Fox Publishing North Korean-Developed Mobile Games

September 7, 2010 -

A unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has published a pair of North Korean-developed mobile games, causing some pundits to wonder about the legality of such dealings.

As detailed by Bloomberg, North Korea’s General Federation of Science and Technology developed the games: a 2007 bowling game named Big Lebowski Bowling and another based on the Men in Black movies. Both games were sourced through the Nosotek Joint Venture Company, which is billed as the “first western IT venture” in North Korea, and offers to provide invoices through “a Hong Kong or Chinese company.”

Rapelay Furor Hits Italy

February 11, 2010 -

It’s the game that has enraged populaces around the world and now Italy has apparently noticed that Rapelay can indeed be found on the Internet.

Italian newspaper Il Corriere (translation here) has a story up which features an assemblage of important types screaming about the game being just a series of tubes away from common citizens.

Giorgia Meloni, Minister of Youth, said that he would speak to Postal and Communications Police to get the game removed from the Net, while the Mayor of Rome himself, Gianni Alemanno, called for the game to be banned.

Gabriella Moscatelli, President of Telefono Rosa, a group that fights violence against women, also came out against the availability of Rapelay, saying that it was an “incitement to commit a crime.”

Also joining in the condemnation of Rapelay were Barbara Saltamartini from the People of Freedom (PDL) party and Dorina Bianchi of the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC), who said something along the lines of “while spending commitment and energy to propose and promote policies to support women, we discover that the creators of a video game put the same amount of commitment to train a generation of rapists. I drop my arms.

GP: Just to clarify, the premise for the game is sick, there’s no doubt about that. The furor that continually crops over it each time a country “discovers” it however is bizarre, as are the subsequent attempts to scrub it from the Internet. Rapelay is definitely a uniter, in that it has virtually zero backers (other than Penn Jillette perhaps), making it the ultimate safe target for attack."


Thanks to reader ItaliAnon for the link and translation assistance!

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FPS Gamers Less Likely to Help Pick Up Spilled Pencils

February 10, 2010 -

Jo Frost, best known stateside as the principal in the show Supernanny, has a new show airing in the UK and in its debut episode she attempted to tackle the issue of violent videogames.

The Guardian has a run down of the program (Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance), in which Frost, with the assistance of Iowa State University’s Dr. Douglas Gentile, conducted an experiment on 40 boys.

In one experiment, the boys were split in half, with 20 playing a football game for 20 minutes while the other 20 played a first-person shooter for the same amount of time. Following their game play session, all 40 boys watched violent news footage and had their heart rate monitored. Boys who played the FPS were found to have slower heart rates while watching the violent on-screen reports versus those who played the sports game, leading to a voice over that declared, “Shockingly, just twenty minutes of violent gameplay was enough to densensitise the boys.”

Author Keith Stuart took the methodology to task, writing, “I'm no neuroscientist, but with the biological stress response recently engaged, surely it's no surprise that in the few minutes after violent gameplay, test subjects react differently to violent stimuli?”

Stuart continued:

So really, what does this all say about the long-term effects of exposure to violent videogames? I would suggest very, very little.

An additional experiment, in which Gentile knocked over a can of pencils in front of each boy individually, was supposed to measure empathy. Reportedly only 40.0 percent of the boys who played the FPS helped to pick up the pencils, versus 80.0 percent of those who played the football game.

The combination of the two tests, and the resulting conclusions, were a bit too much for Stuart to take:

Cognitive neuroscience is a complex field - it is perhaps not something to be prodded and poked at during a piece of realty TV voyeurism masquerading as documentary material.

He added:

…if just 20 minutes of exposure is enough to turn normal boys into desensitized monsters, our streets should be filled with violence. They're not.

Erotic Japanese Title Lampoons Rape Game Ban

December 22, 2009 -

In deference to games from the same genre as RapeLay, a title so controversial even the United Nations urged it be banned, a new Japanese erotic game sends up Japanese restrictions on games that contain content simulating forced sex.

Shinobiryuu, a Softhouse developed PC game of the eroge variety, revolves around several Japanese warrior clans that end up having consensual sex with members of the opposite sex, as described by the website Canned Dogs. The consensual part of the description is key, especially in light of a ban of games featuring rape by Japan’s Ethics Organization of Computer Software (EOCS).

Before even beginning Shinobiryuu, users are presented with the following declaration:

This is a declaration made with the consensus of all the characters that appear in this story.

All the characters appearing in this game have gone through special training and all actions carried out are done on the basis of mutual agreement.

Even if you’re a inhuman person who believes that fictional characters in creative works do not have human rights, please do not ignore this.

We also thank all the kind people who see a character in the story saying phrases such as “help me” and take it as a real call for help.

However, even though you are worrying for the characters in the story, these are all lines spoken from a script.

They are not saying all this from the bottom of their hearts. We are sorry that they have put in so much effort into their acting that some people will confuse it as something that is really happening.

This game is a fictional story.

Canned Dogs also has some sample character dialogue from Shinobiryuu that has a little fun with the topic. Head over to their website to read the translation.



|Via GameSetWatch|

59 comments

Video Camera Bowls Over Cops Following Bust

September 22, 2009 -

Playing Wii Sports in a suspected drug house following a raid is probably not the best way for police officers to ingratiate themselves with their superiors, especially if the house, as part of the investigation, was previously wired with a video camera.

