ECA Pleased To See Time Warner Back Down on Price-Gouging Bandwidth Caps

April 17, 2009 -

Consumers won a big victory this week as Time Warner Cable backed down on a plan that would have placed a cap on bandwidth usage for broadband customers, while at the same time charging users a wildly inflated price per gigabyte.

When Time Warner announced recently that it would expand its broadband caps into New York and North Carolina, Ars Technica reports that the plan immediately ran afoul of Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The two lawmakers helped torpedo Time Warner's scheme.

The Entertainment Consumers Association, which also lobbied vigorously against the Time-Warner plan, was delighted with the cable provider's decision to back down. ECA VP and General Counsel Jennifer Mercurio commented on the outcome:

We're pleased that Time Warner has come to their senses on this issue... Having worked against caps and tiered pricing for over a year, and being the leading consumer rights organization to aggressively defend the American public on this issue, we're glad to see our efforts pay off even as we continue to work with Senator Schumer, Congressman Massa, and others to stop this type of consumer price gauging moving forward.

When Mercurio mentions price gouging, she's not kidding. Price comparison done by Nate Anderson of Ars Technica show how blatantly Time Warner planned to rip off its customers:

As TWC expands its test markets for the data caps, it offers plans with 5GB of monthly data transfer for $30. Plans with 40GB of data go for $55... That base rate works out to a truly jaw-dropping $6 per GB per month, and it's so far out of line with competitors' plans as to shock even the most cynical heart.

Take AT&T's DSL, for comparison... AT&T DSL comes out to 9¢ per GB. Verizon's fiber-optic FiOS system... this comes out to $.11 per GB. Upgrading to the much faster 50Mbps service for $144.95 a month still means that the charge per GB is only 36¢.

The situation is similar at other cable operators. Comcast offers Internet service starting at $42.95 per month and has a 250GB cap in place; this works out to 17¢ per GB.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

31 comments

Grand Theft Auto Publisher Coughs Up $3.3M to Settle Old Cases

April 2, 2009 -

Aside from the often controversial nature of its best-selling Grand Theft Auto series, Take-Two Interactive has spruced up its corporate image significantly since Strauss Zelnick and his crew seized control in 2007.

Despite that, some legal baggage lingered from the reigns of past CEOs Ryan Brant and Paul Eibeler.

The New York Times reports that T2 has settled those cases with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, respectively.

The GTA publisher paid $3M to the SEC in an an investigation of backdated stock options. In 2007 Brant pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the case. SEC attorney Christopher Conte commented on the charges in a statement:

Take-Two’s seven-year backdating scheme was egregious and pervasive, and caused the company to materially misrepresent its financial condition to investors.

The company also paid the $300,000 cost of the Manhattan  D.A.'s investigation into related matters. A Take-Two press release contains a statement from Zelnick:

We are pleased to have reached a settlement with both the SEC and District Attorney with respect to the Company's historical stock option granting practices. Resolving this issue has been a key objective for Take-Two since the current management team took office in early 2007, and we are gratified to have put this matter behind us.

 


16-Year Old GTA IV Gamer Charged with Grisly S&M Murder of NYC Newsman

March 25, 2009 -

A 16-year old New York youth has confessed to the stabbing murder of a veteran New York City radio newscaster, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

The suspect is an avid video gamer who lists Rockstar's controversial Grand Theft Auto IV as his favorite title.

The NYPD has charged John Katehis (left) with repeatedly stabbing George Weber, 47, last Friday. The pair met after Weber posted a Craigslist ad offering to pay for violent sex. Katehis was to earn $60 for the sleazy encounter at which alcohol and cocaine were reportedly used. Weber, apparently as part of his sado-masochistic fantasy, supplied the knife with which Katehis eventually killed him.

That's not to say that Katehis was a stranger to edged weapons. The New York Daily News, which refers to Katehis as "emotionally disturbed," displays a picture of the teen posing with his exotic knife and sword collection.

Gawker has posted Katehis's MySpace profile, in which says the suspect wrotes:

I enjoy long conversations, drinking, bike riding, hanging out, roof hopping, hanging off trains, any type of Parkour exercise. Extreme violence (chaos, anarchy, etc.) Video Games, Violent Movies and listening to my ipod...

 

I like to do crazy and wild things. I am like an adrenaline junkie. I'm a big risk taker and like to live life on the edge...

The MySpace profile references an account on ibeatyou.com. At that site, Katehis lists Grand Theft Auto IV as the "Hottest PS3 or Xbox 360 Game You've Ever Played" and includes a picture of himself holding a copy of the PlayStation 3 version. Katehis holds up Far Cry 2 in a separate photo.

