Lorne Lanning and Spencer Halpin Headline New Media Film Festival

March 16, 2011 -

Lorne Lanning (Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey), and Spencer Halpin (director of the documentary MORAL KOMBAT) will be joining founder/director Susan Johnston for the second Annual New Media Film Festival, to be held May 20-21. Showcasing the best in new media and featuring award nominated and winning filmmakers, the New Media Film Festival is dedicated to the creation, development, and distribution of new media content in all forms and across all platforms.

Spencer Halpin's Moral Kombat is a documentary that offers both those for and against video games a chance to speak their minds. The documentary explores whether violent games should be banned or be protected as free speech under the First Amendment. Lorne Lanning is the creator of the Xbox launch title Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey and co-founder of the video game development company Oddworld Inhabitants.

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Minecraft Short Released, Feature Film Funding Wanted

February 23, 2011 -

2 Player Productions has released a teaser for its upcoming documentary Minecraft: The Story of Mojang, and have launched a Kickstarter page to raise money to finish the project. The creators are calling the short a proof of concept and are looking to raise around $150,000 in the next 30 days to continue their work. while that might seem like too lofty a goal, anything is possible.

The video gives a good taste of what the documentary will offer and a glimpse into the studio responsible for the breakout indie hit. The filmmakers are offering special edition copies of the film, a Box Pig piggy bank, and a walking Creeper wind-up toy, to those that donate to the Kickstarter project.

Check out the video to your left. Find the Kickstarter page here. The groups previous film work includes Reformat the Planet and Penny Arcade: The Series season 1.

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Netflix DVD Queues Cut from Streaming Devices

January 20, 2011 -

Netflix announced via its blog that it would discontinue adding selections to DVD Queues for steaming devices. Netflix claims that they are doing this so that they can put more of a focus on dealing with instant streaming content and that users can still manager their DVD selections by visiting the Netflix site. Full statement below:

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Games v. Movies: The Numbers

December 28, 2010 -

Update: We mistakenly attributed the post in the story below to David Bordwell. It was actually written by Kristen Thompson. Corrected story below.

Kristin Thompson picks apart the numbers in the November 15 issue of Newsweek, which compares sales of the movie industry with the video game industry. The article appears in "Back Story," the one-page article that comes at the end of each issue. The article, "How Super Is Mario?," puts a brave face on the video game industry. We have heard analysts and research firms say that the video game industry has surpassed movies.

Thompson dissects the numbers in the article and finds that the, while the video game industry is catching up to the movie industry, it still has a long ways to go:

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Report: Madden Curse Could Be EA's Blessing

December 21, 2010 -

Forget about a game based on the Madden NFL games, EA is looking to make a movie based on the curse that goes with each new edition of the game. If you are a fans of the series then you have probably heard of this curse. The folklore goes that anyone who appears on the cover of the game has seriously bad luck. Some get injured, some get fired, some go to jail, etc.

But what EA wants created is a comedy based on "the curse" of being on the cover of its Madden series. Here's some more on the story (unconfirmed as of yet):

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Entertainment Industry Trade Groups: Lawsuits Don't Protect Property

December 13, 2010 -

Trade groups including the Recording Industry Association of America, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Motion Picture Association of America say that currently copyright law gives too many excuses to service providers to do nothing about copyright protection. The statement is part of a response to a Notice of Information on copyright policy issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce. A Notice of Information is a request for information from interested parties and anyone else that wants to make comments about a particular issue. That request garnered responses from nine trade groups.

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OnLive Not Competing With Netflix

December 8, 2010 -

In an article called Don't Believe What You Read: OnLive and Netflix, GamePro catches up with Onlive CEO Ron Perlman to set the record straight after both Reuters and the Wall Street Journal erroneously reported that Onlive had its sights set on competing with Netflix.

OnLive President and CEO Steve Perlman spoke to GamePro yesterday about those stories and said that his quotes about Netflix were taken largely out of context. The quote he is referring to is "OnLive can deliver any experience that Netflix can."

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Netflix Changes Coming Your Way

November 23, 2010 -

Netflix is changing and it is being blamed -- or if you prefer, attributed to -- the viewing habits of subscribers. Today Netflix informed subscribers that soon they would have to pay $1 more a month for the basic one-DVD-at-a-time plus streaming content subscription. The company also announced a $7.99 streaming-only option for consumers. The reason, they say, is that more users are streaming content via various devices -- Wii, Xbox 360, Ps3 -- than watching it via DVDs. The company predicts that by the end of 2010 streaming content consumption will finally outpace disc-based viewing.

