Game Retailers Trade Group Reacts to Passage of New York Video Game Bill

June 26, 2008 -

The Entertainment Merchants Association, the trade group which represents the interests of a large bloc of video game retailers, has issued a statement on Tuesday's passage of video game legislation by the New York State Senate:

The bill is unnecessary and seeks to solve a problem that does not exist. But we do not anticipate that video game software retailers will have a problem complying with its requirements. (It is important to note that NY law already requires DVD packages to display the rating of the movie.)

With passage in both the New York State Senate and Assembly, the measure now proceeds to Gov. David Paterson, who is likely to sign it into law.

7 comments

BREAKING - NY Senate Passes Video Game Bill 61-1

June 24, 2008 -

Moments ago the New York State Senate voted 61-1 to approve a bill proposed by Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Republican from Staten Island.

Sen. Lanza is seen arguing for passage in the photo at left. Sen. Thomas Duane (D) of New York City cast the lone dissenting vote.

The video game bill mirrors that passed yesterday by the State Assembly, a Lanza staffer told GamePolitics that the measure will now go to Gov. David Paterson for consideration. If Paterson signs the bill, it will become law in 2010.

Prior to that, however, the video game industry is likely to sue, arguing that the measure is unconstitutional.

UPDATE: We've got an mp3 of Sen. Lanza's final three minutes of argument in favor of the bill. Here's an excerpt:

If you look closely at this bill, [concerns expressed by Sen. Duane] are not valid. Let's start with speech. There's all kinds of speech. If we take an old-fashioned pinball machine and plunked it down here in the middle of the chamber, no one would call it speech. But when we put that up on a video screen, it does become speech and I acknowledge that. And it deserves protection under the Constitution... There is some confusion with respect to what this bill actually accomplishes... The word prohibition was talked about. I want to be clear. This bill does not prohibit the sale of any video to anyone...

 

This simply says that every video game sold in the state of New York simply should have a rating consistent with what the ESRB does presently in a voluntary way... it does work. But the problem with "voluntary" is that tomorrow someone can change their mind. Someone could decide tomorrow to no longer place ratings on these games. So this is not about prohibiting the sale, this is simply about providing information to parents...

 

Last year's version... that included a provision that would have made it an E-felony to sell these games, we all thought it was wrong. And we took that out. We worked with the [video game] industry. We worked with the Assembly and we do have an agreement here on a piece of legislation that I think will go a long way in allowing parents to make good decisions in regard to what is and what isn't appropriate for their chidlren...

 

127 comments

NY Video Game Bill Moving Towards Passage

June 24, 2008 -

The New York State Assembly unanimously passed a video game bill yesterday. A similar measure is now under consideration in the State Senate.

A11717 was proposed by Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (left), a Brooklyn Democrat. If signed into law it would require new console systems to be equipped with parental controls, would create a 16-member governmental advisory council and would mandate that ESRB ratings be displayed on game packaging.

The proposed advisory council would examine the potential impact of violent media, make recommendations regarding the ESRB rating system, and establish "a parent-teacher violence awareness program to identify and appropriately assist students who  may  have  a  propensity toward violence."

The Senate version is sponsored by Republican Andrew Lanza. Given that the New York legislative calendar wraps up at the close of business today, it's likely that the Senate will pass the bill. If not, it may be revived in a special session.

Should the Senate bill join the Assembly version in passage, the measure will then proceed to New York Gov. David Paterson (D). If the Guv signs the bill into law, it is scheduled to go into effect on September 1, 2010. Of course, if the Governor signs the bill, there is little doubt that the video game industry will file a federal lawsuit to block the law from taking effect on constitutional grounds.

GamePolitics readers may recall that New York seemed destined to adopt a video game law in 2007 but the measure was ultimately derailed by bitter political infighting between then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Senate Republicans.

The ESA, which represents the interests of US video game publishers, has urged New York-based members of its Video Game Voters Network to contact their elected officials in opposition to the bill.

52 comments

GP Readers Choose Spitzer as Gaming's Biggest Political Hypocrite

April 10, 2008 -

When it comes to video games and politicians, disgraced former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is, by a wide margin, the biggest hypocrite.

Spitzer was the runaway choice of GamePolitics readers in a poll we ran this week, gathering nearly 46% of the vote.

