World of Warcraft Blamed for Teen Murderers' Actions

October 30, 2010 -

Video games are the focus of a murder involving two teen boys from British Columbia. In March 2010 two teenage boys from British Columbia (18 and 16 years old) raped and killed an 18-year-old girl named Kimberly Proctor. The description of the crime is horrific: after the crime, the two boys mutilated and burned the body under a bridge.

Later the younger of the two alleged murderers bragged about the murder in World of Warcraft to a friend. He bragged about the crime to his friend and sent him newspaper clips detailing the crime. Naturally, the media wants a reason, and World of Warcraft has become a target.

The headline from CTV News gives you an idea where this is all heading: "Teens moved from online violence to real-life murder."

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WOW Romance Spurs Felony Charge

September 22, 2010 -

An underage World of Warcraft player’s dalliance with a fellow female player resulted in the arrest of a 35-year old Lowell, Michigan woman.

Angie L. Jenkins was arrested after traveling to Amherst, New York on June 11 to meet a 16-yeard old boy, who she ended up having sex with in a parked car. Jenkins, according to the Buffalo News, is believed to be the first woman charged in Western New York with using the Internet to entice a minor into sexual activity.

The two met while playing WOW in 2009, and both initially lied about their age, with the boy claiming he was 20 and Jenkins saying she was 21. At a later date the boy confessed to being only 15 (at that time), which Jenkins said didn’t matter. Jenkins reportedly kicked off discussions about meeting in real life and also “initiated the sexual contact” once they did meet.

Once the FBI uncovered Jenkins’ WOW screen name, and provided a subpoena to Blizzard, they were provided with her name, address and telephone number.

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Chinese Gamers to Feel Lich King Wrath at Month’s End

August 24, 2010 -

Blizzard and Chinese game operator Net Ease will officially launch the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King just a few short weeks after it was finally approved in the Asian country.

According to a joint press release from Blizzard and Net Ease, the expansion will go live in mainland China on August 31, almost two years after it was launched (November 2008) in Europe and North America.

Net Ease CEO William Ding stated, “We are fully prepared on all fronts to provide great service and support to all of the new and returning players throughout China, and we look forward to welcoming them to Northrend.”

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Blizzard Wins $88M from Girl Operating WOW Private Servers

August 18, 2010 -

In case you missed it, World of Warcraft developer Blizzard recently scored a whopping $88,594,539 judgment against a company that was operating and charging players to access World of Warcraft emulator servers.

The ruling was handed down on August 10 by the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California and targeted Alyson Reeves, who was operating under the business name of ScapeGaming. The huge dollar figure was calculated by combining the $3,052,339 the defendant received from users of her service via Paypal, statutory damages of $85,478,600 (calculated by multiplying ScapeGaming’s 427,393 users times the statutory minimum of $200 per “act of circumvention and/or performance of service”) and another $63,600 in attorney’s fees.

Additionally, if Reeves has trouble paying, she will see post-judgment interest accumulate at the “rate provided by law” until the entire sum is recovered.

Court documents reveal that up to 32,000 players were using the organization’s servers each day.

A statement from Blizzard on its victory read:

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Skulls Removed, Blood Changed for Chinese Lich King

August 17, 2010 -

While the Chinese Ministry of Culture finally gave the go-ahead for the not-too-distant release of the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King, a taste of some changes Blizzard had to make to models in the game are detailed on a website dedicated to Chinese gaming.

A handful of images appearing on ChinaGame.178.com show the removal of mostly skulls and bones from models in the approved version. Another image also appears to indicate that sprites used to animate blood loss and/or splattering were changed from red to green.

In the images below, original models are on the left while the purported Chinese-approved modifications are on the right.

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A Possible Future Where World of Warcraft is Free

July 1, 2010 -

In a PC Gamer interview Blizzard said that it may, at some point, consider making World of Warcraft free. Blizzard's Tom Chilton said the company is open to considering different subscription models for the MMO based on a number of factors including external or internal competition in the MMO space. This could include the other secret MMO project the company is working on, serious competition from another company or a change in the space itself.

