Rule 34 Fulfilled: The Kinect Groping Sim

December 16, 2010 -

Update: As one commenter points out, this hack "fulfills" Rule 34, it doesn't "break" it. I've updated the headline and the text below to reflect that.

Original Story:

Kinect hackers have done some interesting things with Microsoft's motion-sensing camera device like making it control RC vehicles, created a "Minority Report" style control scheme, and a hack to track a body while not using an Xbox 360. The latest hack finally fulfills Rule 34. It was inevitable, of course.

The Urban Dictionary defines Rule 34 in the following manner:

"Generally accepted internet rule that states that pornography or sexually related material exists for any conceivable subject."

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Not Without a Condom!

December 7, 2010 -

Thinking of having unprotected sex? Maybe this public service video from Leicestershire Teenage Pregnancy Partnership in England will change your mind. The video for teens uses Super Mario and Mega Man style 8-bit graphics to deliver a fun little message. Check out the video to the left for a laugh.

Find out more about the Leicestershire Teenage Pregnancy Partnership here.

Thanks to Kotaku

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New York Law School Moot Court Features EMA Case

October 1, 2010 -

Earlier this week, we reported on the results of a moot court hosted by the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary Law School, in which several noted journalists, legal scholars, and even a federal judge sat down to hash out a mock version of the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case pending before the Supreme Court. The IBRL moot court found 6-3 in favor of the State of California, causing some concern as to whether the result was an outlier or a hint towards how the Supreme Court may rule.

Apparently, William & Mary is not the only law school considering the question. New York Law School, famous for their annual State of Play conference, held a moot court competition of their own featuring a fact pattern very similar to that of the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case.  We obtained a copy of the bench brief from the case, which was written by NYLS third year law students Andrew Blancato and John Hague for the Charles W. Froessel Intramural Moot Court Competition. 

Sex Ed Game Gets Thumbs Down for XBLA

September 17, 2010 -

The explicit nature of a sex education game is apparently enough to keep it off Xbox Live Arcade.

Zombie Cow Studios, developer of the game Privates, has been told that the game probably would not be approved in a peer review of the game, according to company co-founder Dan Marshall.

“The guys at Xbox have been amazing. They’ve been really supportive and helpful throughout, but ultimately have advised that the game wouldn’t pass the Indie Games Peer Review process, purely due to its inherently sexual nature. As a result, if you want to play as a tiny little man blasting away inside someone’s innards, the only place to do it is privatesgame.com

According to the game description:

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Pre-Teen Boys Will Hate This Game

July 27, 2010 -

The University of Central Florida is developing a game designed to teach pre-teen girls how to fend off peer pressure-driven sex.

A report on the game by an Orlando Fox affiliate bills the title as promoting abstinence among kids and works by using “simulation and digital puppetry.” Charles Hughes, a UCF Computer Science Professor described it by saying, “…one person controls many characters by jumping into the skin.”

The price tag of the game was put at around $434,000, which seems exorbitant until you consider that the game makes use of motion-capture suits and infra-red lights which enable users to control the on-screen avatars. The game is expected to be completed next year.

A Fox anchor introduced the story by noting that “It is your money and the University of Central Florida is using it for a surprising project.”

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OSU Buyer Allegedly Dropped Funds on Sex Toys, Videogames

June 28, 2010 -

People spending other people’s money just can’t seem to stop themselves from buying videogames.

NewsOK carries the story of 44-year old Cynthia Low, a former Senior Financial Assistant in Oklahoma State University's chemistry department, who apparently used school funds to procure Nintendo Wii games, women’s undergarments, jewelry and a variety of sex toys.

Low left her position after hints of impropriety, but it appears tax payers may be on the hook for the tens of thousands in illicit purchases, as OSU officials said they had no choice but to pay the bills for the items.

In her position Low routinely purchased laboratory and office supplies adding up to over $10,000 per month. OSU said that it is investigating the matter and that it would not “tolerate this type of action.”

