlikely) video game angle is trying to decipher the formula used by the Prez in determining his guest list:

  • 11 Democrats, 4 Republicans
  • 5 from Pennsylvania (Steelers?)
  • 2 from Arizona (Cardinals?)
  • 1 from Illinois (Obama's old Senate partner)
  • 1 each from Minnesota, Maryland, Michigan, DC, Alabama, Connecticut and New Hampshire

Game-Legislating Minnesota Guv Goes for Joyride in Xbox-equipped Van "Stolen" from Everclear

September 1, 2008 -

He may have lost out on the Republican party's vice presidential nod, but Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently had a memorable ride in an Xbox-equipped van inadvertently stolen from the band Everclear.

As GamePolitics has previously reported, Gov. Pawlenty signed Minnesota's 2006 "fine the buyer" video game law into effect. The measure was later deemed unconstitutional by a pair of federal courts.

As reported by TwinCities.com:

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty spent Sunday riding around Pennsylvania in a stolen van. The theft was inadvertent; his Keystone State driver was told to pick up the keys to the vehicle in which he was to shepherd the governor at the Holiday Inn in Allentown, Pa.

 

"He did exactly what he was told, except it was the wrong Holiday Inn and the wrong van," said Pawlenty... The van the driver picked up was a tricked-out touring vehicle, complete with an LCD video screen, an Xbox and video games and an iPod-ready, six-speaker stereo system.

The van retrieved by Pawlenty's driver was full of beer cans and had been used to to transport Everclear to their hotel. Ironically, the band was enroute to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

When the driver mistakenly showed up at Everclear's hotel, he was given the keys to the van by front desk personnel. Later, when the van turned up missing, owner Sharky Laguana reported it to local police as stolen. When the mystery was finally solved, Laguana said:

I've had a lot of crazy things happen in our vans. I don't know that this is even the craziest thing that's happened in our vans. ... This is the funnest thing...

GP: Actually, the funniest thing would have been for the police to spot the "stolen" van and perform a takedown on its occupants.

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McCain's VP Choice Not Likely to Impress Gamers

August 29, 2008 -

Tim Pawlenty? Mitt Romney? Tom Ridge?

With Republican presidential candidate John McCain's VP choice due later today, these three names have been bandied about in recent days. While Ridge has historically been quiet on video game issues, Pawlenty and Romney (seen with McCain at left)come with major baggage as far as gamers are concerned.

That said, Ridge seems an unlikely choice, since he adds little to the McCain ticket. For one thing, he's older than the other two and McCain would seem to need some youthful balance in a running mate. For another, as former Homeland Security Director, he's too closely associated with the Bush Administration in a time when the electorate craves change. And although he is from a key state, he doesn't seem likely to swing Pennsylvania red in November.

That leaves Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts as potential VP choices. As we said, both have a negative history with video game issues.

Pawlenty signed Minnesota's notorious, 2006 "fine the buyer" legislation into law. The bill, which would have fined underage buyers of M-rated games $25, was quickly overturned by a federal judge. Minnesota also lost a subsequent appeal on that decision. Pawlenty, who has owned up to playing NHL2K5 with his kids, brings youth to the McCain ticket.

For his part, Romney (who apparently thinks torturing real people is okay) made the cartoon violence of video games a theme of his failed 2008 presidential bid. Romney is a favorite of the religious right, a group which is not particularly fond of McCain.

UPDATE: CNN is reporting that Pawlenty is out of the running and is also speculating that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is in the VP mix...

10 comments

In Wake of $65K Video Game Law Settlement, Minnesota Newspaper Takes a Swipe at ESA

July 4, 2008 -

The Entertainment Software Association took a victory lap this week, announcing the recovery of $65,000 in legal fees from Minnesota after the state abandoned further appeals of its failed 2006 video game law.

An editorial in yesterday's Duluth News-Tribune, however, dinged the ESA while acknowledging that Minnesota's fine-the-buyer legislation law was "flawed":

From the outset, the law skirted First Amendment rights and targeted the wrong people - minors... The logic was counter to that of more effective laws to protect minors, such as penalties to bars that allow underage drinking or fines to stores that sell cigarettes to kids.

 

...Though [Attorney General Lori] Swanson had indicated then she would continue to defend it, this week she cut her losses. Hence, the $65,000 of legal fees.

 

"Minnesota's citizens should be outraged at paying the bill for this flawed plan," Michael D. Gallagher, CEO of the video game trade association, said in a statement.

 

He's right, but what about his group's members who make and market games depicting sexual exploitation and violence as fun?

 

A little outrage is due there, too, for creating the problem in the first place.

Via: West Central Tribune (the Duluth News-Tribune link isn't working as I write this)

27 comments

Minnesota Guv Who Signed Failed Video Game Law is a Bit of a Gamer Himself

July 4, 2008 -

It was widely reported this week that Minnesota would reimburse the video game industry $65,000 for legal fees incurred fighting the state's 2006 "fine the buyer" video game law in federal court.

