February 3rd, 2006

Utah Lawmaker Grills Gamer But Gets Pwned Instead

Here's a story to warm the heart of every gamer who's ever been frustrated by the uninformed ramblings of a politician.

You may recall that nutty Utah State Rep. David Hogue recently proposed legislation that lumped violent games with pornography. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and the measure died committee - but not before a grandstanding Utah politician tried to make a gamer look bad - and failed miserably.

As reported by the Salt Lake City Weekly, Robert Saunders and Charles Fizer are a pair of local guys who opened the Black Box Internet Cafe and Gaming Center in SLC.

Saunders agreed to testify before the Utah House committee considering Pogue's bill and mentioned that he'd seen fathers and sons bonding during rounds of Call of Duty 2 in his Internet cafe. Hogue's bill potentially could have slapped COD2 with a porn label. That's when blowhard Rep. Eric Hutchings, a Republican, jumped all over Saunders. As SLC Weekly tells the tale:

"Rep. Eric Hutchings, (at left) voted against the bill, but only after giving Saunders a stern lecture. 'You talk about bonding time,' Hutchings began with a dramatic pause. 'I have a good friend who's not in gangs anymore, but he used to love to bond with his kid - by getting his head shaved... even went down and got pictures at Wal-Mart, him and his son together flashing their gang signs. If you're out in our community teaching kids to be violent, and do lewd activities, and inappropriate criminal activities... maybe we ought to shut you down.'"

Saunders pwned Hutchings, however, when he replied that he refused to carry games that glorified gang violence, adding that Halo was the most violent entertainment available at his cafe.
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Discrimination Against Gays in WoW? An Analysis

Can a group be punished for inciting harassment against themselves? Blizzard, publisher of the ultra-popular MMO World of Warcraft, seems to think so.

Recently, gay-oriented news site In Newsweekly noted that a gay & lesbian friendly guild on WoW had been warned by Blizzard not to violate their harassment policy. Sara Andrews had been sending in-game chat messages in order to recruit players into OZ, her "GLBT friendly" guild (gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender). WoW players messaged by Sarah received the following: "OZ is recruiting all levels | We are not 'GLBT only,' but we are 'GLBT friendly'! (guilduniverse.com/oz)"

Sarah subsequently received an email from Blizzard which cited her for "Harassment - Sexual Orientation" under Blizzard's "Terms of Use". When Sara queried a Blizzard GM about the citation, she was told "While we appreciate and understand your point of view, we do feel that the advertisement of a 'GLBT friendly' guild is very likely to result in harassment for players that may not have existed otherwise."

In the "Terms of Use", "Harassment - Sexual Orientation" "includes both clear and masked language which insultingly refers to any aspect of sexual orientation pertaining to themselves or other players." How advertising a "GLBT friendly" guild is "insulting" is something that Blizzard did not make clear to Sarah Andrews. In response to one email, Blizzard wrote "Many people are insulted just at the word 'homosexual' or any other word referring to sexual orientation" and even suggested that the guild was discriminating against non-gays.
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