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WOW Players Get StarCraft II for Free - in South Korea

June 28, 2010 -

If you're a World of Warcraft subscriber you will get StarCraft II for free.. if you live in South Korea. Blizzard's promising RTS sequel is the greatest thing since sliced bread in the region, so the company has decided that WOW faithful deserve a reward. According to an IGN report Blizzard announced the news at a recent StarCraft II event in Seoul, South Korea to the delight of fans. The deal allegedly lasts as long as a player’s World of Warcraft account is active.

Lead producer Chris Sigaty said during the event that the move was "a way of giving something back to such a supportive and skilled community of players."

While this is a kind gesture on Blizzard's part, it is also a very clever way of further driving subscriptions for World of Warcraft. It would be fair to say that the StarCraft franchise enjoys ridiculous levels of popularity in the region, with shows dedicated to the game, multi-million dollar competitions televised on TV and Internet Cafes in the country driven by consumers who want to play.

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Activision: 70 Percent of Income Comes From Non-Console Games

June 22, 2010 -

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said that he is confident that the company's online strategy will help it to weather the storm as sales models shift from disc-based to digital. He also added that 70 percent of the company's operating profit comes from "non-console based video games."

For a better understanding of what that means, a quote:

"Today, probably 70 percent of our operating profit comes from non-console-based video games. So, while you might see a month-to-month change or volatility against expectations, that doesn't really get us too concerned." Operating income for Activision's January-March 2010 quarter alone was $511 million.

While one might want to tie that number to DLC sales from games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, but a spokesperson for the company told Gamasutra that Kotick's statement doesn't include console based content of any kind. Maryanne Lataif, VP of corporate communications for Activision Blizzard, told Gamasutra in a phone call that "non-console-based video games" means just that.

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Getting Real: Blizzard's Real ID

June 15, 2010 -

Blizzard has announced Real ID, which it calls a "completely voluntary and optional level of identity that will keep players connected across all of Battle.net." The first game to get support for Real ID will be World of Warcraft.

The idea is to give Battle.net users a way to connect with real friends using real names and give them a means to communicate and share independent of the Blizzard game they might be playing at the time. Your Real ID friends will appear under their "real-life names" on your friends list, when chatting, communicating in-game, or viewing a character's profile. Real ID friends can also see who's on each other's Real ID friends list, making it easy for players to connect with other people they might know.

For World of Warcraft players this allows for cross-realm and cross-game chat - for example, when you friend is play StarCraft 2 you can harass him or her while in World of Warcraft.. And when you "friend" someone once you will see all the characters they have created in Blizzard games to date. Apparently this will even include "future games" someone might be playing like betas and beta content.

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Numbers Game: China’s The9 Invests in Red 5 Studios

March 22, 2010 -

Chinese game developer and operator The9 Limited has entered into an agreement with U.S. online game developer Red 5 Studios that will see the former acquire a “majority interest” in the latter for approximately $20.0 million.

The9 previously operated World of Warcraft in China, before losing the WOW license to its Chinese rival NetEase. The9 still operates games such as FIFA Online 2 for Electronic Arts, in addition to its own games, such as World of Fighter and Atlantica. In its most recently reported quarter, The9 reported a 94.0 percent decrease in revenues to approximately $3.7 million U.S., versus the same period from a year earlier. It cited the loss of its WOW license, which expired on June 7, 2009, as the main reason for the drop.

Given that Red 5 is made up of former executives and game developers from WOW-creator Blizzard Entertainment, the deal seems to make a lot of sense, at least on paper. Red5, however, says that it “can’t tell you" what it's working on.

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Research: Gamers Spend a Lot of Money on MMOs

March 9, 2010 -

A new survey from Today’s Gamers takes a look into the big money arena of massively multiplayer online games.

The report focused on the U.S., UK, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The U.S. boasted 46.0 million MMO gamers, of whom 46.0 percent paid for the privilege to play their online game of choice. Those who did pay to play an MMO spent a total of $3.8 billion on subscriptions, virtual currency, game purchases and other micro-transactions, which works out to $15.10 spent by each U.S.-based MMO gamer per month.

Following the U.S. in total dollars spent on MMOs were the UK ($270.0 million), Germany ($250.0 million), France ($220.0 million), the Netherlands ($65.0 million) and Belgium ($55.0 million). The UK was tops in terms of monthly amount spent on MMOs with a figure of £10.60 (approximately $15.89 U.S.) per gamer.