The Associated Press reports that police in a Polk County, Florida were caught doing exactly that however, with one participant “furiously jumping up and down in celebration” while playing Wii Bowling. Another detective was also witnessed taking “several breaks” from cataloging evidence in order to bowl a few frames.

Some of the officers “could be disciplined.”

Is this better or worse than playing Solitaire while in session?

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Video Games Are Evil, Says Guy Who Made a Lot of Money Creating Video Games

September 6, 2009 -

We’ve heard video games blamed for a lot of crazy things over the years but the “death of our planet”? 

Well, that’s a new one.

Yoshiyuki Tomino (left), creator of the long-running Mobile Suit Gundam series, delivered the keynote at Japan’s CEDEC 2009 game developers’ conference and offered a rather strong negative opinion on the subject of video games and how they affect our lives.

I think that video games are evil.  [Gaming] is not a type of activity that provides any support to our daily lives, and all these consoles are just consuming electricity! Let's say we have about three billion people on this planet wasting their time, bringing no productivity at all. Add 10 billion more people, and what would happen to our planet? Video games are assisting the death of our planet!

Those are some pretty surprising comments coming from a man whose franchise has spawned more than 100 video games over the last couple decades. Tomino, who thinks nothing’s bested Tetris since it came out over 20 years ago, offered the attending developers advice on how to proceed from here on out.

You have to find the median -- that games are not evil, perhaps not necessarily good either, but something that can be considered a pastime…

 

This is what I want to tell you: I want you to create a game that does not negatively affect our daily lives and is something that is considered more productive.

AE:  I can’t help but imagine a slack-jawed look of disbelief from the game developers in attendance.

Via: Gamasutra

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Senior Correspondent Andrew Eisen

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Report: Porn Ads in Game Mags from UK Publisher

August 11, 2009 -

British publisher Imagine routinely includes ads for pornography and sex chat services in the back of their video game magazines, according to a report at Overclock3D.

There, a UK man writing under the name "mayhem" describes sending his 8-year-old daughter out on a secret shopper mission to see whether she could purchase video game magazines containing such ads:

My 8 year old daughter walked in... On the lower shelf she picked out several magazines including Play (a Sony PlayStation 3 Magazine) and 360 (a Microsoft Xbox 360 magazine) both of which are published by Imagine Publishing. Neither of these titles had an 18 or 15 certificate on them. She also picked up several Future Publishing magazines and Dennis Publishing magazines.
 
She then proceeded to the check out were a young girl of about 19 years old had a quick look at the magazines and then scanned them in. My daughter then handed over the money and then walked out after saying thank you, and handed the magazines to me.
 
After a quick look through all the magazine I found that only Imagine Publishing had any sort of pornography contained within them...
 
So over all its been a interesting day finding out that such a major publisher (Imagine Publishing) has no morals when it comes to making money, even if it means serving up pornographic content to children that may read their magazines...
 

Via: fidgit

33 comments

Site Allows Players to Wager on Video Games: Legal in 39 States

August 3, 2009 -

Should video gamers be allowed to bet real money on their gaming skills (or lack thereof)?

BringIt.com thinks so and hopes to capitalize on the concept. As reported by the Associated Press, the site, which is apparently legal in 39 states, will end its beta phase any day now.

BringIt says that the service it provides is not a form of gambling because its outcomes are based on skill, not chance. From the AP report:

It's free to sign up, provided you are at least 18. The site makes money by taking a 10 percent cut from people's wagers and a $4 fee from winners when they withdraw their loot.

Founder and CEO Woody Levin, 30, said most of the players on BringIt play for small amounts of money, $5 or $10...

 

BringIt supports the PlayStation 2, the PS3, the Xbox 360 and the Wii. Players challenge each other on the site, but play on their consoles. BringIt holds players' entry fees until the game is finished. After the game is done, it verifies the results and credits the winner, minus the service fee.

Arizona is one of 11 states in which BringIt is illegal, but the Phoenix New Times suggests - with tongue in cheek - that it could be a potential source of tax revenue:

Who knows? Maybe Levin and BringIt will someday steer as much money toward Arizona politicians as the racing industry does, and then Arizona video nuts can clean out each other's bank accounts -- with the state taking its cut, natch.

ESPN The Magazine has an in-depth interview with BringIt's Levin, who mentions that bets can be as high as $100,000.

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Outraged WoW Gamers Inexplicably Have Accounts Suspended

July 31, 2009 -

Numerous World of Warcraft gamers have found their accounts unexpectedly suspended, apparently through no fault of their own.

Ars Technica reports that chargebacks were filed against the accounts by PaymentOne; however, many of the WoW players affected insist that they have never used PaymentOne's services to cover the game's $14.99 monthy fee.

Mike Thompson of Ars Technica explains:

Chargebacks are normally used as a method of consumer protection—a last line of defense against shady retailers... Exactly why and how these chargebacks were applied to the aforementioned accounts has yet to be determined, but they've caused the accounts to have negative balances with Blizzard, which has led to their suspension until the issue is resolved...

