Video Games on Trial

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Midnight Launch Event -- Tanks, Ghillie Suits, And Energy Drinks

Activision and Bobby Kotick may be headed to trial over Call Of Duty, as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that there were enough facts supporting the alleged defrauding of ex-Infinity Ward, now Respawn Entertainment developers, Jason West and Vincent Zampella, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

For those in the dark on the lawsuit, you can catch up with our Fall of Duty stories, but here's the short version:

So now with a fair amount of alleged dirt on everyone supported by the Superior Court, it's only going to make further revelations from these various lawsuits all the more interesting. That is, if this ever goes to trial. I can't imagine EA or Activision wanting a lot of the more gory details to ever go public, but considering what's at stake, a settlement's not going to come easy.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter or if you have something you'd like to share, get in touch via E-mail.

OpEd: The Sony PSN Security Breach - Why I'm Angry

This OpEd was prompted by the Sony PSN outage and security breach. As a longtime Sony fan, the fact that our private information was accessed illegally, despite threats and public knowledge about unencrypted credit card data, has pushed me over the edge. That, and the fact that Jake Gaskill and I cannot continue our awesome Portal 2 co-opping.

By now you've heard about Sony's PlayStation Network security breach, and at this point it's gone well beyond hackers bringing the system down and turned into a large theft of personal information. Physical addresses, passwords, security answers, email addresses, purchase histories and credit card information has potentially been stolen for over 70 million users worldwide. Needless to say, that's a gargantuan amount of private data worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the right buyers, and a ripe target for identity theft and unauthorized credit card charges. It's a headache for users and banks alike, not to mention Sony itself.

But Sony was warned about this, and we knew months ago that it was possible.

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By Dennis Scimeca

PAX East 2011: Legal Issues In Gaming

This session at PAX East consisted mostly of Q&A from the audience, but IGDA Director Tom Buscaglia wanted to open up with a discussion of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, the court case that centers around fines for sales of violent video games to minors. Seth Krauss, Executive VP and General Counsel for Take-Two interactive, said, “The Supreme Court case is indicative of the challenges we face in this industry.”

Political figures, said Krauss, use the video game industry as an easy target due to misrepresentation of the industry and who it represents. Take-Two is based in 22 countries and according to Krauss, “We face these sorts of issues of 'opportunistic individuals' everywhere.” And there's more. Keep reading to see what legal issues in gaming still loom large.

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California Senator And Two Psychiatric Groups Petition The Supreme Court Over Violent Video Game Law

Respected Conservative columnist Phyllis Schlafly has some action items that she like to see the new crop of Republican senators focus on in 2011. While many of the New Year's resolutions in her recent column focus on actual policy ("Voting shall be on Election Day with photo ID required," "Out-of-pocket medical expenses shall be tax deductible," "We must build an army of atomic super-robots to enslave mankind") there is one item that sticks out:

"There shall be no sale, rental or arcade-playing of extremely violent video games by children without parental consent. Explanation: Video games are increasingly graphic and harmful."

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Australia Approves Censored Version Of Left 4 Dead 2

According to a poll by The Rasmussen group, 65 percent of Americans believe the "states be allowed to prohibit the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.”  69 percent of respondents are either "somewhat concerned" or "very concerned" about the level of violence in video games. Strangely, 71 percent of those polled think the responsibility for policing games lies primarily with parents, with only 5 percent choosing the government.

I have carefully considered these numbers, and determined scientifically, that direct democracy is a very, very bad idea for the following reason: Sixty-five percent of Americans seemingly can't understand the idea of competing values. IE: You might think that kids playing violent video games is a bad idea, and you might never play violent video games, but there's another value competing against that: That the government shouldn't censor speech. This is why the Constitution's Bill of Rights is so necessary. If given the chance, I have no doubt that the majority of people would outlaw everything the minority enjoys. Think about this: Almost everyone polled thinks it's the parents' responsibility to police kids' game playing, but most of them still want the government to ban violent games! Amazing!

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Violent Video Games Supreme Court Case Audio Recording Levels Up Your Intelligence

By now, you’ve probably read our transcript highlights posts from last week in which broke out some of the more lively exchanges from the oral arguments in the case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association/Entertainment Software Association, the big Supreme Court case involving the violent video games law in California that would make it illegal for retails to sell M-rated games to minors. But for as entertaining as those exchanges are in print, there’s really nothing quite like hearing them for yourself. Well, thanks to the power of the internet, now you can.

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Last night's Daily Show featured a hysterical report on the video games in the violent games Supreme Court case that began earlier this week. Check out proto-geek John Hodgman putting NPR's This American Life host Ira Glass in Grand Theft Auto...

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
You're Welcome - Violent Video Games

Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

Click the cut to see "This America Grand Theft Auto..."

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First of all, thanks for waiting patiently. We know you like Feedback as early as we can get it to you, but this was one of those rare instances where our hands were tied by outside forces. Namely, the all-seeing, all-knowing, Hal-esque eye of Kinect. But now that it's midnight on the East Coast, LET FEEDBACK RING!

Also, we did some nifty stuff with this episode, like finally figuring out how the ginormous control board can route an outside call right into our ears (and yours), so we were able to have Adam call in from the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. after the violent video game hearings. Pretty cool stuff. We promise to only use this technology for (mostly) good.

Feedback -- Kinect Edition »


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There is no California video games ban in effect yet, but video game law could change based on the current case before the Supreme Court. We've brought you the oral arguments, the Supreme Court transcripts and our opinions in Adam's post from D.C. and his Soapbox, but there's always more, folks.