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Games Help One Person Deal with Chilean Quake

March 5, 2010 -

The earthquake that rocked Chile last weekend killed hundreds and affected the lives of thousands more. Zam has a story on how the survival of a game-related accessory contributed a little hope to one of the quake’s survivors.

A 33-year old woman gamer named Karen, who lives in Santiago, was playing Guitar Hero: Metallica with friends when the quake hit. Many of her possessions were strewn about and destroyed as a result of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake, but the survival of one specific object, a World of Warcraft Blood of the Horde stein, gave her a reason to believe that the rest of her family in Chile had survived the quake intact.

She wrote an email to the Taverncraft, the stein’s maker just days after the disaster, writing:

All i wanna say that you made a good product and little stein give me hope, and have family in Concepcion and the other region that are the most affected for the earthquake and when I see the stein without a scratch for me was like ... yeah maybe my family made it too... that day I couldn't sleep... and only yesterday i have news all my family from the south are alive :)

Karen also told Zam that she and her friends have continued to play games as a way to get through the aftermath of the earthquake.

4 comments

Blizzard Grants a Few Wishes with Charitable Contribution

February 17, 2010 -

World of Warcraft maker Blizzard Entertainment has donated $1.1 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The contribution came about as a result of a special WOW-initiative that allowed players to purchase a special in-game pet, the Pandaren Monk (pictured). The donation represents 50.0 percent of the sales of the pet in November and December of last year.

Blizzard made the donation yesterday at its headquarters in Irvine, California and also invited 15 Make-A-Wish kids to attend, who were entertained by the WOW-development team and offered a look behind the scenes of the game.

David Williams, Make-A-Wish Foundation of America president and chief executive officer stated, “Thanks to Blizzard Entertainment and World of Warcraft players around the world, we will be able to grant the heartfelt wishes of even more courageous children with life-threatening medical conditions.”

6 comments

Family Brawl Kicked off Over WOW

February 17, 2010 -

A mother asking her son to stop playing World of Warcraft caused a Swan to turn into an ugly duckling, sparking a family battle that involved four generations.

The Herald Tribune carries word of James Swan (pictured), a 27-yeard old Manatee County, Florida resident who was drinking and playing WOW last week. As Swan grew more boisterous in the course of playing, his mother, Hazel Summerall, attempted to get Swan to shut off the game. Summerall placed a hand on Swan’s shoulder, at which point he grabbed her by the hair and threw her on a bed.

Swan then threw his own son onto the bed, causing Summerall to rush for the phone to dial 911. Swan ripped the phone off its mooring, smashed his own head into the wall for effect and then turned his attention back to his mother, choking her. At this point Swan’s grandfather intervened, grabbing a handgun and, following a brief struggle, fired once, wounding Swan in the head.

Swan was apparently wounded only superficially and refused treatment before being arrested.


|Via Wow.com|

20 comments

NetEase Granted Burning Crusade License

February 16, 2010 -

Following a prolonged battle and a series of false-starts, China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has finally given the official go-ahead for NetEase to operate the world of Warcraft expansion The Burning Crusade.

In granting the license needed to operate the game, GAPP said that NetEase had “taken necessary corrective measures." The decision came down on Friday wrote Digital East Asia. GAPP had previously suspended NetEase’s permit over what it termed “gross violations” of regulations.

In related news, China Tech News offers word of a new Chinese initiative spearheaded by game operators that will educate parents on how to best oversee their children’s online game activities.  Game operators Wanmei.com, Tencent, Shanda, Netease, Changyou and Giant Interactive are particpiants in the program, which will provide a variety of support materials for parents and also provide the means for parents to suspend or cancel their children’s accounts.

Digital East Asia also shed light on a series of YouTube videos (pictured) that lampoon the World of Warcraft Chinese debacle and use the situation to provide commentary on the rigid state of Chinese censors. The Wall Street Journal said about the video, “…its subtext is a broad, biting allegory of the fight against government Internet controls, peppered with allusions to a list of real-world conflicts in China over the past year.”

