January 3rd, 2006

GP Makes GameCloud's 2005 Kudo List

I want to thank all of the people we stepped on - uh, I mean - who made this possible...

Seriously, GP was honored to get a mention in GameCloud's list of 2005 Game Kudos. Much appreciated!

In the political category, the Cloud crew also gave the nod to a trio of federal judges who blocked state-level video game laws from taking effect in Illinois, Michigan, and California.

In a matching 2005 Klunkers piece, GameCloud bashed the politicians who pushed game legislation in 2005, including Sen. Hillary Clinton, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, and California Assembly Speaker pro tem Leland Yee. Yee, by the way, was just named GP's 2005 Person of the Year for the impact he had on the game/political arena.

Insightful GameCloud writer John "JCal" Callaham, who penned both the kudos and klunkers, also body-slammed Rockstar and Take-Two for lying about Hot Coffee and blaming the mod community.

Video Games Help Sick Kids Deal with Pain

Video games have the power to make kids feel better.

That's a truism that a growing number of front-line healthcare professionals have accepted as more and more children's hospitals offer video games to their young patients. One remarkable 11-year-old has even designed his own game, as CBS News reports.

Ben Duskin has struggled with leukemia for nearly four years. During that painful time, video games have helped see him through the difficulty of his disease and its treatment. When the Make-A-Wish Foundation stepped in with an offer to help Ben realize a dream, he told them he wanted to design a game.

"I thought it would be really cool if you could kill the cancer cells with not just like, mental, but with like swords and all that stuff," Ben told CBS correspondent Thalia Assuras.

Enter Eric Johnston, a software engineer with LucasArts. Eric's game development credits are numerous, and include Star Wars: Episode I Racer and Star Wars: Rebel Assault.

Together, Ben and Eric (pictured at left) created a game which allows players to enter the human body, destroy cancer cells and battle side effects. Brave kids like Ben know what researchers are beginning to understand. Studies at the University of Maryland show that pediatric patients have greater pain tolerance while playing video games.

"We found children who were crying and screaming could focus on that [games], and they still whimpered a little when the shot went in but it was much less stressful for them," Psychologist Lynnda Dahlquist said, referring to chemotherapy.

Ben's Game can be downloaded for free from the Make-A-Wish Foundation website. To date it has been played by hundreds of thousands of users and is currently available in nine languages.

But the really good news is that Ben's leukemia is in remission.

Vote for Your Choice as GamePolitics Person of the Year

We picked Leland Yee.

Who do YOU think should be the GamePolitics Person of the Year?

Vote on this important issue in our latest poll. We have even provided a write-in option if you don't like any of the ten nominees offered.

If you are reading GP via RSS feed, you'll need to jump over to the website in order to vote. The poll is on the right side.

GP: This brief item regarding our poll originally ran on Saturday, Dec. 31st, as did the larger "person of the year" piece. We're bumping them in order to catch those who are just returning to work after the holidays...

GamePolitics Names 2005 Person of the Year

...and it is Leland Yee, California Assembly Speaker pro tem.

Because Yee has been a game industry critic, this is a choice that many in the gaming community won't like. As a longtime gamer, GP understands that viewpoint.

Leland Yee has, after all, been outspoken against video game violence. He is also the architect of his state's controversial video game law. That law, by the way, originally scheduled to go into effect on New Year's Day, was recently blocked via preliminary injunction by federal court Judge Ronald Whyte. The injunction indicates Judge Whyte believes the law is likely to be struck down on constitutional grounds. But whether California's game statute ultimately survives or not, Leland Yee was clearly the dominant political figure on the video game scene in 2005.

Unlike some other politicians who jumped on the bandwagon, Yee is no johnny-come-lately to video game content issues. Following the defeat of a similar bill in 2004, the licensed child psychologist once again introduced video game legislation into the California Assembly. And while GamePolitics doesn't see legislation as the answer, we can't help but admire the deft touch and political savvy displayed by Yee in guiding his bill though the complex legislative process. But Yee had help. Fate, fueled by Hot Coffee, played a huge role in percolating California's video game legislation.

So Leland Yee was both lucky and good in 2005. How lucky? How good?

There were at least two distinct points in 2005 when the California video game bill appeared to be dead in the water. In May Yee was one vote short of getting the bill out of the Assembly's Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media. With a do-or-die vote looming, Yee engineered the makeup of the committee to ensure a green light.

In June Yee hoped to bring the measure to a vote on the Assembly floor. However a head count clearly showed his bill would be defeated, and he pulled it from the Assembly's agenda. At that point Yee's bill was stalled.

And then Hot Coffee exploded onto the scene - lucky for Yee, disastrous for the video game industry. Whatever one's views on the GTA San Andreas scandal, from a political perspective, Leland Yee recognized the possibilities, becoming the first political figure to speak out on the issue. The domino effect he touched off in Sacramento continued all the way to Washington, D.C. where no less a political star than Hillary Clinton added her voice.

How important was Hot Coffee? As Yee said during an October podcast interview with GamePolitics, "The industry did this to themselves. This bill was stuck in the Assembly, was not going anywhere... and then the Hot Coffee thing came out... it created a lot of suspicion about whether or not the industry could regulate itself."
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