To be fair, his selection should come as no surprise. After all, Spitzer complained about GTA's cartoon hookers (right) in campaign speeches and then get caught paying big bucks for the real thing (left) as governor.

Here are the numbers:

Spitzer: 45.7%

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: 21.8%

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino: 18.7%

MP Keith Vaz: 9.3%

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius: 4.6%

29 comments

Grand Theft Auto Critic Spitzer Resigns in Disgrace

March 12, 2008 -

Client 9 has become Disgraced ex-Governor 1.

Eliot Spitzer, the moral crusader who, as GamePolitics reported, was so offended by the interactive prostitution in Grand Theft Auto, has vacated his office following revelations by the New York Times that he was a regular patron of high-priced call girls.

Here's what Spitzer, a rising star in the Democratic party, had to say about GTA during his 2006 election campaign:
 

Media content has gotten more graphic, more violent and more sex-based… Currently, nothing under New York State law prohibits a fourteen-year old from walking into a video store and buying… a game like ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ which rewards a player for stealing cars and beating people up. Children can even simulate having sex with a prostitute…


FBI wiretaps captured him singing a different tune to the managers of the Emporers Club VIP service. Spitzer haggled over payment details as he arranged for a petite brunette named Kristen to rendezvous with him at a Washington, D.C. hotel. Later, Kristen and the escort service manager were overhead discussing Spitzer's proclivities:
 

Manager: [Spitzer] would ask you to do things, that, like you might not think were safe. You know - I mean that - very basic things...

Kristen: I have a way of dealing with that. I'd be like, 'listen, dude, do you really want the sex?"


And, apparently, Spitzer did. We wonder whether he'll be picking up a copy of GTA IV now that he will have plenty of time on his hands...

UPDATE: The NY Times has identified Kristen as 22-year-old Ashley Alexandra Dupre (left), a struggling, would-be singer. You can check out her MySpace page. We're willing to bet that this will be a boost to her career. Expect to see her on Larry King within a few days.

The next revelation will likely be the release of the audio tapes of the Guv's, uh, dickering about the arrangements.

124 comments

BREAKING: Video Game Critic Spitzer Involved in Prostitution Ring

March 10, 2008 -

He may be opposed to violent video games like Hitman: Codename 47, but an FBI document alleges that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) was known as Client 9 to an upscale, international prostitution ring.

Spitzer is seen at left with Silda, his wife of 21 years.

The New York Times is reporting a breaking story that Spitzer will make some type of announcement this afternoon about the case. (UPDATE: Spitzer briefly apologized, but didn't 'fess up to anything specific...)

Federal prosecutors apparently caught Spitzer on a wiretap arranging for a prostitute to travel from New York to Washington, D.C., where he was visiting on business. It is a federal offense to transport someone across state lines for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.

During his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Spitzer pledged to regulate video game content and called for a universal rating system. Video game legislation approved by the New York Assembly during his first year in office seemed fast-tracked for passage, but eventually stalled due to a bitter political feud between Spitzer and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R). The video game bill was expected to be revived in 2008, but that is certainly questionable now, as is Spitzer's future.

During the 2006 campaign Spitzer called out the video game industry for excessive violence and, ironically, sexual content in its products:
 

Like all parents, I know it is increasingly difficult to protect our children from negative influences... we have learned that when self-regulation fails, government must step in... we must do more to protect our children from excessive sex and violence in the media...


 

Media content has gotten more graphic, more violent and more sex-based... Currently, nothing under New York State law prohibits a fourteen-year old from walking into a video store and buying... a game like 'Grand Theft Auto,' which rewards a player for stealing cars and beating people up. Children can even simulate having sex with a prostitute...


GP: The hypocrisy meter is just about off the scale... Check out page 36 of this FBI document for some of the dirty details of Client 9's hotel encounter with a hooker named "Kristen."

UPDATE: Spitzer is a superdelegate for another frequent video game critic, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

RANDOM THOUGHT: Can a homemade Client 9 game be far behind?

 

Following GP Story, NY Officials Remove Hoax Info from Presentation

December 20, 2007 -

GamePolitics revealed yesterday that a New York Division of Criminal Justice Services (DJCS) presentation on video game issues listed a well-known hoax site as a parental resource.

That news has apparently caused a bit of a stir among political types in Albany.

