June 10th, 2006

GP Comments Policy

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Thanks for your time and for being a GP reader. We now return you to our regular programming.

Looking For Love in Online Places - Sex Games Discussed at SF Conference

While the retail video game industry does some serious navel-gazing over the FTC's recent ruling on Hot Coffee, another group is planning on stuffing as much adult content as possible into their video game products. And they don't plan to disclose any of it to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).

No, it's not Rockstar's secret scheme for Grand Theft Auto 4. It's the adult entertainment industry (you may know them as "the dirty movie people"), some of which was represented at this week's quite respectable Sex in Video Games Conference in San Francisco.

Mainstream speakers at the conference included game development pros like Sheri Graner Ray and Savannah College professor Brenda Brathwaite as well as media types such as Wired News "Sex Drive" columnist Regina Lynn.

In examining the adult entertainment industry's interest in the video game space, Reuters reports would-be erotic game makers are taking lessons from the recent political and cultural war between game producers, ratings groups, and governments. Hence, they're likely to avoid retail channels - and ESRB ratings - altogether.

"I'm not interested in playing the political game of getting a game out in a box and getting it rated. Games have been sickeningly violent over the last decade. Now that they start to show breasts, the government is up in arms," said Utherverse CEO Brian Shuster. "[Online distribution] is a more practical way, ultimately, to deliver adult content."
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Oklahoma Guv Signs Game Bill; 1st Amendment Battle Looms

NOTE: This story was originally broken by GamePolitics last night. Because of its importance and because we now have additional information, we are bumping it into today's coverage.

The website of Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry (D, seen at left) indicates that the Governor has signed into law HB3004, video game legislation proposed by Rep. Fred Morgan (R). Henry had until today to take action on the bill, and aides had indicated to GamePolitics that he was likely to approve the measure.

The Oklahoman has a brief mention on the new law. Gov. Henry's short, official press release can be seen here.

In his statement, the Governor said, "The violence in videogames has grown to epic proportions. Some video games glorify violence to a degree seldom seen in even the bloodiest movies. While parents have the ultimate responsibility for what their children do and see, this legislation is another tool to ensure that our young people are not saturated in violence. This gives parents the power to more closely regulate which games their children play."

The new statute, scheduled to take effect on November 1st, would include violent video games among items defined as "harmful to minors." (and therefore unlawful to sell or rent to minors). Oddly enough, the measure also includes unrelated language added by the Oklahoma Senate regarding signage around strip clubs and porn shops.

Rep. Fred Morgan, the bill's sponsor, is running for Congress and faces a July primary.
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