June 21st, 2006

Louisiana Bill Sponsor Reacts to 1st Amendment Lawsuit

Shocked, but not surprised.

That is how Louisiana Rep. Roy Burrell (D), sponsor of his state's contested video game law described his reaction to the video game industry's suit to have HB1381 overturned on constitutional grounds.

In an interview with the Shreveport Times, Burrell said, "I knew it would happen, but this being my first time, it shocked me. I'm all for free speech, but not at the detriment of children," Burrell said.

"If I'm wrong, I apologize, but I don't see it that way. When it relates to protecting these kids, I don't apologize."

Reacting to a line in the lawsuit which reads, "Like great literature, these games often involve themes such as good versus evil, triumph over adversity, struggle against corrupt powers, and quest for adventure," Burrell said, "The kind of literature I've seen in some of these games is not 'great.' It may be great for somebody but it's not great for children. It's great for profits and great for controlling the minds of kids, but literary value? None... You're the one who's killing the cops. You're the one who's beating the woman. Pavlov's Law kicks in, giving you a reward for this behavior."

Want to talk about it? You can discuss this story via the "comments" feature (click below), or in the new GamePolitics Forums...

ESA Lobbies California Legislators

Video games and a party - hey, sounds like a mini-E3!

In this case, however, the gamers at the party were also politicians.

Through a knowledgeable source, GamePolitics has learned that the ESA held a lobbying event for California legislators on Monday. ESA President Doug Lowenstein and the organization's General Counsel Gail Markels were among those who met with elected officials in Sacramento.

Following the meetings the ESA hosted a bash for state legislators, their staffs and families at a ballroom in downtown Sacramento. GP hears that about 150 people attended, enjoying refreshments and playing the E-rated likes of Dance Dance Revolution and a ping pong game (Rockstar's Table Tennis?) on monitors set up around the room.

We're not 100% sure it was Rockstar's game. It could have been a really early build of Nintendo's Wii Ping Pong, but we doubt it. Perhaps this was a way to show the assembled pols that Rockstar is capable of creating more than just GTA mayhem.
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Dutch Hot Coffee Modder Makes MTV "Most Influential" List

He's one of GP's best-known readers. And now he has earned a place in gaming history.

Patrick Wildenborg, the Dutch modder who discovered the hidden Hot Coffee animations in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas was named by MTV as one of the "10 Most Influential Video-Gamers Of All Time."

Here what MTV had to say about PatrickW:

"'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' wasn't just Dutch gamer Patrick Wildenborg's favorite thing to play last year. It's also the game he inadvertently managed to get knocked from store shelves for a time after he discovered animations and controls for a half-cooked sex-game buried in the code. Hackers have been scouring game guts for years, sometimes finding cool extras developers never fully programmed (like a skateboard also found in 'San Andreas') or sometimes to fix games they think are broken (like the mangled ending of the second 'Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic'). But no previous discovery quite outraged U.S. politicians and parents, got a game re-rated for Adults Only and forced publisher Take-Two to re-print a sellable M-rated version at a $24 million cost"

Long-time GP readers may recall that Patrick's revelations on GamePolitics were instrumental in bringing the Hot Coffee affair to light.

Others named by MTV include University of Michigan professor Peter Ludlow for being kicked out of The Sims Online by EA for publishing critical stories in a virtual newspaper; top-scoring 1980's arcade player Billy Mitchell and the Penny Arcade team, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins.

Want to talk about it? You can discuss this story via the "comments" feature (click below), or in the new GamePolitics Forums...

Thompson, Prof Debate Game Violence on CNBC

GP readers hoping to hear Jack Thompson's thoughts on the contested Louisiana game law that he helped author will have their chance tomorrow morning.

You'll need to get up early, however. Failing that, be sure to set your Tivo to record CNBC's Squawk Box program, which comes on the air at 6:00 A.M. According to an e-mail from Thompson his appearance will take place at 6:30.

Squawk Box is hosted by CNBC Stocks Editor Joe Kernen along with former Wall Street Journal reporters Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla.

From GP's occasional viewings of Squawk Box, it's a very pro-business show, as one might expect on a channel devoted to the financial markets. With Louisiana's new law regarding as confusing and troublesome by Louisiana retailers and regarded as unconstitutional by the video game industry, does that mean Thompson is in for a grilling?

Only time - and Tivo - will tell...

UPDATE: Okay, GP just caught Squawk Box. Co-host Becky Quick (pictured) introduced the segment, which was structured as a point-counterpoint between Thompson and Paul Levinson, a professor of media studies at Fordham University.

Thompson offered his standard game violence comments. GP noticed that he seemed to imply that the motion picture rating system is regulatory in nature (actually it's voluntary, like the game rating system) when he said:

"40-some states have laws to prohibit the distribution of sexual materials harmful to minors. We have a movie rating system in that regard..."

Thompson also said, "The Federal Trade Commission found last month that roughly 42% of the time any kid of any age can walk into any retailer and buy any game like Grand Theft Auto San Andreas despite the game rating."

Actually the FTC's secret shopper numbers were 35% among the major retailers which account for over 90% of all video game sales. And the kids weren't "of any age." The FTC used mystery shoppers who were 13-16.
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