While that may very well be true, Netflix's challenge is getting that streaming content to be more robust and current- a complaint voiced repeatedly on its blog today in the midst of this announcement. That being said, you can check out all the changes coming your way by visiting blog.netflix.com.

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UTV: From Film to Games

August 5, 2010 -

An Indian firm known for creating movies is making a big movie into the videogame industry. Ronnie Screwvala, chairman of media & entertainment company, UTV Group, says that his firm has invested £75m (5.5bn rupees) in three game titles. The first - an action game called El Shaddai, was inspired by the Book of Enoch and is due for release later this year.

The company sees this move as "the next logical step" for its business, but analysts - including Piers Harding-Rolls from Screen Digest - sees the move into these markets as "tough" for a company trying to launch new brands.

The company is probably in a better position than most, though; two years ago it bought an Indian development studio specialising in mobile gaming, UK developer Ignition and launched a separate development studio in Gainesville, Florida. All told, the company has three console titles currently in development and is looking to secure a publishing deal before the games are released.

Source: BBC


Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

July 30, 2010 -

While Prince of Persia director Mike Newell may have the magic touch when it comes to creating a decent movie based on a video game, his actual understanding of video games is almost embarrassing. In a recent interview with Computer & Video Games, Newell had a number of disparaging things to say about games and gamers that have made him this week's whipping boy among the video game chattering classes. But in between slamming gamers and games and even his own son's zombie-like devotion to some unnamed action game, Newell said one thing in particular that ticked a lot of people off: that game's can't convey human emotion that a film can.

But let's pull back the curtain a little more and examine his comments; Newell admits that he can't play games, and that, while making Prince of Persia, he had to rely on an assistant to play through the game while he watched. He said that while he watched the game, he felt nothing - just like when he watched his son play some unnamed action game.

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Netherlands Minister Proposes Ban on Violent Imagery (Update)

July 12, 2010 -

GP denizen PHX Corp pointed us towards a Netherlands petition started in reaction to positioning from the Dutch Minister of Justice Ernst Hirsch Ballin (pictured), which indicated that Ballin is seeking criminal prohibition of extremely violent imagery, including videogames.

Ballin seemed to specifically focus on games in his proposed banning, according to an article from Dutch gaming site Bashers (translated). In a letter to the house, Ballin, who intimated that banning violent games would be easier—and draw less resistance— than banning violent movies, wrote (bad translation, sorry):

Mortal Kombat Film Producer Sues Midway Over IP Rights

June 25, 2009 -

The man who brought Mortal Kombat to the big screen has sued Midway in U.S. Bankruptcy Court over what he claims are his intellectual property interests in the franchise. The suit may interfere with a proposed  $33 million sale of Midway assets to Warner Bros.

In a complaint filed yesteday, Lawrence Kasanoff, through his company, Threshold Entertainment, asked the Court to preserve his IP rights including copyrights to certain MK series characters. Kasanoff also wants to retain the right to create derivative film and television projects based on the popular fighting game franchise.

Kasanoff claims that it was he who made Mortal Kombat more than just a video game:

In 1993, Kasanoff visited Midway... with an idea to launch the Mortal Kombat concept in a totally new direction. Specifically, Kasanoff proposed to develop... a full feature-length motion picture, a television series, and other productions. Midway was initially skeptical, as Kasanoff's idea was revolutionary at the time...

 

The Mortal Kombat series, as it stands today, is far more a creation of Threshold and Kasanoff than of Midway. Midway's creative input was almost entirely limited to the videogames. On their own, the videogames provided only minimal back-story and mythology, and only flat, "stock" characters... Kasanoff and Threshold were responsible for virtually all of the creative input that went into turning the videogame concept into a multimedia enterprise.

In his lawsuit, Kasanoff also claims credit for making MK characters like Liu Kang, Sonya Blade and Scorpion into recognizable names. The suit estimates that the franchise has grossed more than $4 billion over the years.

In petitioning the Bankruptcy Court, Kasanoff seeks to block the proposed sale of Mortal Kombat assets to Warner Bros.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of Kasanoff's complaint here.

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Abraham Lincoln: The Video Game

June 19, 2009 -

Having finished Team of Rivals, a study of Abraham Lincoln's politicial genius, blogger Nate Janewit of Tech Industry Guerilla notes with despair that a Spielberg/Peter Jackson film adaptation may be in the works.

Expecting that the movie won't do justice to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Janewit, a program manager in Microsoft's Bing team, goes on to speculate about what a subsequent video game version of Team of Rivals might be like:

[CUE DEEP-VOICED ANNOUNCER AND IMAGES OF EXPLOSIONS]

ANNOUNCER: From the studios that brought you The Sims and Madden 2009 comes…LINCOLN!

