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Video Games on Trial

Sexual Harassment In Gaming: The New York Times Takes NoticeThe issue of sexual harassment (and sexism in general) in games has been an issue for a long time, but over the last few months, the pot's been boiling over a bit. So much so that The New York Times, has taken notice and posted an article on the subject.

Here are some of the incidents that have led to the issue being "picked up" by the mainstream press:

  • A few months ago, gamer Miranda Pakozdi, in a game tournament, is so badly harassed by her own coach that she walks from the tournament. Check out the video for a look at how decent people never behave. (Seriously, watch it. It's incredibly creepy and embarrassing.) Bakhtanians goes on to defend his actions, describing sexual harassment as "part of the fighting game community."

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Get revved up for our Forza Horizon gameplay demo from E3 2012. Dan Greenawalt from Turn 10 Studios had a little chat with Blair Herter as he showed off some gameplay.

Forza Horizon is set in the beautiful state of Colorado, which Greenawalt says was chosen because of its geographic diversity, which fits in nicely with Horizon's open world. In addition to a picturesque setting, players can expect deep customization and the realistic Forza physics that fans have become accustomed to.

You'll be able to play Forza Horizon starting on October 23.

Forza Horizon E3 Gameplay Demo »



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I Am Alive

The release date for both Ubisoft's I Am Alive and Alan Wake's American Nightmare have been announced. We knew the window when these eagerly awaited titles would come out on Xbox Live, but let's get down to specifics:

  • Alan Wake's American Nightmare hits the XBL on February 22.
  • I Am Alive makes its debut on March 7.

We've recently previewed each ot these titles, and while a preview is not a review, the "buzz" is pretty healthy on each. Check out our Alan Wake's American Nightmare preview and our I Am Alive preview.

Both games are part of Microsoft's upcoming Xbox Live House Party that kicks off on February 15. The other games on the block: Warp and NEXUIZ, which will be released on February 15 and February 29 respectively.

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Fallout MMO Legal Battle Is Over, Rights To Fallout Online Return To BethesdaThe legal battle between Interplay and Bethesda regarding the Fallout MMO is over. After several years of court hearings, a settlement has determined the rights to the Fallout MMO, often referred to as Fallout Online, will belong to Bethesda Softworks.

The legal battle began in 2009 when Bethesda attempted to halt the production of Interplay's Fallout MMO due to breach of contract. Bethesda bought the rights to the Fallout IP from Interplay before making Fallout 3. The rights to the MMO remained with Interplay, along with some merchandising rights. Bethesda felt Interplay violated the conditions of their contract and took them to court.

Back in September of last year, Bethesda was denied a restraining order against Masthead, the co-developer of the Fallout MMO. Bethesda and Masthead ended this matter through another settlement late in December 2011.

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Get a preview of the new Battlefield 3 trailer in this teaser featuring music from Jay-Z. How do you think the iconic hip-hop anthem fits in with this hoo-rah war game?

Battlefield 3 "99 Problems" Teaser Trailer »


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 Morning Hangover: What Does Sony Need To Do To Earn Back Your Trust?

This morning, it was revealed that Sony had changed its End User License Agreement for the PlayStation Network, adding a mandatory arbitration clause to the contract gamers enter into when they click "accept" after they download an update. Basically, the new clause says that larger disputes between gamers and Sony won't be handled in court, but instead will be decided by an outside agency. While small claims are excluded, class-action lawsuits are not, and class-action suits, like the ones filed over the PlayStation Outage of a few months ago, can be a big problem for companies. Check out the EULA here.

Arbitration is a way of settling legal disputes outside of court, usually through an independent organization. It can be a good option when two same-sized companies have beef, but many regard arbitration as a bad deal for consumers in dispute with corporations.

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Texas has long had a thriving video game development community, from the days of Origin Systems and the early years of id Software, to the modern day where id continues working alongside Gearbox Software and Bioware’s Austin studio. It makes sense that a game design program would eventually have been founded at a Texas university.

In 2002, Dr. Peter Raad, the director of Southern Methodist University’s Linda and Mitch Hart eCenter, was approached by members of the North Texas game development community who were concerned about a lack of local opportunities to train new members of the industry. SMU collaborated with these developers, and in 2003 founded The Guildhall, a master’s degree program in video game development.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

The legal fight between Modern Warfare creators Jason West and Vince Zampella against Activision has been given a court date. The sparks will begin to fly on May 7... provided, of course, the parties involved don't come to some sort of settlement before then.

At stake is potentially millions and batwillions of dollars. The parties are fighting over Call of Duty royalties, bonuess and a host of other contentious legal issues. In other words, it's probably going to get ugly; make some popcorn.

