March 16th, 2006

GP Calls on Gaming Sites to Wave the VGVN Flag

GamePolitics is excited about the ESA's launch of the Video Game Voters Network.

Apparently readers are too. Fully two-thirds of respondents to our current GP poll say they will join the VGVN. Another 16% tell us they would join if they were 18. Only about 6% say they absolutely won't join.

We see the VGVN as an important step in the right direction. Helping gamers become more politically aware is a move that's long overdue.

Here at GP we're showing our support for the VGVN by displaying a small banner ad that links to the Voters Network site. It's nothing fancy, just something we cut & pasted into existence. We plan to keep it displayed on GamePolitics on a permanent basis, and call on other game-oriented sites to do the same.

If you'd like, grab our VGVN banner here. It's only 154x36 pixels - a small commitment of your site's real estate to the larger goal of making gamers more politically aware.

And, hey - if the ESA cares to have a selection of its own professionally-created banner ads made up, we're sure they'd find game-oriented web sites a willing audience.

Michigan Guv Joins State Democrats in 25 to Life Boycott

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has joined the call for a boycott of Eidos' controversial cops-and-robbers shooter 25 to Life.

In a press release on her website, Granholm cites a letter sent to video game retailers in which she writes, "Taking this game off your shelves is not only the best way to ensure that it does not end up in the hands of children, it also sends a message of support to our law enforcement community that we will not support those who would profit from the production and sale of such games, no matter what the intended audience."

Last week, GamePolitics reported that Michigan's Democratic legislators introduced a resolution denouncing 25 to Life and likewise calling for a boycott. The resolution, introduced by Rep. Kathy Angerer, has been referred to a the Government Operations Committee of the Michigan House.

Michigan, of course, was one of three states to sign video game sale legislation into law last year. Gov. Granholm was the driving force behind the measure, which has been contested by the game industry on First Amendment grounds and is under temporary injunction. A critical federal district court hearing on the constitutionality of the game law is scheduled for March 22nd.

ESA Seeks $644,000 in Attorney's Fees From State of Illinois

Wow. GP is in the wrong business. Shoulda been a lawyer...

The ESA has just announced that it will seek to recover $644,545 in legal fees expended in its successful effort to block Illinois' video game law on First Amendment grounds.

"From the day Governor Blagojevich announced that he would seek anti-video game legislation, it was clear to everyone that the proposal would be found unconstitutional and would waste taxpayers dollars in a protracted legal fight that would leave parents no better off," said ESA boss Doug Lowenstein.

"... we would have preferred to spend our resources on cooperative programs to help parents ensure their kids play appropriate games, rather than divert money to respond to politically motivated attacks on video games. But the State has left little choice, and this petition is consistent with the rules of the federal courts regarding award of attorney's fees to prevailing parties."
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GP Book Review: Penny Arcade's "Attack of the Bacon Robots"

Fear not, gamer friends, for the Attack of the Bacon Robots will not harm you! In fact, they're not even featured in this collection of Penny Arcade's first two years of online comic strips.

What? No Bacon Robots? But they're in the title!

If that's a sticking point for you, you're probably not familiar with Penny Arcade's particular brand of humor. I'd advise perusing the site's archives before committing to a purchase.

For longtime Penny Arcade fans, however, this book is a treasure. Experience the early gaming adventures of Gabe and Tycho (illustrator Mike Krahulik and writer Jerry Holkins's cartoon alter egos) all over again and reacquaint yourselves with the classic strips you've long since forgotten. But wait, if all the strips are available online, why on Earth would you want the book?

It's shiny!

I'm serious; the strips are printed on surprisingly high quality, glossy paper and look much better than I was expecting. The art reproduction is well above average for collections like these, boasting a nice range of vibrant colors and no detectable color bleed. Discerning eyes will ferret out the occasional uneven color (usually browns and blacks) but most will be hard pressed to find a quality difference between online and offline versions. The book is well bound, features a typically hilarious intro and outro by Tycho, a forward by Fox Trot's Bill Amend, and bonus art complementing the background of dozens of pages in addition to two pages of original sketches.
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GP Reader Attends Delaware Hearing, Posts Impressions

It has been a remarkable week for gamer participation in the political process.