Posts in the forum thread show that Blizzard is willing to discuss the unauthorized charges, but there haven't been any definite results from pursuing this course of action yet... A quick Google search shows this isn't the first time that allegations of fraud and unexpected charges have been leveled against the company.

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Report: EA Backs Off Controversial Booth Babe Plan for Comic Con

July 27, 2009 -

Electronic Art has apparently backed off a Comic Con promotion which encouraged attendees to "Commit an act of lust" with booth babes hired for the event.

Negative Gamer reports on EA's mea culpa:

Costumed reps are a tradition at Comic-Con. In the spirit of both the Circle of Lust and Comic-Con, we are encouraging attendees to Tweet photos of themselves with any of the costumed reps[...]

We apologize for any confusion and offense that resulted from our choice of wording, and want to assure you that we take your concerns and sentiments seriously.

It's all by way of promoting the publisher's upcoming Dante's Inferno. GamePolitics readers will recall an earlier controversy around the game when EA hired fake Christian protesters to march outside the Los Angeles Convention Center during E3.

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Sold Your MMO Character? Sweden's Taxman May Want a Cut

July 20, 2009 -

If you're a Swede who has unloaded an unwanted MMO account for a few extra Kronas, the taxman would like a word.

On the other hand, if you're an American who has sold your account to a Swede, the taxman would still like a word.

GameCulture points out a Stockholm News report detailing efforts by Swedish tax officials to come to grips with e-commerce. To that end, the Skatteverket is even taking a look at small fish like gamers:

The Swedish Tax Agency hold that you have to pay tax for selling an avatar from a computer game. The agency has investigated the trading in avatars during a 14 month period and found the advertised sum of avatars for sale by Swedes to be 662 million SEK. But no one has ever declared any income for trading in avatars to the Tax Agency.

But even U.S. citizens could be subject to Swedish taxation on such virtual transactions, according to the Economics of Virtual Worlds blog:

[Note that] a sale has taken place in Sweden if the seller is a Swedish trader who sells [to]... a private person in Sweden or another EC [European Community] country. A sale from a foreign trader to a Swedish trader has also [legally] taken place in Sweden. The same applies if a trader from outside the EC sells services to Swedish private persons.

Thus, even U.S. citizens are subject to Swedish taxes in virtual worlds, as long as one of the participants is Swedish. The implication is that if similar tax rules are adopted around the globe, U.S. citizens could end up owing taxes to Sweden, Japan, South Korea, and other nations (depending on which and how many worlds they are part of) – all because they played some games...

Skatteverket states that gamers should send invoices to each other. It’s unreasonable stuff they’re talking about. The [game] users [typically] don’t know who they’re interacting with...

32 comments

Gambling or a Video Game? Nebraska Struggles with Tavern Machines

July 20, 2009 -

Here on GamePolitics we have - by design - ignored issues relating to electronic gambling games.

That's because, as a form of entertainment, video games are quite distinct from gambling. But that line may be blurred a bit by a new generation of tavern games which appear to require video game-like skills to win, rather than mere luck.

The Omaha World-Herald reports on one such game, a billiards affair called Bank Shot. While games of chance are considered illegal gambling under laws in Nebraska and many other states, Bank Shot seems to require skill:

The makers of the machine [say] that it is a game of skill that is no different from a game of Trivial Pursuit or a dart tournament sponsored by a bar or tavern. They also argue that the video game was carefully constructed to comply with Nebraska law...

The difficulty for law enforcement is in determining when a game requires more chance than skill, or more skill than chance.

Players can bet from $0.25 to $4 per game. To date, the largest jackpot has been $17,000:

The game centers on nine pool balls arranged in a grid formation. The player pushes a button that starts the balls flashing quickly in various formations. The player then pushes “stop” on a particular pattern, which helps to determine whether or not a player wins.

There are 30,000 patterns of pool balls built into the game. About 27 patterns flash in a given minute... players become more skillful at spotting the winning patterns after playing the game for a period of time...

Nebraska law enforcement officials are hoping that the state legislature will provide guidance on the issue.

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C&C4's Net Connection Mandate Violates Gamer's Bill of Rights

July 16, 2009 -

The video game industry continues to find new and creative ways to stick it to PC gamers.

In the latest example, EA has announced that the much-anticipated Command & Conquer 4 will require players to constantly be connected to the Internet, even for single-player campaigns.

That requirement, however, violates one of the basic tenets of the Gamer's Bill of Rights, a document released at PAX 08 by Stardock CEO Brad Wardell and Gas Powered Games CEO Chris Taylor. EA, however, is not a signatory to the Bill of Rights. No surprise there.

Specifically, the C&C4 requirement violates this point:

Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play.

Ars Technica reports comments on the connection requirement made by EA Community Leader "APOC":

As of right now, you need to be online all the time to play C&C 4. This is primarily due to our 'player progression' feature so everything can be tracked. C&C 4 is not an MMO in the sense of World of Warcraft, but conceptually it has similar principles for being online all the time.

 

While some may be taken aback by this, we've been testing this feature internally with all of our world-wide markets. We wanted to make sure it wouldn't take away any significant market or territory from playing the game. We have not found or seen any results that have made us think otherwise...