Our own sharply-dressed Sess took to the steps to chat with California state Senator Leland Yee, who believes that more oversight is needed when it comes to policing video games. Senator Yee also feels that the framework is set for even more fundamental change that he sees as required to protect children from violent video games, but we'll let him spill the beans himself in this interview:

Senator Leland Yee On Proposed Violent Video Game Law »

For more on this issue, be sure to check out Video Games on Trial at g4tv.com/gamesontrial!

Unless you've been living under a rock, or time-traveled into the pristine future where we all wear polyester jumpsuits, then you know that this week the Supreme Court has been hearing the case against violent video games. Or namely, the case of Schwarzenegger vs. The Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association. Our very own man in Washington, Mr. Adam Sessler himself, sat through the hearings and joined Kevin Pereira to talk about it on Attack of the Show. Have a look.


Supreme Court vs. The Video Game Industry »

Anyone else find it ironic that the star of a kajillion violent movie is crusading against violent video games? Want to read all about it? We've been combing through the transcripts for you. Expect a lot more on this during the coming months, but for now, things are looking pretty good for the video game industry. Someone need to get Justice Scalia in a game, pronto.

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

We just finished bringing you part 1 of the more noteworthy exchanges about video game law between California Attorney General Zackery Morazzini and the nine Justices of the Supreme Court from today’s oral arguments in the case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association/Entertainment Software Association. And now we’re going to highlight the breakout moments from Paul Smith’s, counsel for the EMA/ESA, presentation to the highest court in the land.

On the topic of games potentially being harmful for kids given the interactive nature of the medium, Chief Justice Roberts sought some clarity from Smith.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: What about the distinction between books and movies may be that in these video games the child is not sitting there passively watching something; the child is doing the killing. The child is doing the maiming. And I suppose that might be understood to have a different impact on the child's moral development.

MR. SMITH: Well, Your Honor, it might. The State of California has not marshaled a shred of evidence to suggest it's true.

Smith elaborated on this point, using some of the study data California submitted to show the effects of violent gaming on kids, and while he definitely makes a good point, Justice Scalia was quick to point out the arguments logical limitations.

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California Files Reply Brief In Violent Video Game Supreme Court Case

The video games law case is a tricky beast, and although there's no way to really tell how the Supreme Court will rule on the case of Schwarzenegger vs. The Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association, the just-published transcripts of today's opening oral arguments could give some indication of how the justices are leaning. Reading the transcripts is fascinating, and surprisingly lighthearted and informal.

For instances, check out this exchange between Justice Scalia and Zackery Morazzini. Morazzini is presenting the case for the state of California.

MR. MORAZZINI: California asks this Court to adopt a rule of law that permits States to restrict minors' ability to purchase deviant, violent video games that the legislature has determined can be harmful to the development

JUSTICESCALIA: What's a deviant -- a deviant, violent video game? As opposed to what? A normal violent video game?

MR. MORAZZINI: Yes, Your Honor. Deviant would be departing from established norms.

JUSTICE SCALIA: There are established norms of violence?

MR. MORAZZINI: Well, I think if we look back -

JUSTICE SCALIA: Some of the Grimm's fairy tales are quite grim, to tell you the truth.

MR. MORAZZINI: Agreed, Your Honor. But the level of violence -

JUSTICE SCALIA: Are they okay? Are you going to ban them, too?

While that exchange indicates to me that Scalia, at least, is considering whether or not games are different from other forms of art, the following back and forth between Morazzini, Justice Kagan and Justice Sotomayor covers another interesting aspect of the argument, specifically, the issue of whether games are "harmful" to minors, which is the lynchpin of California's case.

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As most of you already know, Adam is in Washington D.C. for the Supreme Court hearing regarding California's Violent Video Games law. After spending some time within the hallowed halls, Adam stepped outside to take a stand on his Soapbox and let you all know what's going on inside. Find out who said what, which Justices seemed to understand the context and gravity of this decision, and when we'll find out if this law is in fact unconstitutional.

Sessler's Soapbox: Sessler at the Supreme Court »

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Adam Sessler - Supreme Court

It’s cold in Washington D.C. Okay it’s cold by L.A. standards, which, to me, is very, very cold. I broke down and bought gloves and a cap that somehow transformed me from cable personality into someone in-between performances of a dinner theater production of Newsies.

But cold does not impede the judicial system and neither does scheduling oral arguments at the Supreme Court the same day as a major election dwarfs coverage of a case that not only has impact for the videogame industry but our understanding of the protections afforded by the first amendment.

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California Files Reply Brief In Violent Video Game Supreme Court Case

This morning in Washington D.C., the U.S. Supreme Court heard opening oral arguments in the case of Schwarzenegger vs. The Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association, a case that could decide the legal status of video games.

The issue at hand is whether a California law that punishes retailers for selling violent games to children is constitutional. The Supreme Court's ruling could ultimately determine whether video games are considered "speech," and afforded the same protection under the First Amendment that movies, books, music and other art forms.

California Attorney General Zackery Morazzini opened the Supreme Court proceedings, and was quickly interrupted by Justice Anthony Scalia who questioned how the State distinguishes violence in video games from the violence found in other mediums.

“Some of the Grimm’s fairy tales are quite grim," Scalia said. "Are they okay? Are you going to ban them, too?” To which Morazzini responded, "Not at all.”

Read More »

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