Part 1, with English subtitles, can be found here.

3 comments

Chinese WOW Bickering Continues

February 8, 2010 -

If you thought that the trials and tribulations of Chinese World of Warcraft operator NetEase were over, think again.

In response to orders from China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), NetEase has suspended new user registrations for the game. The suspension is expected to last a week and was done in response to GAPP claiming that NetEase had committed “gross violations” of regulations, reports Reuters.

GAPP ordered NetEase to stop charging users to play the game and had returned a NetEase application to run the WOW expansion The Burning Crusade. NetEase, however, had continued to operate the expansion, claiming that it was in compliance with local laws. NetEase has once again resubmitted its application to GAPP to operate the WOW expansion.

NetEase has been stuck in the middle of a government turf battle for at least several months now, as GAPP and the Ministry of Culture battle over which bureau has the right to govern gaming within China.


Estavillo Drops All Suits

February 2, 2010 -

We will have to find a new nickname for professional plaintiff/serial suer Erik Estavillo, as he is dropping all his lawsuits.

Estavillo wrote that his medical conditions, particularly symptoms related to panic disorder and Crohn’s disease, contributed to his decision to abandon the cases. He indicated that the long wait for cases to be heard was starting to get to him, causing his doctors to advise him to walk away from the lawsuits in order to improve his health. Estavillo also provided us with some individual reasons for dropping each case, mostly due to those being sued making improvements or fixes which seemed to appease Erik.

Estavillo had sued Sony over being banned from the PlayStation Network following Resistance: Fall of Man online gaming sessions. He had alleged that Sony was ineffective at stopping players under the age of 17 from playing the game and that banning him from the network amounted to theft, in regards to his PSN pre-paid points. Estavillo wrote that a signup page for PSN appears to have been added, which requires a parent or master account to add a new account to a PS3, addressing his concern of younger kids playing the game.

Erik has also sued Microsoft over a red ring of death on his Xbox 360 and Nintendo over a Wii system update that rendered his homebrew channel unusable. Estavillo said he just learned that Microsoft is not charging 360 owners to fix a console that received a RROD and that he has found many websites that would easily allow him to re-install the home brew channel if he so chose to do so.

A suit against World of Warcraft maker Activision Blizzards had alleged that characters in WOW walked to slow, thus enabling the game’s publisher to continue to reap monthly subscription fees as it took long periods of time just to travel in the game. Estavillo notes that now, it appears that WOW avatars walk much faster in Ghost mode.

Another factor in dropping the suits was that Estavillo could not afford to pay the process server fees needed to serve the people he had subpoenaed for some of his cases. Those subpoenaed by Estavillo had included Bill Gates, Winona Ryder, Depeche Mode’s Martin Lee Gore, Lady Sovereign and Krayzie Bone.

Estavillo will also drop his most recent case, which targeted a variety of gaming and popular websites for libel.

28 comments

Social Interaction as a Lynchpin of Gaming

January 27, 2010 -

A love of the social aspects of videogames tends to drive any perceived dependence on games more so than a game’s activity itself.

This is the angle a Kent State University article takes in examining the aspects of what fuels gamers to keep on playing, in addition to the subject of whether or not the term “addiction” is fair to use in relation to videogames. KSU Sophomore Brian Clark weighed in on the latter subject, stating that the use of such a term was misleading:

Rather than craving the game itself, they crave the interaction they get in the game so rather than going out and having a real life social interaction, they’re having social interactions with other people on a game.

The piece notes that a definition of someone addicted to videogames, as put forth by the American Medical Association (AMA), is a person that “has more control and success over his or her social relationships in the virtual world than reality.”

World of Warcraft was mentioned often in the piece, with Clark admitting that a friend of his had a reliance on the online game, which Clark, again, attributed to the social aspect of WOW. The additional factor of playing a game that never really ends only increases the difficulty of putting a game like WOW aside noted student Connor Shivers.

Achievements can also be a powerful lure for gamers to keep playing. Clark’s previously discussed WOW-loving friend also became reliant on them, “He would play some Xbox games just for the fact of getting achievement points (on Xbox LIVE) and feeling like he accomplished something.”