On Monday the gaming world was surprised and pleased by the ESA's launch of the "Video Game Voters Network.

Then just yesterday, a GamePolitics reader attended the Delaware House Judiciary Committee meeting where video game legislation proposed by Rep. Helene Keeley (left) was being considered. The GP reader, James Donaldson, reports that:

"...after attending the hearing I am pleased with some of it, but mostly there needs to be a round two... Not everyone got to talk. The MPAA and IEMA got to talk but not the other members from other organizations. Frankly, Jack (Thompson) had too long and thorough of a testimony for the one hour allotted. The hearing ran way over schedule. By all means, I want Jack to testify as much as he needs to, he surely has that right. Simply put, an hour was more than enough for the original bills to be struck down, I don't think they would have lasted even 30 minutes.

"...I guess you can say I was overwhelmed with what I heard in there. 'This is not speech,' from Mr. Thompson while holding up a videogame case, I believe it was GTA... That shook me, real bad, I became angered. To see and hear that in person is incredible, a smack in the face."

"The chamber was more full than you would think, about 20, maybe a few less. I was expecting much less. WHYY (Philadelphia NPR affiliate) was there with a camera. Jack was well composed... though I felt his testimony was often incorrect and biased (for example) - 'Columbine Simulator.'"

"Only the MPAA and IEMA (Mr. Bersell) spoke at the table, they did very well. A Representative for the Attorney General was there, which was a great help. He offered some incredible insight on how they would handle, challenge, and question things... I was the guy in the brown shirt if you're wondering."

"Though I admire your tenacity, you do truly fight for what you believe in, but I assure you Jack, HB360 will continue to be dealt with here in Delaware. I will do everything within my power and voice as a constituent of Delaware to make sure this bill does not pass.
"

James, I can't tell you how excited GP is that you attended and offered your view on the proceedings. For a complete version of what James wrote, click here.

GP: I was bummed that I could not get to the hearing, since it is very close to Philadelphia, where GP hangs his hat. Unfortunately I had an unbreakable commitment. But I'm glad we were able to bring you insights from James as well as Sean Bersell. By the way, James' attendance was something we were unaware of until after the fact, which makes it a doubly pleasant surprise.

Delaware Video Game Bill Back to the Drawing Board - For Now

Yesterday's Delaware House Judiciary Committee hearing on video game legislation proposed by Rep. Helene Keeley (D) was a win for the video game industry, at least for now. For reaction, GP checked in with Sean Bersell (left), VP of Public Affairs for the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), who testified at yesterday's session.

"The hearing went well. The committee appeared to have done its homework, as it focused on the constitutional problems with HB 360. A representative of the Delaware Attorney General's office testified that, as currently drafted, the bill is unconstitutional. He stated that, while the AG wants to help craft a measure that can be upheld by the courts, he is concerned that no other state has been able to do so. He added that the Attorney General 'does not want to do violence to the Constitution.'"

Sean gave testimony about the ratings education and voluntary ratings enforcement programs of retailers. Vans Stevenson of the MPAA testified on the potential impact Keeley's bill might have on other forms of entertainment as well as the constitutional problems.

As Sean recounted, the Judiciary Committee tabled HB 360 in order to give Rep. Keeley and the Delaware Attorney General's office time to see if they can tweak the bill's language enough to survive a constitutional challenge.

Jack Thompson testified on behalf of the bill.

Bottom line? HB 360 is on hold for now, but could reappear later in the session. Keeley withdrew her original bill, HB319, in favor of HB360.

GP tried unsuccessfully to reach Rep. Keeley or her staff for comment. Thompson let GP know that he disagrees with Bersell's contention that the representative from the Delaware Attorney General's office said the bill as drafted is unconstitutional. Let's see... who drafted that bill, anyway?
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