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Ho Chi Minh City Struggles to Deal with Risqué Games

March 29, 2010 -

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is awash in a sea of pornographic games, which are displayed—and often can be played—out in the open.

An article in the Vietnam Vet Bridge details the spread of such games, from touch-screen, table top interfaces in malls or trading centers, to being offered for sale in markets (for use with game consoles like the PlayStation 2) and ultimately, to their availability online. One shopkeeper claimed that she sells “many games with sexy girls daily, adding that they were a favorite among teens.”

A reporter from the paper Tuoi Tre purchased one game disc for the price of 20,000 dong (approximately $1.07 U.S.), prompting the paper to corner Le Manh Ha (pictured), Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Information and Communications, for some answers regarding an apparent lack of government regulation.

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Dead or Alive: Paradise Director Fires Back at Critics

March 1, 2010 -

Not long after the ESRB retracted their online ratings summary of PSP game Dead or Alive: Paradise, the "creepy" and "voyeuristic" game is in the spotlight once again, with director Yoshinori Ueda claiming the game is not "soft-core porn".

In an interview with Eurogamer, Ueda fired back at critics claiming the game is sexist, saying "We're certainly not trying to degrade women. They have beautiful bodies. We're trying to show off the beauty of their bodies but we're not trying to be degrading about it - we're trying to show that they are beautiful characters."

Ueda counters accusations that DoA:P's excessive mammaries have nothing to do with game play by asserting that DoA:P isn't really a game anyway, at least not in "the traditional sense".  "What we offer is a selection of things to play and activities to have fun with. The players have the freedom to play Paradise however they want," Ueda said. "For us, the goal was really to offer a little bit of paradise to the users, and we hope that people playing the game will be able to come away with the feeling that they've visited paradise."

GP: So it is a game, it's not a game, it's about the characters, it's about whatever the players want... Ueda's point unfortunately gets lost amidst the contradictions. It's a bit disingenuous to suggest that his game actually attempts to honor women, while dismissing that some may feel degraded. And while various branches of modern feminism offer competing arguments about whether women should or shouldn't to take pride in having an attractive body, the characters Ueda features in DoA:P aren't real -- they're not human.  Of course, this isn't a new issue, as the Dead or Alive series has been controversial for the sexualization of its characters since Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. But does anyone else see something inherently chauvinistic about having a male director assert that all he wants to do is show off women's beautiful bodies for other people's pleasure?


Dan Rosenthal is a legal analyst for the games industry.

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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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Porn Star Pokes Videogames

January 11, 2010 -

Anti-game crusaders may have a new (and unlikely) ally—porn star Ron Jeremy.

The subject of videogames cropped up in a debate at the Consumer Electronics Show between Jeremy and anti-pornography activist Craig Gross reports PCMag. The inclusion came as Jeremy was attempting to infer that the porn industry is in business only to serve adults over the age of 18 years old.

He stated:

We don't want kids to watch porn. Though if they do, he added, there are far worse influences out there — like video games.

 

[Studies have] found that violent video games are much bigger a negative influence on kids

Gross and Jeremy did manage to agree, however, that it’s up to parents to keep explicit or non-age related material out of the hands of their kids.

GP: Having a hard time (no pun intended) here believing that Ron has read all the relevant studies. This incident just illustrates (laughably) how much of a scapegoat videogames have become for social ills. Perhaps a new pro-videogame crusade could be launched under the banner "At Least It's Not Porn," or Frumpy Middle-Aged Mom and Ron can team up to promote the evils of games.

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Tiger Remains in the Game

January 5, 2010 -

In a blog on EASports.com, President Peter Moore announced that Tiger Woods would remain the face of its videogame golf franchise, ending a month of speculation.

Moore explained the company’s reasoning:

By his own admission, he’s made some mistakes off the course.  But regardless of what’s happening in his personal life, and regardless of his decision to take a personal leave from the sport, Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest athletes in history.

Of course the fact that Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online is nearing release may have played some part in EA’s decision. Removing him from the nearly completed game, never mind extracting itself from a contract with Woods, would no doubt have proven a formidable task.