GP: This smells like backdoor DRM from here. Even if it's not, what if you're on a laptop? What if you're on an airplane? What if your Internet connection is down?

As a longtime PC gamer who has owned every version of the C&C and Red Alert games, this just sucks.

There is perhaps a glimmer of hope in APOC's comments. We note that he starts off with "As of right now..." Does that mean that this gamer-unfriendly policy is subject to change? 

It's time for PC gamers to make some noise about this nonsense.

Defendant Links Kiddie Porn Collection to Use of Video Games, Comic Books & PC

July 12, 2009 -

Michael Cherry, a 38-year-old Ontario man in court to plead guilty to possessing child pornography, offered a unique explanation for his crime.

The London Free Press reports:

Admitting he possessed child pornography, a London man said yesterday he lived "in a closed box" of friendless fantasy fuelled by video games, his computer and comic books.

 

"I'd work, come home . . . lock myself in my apartment..."

 

After a difficult childhood in foster care, separated from his siblings, his client became a truck driver who lived by himself in squalor and clinical depression, Squire said. "He was in a black hole . . . a strange sort of world his computer created."

Via: Graphic Policy

35 comments

Don't Copy That Floppy Rap Gets a Creepy 2009 Facelift

July 8, 2009 -

If you illegally download software or music, your mom will be wrestled to the ground and arrested by a SWAT team - for cooking pasta.

That's just one of the apparent messages in a modern-day update of 1992's Don't Copy That Floppy.

The Software & Information Industry Association, which created the video, explains (sort of) in its YouTube description of the video:

Check out the trailer...anti-piracy hero MC Double Def DP will return in the summer of 2009 to drop some more knowledge on would-be pirates in the sequel to 1992's "Don't Copy That Floppy! Brought to you by SIIA (formerly SPA)

Via: ZeroPaid

24 comments

More Lists of Patriotic Video Games

July 3, 2009 -

Here are a few more lists of allegedly patriotic games for your July 4th weekend perusal. Some choices seem spot-on, others a bit of a stretch.

1up (2008): Top 5 Insanely Patriotic Video Games

  • Fugitive Hunter
  • The Sims 2: IKEA Expansion
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
  • Operation Secret Storm
  • Metal Wolf Chaos

RipTen (2008): Top Five Patriotic Games of All Time

  • Independence Day
  • America's Army
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Oregon Trail
  • Bad Dudes

GamesRadar (2008): 20 Most Rabidly Patriotic Video Games

  • America's Army
  • 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
  • Patriotic Pinball
  • Frontlines: Fuel of War
  • Christian Founders 3D Computer Game
  • 18 Wheels of Steel: American Long Haul
  • America: The Game
  • Freedom Fighters
  • Desert Strike/Jungle Strike/Urban Strike
  • Metal Wolf Chaos
  • Tycoon games
  • Terrorist Takedown
  • GRAW 2
  • Political Machine 2008
  • Oregon Trail
  • NARC
  • American Gladiators
  • Fugitive Hunter
  • Halo
  • FDNY: American Hero - Fire Fighter

GP: If we spot new lists, we'll update.

34 comments

Did MP Buy a PlayStation Game with Taxpayer Money?

June 19, 2009 -

It's unclear whether a member of Britain's Parliament may have purchased a PlayStation game with his tax-funded expense account, reports Eurogamer.

A number of MPs have been found to have used public funds for questionable expenses in recent months. Eurogamer spotted the Labour Party's Nigel Griffiths (left) among a list of MP with oddball expenditures published by The Guardian. Griffiths strongly denied that he bought a game, however, and Eurogamer can't find one with the title as given:

According to a list of the stranger expense claims... Nigel Griffiths, Labour MP for Edinburgh South and former deputy leader of the House of Commons, expensed "GBP 29.99 for a PlayStation computer game, Premiership Arsenal".

Griffiths disputes the report, however, telling The Sun that the Dixons receipt in question is misleading. "It's not a game, it's a branded memory stick," said the beleaguered MP. "I'm well past playing video games."

We certainly don't recall a game called Premiership Arsenal and can't find any reference to one, either, although it's possible the title refers to Codemasters' PS2 offering, Club Football: Arsenal 2005.

Under somewhat more of a microscope than Griffiths is frequent video game critic Keith Vaz, also of the Labour Party. Bruce on Games cites a BBC report detailing Vaz's questionable use of public funds:

[Vaz] claimed more than £75,000 to fund a second home in Westminster, even though his family home is just 12 miles away in Stanmore. The Telegraph also suggested he changed his designated second home for a single year to property in his Leicester constituency, before claiming more than £4,000 on furnishings.

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Researcher: Puzzle Test Not a Valid Measure of Aggressive or Helpful Behavior

June 19, 2009 -

On Wednesday GamePolitics reported on a study which linked players of violent games with aggressive behavior while claiming that those who played games with prosocial themes were more likely to be helpful. Prof. Brad Bushman of the University of Michigan and Prof. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State were among the study's more recognizable authors.

Yesterday we reported on Texas A&M Prof. Chris Ferguson's reaction to the Bushman-Gentile study. Ferguson slammed the research methodology involved, including a somewhat academic foray into concepts like multicollinearity, which made our brain hurt just a bit.

