April 7th, 2006

GP Readers Model Their Pixelante Pride - You Can Too!

It's time to break open your piggy bank and grab yourself a Pixelante Shirt. What's the story behind this new gamer fashion trend? Read it here. Remember, all proceeds go to charity - the Get-Well Gamers Foundation.

And, hey - send GP your pic in your Pixelante-T and we'll publish it. Now, on to tonight's photogenic Pixelantes:

GP reader OrigamiFrog relaxes with her DS and her Pixelante top (more shots of Origami here):



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...below we have GP reader Androktasie, a man of strong opinions as well as great taste in T-shirts...

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Ethical Concerns Continue For Florida Video Game Bill Sponsor

Let's pass the hat for poor State Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla. The Florida Republican, whose video game violence bill, SB 492, was shelved last week when colleagues decided it might negatively impact on Elmer Fudd, just can't catch a break.

GP readers may recall the report in the New Times which enumerated two arrests as well as numerous traffic tickets and license suspensions in Diaz de la Portilla's past.

Then there is some nasty business with the Florida Elections Commission, which levied a $311,000 fine against Diaz de la Portilla for 1999 violations of campaign laws - the largest such penalty ever assessed in Florida. But Diaz de la Portilla appealed, and got the fine reduced to $17,000. Then, saying he still couldn't pay, he appealed again, and succeeded in lowering the fine to $8,750, an amount he still hasn't paid, for violations which occurred seven years ago.

Sadly, it seems the greatly reduced fine is just too much for the powerful State Senator. Despite his claimed poverty, Diaz de la Portilla owns two homes (including one valued at $800,000); drives a leased Lexus; maintains an investment account; and made a $15,000 personal loan to an aide.

Now the Palm Beach Post brings word that despite Diaz de la Portilla's claim that he is too poor to pay his election violation fines, he shared the cost of a chartered jet trip to the NCAA finals with seven other legislators. The newspaper reorts that his share of the bill was at least $1,335.

The senator said he saw no connection between the money he swears he can't afford to pay the Elections Commission and the big bucks he dropped on the basketball trip.

"One thing's not related to the other," he said.

But, hey, at least he's concerned about the children.

Detroit Free Press Urges Gov. Granholm to Drop Video Game Crusade

Detroit's leading newspaper has come down hard on Gov. Jennifer Granholm's ill-fated attempt to legislate video game sales. Michigan's law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court judge last week.

An editorial in the Detroit Free Press urges Granholm to curtail efforts on regulating games.

"The law was a bad idea from the start," the paper said, "a feel-good solution for a complicated social problem that was obviously unconstitutional. Appealing this ruling or reintroducing similar legislation is a waste of time and money... As leaders, politicians should focus their efforts on public education and urging the industry to regulate itself - not on promulgating unclear, unenforceable and unconstitutional bans on what games people play."

Gamer Voices Making Political Impact

Gamers are getting all political, and GP loves it!

We found this well written, extensively detailed letter to the editor in The Advocate (Baton Rouge). We don't know the writer, Jason Seneca, at least not by that name. But he's so smart, he must be a GP reader. Jason, if you're among us, please raise your hand.

Jason takes keyboard in hand to address twin "games as porn" bills under consideration by the Louisiana legislature. GP reported on the bills, introduced by Reps. A.G. Crowe (R) and Roy Burrell (D) a few weeks back. Jason writes, in part:

"I cannot speculate on Reps. Crowe's and Burrell's motivations for introducing such costly and frivolous legislation. Considering Louisiana's recent financial straits, I fail to see how taxpayers could support a motion that is unbalanced, has no basis in fact, will cost several hundred thousand dollars to support and is ultimately destined to fail. I urge our elected officials to employ the intelligence and foresight that their constituencies expect from them."

Impressive, Jason. And he's not the only one. Gamers have been taking advantage of the ESA's Video Game Voters Network to reach their elected officials. GP reader Sherwood42 wrote to Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and got a response:
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IGDA's Brathwaite Points Out More Loopy Labeling

Yesterday we linked to Brenda Brathwaite's piece on a silly Virgina bill which would require ESRB lables on M-rated games to be at least 3x3 inches. That's a lot of cover space on a standard console box, which is roughly 7x5. Even more so on DS, GBA and PSP cases, which are about 5x5, 5x5 and 4x7, respectively.

For your Friday fun, we've got more of Brenda's insights on labeling issues. Brenda, leader of the IGDA's Sex in Game SIG, writes: "What you're looking at is GTA: San Andreas (left) and the DVD of Shaun of the Dead (right) side by side. The ESRB label is much larger and in a legible font color. The DVD label is certainly more difficult to see.

"Descriptors are clearly missing from this DVD label. It contains the descriptors 'zombie violence/gore and language'. According to the source who sent this to the Sex SIG, 'Hardly a shot goes by in Shaun of the Dead where someone's not drinking a pint or smoking a cigarette, but I don't see Yee or anyone else demanding the MPAA be banned, burned, fed to lions...'"

Brenda sums up by saying, "We need to start working together and stop meeting on the floor of the Senate. Politicians need to get involved beyond the soundbyte... We, as an industry, need to be open and receptive to criticism... Firing off statements isn't going to do a damn thing to protect the kids. Ultimately, we need to work together, and those doing the work need to be well informed."

"Looking at that screen above? I'm not feeling too bad about how we're doing overall."

Ask Hal Halpin (IEMA Boss) Here on GamePolitics

GP readers have been busily writing to politicians of late. Now comes a chance to have some give-and-take with a real, live video game industry mover-and-shaker.

Hal Halpin, president of the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA), the trade group which represents the great majority of video game retailers, has graciously agreed to answer questions posed by GP readers. Although we considered a live chat setup, it was decided to run the Q&A through our comments section.

So, if you have a question for Hal, who has been very involved in issues relating to video game legislation and the like, please feel free to post it in the comments to this article. Hal is on standby as I type this, waiting to hear from you.

GP: While not all will have the opportunity to catch Hal today, I've asked him to check back periodically for questions posed by GP readers.

Mario Question Box Girls Will Not be Prosecuted

Earlier this week, GamePolitics reported on a bizarre case in which six teenage girls were questioned by police after leaving gold-wrapped boxes with question marks painted on the sides outside various public buildings in Ravenna, Ohio. The boxes mimicked those found in the old Super Mario Bros. game for the NES.

As reported by the Akron Beacon-Journal, Portage County Prosecutor Victor V. Vigluicci said the girls "The girls were imitating an art project they found on the Internet. None of the girls had any prior contacts with the police or juvenile court and are all good students. I do not believe that they had any bad or malicious intentions, (but) were not thinking about the consequences of their actions in this day and age."

The girls will write letter of apology to each of the public safety agencies which responded (but not, apparently, to Mario, Luigi or Princess Peach).