January 21st, 2006

Change to Comments Policy at GamePolitics

Since GamePolitics went live last March, we've endeavored to have a free flow of viewpoints in our comments section, unfettered by too many restrictions. Thus we have always allowed anonymous postings.

Some recent developments have caused us to rethink that policy. Therefore, effective immediately, a Live Journal account is required to post comments on GP. You can create your own free LJ account here.

Not to worry, though. You'll pick a screen name, so you can still retain your anonymity. Registration is accomplished entirely through LJ. GamePolitics will not have your e-mail address or any other information about you.

We hope you don't find this too inconvenient.

By the way, as mentioned before, we will be moving to a non-LJ format in the next few months. For more details on the planned changes, click here.

-GP

Tivo Alert: 60 Minutes Interviews Fatal1ty

Usually when we issue a Tivo alert it's bad news. But not this time.

Next Generation and other news outlets are reporting that 60 Minutes will air an interview with Jonathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel on Sunday, January 22.

The champion gamer told 60 Minutes physical exercise helps him keep his edge.

"I work out a lot. Being physically fit and making sure your neuro-transmitters are working properly... it's basically ways you can think faster,"Wendel said. "Playing videogames is that fast and the game is all about hand-eye coordination, reflexes, timing, strategy..."

GP: By the way, I Tivo'd yesterday's alert. The Dateline NBC feature on the Randi Trimble murder was interesting, but made very little mention of her husband's supposed RPG gaming obsession.

Lula Gets What Lula Wants... and Lula Wants No AO Rating

Will digital distribution of video games render the ESRB ratings - and game content legislation aimed at the retail level - obsolete?

We're pondering this topic because one of our regular readers, shall we say, turned us on to Lula, an erotically-themed adventure game from mainstream German publisher CDV. Already available in Germany, Lula is targeted for February release in English. The game will be available as a digital download which, among other advantages, allows it to bypass the ESRB rating system. Prior to this new foray into sex-oriented gaming, CDV has previously been known best as a publisher of historically-themed strategy games like Cossacks II and Codename: Panzers Phase 2.

Widespread digital distribution may be a few years off - particularly for consoles - but it's clearly a viable medium for getting games to consumers without making them schlepp to a retail store. Valve's well-known Steam service has proved highly successful in distributing Half-Life 2 as well as added-value mods like Day of Defeat. Steam has also served as a retail pipeline for non-Valve products like Darwinia and Rag Doll Kung-Fu.

Digital distribution also allows publishers to circumvent governmental restrictions. Running With Scissors has turned to this model for its controversial, ultra-violent Postal series, which has been banned in a number of countries.

Although GP hasn't been, um, hands-on with Lula, we've checked out screen shots ( definitely not safe for work, by the way). We're convinced that Lula would earn an Adults Only rating from the ESRB, which would effectively cripple its distribution since major U.S. retailers won't stock AO games.

Finally, once Lula does release, we're wondering how long it will take politicians and pundits to get the story wrong. Remember the despicable JFK Reloaded? How many times have we heard critics pushing game legislation claim they wanted to prevent kids from walking into a store and buying a game in which the object was to assassinate the president? Never mind that the digitally-distributed JFK Reloaded was never available in a retail store; nor will Lula.

Thanks to Colin for tipping us off to Lula. And we don't want to know how you know...