EA’s decision to stay with Tiger comes in light of AT&T, Accenture Plc and Procter & Gamble (Gillette) all dropping the libido-laden golfer, while Nike, Upper Deck and now EA, have kept Tiger on board.

A Business Week opinion piece says it’s time for Tiger’s sponsors to forgive and forget:

When corporations attempt to set themselves up as moral arbiters, they just end up making themselves look out of touch.

The author argues that in standing by a spokesperson who is going through tough times, “sponsors would emerge with more respect,” adding:

… sponsors have misunderstood why they wanted celebrity endorsements in the first place. They need authenticity, not bland corporate perfection. If corporations aren’t willing to accept that their “ambassadors” are real people, with all the flaws and fallibilities that come with that package, there is no point in having them on the payroll.

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How Much Longer Can EA Stand by Tiger?

December 11, 2009 -

As the sordid details of Tiger Woods’ personal life continue to unfold in the national media the question arises: will Electronic Arts stick by their videogame cover boy?

While EA issued a statement a week ago saying that it wouldn’t dump Woods, the media frenzy surrounding Tiger’s transgressions continues to grow and more information is revealed seemingly everyday, all of which could influence EA’s stance.

A Forbes column contains the opinion that Tiger’s days are numbered as an EA spokesman, going so far as to say that “Tiger is done as a corporate pitchman” overall, regardless of what companies sticking by him are currently saying now.

The columnist also believes that the Tiger scandal will force companies to do full diligence on a spokesperson before choosing them:

…companies that throw big money at athletes are going to do a lot of research on them to make sure they are not phony (or make risk-adverse decisions based on information they do have) and funnel their endorsement dough at popular athletes whose image will not blow up.

Some of these athletes may not even be among the best in their field, but they will typically be in global sports and not be ticking time bombs.

Forbes writes that no other golfers carry enough buzz among consumers to fill Tiger’s shoes. Certainly however, EA could find a new PGA pro to build its game around if events warranted. Phil Mickelson might be the perfect choice, though he may need to work on his fist pump to take it to Tiger’s level.

What do you think? Should EA keep Tiger on board?

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Reheating Hot Coffee: Take-Two Reaches $20M Settlement with Investors

September 2, 2009 -

Take-Two Interactive announced yesterday that it has reached a $20 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed over the 2005 Hot Coffee scandal.

Although T2's press release is regrettably light on details, securities are mentioned, indicating that  this case is related to loss of equity value caused by Hot Coffee and its fallout.

Venture Beat has dug up a link to the complaint, Feninger vs. Take-Two. Kotaku offers an explanation of the details:

The nut of the allegations contained in the 34-page suit, is that Take-Two was spending more than it was bringing in and couldn't survive until the next Grand Theft Auto. So, the suit alleges, the company pushed Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas out the door knowing that there was pornographic material in the game because delays would have cost the company too much. If the material was known to be in the, the suit continues, major retailers wouldn't have sold it.

The outcome, according to the suit, was inflated stock prices based on bad or uninformed information from the company and a plunge in stock values when the truth came out.

The suit also alleges that Take-Two lied about the included sex scenes, nicknamed Hot Coffee, when they first came to light, with the company the scenes were "the work of a determined group of hackers who have gone to significant trouble to alter scenes.'"

GP: We should point out that, as the record shows, the notion that Take-Two lied about the origin of the Hot Coffee scenes is a fact, not merely an allegation. In one the sleaziest moves ever seen in the game biz, Take-Two tried to pin the rap for the hidden sex scenes on its biggest fans, the GTA mod community. To be fair, there was a different management team in place back then.

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FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz Objects

August 31, 2009 -

The Federal Communications Commission will evaluate the potential for a single content rating system that would span various forms of media, including video games, movies, TV and music.

Bloomberg reports that the FCC will study the issue at the direction of Congress:

The FCC action follows congressional queries into whether children are harmed by inappropriate content, such as sex, violence and obscenity. Senators want to know whether revisions are needed to the law to protect children, said Senator Jay Rockefeller...

