March 25th, 2006

Mend Socks in Chinese Govt. Game Based on Communist Values

Last November, GamePolitics brought you the story of plans for a game which taught good old communist values, like darning socks, helping old ladies get home in the rain, and preventing low lifes from spitting in public.

Xinhua News reports that Lei Feng, Hero of China for being an example of selflessness and modesty, is the main character in a new online game entitled "Learn From Lei Feng." The objective is to ultimately meet Chairman Mao himself. Players progress through levels by doing good deeds, such as contributing and volunteering on building sites.

The Lei Feng Simulator features treasure hunts (find a copy of Chairman Mao's Collection) and even trade skills (the aforementioned sock maintenance skill). The higher your level, the less impressive your needlework becomes, and you need to do more good deeds to advance further. There is even combat against enemy agents. Wounds suffered while preserving the workers' paradise are healed by visiting a Party secretary (CM: So the secretary can tell you what a great job you're doing, that's all. Get your mind out of the gutter!)

The Chinese government claims that the game is very popular with students, including Jiao Jian, a six-grade pupil in the in Yuexiu District.

"It's a novel idea, very interesting... I still have several tasks to go through. I will 'work hard' and strive to obtain the Chairman's autograph as soon as I can."

Jiao Jian added that many of his classmates are eager to learn about cultural icon Lei Feng, whose life is commemorated every March 5th, by order of Chairman Mao. An unnamed developer was quoted as saying the game aims at today's students, providing them with the tools to learn the pleasures of helping others.

CM: It's interesting to see how governments are turning to video games as tools to promote political agendas. China is also developing Anti-Japan War Online, a game where you resist the Japanese occupation during World War II, which is designed to "foster patriotism."

-Reporting from the pinko-commie regional district of Canada, GP North American correspondant Colin McInnes (aka Komrade Jabrwock)

Maybe Games Don't Cause Aggression After All...

For every research study that says games cause increased aggression, there are thousands of gamers who protest, saying, "Gaming didn't make me more aggressive, I would have started World War III by now if it were true..." Of course these personal opinions can't refute a study by themselves, but the ubiquity of this response did get researchers thinking.

Cognitive Daily, a ScienceBlog, reports on a new study which tries to answer the question "What effect does personality have on aggressive influence?" The project examines why the blanket influence suggested by other studies doesn't affect everyone. What they found was that the personality factor of agreeableness might influence our reaction to aggression-related cues.
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GP Legal Analyst: Tennessee Video Game Bill Hasn't a Prayer

Blame it all on video games.

Such appears to be the position of Tennessee Republican State Sen. Tommy Kilby (left), who recently proposed legislation which would make it a crime to sell "extremely violent" games to anyone, of any age.

The good news is that Kilby's proposed legislation is clearly unconstitutional and has no chance of surviving a legal challenge. Here's why: the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, directly applies to the federal government and most rights set out therein apply to state and local governments as well through the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

Before addressing the Tennessee bill, it is important to briefly review how the court handles free speech issues. Generally, whenever the government seeks to regulate speech, the court must balance the monumental importance of free speech against the interest or policies to be served by any limitation of speech. In a nutshell, the court asks what is more important in the matter at hand - speech? Or the government interest?
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Religious Right Monitoring Florida Game Legislation

The constitutionally-prescribed separation of church and state seems to have gotten a good bit narrower in Florida.

There, the Florida Baptist Witness reports that a Baptist "legislative consultant" is keeping an eye on a video game bill now before the Florida House.

The consultant, Bill Bunkley, told the Baptist Witness that upcoming national and state elections will influence the Florida legislature more than they normally would. For example, Bunkley describes how the state's Republican leadership may cynically revive a gay marriage amendment to the Florida constitution in order to whip up the political interest of the party base if things do not seem be be going well heading into November's crucial mid-term elections.

Among the bills Bunkley is monitoring on behalf of the Baptist church are Rep. Dennis Baxley's proposed video game legislation, HB647. The Florida Baptist Witness notes that Baxley, a Republican, is a member of the First Baptist Church of Belleview.

GP: That Baxley's religious affiliation should be deemed relevant to his legislation is rather disturbing. For previous coverage on Baxley's bill, check out GP's February piece, "Game Attorney's Close Encounter With the Florida Legislature.