January 30th, 2006

PowerCop... $29.95 Good Parenting... Priceless

Are video games "time thieves?"

So say the makers of Power Cop, yet another device designed to lock kids out of their consoles or PC's.

Designed for the parent who just can't say "no," Power Cop shuts attached devices down after a designated time limit. From the product website:

"Egg timers and I promises are very nice, but lets face it, these 'Time Thieves' are addictive for kids... Power Cop was invented to help Parents bring back the time their kids deserve so that they can re-engage in those other activities."

"What other activities you say, what about time for School & Studies, time for Play & Exercise, and time with Friends & Family to name a few. Let Power Cop be the bad guy - Sit down with your kids negotiate a fair time and then let Power Cop be the time keeper.

GP: May we suggest "Grammar Cop" for the makers of "Power Cop?"

Wisconsin Aims to Attract Game Developers

While some Wisconsin legislators are seeking to regulate video games, others are working on business incentives designed to lure game developers and other creative industries to the state.

Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton has issued a letter to fellow Democrats in the State Senate and State Assembly, urging them to support legislation proposed by Sen. Ted Kanavas and Rep. Curt Gielow. Lawton's letter reads, in part:

"This legislation will make Wisconsin a more attractive location for productions and, as a result, inject new, substantial revenue into our state's economy. I urge you to sign on as a co-sponsor and help ignite our state's creative economy."

"Wisconsin is currently one of only a handful of states that do not offer tax incentives for the development of the film, television, commercial and video game industry. And without incentives, motion picture studios and other production companies won't come to Wisconsin. Instead, they go to Illinois, New Mexico, Louisiana, North Carolina and New York - places where revenues jumped anywhere from $125 to $600 million due to incentives. With our natural beauty and urban landscapes, we, too, can reap the economic benefits."

When Bad Movies Happen to Good Games

Well, it's that time of year again.

While video-games based on movies, even Oscar-winning ones, generally do well (there are exceptions), can the same be said of movies based on best-selling video-games?

Probably not. Movies based on video-games tend to garner terrible reviews, for everything from bad acting and bad writing, to bad directing, to having little in common with the game short of the title. Is it the fault of the movie industry for trying to make a quick buck off a video-game's success, without bothering to put any effort into making it succeed on it's own?

Are movie-goers divided into the "I don't play video-games so I'm not interested" vs. "I'm a huge fan of game X so if you don't write the storyline exactly the same I'll be mad" crowds? Or is it just that 40 hours of interactive gameplay is rather difficult to compress into 90 minutes of non-stop cut scene? Or are some games just based on a lot of action and little plot?

Either way, the end result is that instead of getting nominations for the Oscars, video-games that make it to the big screen this year got nominated for the Razzies. The "based on a video-game" genre picked up nominations for Worst Director: Uwe Boll - Alone in the dark, Worst Actress: Tara Reid - Alone in the dark, and Worst Actor: The Rock - Doom.

Every now and then we hear about recommendations that the gaming industry should hire Hollywood-quality writers and directors. Maybe Hollywood should take it's own advice when moving video games to the big screen...


GP: Kudos to GP regular Jabrwock on his first piece as a correspondent!

Getting Up Faces Down Under Uproar

Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure has already caused a stir in the United States. Now the game that outraged Big Apple mayor Michael Bloomberg is causing a stir in Down Under as well. Australia's Office of Film & Literature Classification has assigned an MA15 rating to Getting Up, judging it to have "strong violence" and "strong themes," but suitable for players 15 and older.

But Getting Up may face a more restrictive rating, depending upon the results of a reclassification petition. The OFLC has scheduled a review hearing at the request of the Australian attorney general as well as the Local Government Association of Queensland. The review will take place next week.

As GP reader Nigel points out, Sega's Jet Set Radio Future, also graffiti-themed, received the less restrictive M rating from the OFLC.