[IMAGE OF LINCOLN SITTING IN A CHAIR THINKING]

ANNOUNCER: Balance the conservative and radical elements of your party…

[IMAGE OF LINCOLN WITH HAND IN THE AIR SURROUNDED BY CROWDS]

ANNOUNCER: Placate the masses with your oratorical skill…

[IMAGE OF SALMON CHASE, PLOTTING AGAINST YOU AS SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY]

ANNOUNCER: Navigate the dangerous waters of political intrigue within your own Cabinet!

I can already picture the crowds of enthusiastic gamers lining up or preordering weeks in advance. For some reason, real history just isn’t as interesting as video games.

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Utah Game/Movie Bill Sent to Governor; Video Game Industry Responds

March 20, 2009 -

UPDATED

Having been passed overwhelmingly by the Utah House and Senate, HB 353, the Jack Thompson-conceived video game/movie bill, is now with Gov. Jon Huntsman (R).

The Guv can decide to sign the measure into law or veto it. He may also do nothing, in which case the bill will automatically become law. Given that Utah conservatives have portrayed the bill as protective of children and Huntsman is rumored to have 2012 presidential aspirations, it's highly unlikely that he will exercise his veto power.

With HB 353 landing on Huntsman's desk, game publishers' lobbying group the Entertainment Software Association has upped the pressure ante a bit. The ESA-owned Video Game Voters Network is running an e-mail campaign which urges Huntsman to veto HB 353.

ESA VP of Communications and Industry Affairs Rich Taylor also criticized the bill in an interview with Salt Lake City public radio station KCPW:

Essentially, what it does it has the unintended consequence of creating liability exposure which could force many retailers to either abandon their voluntary policies to enforce video game rating systems, or maybe perhaps choose not to sell video games at all.

Here you have broadly drawn legislative language that seeks to address a fairly small instance of retailers failing to enforce their policies as promoted. The vast, overwhelming majority of retailers are complying, but now they fall within this swinging sight of harm that this legislation introduces.

For his part, Jack Thompson has challenged ESA CEO Mike Gallagher to a debate on the bill, but that's an unlikely occurrence.

Assuming that Huntsman signs the bill into law, it will take effect on January 1, 2010. If and when Huntsman signs, the video game industry will decide whether to challenge the measure in federal court.

Also unclear at this point is where the motion picture industry stands on HB 353. If the ESA and EMA (game retailers) sue, will the MPAA join in?

UPDATE: An industry executive who has been actively involved in the fight against HB 353 assures GamePolitics that the MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners are fully engaged in opposition to the bill.
 

L.A. Times: If Japanese Rape Game Was Banned From Amazon.com, Why Did Film with Brutal Rape Scene Get R-rating?

March 12, 2009 -

Just yesterday, Los Angeles Times entertainment columnist Patrick Goldstein suggested that RapeLay, the controversial Japanese hentai game, was sleazier than any Hollywood movie.

Today, he is apparently not so sure.

What happened to change his mind? Goldstein writes that he wasn't aware of the new film The Last House on the Left:

I guess I owe the makers of RapeLay, the vile Japanese rape-simulator video game, an apology... the [Last House on the Left] remake is even more graphic and disturbing than the [original]. The film's rape scene has already aroused widespread critical outrage...

Roger Ebert, the dean of American critics... lamented: "So now my job as a film critic involves grading rape scenes..."

 

How is it possible that the MPAA ratings board could give a film with this much brutal, graphic violence an R rating instead of an NC-17? I mean, what would it take for the clueless MPAA, which is supposed to serve concerned parents, not powerful studios, to ever draw the line and say to a filmmaker: "You've gone too far..."

 

If the MPAA is willing to give an R rating to "The Last House on the Left," which would allow me to take a bunch of kids to see this new film, then why shouldn't Amazon be allowed to sell Japan's RapeLay video game? It sounds to me like the movie and the video game are really playing in the same "How low can you go?" ballpark.

GP: For clarification's sake, there is no regulatory bar to stop Amazon from selling RapeLay. The giant online retailer voluntarily removed the game, which was being offered by an obscure third-party re-seller.

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Film Project Captures Faces of Kids as they Play Violent Games

December 16, 2008 -

Asylum reports on The Immersion Project, a short film by British fillmaker Robbie Cooper which captures the faces of 9-16 year-olds as they play violent video games.

UK newspaper the Telegraph offers more details:

Head-on film footage [captures] children as they play a number of more or less violent videogames - Halo 3, Call of Duty, GTA 4, Tekken and Star Wars Battlefront...