Oddly enough, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who signed the bill into law after it was approved by the Minnesota legislature, is apparently a bit of a gamer himself. That news comes from a passing mention buried within a lengthy 2007 profile of Pawlenty in the Weekly Standard. We just happened upon it this morning. Here's the gaming bit:

Growing up, Pawlenty played hockey. He is still a rabid NHL fan. The first website he visits each morning is hockeyfights.com, which shows combat highlights from the previous night's games. He plays the ESPN hockey video game in his spare time, often taking on one of his two daughters.

Okay, so Pawlenty doesn't necessarily keep up with the latest releases. The last ESPN-branded hockey game was ESPN NHL 2K5, released in August, 2004, nearly three years before the Weekly Standard article appeared. Still, it's always nice to see a politician who games, even a little. And always troubling to see one who legislates games. With Pawlenty, you apparently get both.

The Minnesota Guv, by the way, is rumored to be on John McCain's short list of VP candidates.

8 comments

Did Minnesota Negotiate Away Taking Its Video Game Law to the Supreme Court?

July 1, 2008 -

As GamePolitics reported yesterday, the ESA announced that Minnesota would reimburse $65,000 in legal fees to the video game industry over the state's failed 2006 "fine the buyer" video game law.

In our coverage, we mentioned that the move apparently signalled that Minnesota would not be taking the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, its only remaining legal recourse. We've got a call into the office of Attorney General Lori Swanson (left) on the Supreme Court issue, but Finance & Commerce now seems to have nailed that part of the story down:

Attorney General Lori Swanson’s decision not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was “practical,” according to spokesman Benjamin Wogsland, who pointed out that the nation’s highest court takes “less than 1 percent of discretionary cases every year.”

But Paul Smith, an attorney representing the [video game industry] plaintiffs, said Monday that the state decided not to pursue the case further because of a deal that would require the attorney general’s office to pay a reduced amount in fees owed to plaintiff’s lawyers. Smith could not say what the reduced amount was, though a court filing from May 19 shows that the plaintiffs’ lawyers were owed nearly $84,000. Woglsand did not return calls Monday.

 

GP: If Paul Smith is correct, Minnesota essentially bargained away - for $19,000 plus future legal fees -  its opportunity to take its argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. Given all that the state had already invested in the case, that would seem a rather curious decision.

It would have been fascinating - and, yes, risky - for the Supreme Court to consider a video game law, especially given Justice Antonin Scalia's comments to Law of Play blogger Anthony Prestia that game legislation might be constitutional.

9 comments

Minnesota Will Pay $65K to Game Biz Over Failed Law

June 30, 2008 -

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which represents the interests of video game publishers in the United States, has issued a press release announcing that the state of Minnesota will reimburse the industry to the tune of $65,000.

The figure represents legal fees incurred by the video game industry in its court challenge to Minnesota's unusual 2006 "fine-the-buyer" law.

As passed by the Minnesota legislature and signed into law by Governor (and potential Republican VP candidate) Tim Pawlenty (left) in 2006, the law would have turned traditional video game legislation on its head by fining underage buyers of M-rated games $25. Virtually all other video game content bills have sought penalties against retailers.

There were some other noteworthy aspects to the Minnesota situation:

U.S. District Court Judge James Rosenbaum, who ruled the law unconstitutional, borrowed his law clerk's Xbox to check out some violent games while considering his ruling.

Former Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch (D), who defended against the industry's constitutional challenge in its early days, described violent video games in a court filing as "worthless, disgusting speech" and "speech of very low societal value."

Minnesota appealed Judge Rosenbaum's decision's to the 8th Circuit Court, but lost. A request for a review by the entire 8th Circuit was also turned down.

The state's only remaining recourse was the U.S. Supreme Court. Judging from the settlement with the game biz, Minnesota A.G. Lori Swanson has apparently decided not to pursue a Supreme Court decision, but we've got a call into Swanson's office to confirm that.

The ESA originally sought $73,332 in fees in a motion filed in August, 2006. The $65,000 figure indicates that a little bit of negotiating went on.

ESA CEO Michael Gallagher weighed in on the $65,000 payment:

Minnesota’s citizens should be outraged at paying the bill for this flawed plan. Minnesota’s public officials ignored legal precedent and instead pursued a political agenda that ultimately cost taxpayers money. Courts across the United States have ruled consistently that video games are entitled to the same First Amendment protections as other forms of art, such as music and literature...

 

Politicians need to realize that the key to protecting our children from inappropriate media content is not haphazard legislation, but rather parental education. Video games have a first class ratings system supported by retailers, opinion leaders and parents.  It would be a far better use of public funds to help support this system, rather than continue to pursue unconstitutional legislation that works against it.    

GP: In a way, it would have been fascinating to see the Supreme Court make a ruling on this issue.

National Video Game Summit Agenda Details

September 28, 2006 -

The National Institute on Media & Family and Iowa State University have jointly released the agenda for their upcoming National Summit on Video Games, Youth and Public Policy.

The event, scheduled for October 20-21 in Minnesota will feature a number of well-known academics, many of whom have expressed concerns about either video game content issues or video game ratings. According to a press release, the summit will focus on "concerns regarding video game ratings and children’s access to violent and sexually explicit games." Although it is believed that ESRB president Patricia Vance was invited, no video game industry officials are listed as participating. Here's the agenda: 

 
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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

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