January 1st, 2006

Maryland Town Rebels Against Video Game Billboard

Some residents of Bowie, Maryland are unhappy with billboards advertising True Crime New York City.

As reported in the Bowie Blade the billboard depicts "a New York City skyline drenched in red, with the prominent graphic being that of a computer-generated young African American male pointing a gun, seemingly directed at traffic."

That description sounds very much like the game box cover (see picture). According to the Blade, a "horrified" parent of a student at a local school approached headmistress Frances Lucket about the billboard. Lucket expressed concern with the "fact that the school builds character and respect, and then we have something that in a very big way highlights something completely opposite (of that goal) that hundreds of people can see every day driving by."

Acting on the complaints, Bowie city officials, including Mayor G. Frederick Robinson and City Manager David Deutsch, persuaded Clear Channel, the sign's owner, to remove the billboard. It was the second time in a month that a True Crime billboard had been voluntarily taken down in the Bowie area.

The Blade notes that a third True Crime billboard south of Bowie has, ironically, become a crime victim itself. The advertisement has been slashed almost beyond recognition.

GP: The slashing could have been the work of a citizen vigilante or possibly a game reviewer, as True Crime New York City's ratings were horrendous. Also - a shout-out to Tom Allen of the National Academy of Video Game Testers and Reviewers (NAVGTR) for tipping us off to this story.

Sunday Editorial Roundup

It's Sunday and New Year's Day, so today's roundup has an unavoidable "look back, look ahead" flavor. And, in case you overindulged last night, GamePolitics offers - at no extra charge - a ready-made Google search of hangover remedies. Enjoy...

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle editorial board is concerned about their perceived coarsening of the culture in the coming year. Video games made their list of bad examples not once, but twice:

"More must be done so that news stops reading like a transcript from the Jerry Springer Show....police reported that one customer punched another in an attempt to purchase a video game system at the Henrietta Best Buy..."

"It has been shown, for example, that a steady diet of violent video games increases aggressive behavior in young people. So it's good that state legislators across the country are trying to find a way to legally restrict the sale of hyper-violent games to minors. This year we'll try to gather public pressure for similar efforts."

Joe Robinson, author of Work to Live: The Guide to Getting a Life pens an amazing op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. Robinson concludes, "It was a great year for labor - if you worked at a call center in India, made your living as a CEO or sold real estate to big-box stores. But deep in Cubicle Nation, the average American worker remained on a fast track to the Industrial Revolution, with soaring workweeks, declining wages and health, pension and vacation benefits vanishing faster than you can say job security..."

Although Robinson's piece was not specific to video games, he does touch on those quality of life issues that are becoming increasingly important to the game development community when he writes, "At a time when the people who make the products and services - without whom there would be no economy - are considered disposable, I'd like to see political candidates in '06 do a head count and tally the number of disaffected wage earners desperate for leadership. This group includes not merely the 8% of private-sector workers who belong to unions but a vast legion of American Dreamers, including 70-hour-a-week video game programmers... pressed to the gibbering edge."

A pair of Alabama T.V. newscasts - NBC-13 (Birmingham) and WTVY-4 (Dothan) - name the GTA Cop Killer trial of Devin Moore among their top ten stories of 2005.

Finally, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA) gives us a much-appreciated larf with this prediction for December, 2006:

"Senior citizens are offended by the hottest new video game of the holiday season - "Granny Theft Auto," in which you steal a car and try to evade the police at 15 mph with your left blinker on the entire way."