The results are variable, and intriguing. The children who are most expressive in class, according to their teachers, are also the most expressive in front of the screens. Others - particularly the hardened gamers - remain utterly expressionless: 'Nothing. Not a glimmer of emotion. If you couldn't see the hands moving, you wouldn't know anything was going on at all.'

(There is one expression - an agonised open-mouthed gape, with lips pulled in to cover the teeth - that is seen on several children's faces playing the first-person shooter Call of Duty. It seems, oddly, to be unique to that game.)

Ultimately, reports the Telegraph, Cooper plans to settle on 75 kid subjects and film them for 18 months as they interact with a variety of violent images, including games, films, TV news footage and online videos. Their facial expressions will be recorded and then interpreted by a psychologist and a sociologist.

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Toubled Teen in Ben X is an MMO Gamer

October 24, 2008 -

A New York Times review of Ben X notes that the indie film's troubled protagonist escapes from real world difficulties by playing MMOs.

(GPDon't we all, Ben, don't we all...)

From the review:

To Ben... school is a nightmare of peer cruelty and home... a vortex of parental frustration. To cope, he escapes into an online fantasy universe where his heroic avatar spends hours immersed in a popular video game alongside a generously endowed virtual honey known as Scarlite...

Integrating live action with Ben’s gaming exploits, “Ben X” crawls inside a troubled mind with more stylistic commitment than narrative competence...

Ben X opens today in Manhattan.

 

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MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/28/gaymerx-in-dire-straits-after-nis-america-allegedly-backs-out-of/ NISA backs out of GaymerX support, but it seems like the only people crying foul are GaymerX.07/29/2014 - 6:30am
Papa MidnightIt's not bad so far, but I am honestly not sure what to make of it (or where it's going for that matter)07/28/2014 - 9:44pm
Matthew Wilsonis it any good?07/28/2014 - 9:36pm
Papa Midnight"Love Child" on HBO -- anyone else watching this?07/28/2014 - 9:27pm
MaskedPixelanteNah, I'm fine purple monkey dishwasher.07/28/2014 - 4:05pm
Sleaker@MP - I hope you didn't suffer a loss of your mental faculties attempting that.07/28/2014 - 3:48pm
MaskedPixelanteOK, so my brief research looking at GameFAQs forums (protip, don't do that if you wish to keep your sanity intact.), the 3DS doesn't have the power to run anything more powerful than the NES/GBC/GG AND run the 3DS system in the background.07/28/2014 - 11:01am
ZenMatthew, the 3DS already has GBA games in the form of the ambassador tittles. And I an just as curious about them not releasing them on there like they did the NES ones. I do like them on the Wii U as well, but seems weird. And where are the N64 games?07/28/2014 - 10:40am
james_fudgeNo. They already cut the price. Unless they release a new version that has a higher price point.07/28/2014 - 10:19am
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, It most likely is. The question is whether Nintendo wants to do it.07/28/2014 - 10:12am
Matthew WilsonI am sure the 3ds im more then powerful enough to emulate a GBA game.07/28/2014 - 9:54am
Sleaker@IanC - while the processor is effectively the same or very similar, the issue is how they setup the peripheral hardware. It would probably require creating some kind of emulation for the 3DS to handle interfacing with the audio and input methods for GBA07/28/2014 - 9:30am
Sleaker@EZK - hmmm, that makes sense. I could have sworn I had played GB/GBC games on it too though (emud of course)07/28/2014 - 9:23am
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, the DS has a built in GBA chipset in the system. That is why it played GBA games. The GBA had a seperate chipset for GB and GBColor games. The DS did not have that GB/GBC chipset and that is why the DS could not play GB and GBC games.07/28/2014 - 7:25am
IanCI dont think Nintendo ever gave reason why GBA games a reason why GBA games aren't on the 3DS eshop. The 3DS uses chips that are backwards compatable with the GBA ob GBA processor, after all.07/28/2014 - 6:46am
Sleakerhmmm that's odd I could play GBA games natively in my original DS.07/28/2014 - 1:39am
Matthew Wilsonbasically "we do not want to put these games on a system more then 10 people own" just joking07/27/2014 - 8:13pm
MaskedPixelanteSomething, something, the 3DS can't properly emulate GBA games and it was a massive struggle to get the ambassador games running properly.07/27/2014 - 8:06pm
Andrew EisenIdeally, you'd be able to play such games on either platform but until that time, I think Nintendo's using the exclusivity in an attempt to further drive Wii U sales.07/27/2014 - 7:21pm
Matthew WilsonI am kind of surprised games like battle network are not out on the 3ds.07/27/2014 - 7:01pm
 

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