Additional coverage: Gawker

GP: There are just so many dysfunctional pieces to this story, but video games will certainly be blamed in some quarters.

109 comments

Georgia City Councilman Resigns, Is Sued After e-mailing Racist Game

March 18, 2009 -

Kennesaw, Georgia is in the midst of an ugly scandal. And a racist online game is playing a prominent role.

Last week, a group of minority employees in the Atlanta suburb filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging mistreatment by white co-workers, supervisors and elected officials.

City Councilman John Dowdy (left), a defendant in the suit, has resigned his post, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Among numerous allegations, the lawsuit charges that Dowdy, a 10-year veteran of City Council, circulated e-mail links to the anti-immigration themed Flash game Border Patrol. Released anonymously in 2006, Border Patrol disparages Hispanics with epithets such as "drug dealer" and "breeder."

From the lawsuit:

Dowdy sent an email to Human Resources Director... linking the recipient to a racially violent video game called "Border Patrol" in which the game player would "shoot" different cartoon characters that were stereotypes of Mexicans, including "Mexican National," "Drug Smuggler," and "Breeder," a cartoon of a pregnant Mexican woman holding hands with children . Points were assigned for shooting and killing each of these characters .

 

Dowdy forwarded this game to [three Kennesaw employees] among other people, along with a message which read, "THIS IS WAY TOO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!!!!!! Makes you feel better anyway, I did my part today, I kept a few from coming over!!! GET READY --- THEY ARE
FAAAST! ! !"

UPDATE: We inquired with Kennesaw officials as to whether Dowdy is a Democrat or Republican. However, we were told that council elections there are non-partisan, so no party affiliation is recorded by the city.

45 comments

Game Critic Keith Vaz Faces Ethics Questions

March 17, 2009 -

Labour MP Keith Vaz, a frequent critic of video games, finds himself the focus of a lengthy expose in the Daily Mail.

As GamePolitics reported last September, Vaz attempted to intervene in a court case on behalf of a political donor, Shahrokh 'Sean' Mireskandari.

Accordinging to yesterday's newspaper report, Mireskandari also lavished Vaz and his family with gifts. A former colleague of Mireskandari's told the Mail:

Vaz was frequently in Sean's office and was always after freebies. He loved the high life; football, concerts, black-tie dinners. It was really undignified for such a senior politician.

While the allegations concerning Vaz's intervention into his friend's court case are not new, the Daily Mail has assemled a staggering amount of detail concerning the relationship between Vaz and Mireskandari.

19 comments

Cops: Suspected Pedophile Targeted 11-year-old Via PlayStation 3

March 16, 2009 -

A 24-year-old Kentucky man is under arrest, charged with persuading an 11-year-old Texas girl to send nude photos of herself through her PlayStation 3.

As reported by Houston's ABC-13, police allege that Anthony Scott O'Shea's manipulation of his victim was managed entirely via the console. Sgt Gary Spurger told ABC-13:

He used the PS3 for everything, checked his email, played on the internet, on his PS3 and of course, played his games on PS3, but had no computer...

 

[O'Shea] asked for pictures of her breasts. She said no. He said friends do things for each other. You're on my friends list. If you don't, I'm gonna remove you, at which point she feels nervous and scared and sent the pictures.

Police say that Shea mailed the girl's pictures to others around the country. The suspect's bail is set at $300,000.

For its part, Sony provided investigators with technical assistance in the case.

23 comments

Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese Problem, Not an American One

March 10, 2009 -

In an opinion piece for Slate, game journo Leigh Alexander ties up the loose ends on the recent controversy surrounding RapeLay, a particularly despicable PC game which migrated from Japan to the retail pages of Amazon.com via a third-party merchant.

After the news broke. Amazon, which almost certainly was unaware of the game in the first place, quickly banished it.

Alexander views RapeLay and its ilk as a largely Japanese problem:

It's an old cliché that the more repressed a society, the more extreme its pornography—but more upsetting than RapeLay is the social environment that birthed it. The premise here is that a wealthy man is out for revenge against the schoolgirl who had him jailed as a chikan, or subway pervert. The epidemic of chikan is an enormous problem in Japan, particularly in major cities...

While the moral outrage from the New York City Council and Web sites... is obviously well-placed, there's little hope that legislation or activism can stem the perversion. Not only is RapeLay rooted in a social illness that's embedded in Japanese society, it's just one game in a niche industry that's more closely related to the porn business than to the video game world.

77 comments

Cops: Owner Used Video Game Store to Meet Molestation Victims

February 26, 2009 -

The owner of an independent video game shop in Missouri has been charged with molesting young men who came to his place of business.