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told Congress in July he was “hopeful that the evolving media landscape” will enhance parents’ power “to pick and choose” what their child sees and hears.

Not surprisingly, game publishers lobbying group ESA is opposed to the idea. Kotaku has comment from ESA VP RichTaylor:

The ESA appreciates the FCC and its important role. However, the ESRB rating system is considered by parents, family advocates, the Federal Trade Commission, and elected officials as the gold standard in providing caregivers with the information they need to make the right choices for their families. Universal ratings will, in the end, only serve to confuse consumers, violate the Constitution's first amendment, and are a solution in search of a problem.

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U.N. Steps Into RapeLay Controversy, Urges Ban

August 28, 2009 -

The debate over graphic Japanese sex games such as the disgusting and controversial RapeLay continues with word that the United Nations is stepping in.

At a meeting earlier this month, the U.N.'s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women called for a ban on explicit video games and anime. As reported by Anime News Network, the committee urged Japan to ban "the sale of video games or cartoons involving rape and sexual violence against women which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls."

The committee also expressed concern "at the normalization of sexual violence in the State party as reflected by the prevalence of pornographic video games and cartoons featuring rape, gang rape, stalking and the sexual molestation of woman and girls."

Via: Kotaku

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Online Game Lampoons Scandal-ridden Italian Premier

August 28, 2009 -

tell-all book in which the estranged wife of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi reveals her frustrations with his extra-marital dalliances serves as the basis for a new online game from T-enterprise.

In the game, the Berlusconi character must throw copies of his wife Veronica Lario's book into a furnace while dodging boulders.

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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

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Female Gamer Sees Sexism At Play in MMOs

August 10, 2009 -

Are the virtual worlds portrayed in massively-multiplayer online games inherently sexist?

Although she believes the situation is improving, Jaime, a veteran female gamer, still sees a great deal of sexism in MMOs. In a column for MMOsite she explains her view:

From my own experience, in the early days of MMOs – looking back at Ultima Online and EverQuest – there was a definite attitude that women simply didn't play games... Female players who identified their gender... [were] ignored. Women... [had] their skills and abilities in the game questioned...

Players began to slowly accept that there were women playing MMOs... Nonetheless, the attitude itself was still low and chauvinistic. I can recount at least half a dozen times while playing Dark Age of Camelot... [receiving] requests for pictures, breast size, age, if I was available for dating, and various sexual requests and connotations...

There's also been one constant: the harassing of female characters... whispers soliciting cybersex, of course, but also more innocent gestures such as the use of emotes to flirt at, kiss, poke, tickle, tease, grope, slap, and otherwise virtually sexually harass a female character.

Not surprisingly, Jaime sees the anonymous nature of the online world as a major contributing factor in MMO sexism.

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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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Video Games and the First Amendment

July 10, 2009 -

Over at GameTopius, paralegal-in-training Nikhil Baliga (who also has degrees in Political Science and Psychology) serves up a look at First Amendment issues as they relate to games.

While Baliga does a nice job of tracing some of the major case law, the article's main points could be stated with more clarity. This paragraph, for example, seems to imply that video games are not necessarily constitutionally-protected speech (they are):

What well intentioned, but usually ill informed, video game advocates often assume is that video games are constitutionally protected free speech. While there can be no doubt that video games are speech, the Supreme Court has stated that not all speech is constitutionally protected.

Later, Baliga explains that this is a reference to video games which might be considered legally obscene under the so-called Miller Test. The fact is, however, that the likelihood of that happening in the U.S. market, given the ESRB rating system, console licensing requirements and screening by major retailers, is roughly nil.

While there could be a non-commercial game or import (say, RapeLay) that might - might - meet the Miller obscenity standard, implying that commercial video games are not protected speech is roughly akin to saying that Hollywood movies aren't necessarily protected speech because there are also kiddie porn films.

Still in all, worth a read.

