June 7th, 2006

Game Legislating Pols Have Mixed Results in California Primary

One would-be video game regulator moved ahead in yesterday's California primary, while another fell by the wayside.

Leland Yee (D, seen at left), architect of California's video game sales law, grabbed 65% of the vote in yesterday's State Senate contest. His closest opponent, Mike Nevin, received only 29%. Running in a heavily-Democratic district, Yee is virtually assured a seat in the California State Senate come November's election.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo was hammered by former Governor and one-time presidential candidate Jerry Brown in the Democratic primary for California Attorney General. Delgadillo, who made headlines earlier this year when he filed deceptive marketing charges against Take-Two and Rockstar over the Hot Coffee scandal, received only 21% of the Democratic vote to Brown's overwhelming 78%.

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Game Addiction Clinic Opens in Netherlands

Do you have a blank, expressionless stare? Do you have dozens of virtual friends, and yet your real-life relationships are in the toilet? Do you call in sick on the launch day of a new game? Do you think Lara Croft (no, not the Angelina version) is hot? Then you could be suffering from gamer addiction.

The BBC reports that Smith & Jones, a Dutch addiction consulting and treatment firm, will be setting up a program in July specifically for video gaming addiction, complete with an eight-bed residential unit.
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Louisiana's Looming First Amendment Fight: It's Personal

Let's call this one the "Battle in the Bayou."

Assuming that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco signs Rep. Roy Burrell's video game bill into law, it will, of course, trigger a First Amendment challenge by the video game industry. Nothing new there. We've seen such court cases many times before, in Illinois, Michigan, California and elsewhere.

But this is shaping up as something far more than a court battle. This fight comes equipped with baggage. Lots of baggage.

Controversial Miami attorney and anti-game crusader Jack Thompson wrote Rep. Burrell's bill and testified on its behalf in the Louisiana legislature. Thompson's incessant e-mails are already crowing about yesterday's success in the Louisiana Senate, where the bill passed 35-0

Doug Lowenstein, of course, is the president of the ESA, and the video game industry's point man.

These two do not like each other. In fact, they really don't like each other.

For his part, Thompson says such outrageous and ugly things about Lowenstein that GP wonders why the ESA boss doesn't sue the gadfly attorney for defamation.

The ESA, on the other hand, has placed Thompson on their "ignore" list. They like to pretend he doesn't exist.

Thompson has been issuing frothy assertions about video game violence for years, but 2006 saw his first real foray into the legislative arena. He's been studying past video game rulings, trying to craft a bill that will withstand the inevitable First Amendment challenge. In addition to Louisiana's Burrell, Thompson has been working with Delaware Rep. Helene Keeley (D), although it's unclear whether Keeley's bill will advance.

For his part Lowenstein has guided the industry with a steady hand for more than a decade. The ESA has never lost a constitutional challenge on his watch. Although he's too much of a professional to ever say it, you can bet he's determined not to lose this one. Especially this one.

Stay tuned. This is one fight you won't want to miss.

Update: Jack Thompson commented that he has had some state-level exposure in the past. "I was the chief witness for the Washington State bill two years ago," he said in an e-mail.

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