April 20th, 2006

Games for Health Holds Capitol Hill Event

What's this? Video games shown on Capitol Hill and it wasn't a congressional game-bash?

It's true... Our friend Ben Sawyer at Games For Health clued GamePolitics into his organization's event last week in Washington, D.C..

More than 350 congressional staffers and other guests feasted on the likes of Nintendo's Brain Age, Sony's Eye Toy Play, Konami's DDR Mario Mix and several less commercial titles (full list after the jump). Games for Health project team members also held more than a dozen briefings with the staffs of congressional committees or individual members of Congress, including leaders of both the majority and minority side of the house Medical Technology Caucas, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN). Also publicly supporting the event were Senators Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Tom Harkin (D-IA)

In categorizing the congressional response, Sawyer said, "In general we found staff very receptive to our work although many hadn't played many games and so when we'd show screenshots to things one of the first impacts was that things looked so interesting and advanced. Some had heard about DDR. We had to keep reminding ourselves not to use acronyms like that! ...but certainly... games were still something foreign. Despite all that we got some great questions. It's amazing how fast some staff get up to speed as you start talking with them. One staffer was immediately drawn to the idea of how games could help redefine interfaces to health IT systems - that's pretty advanced thinking."

Obesity and disease management were major concerns for congressional attendees, Sawyer told GP. Staffers were intrigued by the idea of creating systems that help or teach people to avoid or manage chronic conditions and injuries.

"This of course," Sawyer said, "is tied directly to lowering costs and adding personal responsibility to some extent and given the political spectrum on the Hill it seems like a consensus point to explore. Use games to educate cheaply, reach populations that are hard to reach, induce more personal responsibility, focus on management of health issues that tax the personnel and resources of the healthcare system."

More photos from the event can be seen here. A trailer video is available on YouTube.
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Sims 2 Character Displays Pixelante Pride

We love our GamePolitics readers, especially when they support worthy causes.

In this great screenshot, GP reader Ross Castro has dressed a user-modified Sims 2 character in an authentic Pixelante shirt. By the way, who's that clown on the right?

Speaking of Pixelante shirts, we've sold 101 so far. Our goal is 150. Don't forget that all proceeds go directly to the Get-Well Gamers Foundation.

For more amazing pictures of Pixelante shirts in action:

-Famed Hot Coffee modder Patrick W sent in these modded GTA San Andreas characters.

-GP readers OrigamiFrog and Androktasie looking good here...

-More GP readers, this time the1jeffy and squirrelofwrath...

Finally, the actual origin of the term "Pixelante" happened right here on GamePolitics. If you heard otherwise, you got some bad info...

Click here to buy your own Pixelante shirt. They're fully customizable!

...and don't forget to send us your picture - or your game mod characater - in a Pixelante shirt.

Marc Ecko Vandalizes Own Credibility

Admittedly, GP has had a rough couple of weeks with Marc Ecko, which probably makes us less well-disposed to Tuesday's bizarre Air Force One hoax.

The hip-hop clothing designer missed not one, but two appointments with GP for phone interviews recently. Not fond of being toyed with, we declined his publicist's offer to arrange a third. In retrospect, maybe we should have scheduled it and then blew Ecko off for some payback, but that's not the GP way.

Fast forward to Tuesday evening, when we received a cryptic e-mail from the same publicist. It simply listed an Ecko website, Still Free. Clicking over, GP found a pair of videos. In the first, a figure, presumably Ecko, sneaks right up to Air Force One and graffitis up the plane's left engine nacelle.

The other video is Ecko explaining why he tagged the Presidential ride: "The president is the leader of this country. His highest responsibility, arguably is to protect our freedoms. And the first among these is our right to speech. That's why I tagged the President's plane. The President can't fly around like a rock star talking about how America is the greatest country in the world, but ignore what makes it great. I thought spray-painting the President's plane would be a great way to open a dialogue, and encourage a new way of thinking..."

From jump street, the whole thing had the look and feel of a scam, so we gave it a pass. Now comes word that it was a scam. Flightglobal, a site devoted to all things aeronautical, reported the hoax earlier today. The dummies there actually ran with the original story on Tuesday.

Yesterday's edition has a detailed explanation from Flightglobal readers, including arcane analyses like, "If you compare some photos of the two VC-25As and compare the antenna layout along the top of the fuselage aft of the upper deck, there are a significant number missing in the video."

Guys, give me a break. The mere fact that you haven't read of Marc Ecko getting extra body ventilation courtesy of Air Force guards and/or the Secret Service should have been all the tip-off needed.

Video Game Voters Network Draws More Responses from Politicians

The Video Game Voters Network continues to resister a political impact.

The organization, created by the ESA to rally gamer support for the video game industry, has now generated over 20,000 e-mails to U.S. senators regarding Sen. Hillary Clinton's proposed Family Entertainment Protection Act (FEPA).

An e-mail from the Video Game Voters Network (VGVN) this week urged gamers to recruit additional members, citing support from famed Sims 2 designer Will Wright who said, "What can you do to fight this threat? Become a part of the first line of defense in protecting the games that we love to play by joining the Video Game Voters Network."

The VGVN also announced that it now has web banners available, in response to overwhelming demand. Here at GamePolitics, we jumped the gun, creating our own VGVN banner weeks ago.

Meanwhile GamePolitics readers continue to report responses from political figures. Blitz Fitness, for example, heard back from Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL, pictured at left), who wrote:

"Thank you for contacting me about S. 2126, the Family Entertainment Protection Act... Many people are troubled by the level of sex, violence, and offensive language in some media, including video games. I understand parents' desires to protect children from such content... But any such steps must be carefully designed to avoid undermining the First Amendment.

Similarly, we must not engage in government censorship of the arts, other than to enforce constitutionally permissible obscenity laws. We must preserve our nation's commitment to the First Amendment right of free
expression even as we work to protect our children from the harsher aspects of the world.

S. 2126 is currently before the Senate Commerce Committee. I will keep your thoughts in mind in case this legislation reaches the Senate floor...

Durbin, by the way, was just named one of America's Top-10 Senators by Time Magazine.

GP reader Jeff Schultz heard back from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX):

"Thank you for contacting me regarding video game ratings. I welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue... As a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, you may be certain I am working hard to protect children from inappropriate material in video games wherever it occurs.