GP: Readers should note that Baliga is not a lawyer and neither is GP. So, take both opinions with the appropriate grain of salt.

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BioWare Will Include Sex Scenes in Games If They Fit the Plot

July 9, 2009 -

Despite taking a bit of a thrashing in the mainstream media, BioWare remains unfazed by the 2008 controversy that Fox News ginned up over the well-known and tenderly played sex scene in best-selling RPG Mass Effect. The noted game developer's upcoming title Dragon Age: Origins is set to feature more of the same.
 
In an interview with CVG, co-founder of BioWare, Greg Zeschuk discusses the inclusion of sexual interactions in video games:

I don't think [games] need to have [sex scenes], I think that in certain types of games it makes sense to have them... That said, I think from our perspective we want to reflect real human relationships... And if that involves some sort of intimate scenes, we want to provide those for the player.
 
It's based on the fact that this is a sophisticated mature experience. The same way that a kid's anime or cartoon will have a different style of content in it than a really serious drama, this is like a serious drama. Really what we're going for in all cases is emotional engagement, some kind of impact.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen thinks Microsoft’s Project Natal could make for some interesting sexual interactions in video games...

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GP on CBC

June 24, 2009 -

I just completed an interview on CBC's Q program. Also appearing was Mike Thomsen of IGN.

The show was styled as a debate on sexual violence in games, with a lot of attention paid to RapeLay. I've never held back my contempt for the game and didn't on today's program.

I believe that they archive the previous day's show into a podcast. If you're interested in listening, check out the Q show website.

UPDATE: If you missed the program, CBC has posted the podcast version.

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Louisiana Bill Targeting Sexually Explicit Games Dies in Committee

June 19, 2009 -

Louisiana Senate Bill 152 began life as a clone of Jack Thompson's failed Utah legislation and died quietly this week in the Commerce Committee of the Louisiana House, according to The Old River Road, a blog which tracks Louisiana politics. Although we haven't yet seen a post about SB 152 at TORR, blogger Charlie Buras dropped us a line via Twitter last night to say the bill expired in committee.

Between birth and death SB 152 was completely reworked by its sponsor, Sen. A.G. Crowe (R). As for Thompson, he was nowhere to be seen in the process. The truth in advertising legal theory advocated by the disbarred Miami attorney quietly morphed into proposed civil sanctions against those who would distribute sexually explicit material to minors. The need for such legislation is not entirely clear, since such conduct is already an offense under Louisiana criminal law.

Although Crowe's Senate colleagues passed the bill overwhelmingly, House members seemed less impressed. At a hearing earlier this week the bill was diverted to the Commerce Committee.

UPDATE: The Times-Picayune has more details, including word that the Commerce Committee voted 12-2 to kill the bill. The estimated $1.6 million cost to administer the bill didn't help any. (GP: thanks to longtime reader BearDogg-X for the link!).

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Is Possessing RapeLay a Federal Crime in the United States?

June 19, 2009 -

Much has been written about RapeLay since the controversial Hentai game was discovered for sale on Amazon a few months back.

But while the debate thus far has largely centered around whether Japan, where RapeLay and most similar titles originate, should allow games featuring sexual violence to be published, a recent court ruling suggests that U.S. citizens who possess RapeLay and games of its ilk may be guilty of a federal offense.

Wired's Threat Level blog reports that on Monday the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to consider the appeal of Dwight Whorley, a Virginia man who was convicted in U.S. District Court of possessing actual kiddie porn. But, under what is known as the 2003 Protect Act, prosecutors also charged Whorley with possessing manga which depicted minors having explicit sex. From the relevant section of the Protect Act:

Any person who... knowingly possesses a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting, that—

 

(1) (A) depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; and

(B) is obscene; or

(2) (A) depicts an image that is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in graphic bestiality, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex; and

(B) lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value... shall be subject to the penalties provided...

(c) Nonrequired Element of Offense.— It is not a required element of any offense under this section that the minor depicted actually exist.