The Staten Island Advance, citing the GP article, reports that state officials will remove the hoax site Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence (mavav.org) from a listing of parental resources which appears at the end of the 24-minute presentation:
 

One story on the hoax site, "Video Game Violence Makes Teens Aggressive," shows a phony brain scan, with the outline of a tiny machine gun superimposed on the image of a brain...


 

John M. Caher, a spokesman for DJCS, said officials are in the process of editing the video to yank the hoax Web site reference...

"We firmly stand by the core, overriding message of the presentation: Parents and guardians need to know the types of games that are available, and use their own good judgment to decide if something is right for their child," Caher said.


Gov. Spitzer's office referred media questions back to DCJS, which prepared the video. Prior to the GP story, however, Spitzer was squarely behind the presentation, saying:
 

I commend the staff of the DCJS...This presentation gives parents and educators the information they need to make smart decisions about the games their children play. 


A representative for State Senator Andrew Lanza, who heads a New York legislative task force on violent games, told the Advance that Lanza had no role in the preparation of the video.

GP: We note that some of our readers mentioned the GamePolitics story in comments to the original Staten Island Advance coverage. That surely helped get the attention of New York state bureaucrats and is an example of grassroots gamer action at its finest - well done!

36 comments

New York Guv's Game Scare Presentation Cites Hoax Site as "Resource"

December 19, 2007 -

In New York, efforts to legislate video game sales have bogged down in the wake of bitter political infighting between Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) and State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R).

While the legislative effort remains stalled, the New York Department of Criminal Justice (!) has produced a 20-minute slide show which, in addition to offering some good advice to parents, dredges up a number of sensationalized stories, presents at least one outright fallacy, and cites a well-known Internet hoax site as a parental resource. 

As reported by the Staten Island Advance, Gov. Spitzer unveiled Video Games and Children: Virtual Playground vs. Danger Zone yesterday, accompanied by representatives from the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Said Spitzer of the 20-minute presentation:
 

Protecting our children from violent video games that contain adult themes is a key priority for my administration. I commend the staff of the DCJS and Commissioner Denise O'Donnell for taking a leadership role in this effort by reaching out to parents and educators to engage them in this important dialogue. This presentation gives parents and educators the information they need to make smart decisions about the games their children play.


While the presentation offers some wothwhile - if standard - advice about ratings and other parental issues, it quickly devolves into sensationalism. V-Tech Rampage, for example, gets prominent mention early in the presentation. For those who may not recall that sorry episode, V-Tech Rampage was a crude, non-commercial game created and posted online by an apparently troubled young man from Australia who gained his 15 minutes of fame by exploiting the Virginia Tech massacre. What does it have to do with parents making video game choices for their children?

The presentation also includes clips from a well-known Australian TV video of a supposed teenage World of Warcraft addict. There is also an ominous mention of an unnamed 13-year-old Chinese lad who is said to have thrown himself from the roof of a building in an effort to join his video game heroes.

We were also troubled by the somewhat random selection of games presented as bad examples. For instance, the video makes much of Soldier of Fortune's realistic body damage model. SoF, however, was released seven years ago. Relevance, please?

The presentation also mentions that Virginia Tech killer Seung Hui Cho was reportedly a player of Counter-strike. However, the Virginia Tech Review Panel's report clearly states that no such evidence was found. The only game mentioned by the blue ribbon panel in relation to Cho is Sonic the Hedgehog.

First-person shooters are referred to as "killographic" games. Grand Theft Auto San Andreas is misstated as "Grand Theft San Andreas." How does one botch what is probably - thanks to Hot Coffee - the most infamous game title of all time?

And, as the presentation ends, a resource page lists Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence as one of several places where parents can go for additional information. 

Oops!

MAVAV is a well-documented hoax site, created, ironically, by a student from a New York City design school.

In the end, poor research makes Gov. Spitzer's well-intentioned video look amateurish and out of touch.

UPDATE: Albany's WNYT-13 has a report on the release of the New York video.

NY Pols Reach Agreement on Game Bill; Passage Delayed Until July

June 22, 2007 -

Details are few at this point as New York State legislators worked late last night to wrap up the current session.

As expected, the Senate and Assembly reached agreement on video game legislation. However, time ran out before the measure could be passed in both houses. Legislators expect to formally pass the bill when they return in July. At that point the video game bill will go to Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D), who is expected to sign it into law.