GP: The definition as defined by the AMA probably needs to be updated as more and more relationships that begin in virtual worlds cross over to the real world. I would venture a guess that most hardcore gamers have befriended a fellow gamer via an online guild or clan and then met up with them IRL.

25 comments

PBS Prepping All Encompassing Look at Digital Life

January 20, 2010 -

The Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) investigative show Frontline will air a deep look into how digital media and the Internet have transformed human lives and the subject of videogames is featured heavily in the program.

Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier will debut on February 2 at 9:00 ET. The 90 minute show was produced by Rachel Dretzin, who also created the recent Frontline special Growing Up Online, and will feature commentary from Douglas Rushkoff. Segments include Living Faster, Relationships, Waging War, Virtual Worlds and Learning.

Many individual videos are already available for viewing on the PBS website and a trailer for the show offers a quick overview of what it’s all about.

The Waging War section features game-related topics such as the military’s use of virtual reality training, as well as looks at both America’s Army and the Army Experience Center.

Virtual Worlds contains a cornucopia of videogame segments, including the use of virtual reality therapy for veterans, gaming addiction, professional gamers, violent games, Second Life and about 20 more pieces.

Another cool aspect to the program is that the Digital Nation website launched about a year ago ago in a bid to let users collaborate with the project by sharing their own experiences.

Fulfill Your Obligations, Even in Games

January 13, 2010 -

A Florida man has been arrested because he didn't play fair in World of Warcraft.

According to an Associated Press report out of Clearwater, 23-year-old Christopher H. Bouffard was arrested on Monday after he collected $760 from at least two people in exchange for World of Warcraft characters that he never delivered. He was arrested on charges of scheming to defraud and two counts of grand theft.

The incidents occurred in 2008, when Bouffard allegedly solicited the money in exchange for the characters, but cut off all contact with the individuals once he received the money.

He was being held on $20,000 bail. No word on what Blizzard plans to do with his account, or whether he even had one to begin with.

9 comments

Escapism as a Positive

January 13, 2010 -

Using Avatar as a benchmark, a USA Today opinion piece praises the mainstream adoption of fantasy in media such as movies, novels and videogames.

The author wonders if the popularity of World of Warcraft, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter indicates that today’s society is obsessed with escapism, or the ability to leave the real-world behind for the chance to immerse oneself in a fantasy world.

The scribe answers with a resounding no, and offers a positive spin on the new state of geek (and gaming) culture:

I've met hundreds of gamers and geeks. Their reasons for embracing fantasy and gaming aren't about mindless escapism. Games teach social skills, leadership and strategy; they inspire creativity and storytelling.

They provide rites of passage, accomplishment and belonging, even belief systems. They let people safely try out aspects of their personalities — often dark, evil sides, or extroverted or flirtatious — that they can't or won't flex in "real life." The games connect folks to magical thinking, to nature, to a primal, pick-up-your-battle-ax and kill mentalities long suppressed by so-called society.


As an added bonus, the author writes, the ability to insert ourselves into a different world—even if only for a short time—allows us to mitigate the “minutiae of our modern, mundane troubles.”

Amen.

6 comments

China Decision on WoW Coming Soon

January 4, 2010 -

It appears that China's feuding regulation agencies may have made peace that could lead to gamers in the country being able to play World of Warcraft again.

According to a brief item in JLC Pacific Epoch, China's General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) and the Ministry of Culture have come to an agreement about whether NetEase has been illegally operating its license for the MMORPG World of Warcraft. According to "an unnamed insider." the two sides apparently have agreed that regulations were broken, as the story says that a "punishment" will be announced in mid-January.

It remains to be seen what the punishment will be, but at least a decision appears close. The case has been in limbo since mid-September after GAPP told NetEase to stop charging for new WoW accounts and halted its review of an application by NetEase to allow players to play the WoW expansion, The Burning Crusade.

If the sanctions stop short of completely shutting down NetEase in China for its "illegal" activity, it could pave the way for resumption of gameplay on NetEase servers when the sanctions are lifted. If GAPP and the MoC go so far as to ban NetEase from operations, WoW parent Blizzard Entertainment may be forced to find another company in good standing to operate its WoW servers in China.