Threat Level also cites a similar conviction against Christopher Handley, a comic book collector who imported sexually explicit manga containing illustrations of child sex abuse and bestiality. Unlike Whorley, Handley possessed no actual child pornography.

So how does this connect to the RapeLay situation? A [NSFW] review of the game posted on Something Awful describes graphic, forced sex with a mother and her two minor daughters, the youngest of whom appears to be about ten years old. Save for the fact that it's interactive, RapeLay is not much different from the type of hardcore manga which earned federal time for Whorley and Handley.

We should note that a single judge on the 4th Circuit dissented from the opinion upholding Whorley's conviction and urged that the case be sent to the U.S. Supreme Court. But for now, at least, owning a copy of RapeLay seems like a risky legal proposition, indeed.

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Evangelical Leader: Some Games Are Okay. Others, Not So Much...

June 13, 2009 -

Rev. James Dobson, the politically influential, conservative evangelical leader of nonprofit group Focus on the Family, has given a green light to some video games while offering warnings about violent an sexual content as well as possible game addiction in regard to others.

Dobson's comments appeared in his newspaper column in response to a question from a parent about their son's video gaming:

Depending on the particular games in question, you may have a valid cause for concern... two University of Michigan researchers concluded in 2007 that violent media, including television, film and video games, pose a significant public health threat...

Furthermore, some video games add unhealthy sexual themes and profanity to the mix, not to mention that the American Medical Association estimates one in 10 video gamers is addicted.

Of course, not all video games are problematic. Certain sports games, for instance, can be loads of fun. Some can even be educational...

I’d advise you to put clear limits on the amount of time your son will be allowed to spend with video games... Insist he avoid the troublesome ones altogether...

GP: Dobson is referring to the 2007 Huesmann-Bushman study.

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Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets Sexually-Explicit Content

June 11, 2009 -

By a 35-0 vote yesteday, the Louisiana Senate passed SB 152, a bill which would make a pattern of distributing sexually explicit material to children a deceptive trade practice under state law.

GamePolitics readers may recall that in its original form, SB 152 was drafted by disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson as a back-door means of enforcing ESRB content ratings. The original SB 152 mirrored Thompson's Utah bill, which was vetoed by Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) in March. However, bill sponsor Sen. A.G. Crowe (R, at left) subsequently gutted Thompson's focus on age ratings from the bill, amending it instead to its new focus on the distribution of sexually explicit material to minors. It should be noted that distributing such material to minors is already an offense under Louisiana's criminal statutes.

Unlike the Utah bill, SB 152 doesn't make reference to video games, advertising, age ratings or any specific product, for that matter. However, Sen. Crowe did mention video games as an example during yesterday's session:

This body has over the years passed numerous laws to protect our children... And with the growth of...  the market of materials that would be considered by most of us here objectionable as it relates to obscenity such as that is found... in video games either rented or purchased, could fall again into the hands of some of our children. So it is a step in the direction of moving, passing legislation that would allow for, again, protecting our children from this type of thing...

Oddly enough, SB 152 specifically excludes the Internet from its provisions. These days the online world would seem the most likely source for a child to stumble upon sexually explicit material. 

The nature of sexually-explicit conduct defined in the bill would seem to exclude any ESRB-rated video game published to date. It seems clear that a game meeting the standard defined in the bill would have already been rated Adults Only (AO) by the ESRB. Curiously, the bill does not relate its provision for sexually-explicit conduct to the legal definition of obscenity. Should the bill eventually be signed into law, this could prove to be a fatal flaw from a constitutional sense.

Now that it has been passed by the Senate, the next stop for SB 152 is the Louisiana House of Representatives.

GamePolitics readers can watch yesterday's debate on SB 152 by clicking here. Scroll down to "Chamber" for June 10th. The SB 152 segment begins at 4:01:39.

