March 23rd, 2006

America's Army Game Nominated for Good Government "Oscar"

It is sometimes controversial, but undeniably a smash hit among gamers. And now, America's Army has been nominated for Top 50 Government Innovations for 2006 by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Considered the "Oscars" of government, the Innovations in American Government Awards carry a $100,000 prize grant for the seven eventual winners. The 50 selected semi-finalists, including America's Army, were chosen from programs representing governments at the federal, tribal, state, county and city levels. Criteria include "novelty and creativity, effectiveness at addressing significant issues and problems and ability to be replicated by other jurisdictions. The programs represent governments' best efforts in the areas of education and training, criminal justice and public safety, economic and community development, housing, health and social services, management, transportation, public works and environment."

On May 4th, 18 finalists will be announced during Public Service Recognition Week. The seven winners will be announced in Washington, D.C. in July.

CNN Producer Responds to Gamer Concerns

Yesterday, GamePolitics posted CNN producer Sarah Fogel's request for MMO gamers as possible guests in an upcoming segment.

GP heard back from Sarah, who was excited that numerous GamePolitics readers took the time to contact her. She asked if GP would run an update to address some of the concerns voiced in those responses. Although GP has no connection to the CNN piece, Sarah seems like she wants to let gamers have their say, so we've agreed to add her follow-up:

"After reading the replies to my initial email I must say it is quite disheartening to realize that there is so little faith in the reputable, mainstream press. I do realize that there have been many 'sensational' stories done on the gaming industry in the past and all I can tell you is that this is NOT what we are attempting to do."

"I would hope that people would appreciate and be relieved with the fact that rather than CNN doing the obligatory interview with a 'gaming expert' or an 'addition doctor' who treats gamers, the gaming community would be happy hear that we want to talk to people who actually play these games themselves."

"Perhaps part of the reason so many people feel gamers have gotten a bad rap in the press and by the public, is because so few are willing to share your stories. It's hard to get to the truth of the matter when you can't talk to those who are most in the know."

"CNN is not '60 Minutes.' We are not trying to set up or expose anyone. We're not going to come into someone's home, who has graciously offered to share their story with us, and try to bamboozle them. I have worked on these types of stories for years and always approach them with the utmost respect and sensitivity."

"If you want those in the press and the millions of viewers who watch television to hear your side and understand your love the game, the best way to do that is to talk about it. I hope some of you understand where we are coming from. Yes, there have been some bad stories done, but there have been many good ones, too. Give us a chance. Thanks, Sarah"

If you would like to discuss this with CNN producer Sarah Fogel click here. to e-mail her.

GP: Just so readers have an idea of who Sarah is and the kind of work she does, an example of an award-winning CNN project Sarah worked on can be found here. Her background: "Sarah Fogel is an associate producer for CNN's prime-time newsmagazine show, CNN & TIME. In the past two years she has co-produced several pieces, including one about the working homeless population in Boston. Previously Sarah worked in CNN's Atlanta newsroom and the Washington bureau.

Video Game Voters Network Off to a Quick Start

It launched less than two weeks ago, but politically-riled gamers seem to be flocking to the Video Game Voters Network, an interest group created by the ESA.

According to a press release issued today in Washington, D.C., the VGVN has already attracted 10,000 members.

"Voting age gamers from all fifty states have joined the network, and we are gratified that we've been able to create an outlet for so many of them to be heard on the issues they care about when it comes to video games," said ESA boss man Douglas Lowenstein. "...our goal is to demonstrate that video gamers can be a political force. In the months ahead, we look forward to working with Video Game Voters Network members to make sure their views reach policymakers at the Federal, state, and local levels."

A separate e-mail sent to VGVN members informs us that more than 20,000 messages have been sent so far to members of the United States Senate on video game-related topics.

Hear the Radio Dust-up Between Jack Thompson and NIMF

Last week we alerted GamePolitics readers to a juicy, on-air argument between our old pal Jack Thompson and an associate of Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family.

Based on a request from GamePolitics, Minneapolis radio station WCCO-AM has made the audio file of the interview available online. The segment runs about 15 minutes and is available in two parts here. Check the left-hand column.

GP owes shout-outs to WCCO Program Director Wendy Paulson for making good on a promise to get the file online and and GP reader Tony Selby for letting us know it was up.

Michigan Case - What We Know So Far

Lacking news of any developments in yesterday's crucial Federal District Court hearing on Michigan's video game law, GamePolitics reached out to the office of Judge George Caram Steeh.

What did we learn? No ruling yet in the case. Judge Steeh has taken the matter under advisement. The representative we spoke with could not predict when we might get a ruling.

So now, we wait...