February 27th, 2006

25 to Life Backlash Continues

The furor over 25 to Life seems to have reached - and passed - the tipping point.

Law enforcement groups and elected official all over the United States have taken steps to protest the game. The latest - but certainly not the last - is an online petition created by New York State Senator Dale Volker (R, seen at left).

In a related press release, Volker, himself a former police officer, vows to pressure Microsoft and Sony to cancel licensing agreements with Eidos, publisher of 25 to Life.

Meanwhile, savage critical reviews continue to plague 25 to Life. The latest, penned by Matt Paprocki at Breaking Windows 2.0 is one of the harshest yet.

"This abysmal, cheap, generic, ugly, and flat out disgusting 3rd person shooter exists solely because Eidos knew it would cause the mainstream media to jump on it. That translates to sales, and the more people that play this one, the fewer gamers we have in the world. They won't stick around after this."

"25 to Life isn't just stupid. It's a combination of stupid and dumb, creating a new term for its self: stumb...
"

GP: Stumb? ...we like that word!

"Police have a right to protest against this game being on store shelves, but not because it lets the player shoot them. It's because they're portrayed as gun toting maniacs. "

Finally, Next Generation ran an interview late last week with Bill Gardner, Eidos CEO. In discussing the 25 to Life controversy, Gardner told Next Gen, "The game, I thought, was weak. It rated poorly. But the politicians felt that they should step on the game, which caused it to show up much bigger than any marketing money we might have put behind it... I tried to ask them not to but they didn't listen. So the reason that the game got attention and sold at all was because the politicians and the mouthpieces decided to make such a noise."

T.V. Ratings vs. Truth in Sensationalized Nintendo DS Report

February is a sweeps month for American television stations. Perhaps that helps explain why one local news program in Philadelphia hyped the Nintendo DS handheld as a potential tool for online predators.

But is the DS a lurking threat? You might think so if you caught this story aired by Channel 6 Action News.

The ABC affiliate reported that an 11-year-old girl was harassed while using Pictochat (seen at left), a simple program built into the Nintendo DS which allows users to send messages and doodles to their friends. Thankfully, the girl had the presence of mind to turn off her handheld and tell her mom when someone with an obscene screen name began pressing her for personal information.

"But it was scary to me as a parent that someone I don't know is talking to my child over what I consider a toy," said the girl's mother.

Internet safety expert Keith Dunn fanned the flames by suggesting that children are at risk when playing with Nintendo's WiFi-enabled handheld.

"Predators are using Nintendo DS anywhere in the world," said Dunn. "And it's going to be really hard to track down those individuals because of course, they're on a wireless network from a hotspot such as a coffee shop. Or if they're in a wireless environment, say a coffee shop or whatever, they jump on the wireless network so now you have predators who are trying to get at our kids."

Internet safety expert Dunn seems to be under the impression that the DS' WiFi capabilities are equivalent to those of a PC. They're not, as 6-ABC should have made clear.

In preparing her report, Action News Reporter Nydia Han called upon someone who, unlike Keith Dunn, actually understands the DS - David Long of GamerDad. Long explained in advance of Han's story how the DS actually works, including the handheld's built-in Pictochat application and WiFi. According to Long, none of what he told Han appeared in the report.
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Staten Island D.A. Is Down on "Getting Up"

Another day, another elected official calling for a video game crackdown.

Today it's Staten Island, where Richmond County (NY) District Attorney Dan Donovan has harsh words for Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. As reported by WABC-7, Donivan claims that Getting Up encourages illegal behavior.

"What it does is encourages and incites people to commit a crime of graffiti vandalism," said the D.A., who is asking retailers not to carry the game.

"This is telling you how to avoid detection by the police and how to avoid the mayor who's attempting to suppress your rights to express yourself," Donovan added.

For his part, designer Marc Ecko told WABC-7, "It's a little bit of much ado about nothing. He's really underestimating the intelligence of the consumer... There's this automatic dismissiveness to throw the baby away with the bath water and be dismissing about the game."

GP: Just an aside, but what's up with the D.A.'s website? All of the right-click options have been disabled. No copying text, no grabbing pictures. Fix please, Mr. D.A.