UPDATE: A knowledgeable video game industry source criticized SB 152 in comments to GamePolitics:

The bill as passed by the Senate is clearly unconstitutional. It would penalize the sale of sexually oriented material to minors, but does not require that the material be legally obscene for minors, referred to in Louisiana as 'harmful to minors,' or 'obscene,' as U.S. Supreme Court precedents mandate. This was the same flaw that doomed the Illinois 'sexually explicit video games' law.
 
While it might seem that mainstream retailers have little to fear from the amended bill, as they don't carry pornography, the fact that a single depiction in an otherwise unobjectionable video game, DVD, or other material could open a retailer to liability is of grave concern.

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Japanese Industry Group Cracks Down on RapeLay, Similar Games

June 5, 2009 -

A Japanese industry standards group has issued a ban on the controversial RapeLay and games of its ilk, according to Bloomberg.

While reports last week that the Ethics Organization of Computer Software had taken such a step were premature, the ban, which carries no legal authority, has now been confirmed. 233 Japanese software firms belong to EOCS, including 90% of the country's makers of adult software. In issuing the ban EOCS made reference to a February motion in the British Parliament which condemned RapeLay.

Such games are a thriving business in Japan, Bloomberg reports:

The adult software games industry had sales of 34.1 billion yen ($353 million) in 2007...

Computer games containing rape scenes are readily available in Japanese stores. Yodobashi Camera Co., an electronics retailer, sells ‘Rape!Rape!Rape!’... at its store in Akihabara, a shopping area of Tokyo famous for stores popular with fans of the Japanese cartoons known as manga.

With RapeLay requiring players to assault a 12-year-old girl character, Bloomberg notes that possession of real child pornography, much less the virtual kind, is not illegal in Japan. Former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer criticized Japan over the issue in January of this year:

Only Japan allows people to possess these hideous images without penalty...  Is it not time for Japan to find a way to punish the guilty?

Although the EOCS ban lacks the force of law, Singapore's Straits Times reports that most Japanese retailers will follow the edict.

33 comments

Feminists Outraged by Interactive DVD Available on Amazon

May 29, 2009 -

Is this the next RapeLay controversy?

Although interactive DVDs aren't traditionally thought of as video games, they would appear to fall into something of a gray area between movies and games.

That may be an academic argument, but, in lodging a new protest against online retailer Amazon.com, woman-centric website Feministing treats Stockholm: An Exploration of True Love as a video game:

it looks like another game involving violence against women seems to have"slipped" past [Amazon's] radar. "Stockholm: An Exploration of True Love" is a game that allows the user to experience,

    "...a terrifyingly vivid exploration of Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition in which a captive falls in love with her kidnapper. And you play the part of the kidnapper. With a limited number of options, you must figure out how to make her fall in love with you."

This includes using poison gas on the victim, sexually assaulting her and using psychological abuse against her in efforts to make her "love" you. Unbelievable.

While RapeLay was offered by a third-party reseller on Amazon, Stockholm appears to shipping direct from the online retailer's inventory.

165 comments

Sexy Poker WiiWare Title Banned Down Under

May 26, 2009 -

GameSpot Australia reports that government censors have banned Sexy Poker, a WiiWare title for Nintendo's popular console.

The game is apparently a strip poker affair in which A.I.-controled female opponents shed clothing when the player wins a hand. In refusing the game a rating, Australia's Classification Board said in a statement:

In the Board’s view Sexy Poker offers depictions of nudity as an incentive or reward to interactive game play. In the Board’s view, the general rule in the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games prohibiting depictions of nudity as an incentive or reward, applies to the game play described above, as the player is shown increasingly detailed amounts of nudity following successful game-play

In the view of the Board, the impact of the game exceeds strong as except in material restricted to adults, nudity and sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards. As such the game cannot be accommodated in a MA15+ classification.

The MA15+ classification is currently Australia's highest, although many Down Under believe an 18+ rating is necessary to accomodate the increase in mature content in games.

Joystiq reported last month that Sexy Poker was originally developed as a mobile phone title but is being readied as downloadable WiiWare. It is unclear which regions will be able to access the game, although GoNintendo reports that the game will be released in the European market.