As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Leland Beasley, 41, operated the Gamestation Section 19 in Lemay:

Beasley... is being held on $250,000 cash-only bond... St. Louis County police believe Beasley had contact with at least 10 different teens at the shop between March 2006 and January...

26 comments

Buyer Beware: Free Far Cry 2 Offer is a Scam

February 21, 2009 -

PC gamers, if you've received an authentic-looking e-mail offer from Steam for a free download of Far Cry 2, don't click through.

The ad is not legit and the link does not go to Steam, but rather to the perhaps aptly-named ripway.com.

Here at GP we received two of these offers yesterday, and several members of the Joystiq crew received them as well.

We've notified Steam and we trust that they are taking the appropriate measures to shut down this apparent scam.

17 comments

Baltimore Mayor Allegedly Bought Game Systems With Gift Cards Meant for Needy

January 9, 2009 -

Apparently the corrupt Baltimore politics portrayed in the HBO series The Wire wasn't all that far from the truth.

State prosecutors charged today that Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) cashed in Best Buy gift cards donated for needy families for her personal use. Among Dixon's alleged purchases were a PlayStation 2, an Xbox 360 and a PSP. It's unknown whether she is a gamer herself or if the systems were given to others.

Dixon also faces charges of perjury and misconduct in office.

Via: Baltimore Sun

Thanks to: GP reader Dan Pittore

61 comments

 
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Andrew EisenWhen I write about these massacres, I don't use the shooter's name or picture. I'm not saying everyone has to play it that way but that's how I prefer to do it.10/25/2014 - 12:44am
Andrew EisenYep, it's why the news media stopped spotlighting numbnuts who run out on the field during sporting events.10/25/2014 - 12:01am
Matthew Wilsonin media research its called the copycat effect. it simply says that if the news covers one mass shooting shooter, it increases the likelihood of another person going on a mass shooting.10/25/2014 - 12:00am
Andrew EisenAgreed. It bugs me that I know the names, faces and personal histories of a bunch of mass shooters but I couldn't tell you the name of or recognize a photo of a single one of their victims.10/24/2014 - 11:51pm
AvalongodAgree with Quiknkold. @Mecha...if that worked we would have figured out how to prevent these long ago.10/24/2014 - 11:32pm
MechaCrashUnfortunately, you have to focus on the perpetrator to figure out the whys so you can try to prevent it from happening again.10/24/2014 - 10:55pm
quiknkoldpoor girl. poor victims. rather focus on them then the shooter. giving too much thought to the monster takes away from the victims.10/24/2014 - 10:15pm
Andrew EisenFor what it's worth, early reports are painting the motive as "he was pissed that a particular girl wouldn't date him."10/24/2014 - 10:12pm
quiknkoldwell then I suck as a man cause I ask for help when necessary :P10/24/2014 - 10:07pm
Technogeek(That said, mostly I was making the smartass evopsych comment because your post seemed like the kind of just-so story that has come to dominate 99% of its usage.)10/24/2014 - 10:04pm
TechnogeekHell, Liam Neeson built his modern career around it. Cultural factors likely play a far greater role than you appear willing to admit.10/24/2014 - 10:03pm
TechnogeekSeriously, though, the idea of "because women are protectors and that's why they never commit school shootings" is, at best, grossly overreductive. There's nothing inherently feminine about being willing to kill in order to protect one's offspring.10/24/2014 - 10:03pm
MechaCrashThe "toxic masculinity" thing refers to how you have to SUCK IT UP AND BE A MAN because seeking help is seen as weakness, which means you suck at manliness, so it builds and builds and builds until something finally snaps.10/24/2014 - 10:01pm
quiknkoldthere, I'm done. And thats what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown10/24/2014 - 9:54pm
quiknkoldand I am not spouting Evopsych, technogeek. tbh I never heard the phrase till you said it. I'm going off my observations.10/24/2014 - 9:54pm
quiknkoldmoreover, the guy who did this isnt even white. He was native american according to the news report I read. Also that he went for a specific target. That's a much different picture than a certain Sandy Hook guy who will not be named10/24/2014 - 9:53pm
quiknkoldbut I am also certain nobody in their right mind is committing these shootings singing the Machoman song. these are sick individuals who have given up on life10/24/2014 - 9:51pm
Technogeekevopsych lol10/24/2014 - 9:49pm
quiknkoldWhen you suffer from mental illness, youre more likely to go by instinct. yes. I came off as sexist.10/24/2014 - 9:46pm
quiknkoldmore on somthing they are fixated on. Post Partum Depression is an example. This is why a woman is less likely to go off on a rampage.10/24/2014 - 9:44pm
 

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