WXXA-DT/TV (Albany) reports:
 

Republican Senator Andrew Lanza (left) who represents Staten Island describes the type of video games his legislation is trying to label for parents:  "Games that, for instance, reward you for shooting and murdering New York City police officers."

[Senate Minority Leader James] Tedisco says, "Nobody walks up to me on the streets and says, 'Because there's violent video games, I'm leaving the state of New York.'  They say, 'I'm leaving the state of New York because I can't afford to live here.'"


Meanwhile, Lower Hudson Online has this:
 

Two agreements were announced yesterday.

One would place limits on who can see violent video games. It would make it a felony to sell violent and obscene video games to minors. In addition, manufacturers would have to equip game consoles with parental-control devices, retailers would have to label games that are violent and obscene, and the state would establish a committee to study the problem.

"We were all always on the same page in protecting children. We just had to come up with ways to compromise," said Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, D-Brooklyn, co-chairman of the joint conference committee.


GP: Based on an inaccurate news account, we originally listed this bill as passed. In checking with Sen. Lanza's office, we learned that it has been agreed upon but not yet officially passed.

64 comments

NY Lawmakers Almost Come to Blows Over Violent Video Game Bill, Says News Report

June 5, 2007 -

A pair of New York State Senators, debating legislation aimed at violent video games, nearly came to blows themselves, reports the Statewide News Service.

According to the story, bill sponsor Sen. Andrew Lanza (R, left) and Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D) got into a dust-up about the wording of A8696, Go. Eliot Spitzer's bill which would make selling games featuring "depraved violence" to a minor a felony offense.

From the transcript:
 

Lanza: The cases that have been struck down have been struck down on the principle that states have attempted to prohibit the sale of video games based upon the speech content, that being violence.

Hassell-Thompson: You’re misreading the case. You’re misreading them. I don’t know whether you’re doing it deliberately or what. It’s frustrating me.

Lanza: I’m not misreading the cases. Those are the cases.

Hassell-Thompson: You’re misreading the cases.

Lanza: Absolutely not Senator. We can agree to disagree on that point.

Hassell-Thompson: You got a battery of attorneys sitting behind you. I’m telling you I wrangled with them 3 out of 5 meetings.

Lanza: Maybe you’re missing something.

Hassell-Thompson: Well, we’re paying them. We should fire them.

Lanza: Let’s just be clear. It makes it a felony to sell video games based upon the speech contained therein. That’s what it does. Now it may pass constitutional muster because the speech that is being regulated therein is pornography, which I might add is already regulated and is already prohibited with its distribution to minors. So you might say the governor’s version accomplishes nothing. I’m not saying that but you might say it.


UPDATE: GP has heard from a source who was present and says that while it was clear that no love was lost between Lanza and Hassell-Thompson, the idea that blows were imminent is overstated.

52 comments | Read more

NY Politician Happy Staten Island Left Out of GTA IV

May 13, 2007 -

Fans of the Grand Theft Auto series are eagerly awaiting GTA IV, due out for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 later this year.

The latest installment in the controversial game franchise is set in Liberty City, a vitualized representation of the Big Apple.

But as today's New York Times reports, the borough of Staten Island has been left out of the game. And while some gamers are upset, at least one New York politician is pleased:
 

Not everyone, however, is bemoaning the exclusion of the city’s most bucolic borough. The Grand Theft Auto series has been widely pilloried by parents and elected officials. The State Senate recently formed a task force on video game violence and appointed Senator Andrew Lanza [left], Republican of Staten Island, to lead it.


 

“I’m glad Staten Island is left out, frankly,” Mr. Lanza said. Describing the game as “poisonous,” he reflected on the real reason his borough did not make the cut.


 

“Perhaps it’s because they know Staten Island is the safest place in the entire city,” he said.

 

NY Legislation Gains Momentum: Guv to Detail Video Game Proposal to Al Sharpton Group Today

April 20, 2007 -

Suddenly, video game legislation is a very hot topic in New York state.

As reported earlier this week by GamePolitics, first-year New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (D) will fulfill a 2006 campaign promise by pressing ahead with efforts to legislate violent and sexually-explicit video games. Spitzer hopes to pass a law restricting sales of such games to underage buyers.

According to the New York Daily News, Spitzer will detail his video game proposal today in a breakfast speech before Rev. Al Sharpton's organization, the National Action Network.