So, in the interest of keeping things simple, we went back to Ferguson with a follow-up question concerning the methodology used in one portion of the Bushman-Gentile research. 161 U.S. college students served as test subjects:

After playing either a prosocial, violent, or neutral game, participants were asked to assign puzzles to a randomly selected partner. They could choose from puzzles that were easy, medium or hard to complete. Their partner could win $10 if they solved all the puzzles. Those who played a prosocial game were considerably more helpful than others, assigning more easy puzzles to their partners.  And those who had played violent games were significantly more likely to assign the hardest puzzles.

Given the uniqueness of the methodology, GamePolitics asked Ferguson whether, in his opinion, the "puzzle test" was a valid measure of aggression or a reasonable predictor of violent behavior. Ferguson quickly said that it was not:

No, not even remotely.  It is worlds apart from any real world aggressive or helping behavior on many levels.  Unfortunately this is a typical ad hoc outcome with no validity.

9 comments

Last Night's Mental Episode & Its Troubled, 8-year-old Gamer

June 17, 2009 -

We've been mentioning (warning?) GamePolitics readers that last night's episode of Mental included a plot element about a violent, 8-year-old gamer.

Fidgit's Tom Chick caught the show and serves up a detailed report [SPOILER ALERT]:

If you're watching [Mental], you probably caught last night's episode in which a kid is deprived of videogames, and therefore invents one in his head.

But the problem is that the videogame he invents in his head sucks... the kid ends up freaking out, hurting his mother with a knife, and then going catatonic. I know how he feels. I've played some bad videogames in my time, too. The kid's hands keep twitching as if he were playing a videogame. With a console controller, of course...

 

The situation is resolved when the sensitive physician with a lot of time on his hands guides his misunderstood patient through how to play the imaginary videogame...

Once he's beat the game in his head, he reconciles with his neglectful father and starts on his medication.

You can catch the full episode yourself at the Mental website. But you'll have to install Fox's video player; I'm not crazy about that...

GP: So, I watched the episode this morning and didn't find that it especially sensationalized games. Don't want to spoil it for anyone who may decide to check it out, so I won't say more about that for now. Overall, the show offers a sensitive treatment of mental health issues.

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British Prison Bans PS3 Over WiFi Capability - UPDATED

June 15, 2009 -

The subject of game consoles in prisons is invariably a controversial one.

Some think that convicts don't deserve what might be considered a luxury. Others believe the relaxation afforded by gaming might make prison a safer place.

But U.K. newspaper The Guardian reports that officials at Britain's Rye Hill prison have removed PlayStations 3s from the inmate population over fears that prisoners will use the system's built-in WiFi capability to communicate with those on the outside. A prison official told The Guardian:

PlayStation 3 consoles are barred on the grounds that they have the capability to send and receive radio signals as an integral part of the equipment.

Some inmates were said to be chatting with friends. No information is provided on how those inmates obtained access to a WiFi signal, which might seem to be at least as important an issue, if not more so.

GamePolitics readers may recall that a similar issue was raised last month by Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency.

UPDATE: IncGamers contacted the British Ministry of Justice and learned that Internet-capable consoles are already banned. This is not the first time that there has been confusion in the U.K. on this issue.

33 comments

Dante's Inferno Protest at E3 Was Staged by EA

June 5, 2009 -

A protest march outsde the Los Angeles Convention Center on Tuesday was staged by Electronic Arts to publicize its upcoming Dante's Inferno game, according to the Associated Press.

While there was speculation in the gaming press yesterday that the event, which was reported as actual news by the Los Angeles Times and San Jose Mercury-News was a fake, today's report is the first actual confirmation.

According to the AP, EA spokeswoman Holly Rockwood said that the publisher hired a viral marketing firm which staged the protest. About 20 actors carried signs and distributed pamphlets protesting Dante's Inferno on supposed religious grounds.

The marketing campaign also employed a faux website, WeAreSaved.org.

GP: I'm wondering if the viral marketing firm used by EA for the Dante's Inferno bit was also the group behind the recent brass knuckles campaign supporting The Godfather II...

GamePolitics was among those sites reporting on the protest as an actual event. We picked up on the story via the L.A. Times's coverage.

65 comments

Does Punch-Out!! Character Shout Islamic Phrase?

June 2, 2009 -

A few months back there was a minor uproar surrounding "Islam is the light," a phrase which some people thought they heard uttered by both a talking baby doll and a children's DS game.

In a video posted late last week on YouTube, a man claims that a character in Nintendo's recently-released Wii title Punch-Out!! shouts "Allah Akbar," an Arabic phrase which translates to "God is great."

RevolutionOfCG, who describes himself as a conservative pundit in his YouTube profile, posted the clip of fighter Bald Bull and equates the character's supposed utterance of the phrase with terrorism:

Allah Akbar or God Is Great. For those of you that don't understand the implications of this. Let me put it to you this way. Virtually Every Muslim Terrorist has said this before they blew themselves up or in the case of 9-11, before they slammed into buildings...

Hailing from Istanbul Turkey, if we are to understand the implications of culture, Bald Bull is more than likely a Muslim...

