March 17th, 2006

McDonald's Game Parodies Fast Food Ethics

Politics has taken more than its share of swipes at the video game industry in recent times. But what happens when games bite back?

Socially- and politically-aware games are becoming increasingly common online, the most recent being Molleindustria's McDonald's Videogame, a multi-tiered sim satirizing the process by which Mickey D's tallies up its millions served.

According to Paolo Pedercini, spokesman and founder of Molleindustria, the McDonald's Videogame was inspired by books lik Jeremy Rifken's Beyond Beef: The Rise & Fall of the Cattle Culture and Naomi Klein's No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies which deal, respectively, with the cattle industry and the emergence and persistence of brand-based culture.

"We have often claimed that video games have the potential to make complex systems such as the economic and social easy to understand," says Pedercini, "so we tried to give a practical example."
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If They Jump in Front of a Train, They Can't Buy a PSP... Can They?

More harsh criticism for Sony game marketing? Surely not!

Okay, maybe so. A billboard ad for the PSP displayed at the Picadilly MetroLink light rail station in Manchester has been covered up by JC Decaux, the company maintaining the board, according to Manchester Online, via Kotaku.

The ad, a largely empty poster with the text "TAKE A RUNNING JUMP HERE," - presumably referring to any number of PSP platform games - was spotted by a Picadilly staffer. A spokesman for the station said: "The message goes completely against all our safety messages, particularly because Playstation is aimed at youngsters and we are constantly telling them not to trespass."

In the past few months, there have been numerous accidents on the MetroLink involving people being hit by trams, which presumably was what fuelled the initial reaction to the advert. Exactly none of them were playing PSP at the time of the accidents.

Sony have declined to comment, while JC Decaux claims that it was the responsibility of MetroLink and Sony's agency to ensure that the advert was suitable for display. GP readers will recall the recent flap over Sony's PSP graffiti ad campaign in U.S. urban areas. Or perhaps the company's naughty ad take-off on Christ's passion.

-Reporting from the U.K., GP International Correspondent Mark Kelly

Oklahoma Game Bill Passes House Vote Unanimously

"Killing police officers. Carjacking. Picking up prostitutes, stealing their money, murdering them. Being rewarded with topless strippers. This is a sample of what Oklahoma's children are bombarded with from a number of popular video games."

Thus begins a press release issued by Oklahoma State Rep. Fred Morgan (R), trumpeting unanimous House passage of HB3004, video game legislation he proposed.

"I think there are grandparents and parents that have no idea what's in these games and I think that's a shame," Morgan said. "The industry has successfully challenged every law passed by local or state government but because citizens are continuing to demand that something be done, legislatures continue to try to find reasonable and constitutional ways to restrict access to these extremely violent, sexist and graphic games. The growing body of research shows that these games are harmful to impressionable children."

According to Morgan's press release, HB3004 "expands the definition of 'harmful to minors' to include the inappropriate violence often found in some of today's most popular video games. This includes violence that is glamorized or gratuitous, endorses or glorifies torture, and does not show the consequences of violence. It also includes video games that may depict lead characters freely resorting to violence without thought to the consequences."

Under Morgan's bill, retailers who sell violent games to minors could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $1,000.00. The measure will now move on to the Oklahoma Senate for consideration.