Meanwhile, State Sen. Andrew Lanza has been appointed to head a legislative task force on the video game issue. The Staten Island Advance reports that Lanza made reference to Monday's Virginia Tech rampage in discussing the issue of video game legislation. Lanza's senate web page contains the following quote:
 

The Virginia Tech massacre is a painful reminder of the culture of violence which has severe and tragic consequences on our youth and for our society... It is imperative that we find a way to prevent these virtual realities from continuing to fuel and to teach the violent behavior which is corrupting or youth.


With bi-partisan support for the issue and the end of the assembly session drawing near, expect New York's video game legislation situation to heat up quickly.

55 comments

NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer Readies Violent Video Game Legislation

April 18, 2007 -

A campaign promise made by almost a year ago by New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has resurfaced.

Last April GamePolitics reported on candidate Spitzer's plan to legislate sales of violent video games. The former State Attorney General also called for a universal rating system for games, movies and music. At the time, Spitzer said:
 

Self-regulation doesn't always work... when self-regulation fails, government must step in... New York State must take matters into its own hands. We should follow the lead of states like California, Illinois and Michigan and pass 'Safe Games' legislation...


 

The (ESRB) does have a rating system... but it's often ignored. Laws protecting underage kids from harmful products are nothing new... But currently, nothing under New York State law prohibits a fourteen-year old from walking into a video store and buying a game labeled 'Adult Only' - a game like 'Grand Theft Auto...'

Democrats and Republicans both have bills that would address these problems, but they have gone nowhere. It is time to make this a priority.


Now, Spitzer is apparently making good on his promise. As reported by Business Week:

34 comments | Read more

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james_fudgeI'll be watching the Facebook page09/01/2015 - 10:14am
james_fudgethe site maybe up right now, but we're not updating until we're at the new location.09/01/2015 - 10:13am
james_fudgehttps://www.facebook.com/gamepolitics09/01/2015 - 10:12am
Mattsworknamehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-Vx4_prmvo09/01/2015 - 3:18am
MattsworknameTotal bisquit talkes about why teh Deus X pre order systems is garbage.09/01/2015 - 3:18am
MechaTama31Infophile: Kind of like how you're criticizing these theoretical reactions before you've even read any? ;)09/01/2015 - 12:44am
PHX CorpI'll probaly Start the stream around 8PM Eastern08/31/2015 - 10:09pm
PHX CorpOk, see you guys Tomorrow on the GP Facebook Page, I'll be steaming either the first 2 megaman games(Through Megaman Legacy Collection) or Rare Replay as the first game on My twitch.tv page tomorrow While we wait for GP to Come back up later this week08/31/2015 - 10:01pm
james_fudgeAlso check out our Facebook page and chat there! https://www.facebook.com/gamepolitics08/31/2015 - 9:53pm
james_fudgeSee you all on the other side! Find me on Twitter :)08/31/2015 - 9:51pm
james_fudgeAllright, i'll mention this on the GP facebook page08/31/2015 - 9:49pm
PHX Corpand now it's ready to go for everyone08/31/2015 - 9:35pm
PHX Corpok, done http://www.twitch.tv/trustygemtwitch I have to put on one more finishing touch and it is ready to go08/31/2015 - 9:19pm
Andrew EisenFeel free to leave us suggestions on Facebook or Twitter too. We're going to be busy but we'll try our best to keep an eye on 'em.08/31/2015 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenIt's an interesting idea though. If we do anything, we probably won't know until after the site goes offline so keep an eye on GP social media for announcements.08/31/2015 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenYeah, we could use my Twitch chat box too. There's always IRC but we don't currently have a GamePolitics channel.08/31/2015 - 8:57pm
Goth_SkunkThough I think the limit is 9 at a time in the hangout, so anyone who can't get in would be stuck out in the 'on air' portion.08/31/2015 - 8:57pm
Andrew EisenFor the show, I'd like the chat open to anyone who wants to watch.08/31/2015 - 8:55pm
PHX CorpI could Set Up a Temporary chatroom on My twitch.TV page while GP is busy updating the site(since I'll be Fighting Megaman Legacy Collection on Xbox one)08/31/2015 - 8:54pm
Goth_SkunkI don't see a problem with inviting viewers. It's not like I'm advocating this to be an open forum, just something specific to GP members.08/31/2015 - 8:53pm

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