1 comment

WOW Playing Fugitive Busted with Help of Blizzard

January 4, 2010 -

An Indiana man wanted on drug charges was tracked down in Canada, thanks to his World of Warcraft addiction.

Following a 2007 warrant issued for his arrest, Alfred Hightower of Howard County, Indiana had fled to Canada reports KokomoPerspective.com. Hightower was wanted on charges of dealing marijuana and both schedule III and IV controlled substances.

Detective Matt Roberson began tracking the wanted man using information obtained from a childhood friend of Hightower’s. Roberson eventually learned of Hightower’s dependence on WOW and subpoenaed Activision Blizzard for more information on the fugitive.

The publisher's cooperation seemed to surprise Roberson:

“They don’t have to respond to us, and I was under the assumption that they wouldn’t,” said Roberson. “It had been three or four months since I had sent the subpoena. I just put it in the back of my mind and went on to do other things. Then I finally got a response from them. They sent me a package of information. They were very cooperative. It was nice that they were that willing to provide information.”

After zeroing in on Hightower’s location using a combination of WOW billing address, IP address and Google Earth, Canadian authorities were alerted and Hightower was nabbed in Ottawa, Canada and deported to Minnesota, where U.S. Marshals held him for Howard County authorities.

The article also features a link to a WOW Armory listing for Hightower’s character, a Level 80 Tauren Shaman.


Thanks Dan!

27 comments

Winona Ryder, Depeche Mode Factor in WOW Lawsuit

November 24, 2009 -

World of Warcraft maker Activision Blizzard is the latest target of a lawsuit by serial suer (or professional plaintiff) Erik Estavillo.

Filed this morning in the Civil Division of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, the civil complaint charges Activision Blizzard with “deceitful” business practices, as it “continues to maintain a harmful virtual environment to many of its customers by forcing them to follow the game’s sneaky and deceitful practices.”

Among Estavillo’s claims is that WOW is designed for a gamer “to walk or run at a calculated slow pace, resulting in the player taking longer to get where he or she needs to go in the game.” This slow pace, says the plaintiff, leads to a longer time needed to finish game play or quests, in turn leading to more subscription revenue for Activision Blizzard.

Estavillo also complains that faster transportation is not available until a player levels up accordingly, or purchases an expansion pack.

The plaintiff then likens his health problems (OCD, Agoraphobia, Panic Disorder, major depression and Crohn’s Disease) to the afflictions that ailed the late EverQuest gamer Shawn Woolley, who took his own life on Thanksgiving morning in 2001.  Estavillo stated that he “doesn’t want to end up like Shawn did as he [Estavillo] relies on videogames heavily for the little ongoing happiness he can achieve in this life.”

Estavillo subpoenaed Depeche Mode founder Martin Lee Gore and actress Winona Ryder to provide testimony on his behalf regarding the subject of alienation.

Gore was subpoenaed because “he himself has been known to be sad, lonely, and alienated as can be seen in the songs he writes,” and Ryder because of her and Estavillo’s common interest in the J.D. Salinger book The Catcher in the Rye. Ryder would be able to, “explain the significance of alienation in Catcher in the Rye and will also testify to how alienation in the book can tie to alienation in real live/video games such as World of Warcraft.”

Estavillo is seeking punitive damages of $1.0 million and a court order that WOW implement changes that address the issues of his complaint.

Other lawsuits filed by Estavillo include one against Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), following a banning from the PlayStation Network, and a recent suit that targeted Microsoft and Nintendo—the former over an Xbox 360 red ring of death and the latter over a firmware update that disabled his Homebrew Channel.

73 comments

GAPP Snaps, Shuts Down WOW in China

November 3, 2009 -

As China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and the Ministry of Culture continue to flex their muscles over control of the country’s game industry, World of Warcraft gamers and operators are feeling the brunt of the infighting between the two entities.

Reuters reports that GAPP has stripped NetEase of the ability to operate The Burning Crusade, the latest version of WOW. GAPP cited a “gross violation” of regulations and ordered NetEase to stop charging users to play the game and to cease taking new subscriptions.

NetEase has since responded, saying that they “believe that they are in full compliance with applicable PRC laws and are currently seeking clarification from the relevant governmental authorities.”