 

Not even 8 years after 9-11 and are we going to accept this phrase in a video game Rated E for Everyone. What do the families of these heinous crimes think of this? Someone out there has to be appalled, I'm certain of that.

The narration of the video includes 9/11 footage of the second plane striking the World Trade Center. As to the phrase Allah Akbar, its Wikipedia page lists a variety of uses other than by terrorists:

This phrase is recited by Muslims in numerous different situations. For example, when they are happy or wish to express approval, when they want to praise a speaker, during battles, and even times of extreme stress or euphoria. It is also used by bombers or suicide bombers before they detonate.

The phrase is said during each stage of both obligatory prayers, which are supposed to be performed five times a day, and supererogatory prayers, which are performed at will...

That's, of course, assuming that Bald Bull actually says Allah Akbar, which is unconfirmed at this point.

Via: VC Review

110 comments

Trade Used Games in Florida, Get Thumbprinted

May 29, 2009 -

If you want to trade in your used games in Broward County, Florida, prepare to give up your thumbprint.

The Broward-Palm Beach New Times reports that the local sheriff's office began requiring game traders to submit to thumbprinting in October, 2008:

Broward County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kayla Concepcion said the new requirement comes straight from the Florida Legislature, which enacted a law... that treated video games like second-hand goods sold at pawn shops. Now any store buying used video games has to collect the thumb prints, along with a bunch of other personal info about the seller.

Japanese Copyright Boss Calls DS Piracy Terrorism

May 26, 2009 -

A leading copyright enforcement official in Japan has likened individuals who pirate Nintendo DS games to terrorists.

tech.radar reports that Yutaka Kubota (left), who heads Japan's Association of Copyright for Computer Software, made the comment to Famitsu magazine:

This is an issue that affects our national interests and, personally, I see it as a form of information terrorism that is crushing Japan's industry.

tech.radar also notes that Kubota's organization has close ties to Nintendo. The DS manufacturer claims that 120 million bootleg copies of DS games were downloaded through the end of 2007. Such activity is not illegal in Japan, but pending legislation would make such downloading a crime.

27 comments

Thai Govt Closes Dozens of Websites After Boy Commits Suicide Over Game Ban

May 23, 2009 -

Following the suicide of a 12-year-old boy on Thursday, Thailand's Criminal Court has ordered the closure of 72 websites.

The Bangkok Post reports that Pongsathorn Wattanabenjasopha leaped to his death from the sixth floor of his school building, after being banned from playing video games by his father.

Oddly enough, the 72 sites shuttered by the Thai government include both online game and gambling venues. The Post reports comments by a government official who said that game-addicted children were more likely to commit suicide:

Bundit Sornpaisarn, director of the Rajanagarindra Child and Adolescent Mental Health Institute, said the boy's suicide reflected that children who were addicted to games and had an aggressive mentality were more likely to commit suicide than others.

Parents need to instil a sense of discipline in children from a young age if such tragedies are to be prevented, he said.

Dr Bundit said people whose children were in their teens should use positive communications to deal with their child's addiction to online games. They should control their emotions and listen to their children's views, as that would bring positive responses, he said.

GP: It's impossible to know from a distance what was troubling young Pongsathorn Wattanabenjasopha, but it would seem reasonable for the Thai government to at least conduct some sort of investigation before closing down online game websites.

And, while GP neither supports nor covers online gambling sites, their inclusion in the crackdown seems odd, since there is no report to date indicating that the boy was involved in any way with gambling.

But, as GamePolitics documented in 2008, Thailand has something of a repressive history in regard to games and the Internet.

45 comments

RapeLay Passed Japanese Software Group's Ethics Screening Process

May 15, 2009 -

The controversial Japanese game RapeLay was cleared by a software industry screening board, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun.

According to the newspaper, the Tokyo-based Ethics Organization of Computer Software screened RapeLay without advising its publisher, Illusion, to make any edits. 235 computer game firms belong to the supposedly self-regulating organization. While an unnamed official of the group would not reveal its screening standards, he told the newspaper:

[The organization] follows the Penal Code and the law, which bans child prostitution and child pornography. Also, we ask for self-regulation of games, to ensure stories depicted stay at a permissible level from a social perspective...

 

[Given the RapeLay controversy the organization] should discuss what kind of self-imposed regulations are required to ensure [games] are acceptable to society.

The Yomiuri Shimbun also reports that RapeLay which caused an uproar when it was found to be available on Amazon.com via a third-party reseller, has been pulled from the market. The move comes in the wake of a protest lodged by New York-based women's rights organization Equality Now. Attorney Yukiko Tsunoda, a member of Equality Now,commented:

The problem isn't just about this specific game, but about all similar games still available [in Japan].

49 comments

Are Jailed Crime Bosses Controlling Empires Via Game Consoles?

May 14, 2009 -

The debate over whether prison inmates should be allowed video game consoles is one that surfaces periodically.

But the head of Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency offered a new twist this week when SOCA director-general Bill Hughes claimed that jailed crime lords were controlling their illicit empires via Internet-enabled video game consoles. U.K. newspaper the Times reported Hughes's comments:

If you are locked up, how do you communicate with others? And we have been highlighting the fact it is not always with mobile telephones. There is other technology used — people are using PlayStations to charge their mobile phones and are playing games interactively with others, so are able to communicate with them.