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The Daily Show took a look at the Supreme Court ruling that struck down the California video game law saying that it's not illegal to sell violent games to minors.

Check out Stewert's reaction to the ruling in the clip below. Keep in mind, it's a bit NSFW.

 

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PS3 Fallout 3 DLC Delay Won't Affect Game Of The Year Edition

The battle over Fallout Online, the Fallout MMO, has gone on for over two years. It began when Bethesda, the developer of Fallout 3, filed suit against Interplay, the developers of the original Fallout.

The claim cited Interplay had violated an agreement met by both developers in 2007. The issue is that Interplay's Fallout Online MMO will use properties, characters, and settings from Bethesda's Fallout games. Bethesda says they never consented to their creations being used. The plot thickens as papers filed by Interplay this past week claim Bethesda knew about Interplay's plan for their MMO long before a suit was filed.

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All rise. The court of TheFeed is now in session. The honorable Jake “Fake Judge” Gaskill presiding. It is the opinion of this court that video games are…what’s that?...the Supreme Court already handed down its ruling on California’s violent video game law?...7-2?...Oh, I see. Well, let's get on with it.

As you've no doubt heard, this is a big week for the games industry, thanks to t but in case you were too busy, I don't know, playing games or something, then you definitely want to check out this week’s episode of Feedback, as Adam Sessler is joined by Casey Schreiner, Stephen Johnson, and Nikole Zivalich to discuss what is arguably the most significant legal decision in gaming history. (For more, be sure to check out Adam's in-depth look at the Supreme Court's decision, and if you have no idea what this whole case is about, brush up here.)

And, as if to honor said decision, the Feedback crew also examines and cross examines the game of the week, the cheeky horror shooter Shadows of the Damned. So if you're into legal jargon and penis-inspired gun puns, you've certainly come to the right place!

Feedback -- Supreme Court Video Game Ruling »


Feedback: Where we still have no idea why the abbreviation SCOTUS makes us chuckle. Hehe. SCOTUS.

The AUDIO MP3 of this episode of FEEDBACK is available here: Right-click and Save.

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This morning the entire games industry rejoiced in the final Supreme Court decision that declared video games are protected under the 1st Amendment as forms of free speech, and the state of California does not have the authority to make it a crime to sell mature rated video games to minors. Adam Sessler has been following this case very closely, and after reading the decision he decided to give you all an early edition of Sessler's Soapbox. This is a great moment in the history of video games, so check out this week's Soapbox to find out just how happy The Sess has been all day.

Sessler's Soapbox: Games are Protected Speech! »


Hooray for gamers! For even more of the Sess' opinion on the Supreme Court's ruling against the violent video game ban be sure to check out Adam on Gamebreak.

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California Files Reply Brief In Violent Video Game Supreme Court Case

I don't know what you've done with your morning, but I spent most of it reading a Supreme Court decision. All 92 pages of Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association, to be precise. While I'm not going to offer a full, literary critique of the decision, Justice Scalia's majority opinion is not only informative, it's also damned interesting reading.

Presumably, the Court didn't spend a lot of time actually playing games, they did watch video compilations of gameplay presented by each side of the argument, hear arguments from lawyers, and read a lot about the industry. While Scalia's opinion was more theoretical, Justice Alito, who also sided with the game industry, issued an opinion that contains a section that references specific games. Check it out:

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Leland Yee Reacts To Supreme Court Video Game DecisionWhile the video game industry is obviously very happy with this morning's Supreme Court ruling ensuring that games enjoy the same Constitutionally protected Free Speech as books, movies and other forms of entertainment, there is one man who is particularly unhappy: Leland Yee. California Democrat Yee was the author of 2005 law that was deemed unconstitutional.

“Unfortunately, the majority of the Supreme Court once again put the interests of corporate America before the interests of our children,” said Senator Leland Yee in a statement. “As a result of their decision, Wal-Mart and the video game industry will continue to make billions of dollars at the expense of our kids’ mental health and the safety of our community. It is simply wrong that the video game industry can be allowed to put their profit margins over the rights of parents and the well-being of children.”

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Supreme Court Gaming Arguments -- The EMA/ESA Presents Their Case

In a major win for the video game industry and Free Speech, the United States Supreme Court has struck down California's game law. It was a 7-2 decision, ruling that California's law forbidding the sale or rental of violent games to minors do not comport with the First Amendment. In short: The Game industry won.

The 92-page decision boils down to the following passage:

"This country has no tradition of specially restricting children’s access to depictions of violence. And California’s claim that 'interactive' video games present special problems, in that the player participates in the violent action on screen and determines its out-come, is unpersuasive."

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