THANKS TO: Longtime GP reader Ryan...

25 comments

Apple Bans "Hot Dog Down a Hallway" Game

May 21, 2009 -

Inexplicable content decisions continue to be made by the people running the iTunes AppStore.

In the latest example, Apple has banned a new version of Metaversal Studio's Hot Dog Down a Hallway game due to sexual innuendo. However, an earlier version was previously approved and remains available - double entendres included - for $0.99.

As reported by the Boston Globe:

In the game, players try to launch a hot dog down a corridor lined with various hazards. Players earn "achievement" awards, which are described using suggestive slang terms.

17 comments

 
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Should ‘sexism’ factor into a video game’s rating?:

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Wonderkarp24 hours later, still havent opened the Amiibos. infact went out and bought 3 more(DK, Kirby, Pikachu). unopened. lol. I just adore the packaging....11/22/2014 - 2:59pm
Matthew WilsonI have to admit this is kind of insane by the IGDA, block who you want,but dont use a bot with a questionable track record. https://soundcloud.com/totalbiscuit/the-igda-is-doing-what-now11/22/2014 - 12:33pm
MaskedPixelanteI suspect Howard will show up in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 as a bartender on Knowhere or something.11/22/2014 - 9:52am
Michael ChandraWonderkarp, try games where you don't get interactive cutscenes and only the main character really talks to people. Or games with a silent protagonist. I think the Bechdel test is a nice indicator (though flawed) for movies and such, but not games.11/22/2014 - 7:56am
ZippyDSMleeWymorence: HTD was a fun and very messed up film I love it. A new one would be nothing like it sadly.11/22/2014 - 1:57am
Andrew EisenOnly if we lived in a world where a bad movie meant every subsequent attempt would suck. Seriously though, after the last few years, I'll give Marvel the benefit of the doubt that it could make a great Howard the Duck movie.11/22/2014 - 1:29am
Wymorenceisn't that a GOOD thing there isn't a movie after the abomination that was the first?11/22/2014 - 12:27am
Andrew EisenNo movie in sight but Howard the Duck is returning to comics! https://games.yahoo.com/news/howard-duck-series-announced-184400635.html11/21/2014 - 10:48pm
MechaCrashThe point of the Bechdel Test isn't "is this film sexist," it's to illustrate "this is an incredibly low bar and most movies STILL can't pass it."11/21/2014 - 10:11pm
mthielNew report on Adam Lanza http://tinyurl.com/pnj9os611/21/2014 - 8:07pm
Andrew EisenIf you missed the HuffPost segment I guested on, the replay is now embedded in the story.11/21/2014 - 6:05pm
Wonderkarphttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/B2__4yZCcAA9Ytp.jpg these look amazing. Peach is the only one I'm tempted to open cause her packaging is bent. get another nonbent one....man. toycollector me and gamecollector me is fighting11/21/2014 - 5:51pm
WonderkarpJust finalized my Smash Bros free Sound Track Order. Also got 4 amiibos and they look fantastic. I'm afraid to open them. they look spectacular!11/21/2014 - 5:45pm
james_fudgeCan we all agree that Andrew cleans up nicely and can go on any program?11/21/2014 - 5:01pm
Wonderkarpthank you for that line, Andrew. alot of great films fail the bechdel test. Gravity fails it and it has a female lead.11/21/2014 - 4:48pm
Andrew EisenAw, thanks James! Well, now I have to drive back to work!11/21/2014 - 4:45pm
Andrew EisenDidn't have a chance to say this on the HuffPost segment but while the Bechdel test is useful as a broad examination of gender representation in media, it's not at all appropriate as a judgment of quality.11/21/2014 - 4:45pm
james_fudgeAndrew you killed it!11/21/2014 - 4:44pm
WonderkarpMadeline Bergman. second female, they never speak of men, just a computer program. it passes the test11/21/2014 - 4:34pm
E. Zachary KnightDoes Other M have more than one woman in it?11/21/2014 - 4:31pm
 

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