The Prison Service is concerned that prisoners are using interactive games to talk to people outside the prison. Communication is the name of the game and criminals are looking to exploit new technologies. Prisoners have rights and they have access to the internet...

U.K. prison officials, however, expressed outrage over Hughes's remarks, which apparently caught them off-guard. A spokesman for the Prison Service told the Times:

Prisoners have never been allowed access to wireless enabled technology such as that used in some games consoles. Nor would they ever be allowed access to such technology.

A decision was taken some years ago that the then-current generation of games consoles should be barred because the capability to send or receive radio signals is an integral part of the equipment.

Although the Times mentions that SOCA chief Hughes later apologized privately to prison boss Phil Wheatley, the newspaper also reports that SOCA is standing by its original claim.

As GamePolitics has previously reported, U.K. prisons allow inmates with good behavior to use game consoles. Potentially suicidal inmates are also permitted to play.

Via: Kotaku

62 comments

In Wake of School Rampage, Germany Bans Paintball, Laser Tag

May 11, 2009 -

Violent video games, a frequent political target in Germany, once again came under fire following the horrific school shooting in Winnenden on March 11th.

While there were renewed calls for a complete ban on violent games, it was, surprisingly, paintball and laser tag which, ultimately, will find themselves outlawed.

The Local reports that violators of the upcoming bans could find themselves on the wrong end of a €5,000 (about US$6,800) fine. Wolfgang Bosbach, deputy head of the conservative Christian Union parliamentary group, commented:

We have agreed on reasonable changes that will mean more security without over-regulating hobby marksmen and hunters... [Paintball and laser tag] simulate killing.

The Winnenden case also sparked a debate on gun control in Germany. The BBC has more.

104 comments

Judge Zings Sony's Lawyers Over $150K Payment to Inventor

April 24, 2009 -

Yesterday GamePolitics broke the news that a New Jersey inventor has sued Sony, PDP/Electro Source and several of the firms' attorneys, alleging that he was hoodwinked in a complex patent litigation deal.

One of the central issues in the case is a $150,000 payment made by PDP/Electrosource to the Plaintiff, Craig Thorner. While PDP/Electrosource negotiated the deal with Thorner, who had no attorney, Sony actually funneled the money to PDP. It's complicated, but both companies appear to have believed that acquiring an option on force feedback controller patents developed by Thorner would gain them an advantage in high stakes patent litigation involving Immersion, Corp. It certainly didn't help Sony, which suffered an $82 million judgment in the case.

If the deal sounds a little shady to you, U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken, who presided over Immersion vs. Sony, apparently thought so, too. GamePolitics has obtained a partial transcript of a November, 2005 hearing in which she sharply questions Sony attorneys about the $150,000 payment to Thorner:

Judge: ...What money of Electrosource's went from Electrosource to Mr. Thorner in consideration for that license agreement?

Sony Attorney #1: ...if you're asking what money Electrosource paid above and beyond the amount that Sony paid...

Judge: ...$150,000 moved to... Mr. Thorner. That $150,000 was from Sony. That was Sony's money, correct?

Sony Attorney #1: ...I don't want to split hairs... Sony paid $150,000 to Electrosource. And in exchange Sony became a third-party beneficiary under the Electrosource/Thorner license...

Judge: Wait. Wait. Help me out a little bit here... $150,000 moves from Sony through Electrosource formally... to Mr. Thorner?

Sony Attorney #1: ...[Sony] felt it was highly beneficial to have Electrosource negotiate with Mr. Thorner because if Mr. Thorner was speaking to Sony directly, perhaps he would ask for a much, much higher number, which was the belief...

Judge: And Sony's incapable of saying no?

Sony Attorney #1:...As far as that transaction goes, it's an absolutely legitimate transaction for Sony. They would have - if they got sued, they would have paid 50 times more in legal fees alone...

Judge: So in this deal, Electrosource parts with none of its own money... and it gets this license agreement on very favorable terms... and Sony chooses to use this very oblique route to get this option on a license because Sony's afraid that Mr. Thorner's going to stick them up for a whole bunch more money?...

Sony Attorney #2: Your honor, this is like a huge win for lawyers to get for Sony this kind of option at this price. It's ridiculous.

Judge: Why didn't they write it down in a clear way... Look, this is a huge corporation supposedly getting something important to it, going through this strange process through arguably incompetent lawyers... They set themselves up for a fight... they set themselves up for litigation... and Mr. Thorner is going to make Sony in that fight pay a heck of a lot more than $150,000 to win... It's Sony's position that Mr. Thorner had no idea where the money was coming from?

Sony Attorney #2: Absolutely...

Judge: So the idea was to trick Mr. Thorner into a [patent licensing] commitment to Sony that Mr. Thorner sort of didn't know about or didn't fully grasp....

Sony Attorney #2: ....So this is one of the cheapest insurance policies - I'm doing this over 40 years - that I've ever seen gotten for a client...