Roth Capital Partners analyst Adam Krejcik said of NetEase, “These guys are essentially stuck in the middle of this power struggle.”

Until September of this year, GAPP was responsible for approving all game content within China. The Ministry of Culture assumed some of these duties, but GAPP appears unwilling to give up its authority, leading to the current infighting. WOW was launched in China on September 19 with Ministry of Culture approval, but no GAPP approval, which is now coming back to haunt NetEase.

Analysts estimate that Chinese WOW activity contributes 5 or 6 cents a year per share to Activision’s earnings.


Thanks Greenfenri

16 comments

Imagining the Web Minus Net Neutrality

October 29, 2009 -

A reddit user has created a striking visual representation of what *could* happen if net neutrality laws are shot down.

The image is based tiered pricing plans that some cable and Internet companies currently offer (lending, perhaps, an increased measure of reality to the illustration) and imagines, for example, websites such as Hulu and YouTube as part of a "Hollywood Tier," available for $10 over the price paid for basic Internet service.

More relevant here is the rendering of a “Playground” tier that includes Valve’s Steam platform, World of Warcraft, Gametap, Electronic Arts and Real Arcade, offered for a $5 surcharge. Yikes!

42 comments

Gamer Compares WOW to New Girlfriend

October 6, 2009 -

A study conducted by Singapore’s National Institute of Education reveals that its youth rack up an average of 27 hours a week playing videogames.

The group has polled over 3,000 students during the course of the three-year study, which The Straits Times reports is still ongoing. Lui Tuck Yew, acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts was reportedly “quite surprised and a little bit shocked” at the number of hours spent gaming.

Lawrence Lee, a 16-year old World of Warcraft player, called four hours of gaming a day “nothing,” and compared the game to fledgling love:

It is the novelty, like getting a new girlfriend. You want to spend every minute with her.

Singapore has formed an inter-ministry committee to address “cyber-wellness” issues.

Read the entire scanned article at the Education Soon blog.

19 comments

Bake Cookies, Beat Internet Addiction

September 23, 2009 -

More details on exactly how a new facility treats Internet addiction have emerged via an article on the ShanghaiDaily website.

The reStart Internet Addiction Recovery Program, which opened its doors earlier this year in the state of Washington, takes a cold turkey approach to treating Internet addicts and attempts to fill their days with a mix of counseling and daily chores, such as baking cookies.

The program has its first patient, 19-year old Ben Alexander, who said his World of Warcraft addiction caused him to flunk out of the University of Iowa. The center can handle up to six patients at a time, but draws the line at accepting Internet sex addicts, as the retreat’s owner, Psychotherapist Cosette Dawna Rae, lives in the facility with her family.

This story claims the 45-day program costs $14,000, differing from earlier reports that pegged the figure at $45,000.

20 comments

Hardcore WoW Playing Senator Announces Run for Lt. Guv of Guam

September 4, 2009 -

We've written before on GamePolitics about Ray Tenorio (left), a member of Guam's Senate who also happens to be a hardcore World of Warcraft player.

But Tenorio has an announcement to make about his next political move, and he sent it here, which is kind of cool:

Hafa Adai (Hello) Game Politics.com.

I hope everyone at GamePolitics.com are healthy and doing well. As most everyone in WoW are eyeing level 85 in the Cataclysm expansion, waiting to take down the Lich King and still grinding heroic Ulduar...

I wanted to let GamePolitics.com know first that I am running for Lt. Governor with my friend, Senator Eddie Baza Calvo, who is running for Governor... 

I want to let your readers know that, among the numerous web sites and related comments to the articles about my gaming life some years ago, I understand the issues faced by the people who write on GamePolitics.com.

 

Perhaps together, we can continue to let people, voters and those in positions of authority know that gamers are the same as those who do everything from clean public parks, fight and die for democracy, conduct intricate procedures in professional careers, and, Yes, even make policy...for our communities, everywhere around the globe. That simple fact is rarely said but is the basis for an even broader discussion on the depth and breadth of people who enjoy gaming and still carry out their responsibilities.

Tenorio's WoW character is Paleray, a level-80 Dwarf Priest on the Silverhand server. He belongs to the Knights of the Marianas guild.

