When SOPA and Protect IP threatened to provide major US corporations with the power to cripple, shut down and block websites without observing due process (even affecting international sites like us), you might have expected the Entertainment Software Association to put its foot down and fight the proposal tooth and nail. After all, the ESA is the premier trade association for US software publishers and developers, and includes many of the biggest companies as its members as well as running E3 and the ESRB. A vigilant and valiant watchdog, you might assume, but they actually supported the bill despite the majority of is members speaking out against the legislation... and have actively spent vast sums of membership fees on lobbying politicians to do the same.Click here to read more...
In case you don't know, the US House Committee will be discussing and possibly approving an incredibly controversial piece of legislation next week. Known as SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act (bolstered by another bill called Protect IP), this draconian measure would grant copyright holders the power to shut down US sites suspected of hosting - even unknowingly - copyrighted content... with an investigation taking place after the servers go down.
What's more, ISPs would be obliged to block Americans from international sites like ours, if there's any suspicion of going off-message. UPDATE: Not any more. If you've ever played Metal Gear Solid 2, it's basically Arsenal Gear IRL. More details here.
Several sites have vowed to protest the move by shutting their servers down next Wednesday. Full story after the break.Click here to read more...
The Entertainment Software Association has released a new study to document the changing demographics of the gaming audience - and discovered that our hobby is more diverse and inclusive than ever before. According to their report, the gender split is nearing complete balance - and that the overwhelming majority of gamers are adults. Our industry is clearly changing for the better, and we have the full facts and figures below.Click here for some cliche-busting stats >>
Us gamers tend to aggressively rail against any attempts to censor or curtail our medium. We smacked down Jack Thompson. We annhilated Roger Ebert. And wouldn't you know it, Arnold Schwarzenegger soon provided us with a field day when he presented a controversial bill that would "ban violent games" in California.
This bill was an important precedent disguised as a small piece of state legislation, so gamers got hot under the collar on a global scale. We shrieked and wailed. Chests were beaten and garments were rent in twain. But unlike our futile teeth-gnashings, the Entertainment Software Association was ready to take action. They're one of the few interest groups who are always willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved - and after a brutal legal campaign, the bill was thrown out by the Supreme Court earlier this week.
Before we go any further, I need to stress that we absolutely agree with the court's ruling. Schwarzenegger's bill was made for all the wrong reasons; citing ridiculous links between videogames and violence as proof for why mature games shouldn't be sold to kids. It was literally built on a tissue of lies, and thus the ESA were absolutely right to burn it. What's more, the US Constitution (which us Brits don't have, annoyingly) would have been irreparably damaged by the move. After all, American film classications (doled out by the MPAA) aren't actually legally enforced - so why should one entertainment medium be treated differently from the others?
What I don't agree with, however, is how the ESA and even us gamers are treating the basic concept of regulating violent videogame sales to young people. Here's the thing: this bill wasn't technically trying to ban anything. It wasn't demanding that copies of Bulletstorm and Black Ops should be thrown onto massive bonfires while bible-bashing fanatics dance and chant in the background. The legislation was a nasty first step in a right wing agenda, but at its core, the only suggestion was that California should put age ratings on gratuitously violent games and regulate their sale to youngsters.
So, dear reader, my question is simple: would that really be so bad? And, more to the point, aren't Californian citizens aware that other countries legally enforce their age ratings?Click here to let Jon explain or hang himself >>
The Entertainment Software Association has preemptively attacked a piece of games research that purports to prove a link between gaming and mental health problems in Singapore. The preliminary study conducted by the noted anti-games critic Douglas Gentile has been slammed as biased, incomplete and questionable- before it's even had chance to be officially published.
There simply is no concrete evidence that computer and videogames cause harm. In fact, a wide body of research has shown the many ways games are being used to improve our lives through education, health and business applications.
Throughout our nation's history, those critical of new entertainment forms have sought to blame those creative works for society's ills and some of have sought to use flawed research to support their theories. - Richard Taylor, ESA
It's about time that someone stood up to officially defend our medium from shortsighted and self-serving agendas. We applaud the ESA's decision to get involved at this early stage, and hope that more organisations will aggressively defend our ever-growing and emergent art form. [GI]
In another piece of good news, several MPs including Cabinet Minister Ed Vaisey and Labour's Luciana Berger praised the recent Parliament Games Day in which UK politicians were exposed to the latest games and software. Founder Ian Livingstone was delighted by the turnout and reception; stating that it helped to "dispel some misconceptions about videogames."
In a surprising move, even the notoriously outspoken hater Keith Vaz turned up to watch- and told Eurogamer that he's only ever opposed the sale of violent games to minors rather than our medium as a whole.
I've never been against games. I've been against violent games that are able to fall into the hands of young people who are perhaps not able to understand the implications of what they're doing. -Keith Vaz MP
With gaming driving an increasingly significant proportion of our economy, it's only a matter of time before it becomes a major player in Whitehall. We can't wait!
Hacker George "Geohot" Hotz has legally responded to Sony's lawsuit ahead of the first hearing tomorrow morning. His attorney has stated that Sony is attempting to make an example of homebrew coders regardless of whether or not the case is legal- and has highlighted several possible holes in their allegations.
Since Hotz has never created a PSN account, his attorney alleges that he isn't bound by their terms of service- and that the "It Only Does Everything" marketing campaign invites people to take advantage of the PS3's versatile capabilities. More scandalously, Sony's attempt to prove that Hotz is profiting financially from his efforts appears to be supported only by a $1 donation from Sony themselves. Delicious.
Sony will doubtlessly counter these latest arguments tomorrow, and we'll bring you the latest by the wire. However, considering that Hotz has demonstrated his mastery of the PS3's hardware and firmware, it's a shame that they haven't just gone ahead and hired him into their development team or a first party studio. [Gamespot UK]
We caught wind of SEGA's planned Dreamcast collection a few weeks ago... and as we predicted, it contains the two lacklustre ports of Crazy Taxi and Sonic Adventure that are already available on XBLA and PSN. SEGA Bass Fishing and Space Channel 5: Part 2 will also make an appearance alongside "updated" graphics, achievements and leaderboards.
The Xbox 360 retail version and PC digital download will release on February 25th- though the PS3 version is curiously MIA at the time of writing. Maybe they haven't flogged enough crappy standalone ports yet?
More to the point: where the hell is Jet Set Radio? Oh, that's right. It's coming out as a standalone version first in order to push yet another lacklustre version on us- along with the two other games in the Dreamcast Collection! [Jon, breathe into this paper bag for a while. You'll feel better. -Ed]
Breaking news. EA has just confirmed that a Bulletstorm demo's set to hit Xbox Live on January 25th, followed closely on PSN the next day.
So... yeah. January 25th. Get ready for some brutal slow motion shenanigans!