 

GP: As Law.com reports, five months after this hearing Judge Wilkins would rule against Sony's motion to set aside Immersion's huge win. Her assessment that sleazy business was afoot is unmistakeable:

[Judge Wilkins ruled that]Thorner was an unreliable witness and that there was strong evidence -- supported by testimony and internal Sony documents -- that Sony paid $150,000 for Thorner's testimony.

13 comments

ABC News Polling Guru Slams NIMF Game Addiction Data

April 22, 2009 -

On Monday Prof. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University in conjunction with the National Institute on Media and the Family released the results of a new study which suggested that one in twelve 8-18 year-olds displayed symptoms of video game addiction.

As GamePolitics reported, the methodology behind the ISA/NIMF research was almost immediately called into question by Harvard's Dr. Cheryl Olson, co-author of Grand Theft Childhood and Oregon psychiatrist Dr. Jerald Block, an expert of the topic of video game addiction.

A report today by ABC News polling director Gary Langer (left) goes a step further, questioning Gentile's study for its claim of being "nationally representative within 3% [margin of error]."

Writing for his The Numbers blog, Langer explains:

The problem: This study was conducted among members of an opt-in online panel – individuals who sign up to click through questionnaires on the internet in exchange for points redeemable for cash and gifts. There are multiple methodological challenges with these things... but the most basic – and I think least arguable – is that they’re based on a self-selected “convenience sample,” rather than a probability sample. And you need a probability sample to compute sampling error...

This is far from an inconsequential issue. The public discourse is well-informed by quality data; it can be misinformed or even disinformed by other data. It is challenging – but essential – for us to differentiate.

Langer also heard from the study's author who admitted the mistake in calculating a margin of error:

Prof. Gentile got back to me... He said he was unaware the data in his study came from a convenience sample... and that, relying on his own background in market research, he’d gone ahead and calculated an error margin for it. “I missed that when I was writing this up. That is an error then on my part.”

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Infophile@Matt: Apparently Dan Aykroyd actually is involved. We don't know how yet, though, but he's apparently going to be in the movie in some way.08/02/2015 - 4:17am
MattsworknameI still hold that not having the origonal cast invovled in any way hurts this movie, and unless the 4 actresses in the lead roles can some how measure up to the comic timing of the origonal cast, i just don't see it being a success08/02/2015 - 12:46am
MattsworknameMecha: regardless of what you think of it, GB 2 was a finanical success and for it time did well with audiances ,even if it wasnt as popular as the first08/02/2015 - 12:45am
MechaTama31I think they're better off trying to do something different, than trying to be exactly the same and having every little difference held up as a shortcoming. Uncanny valley.08/01/2015 - 11:57pm
MechaTama31Having the original cast didn't do much for... that pink-slimed atrocity which we must never speak of.08/01/2015 - 11:56pm
MattsworknameAndrew: If the new ghostbusters bombs, I cant help but feel it'll be cause it removed the origonal cast and changed the formula to much08/01/2015 - 8:31pm
Andrew EisenNot the best look but that appears to be a PKE meter hanging from McCarthy's belt.08/01/2015 - 7:34pm
Matthew Wilsonwhy, let me guess it runes like crap?08/01/2015 - 7:29pm
Andrew EisenInteresting. These throwers are different than the ones we saw in the earlier Ghostbusters prop pics. https://twitter.com/feigfans/status/62754147689817702508/01/2015 - 7:28pm
PHX Corphttp://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1088640 NeoGAF: Warning: Don't buy Binding of Isaac Rebirth on 3DS08/01/2015 - 7:26pm
MattsworknameYou know what game is a lot of fun? rocket league. It' s a soccer game thats actually fun to play cause your A Freaking CAR!08/01/2015 - 7:02pm
MattsworknameNomad colossus did a little video about it, showing the world and what can be explored in it's current form. It's worth a look, and he uses text for commentary as not to break the immerison08/01/2015 - 5:49pm
MattsworknameI feel some more mobility would have made it more interesting and I feel that a larger more diverse landscape with better graphiscs would help, but as a concept, it interests me08/01/2015 - 5:48pm
Andrew EisenHuh. I guess I'll have to check out a Let's Play to get a sense of the game.08/01/2015 - 5:47pm
MattsworknameIt did, I found the idea of exploring a world at it's end, exploring the abandoned city of a disappeared alien race and the planets various knooks and crannies intriqued me.08/01/2015 - 5:46pm
Andrew EisenDid it appeal to you? If so, what did you find appealing?08/01/2015 - 5:43pm
MattsworknameIts an interesting concept, but it's not gonna appeal to everyone thats for sure,08/01/2015 - 5:40pm
Andrew EisenThat sounds horrifically boring. Doesn't sound like an interesting use of its time dilation premise either. 08/01/2015 - 5:36pm
Mattsworknamean observer , seeing this sorta frozen world and being able to explore without any restriction other then time. no enimes, no threats, just the chance to explore08/01/2015 - 5:34pm
MattsworknameAndrew: I meant lifeless planet, Time frame is an exploration game. Your dropped onto a world which is gonna be hit by a metor in 10 seconds, but due to time dilation ,you actually have ten minutes, so you can explore the world, in it's last moments, as08/01/2015 - 5:32pm
 

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