Guam is a territory of the United States and has one non-voting member in the U.S. House of Representatives. Tenorio is a member of Guam's 15-member unicameral legislature.

40 comments

13 Arrested After Chinese Teen Is Killed at Internet Addiction Camp

August 10, 2009 -

Last week GamePolitics reported on the tragic death of 16-year-old Deng Senshan (left). The Chinese teen was beaten to death by employees at a camp for Internet addicts.

IDG is now reporting that 13 people have been rounded up by Chinese investigators. The facility itself, the Qihang Salvation Training Camp, has been shut down after authorities found that it was unlicensed. 122 students receiving "treatment" there were sent home to their families. From the IDG report:

Conservative [Chinese] officials blame hugely popular online games like World of Warcraft for getting teens hooked on the Web, harming their grades in school and dividing them from their parents. Some of the camps have used shock treatment on students, but China banned the practice last month.

UPDATE: More at Slashdot...

21 comments

 
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Will we ever get Half-Life 3?:

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SleakerIt's up to the companies to determine if they think running their ads on a controversial site may cause more damage to them, the only way they might get this is by feedback.10/02/2014 - 12:37pm
Sleakeropinion to a company on where they run ads.10/02/2014 - 12:36pm
Sleaker@Papa Midnight - Suggesting that requesting ads get pulled from a site due to not agreeing with their message is not censorship. Funding and voicing your opinion are two completely separate topics. It's completely reasonable for people to voice their10/02/2014 - 12:35pm
Papa MidnightSame here, prh99.10/02/2014 - 12:31pm
prh99I played the first Half Life, haven't bothered with any of two. I like Portal more than Half Life anyway.10/02/2014 - 12:31pm
NeenekoI only got a short way into HL-1, but enjoyed HL-2. Probably because I do not like PC FPS games and HL-2 I got on console.10/02/2014 - 12:28pm
Andrew EisenI have a confession to make: I didn't really care for Half-Life.10/02/2014 - 12:27pm
Papa MidnightI don't think I've used the forums since the Wordpress days.10/02/2014 - 12:13pm
NeenekoI keep forgetting we even have forums.10/02/2014 - 11:48am
ZippyDSMleeA shame we can't have good convos in the forums, seems to me its time to nuke and restart fresh on them.10/02/2014 - 11:45am
Papa MidnightOh, no problem! Just wanted to let you know that it's what we're discussing. By all means, join in!10/02/2014 - 11:36am
E. Zachary KnightNeeneko, No problem. In juicy conversations, key points of discussion get pushed off quickly.10/02/2014 - 11:36am
NeenekoA rather scary censorship. I have known too many people and small companies destroyed by such pressure, so this unnerves me at a pretty personal level.10/02/2014 - 11:36am
NeenekoMy bad, I always have trouble working out what is going on in shoutbox10/02/2014 - 11:34am
Papa MidnightTo a point stated earlier, it very much is a form of indirect censorship. Rather than engage in rhetoric and debate, one side has instead chosen to cut-off opposing viewpoints at the knees and silence them via destroying their means of income.10/02/2014 - 11:28am
Papa MidnightNeeneko: the topic of Intel's dropping of Gamasutra is indeed part of this very ongoing conversation.10/02/2014 - 11:26am
NeenekoThis can't be good... http://games.slashdot.org/story/14/10/02/1558213/intel-drops-gamasutra-sponsorship-over-controversial-editorials10/02/2014 - 11:25am
Andrew EisenAnd there's also the consideration that the fact that a former IGN editor was one of the people who worked on the game's localization may be unknown (although in this specific case, probably not. Drakes been very visible at events IGN covers).10/02/2014 - 11:24am
Papa MidnightAlso, let's face it: people seem to believe that a conflict of interest can yield only positive coverage. Who is to say that Audrey Drake did not leave on bad terms with IGN (with several bridges burned in their wake)? That could yield negative coverage.10/02/2014 - 11:23am
Papa MidnightThat's a fair question, and it's where things get difficult. While Jose Otero may not have any cause to show favor, Jose's editor may, as may the senior editor (and anyone else involved in the process before it reaches publication).10/02/2014 - 11:21am
 

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