This past week was the last week of GamePolitics. It was a long time coming. It is sad to see it go, but we at GamePolitics are going to be fine.
Take a look at a few thoughts this last week from James, Andrew and myself. Continue reading
This past week was the last week of GamePolitics. It was a long time coming. It is sad to see it go, but we at GamePolitics are going to be fine.
Take a look at a few thoughts this last week from James, Andrew and myself. Continue reading →
For a number of years, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn had published an annual Waste Book, highlighting what he considered wasteful spending by the federal government. In almost every edition of that report, Senator Coburn highlighted at least one government agency or government program that was spending money on something video game related. Whether the money was spent on game related research or on funding game development, he would comment on how he felt it was not something on which the government should be spending money. Last year, Senator Coburn retired from the US Senate. With that, he published his last Waste Book report.
Taking up the mantle of highlighting wasteful federal spending, Freshman US Representative Steve Russell of Oklahoma has published his first Waste Watch report. While not nearly as extensive as Coburn’s reports had been, he does point at one spending program that relates to games.
Russell points to a National Science Foundation program that has spent nearly $700,000 on helping people make better machinima.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) spent nearly $700,000 researching ways to help amateur moviemakers produce “cinematic movies created by manipulating avatars in 3D computer game worlds.”
The researchers believe this form of amateur filmmaking, which they call “machinima,” has a high threshold of entry due to the technical skills required. The goal of their project was to find ways to reduce this threshold by designing digital media production software to help improve video game movies by “suggesting, autonomously creating, and critiquing” film content.
In the report, Russell states that this spending is not needed as the machinima community has done quite well using current tools and methods.
Software of this type may very well have a future. However, the world of online gamers, YouTube shows, and digital art is notoriously free-wheeling. Innovations in this area will come through the organic, ingenious efforts of millions of independent artists, gamers, and programmers—not a $700,000 grant administered by a federal agency. The findings of this study are not likely to contribute to the development of software that will gain popularity among this vibrant, proudly independent online community. Moreover, at a time of restricted budgets, projects of this kind are not a priority.
In an aside to this section, Russell highlights the popular machinima video series Red vs Blue as an example of the machinima community at work without government funding. Another example not listed here would include Valve’s own Source Filmmaker which the company has spent significant time and money developing and has gained increasing popularity with the online gaming community.
It is not clear how often Rep. Russell will publish this report, but we can likely expect an annual report from him. It will be interesting to see what video game related areas of federal spending he will highlight in the future.
E. Zachary Knight is a Game Politics Contributor reporting out of Oklahoma.
Originally published on Game Politics.
Civil Asset Forfeiture is the process by which law enforcement can seize private property of citizens without ever needing to charge those citizens of committing a crime. Laws governing civil forfeiture vary from state to state but most states allow officers to seize any amount of money or property and keep the proceeds for department use.
This procedure is highly controversial and has many proponents as well as critics. Most critics equate civil forfeiture with highway robbery, while the proponents consider it another tool to fight crime and pay for law enforcement.
One critic of these laws is the Institute for Justice, a Libertarian law firm that fights civil forfeiture and other laws. As part of their continued efforts to fight these laws and inform the public of their impact, IJ has released the results of a behavioral study (PDF) they performed that seeks to answer the question of whether these laws benefit or harm the public. Continue reading →
Yesterday, we wrote about a report provided by Movoto that claims to show the most pirated movies, tv shows and games from each state. This report showed some interesting results such as Watch Dogs being the most pirated game in the U.S.
We have now learned that this report may not be as accurate as it claims to be. Torrent Freak took a look at the report and felt something was a little off.
What stands out immediately is that some of the most-downloaded movies in certain states are barely downloaded at all through torrent sites. “La Grande Bellezza” in New Jersey, for example, or “Cuban Fury” in Florida. The same is true for “Witching and Bitching” which, according to the map, is very popular in Indiana and Tennessee.
Are these movies really more often downloaded than blockbuster successes such as Divergent and X-Men as the map below suggests?
They then downloaded the underlying data and found that the map does not actually reflect what was most pirated in each state.
To our surprise, the maps in question don’t represent the most-downloaded titles. Instead, they appear to reveal for which shows the download numbers differ the most when compared to the national average. This is completely unrelated to which movie, TV-show or game was downloaded the most.
They also found that the data itself is flawed in a major way.
Confusingly, however, a map of the most pirated movies per state would list “Blood Widow” on top in pretty much every state.
This suggests that there’s an issue with the data itself too, as this movie is nowhere to be found in the list of most shared files on The Pirate Bay and elsewhere. The most likely explanation is that the researchers ran into a fake torrent file with bogus IP-addresses.
This, thankfully, means that my faith in Oklahoma is somewhat restored. Oklahoma no longer counts a Naruto game as its most downloaded.
Let this also be a lesson to all of us. While such reports make great headlines, we must be a little more on the ball when it comes to verifying the data. Piracy is a big business on both sides, and there is a very big incentive to manipulate data to suit our own agendas. The only way a true dialog will happen is if we use accurate data and then let the results speak for themselves rather than twist and distort them.
Source: Torrent Freak
With all the news media reporting on civil unrest around the world, whether it is the wars in Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan and more, or the street violence in the US and Central America, it might seem so surreal that it could very well be coverage of video games. In fact, the difference between real life and video game is so slight that many in the news media mistake video game footage for real life carnage.
Perhaps this is where Gary Varvel pulls his inspiration for this editorial comic in which a mother complains about her son’s video games only to learn he is watching the news.
Is this a case of art imitating life or the other way around?
Permalink to Comic: GoComics
Originally Published on Game Politics.
We have all had problems with lag. That annoying phenomenon that results in your character continuing to run on your screen but standing perfectly still, and thus a sitting duck, on the screens of your opponents. However, there is one place we don’t normally see lag, games without an online component.
Comcast is hoping that the gamers they are targeting with their latest Xfinity advertising campaign don’t know that. In what appears to be a booth at a mall, they pull in gamers to ask if they experience lag and then have them try a game. The ever so helpful Comcast salesman asks the gamers if they notice any buffering, to which the gamers reply they don’t. Why? Because they are playing Trials Fusion by Ubisoft, a game with no online mode.
Mr. Comcast gets the gamers playing Trials Fusion. The game is indeed a shiny new title, released on PC and for the major gaming consoles (Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4) just a few weeks ago. The motorcycle tricks-and-racing game launched to generally positive reviews that lauded its mechanics and features. But reviewers also mentioned one notable feature that the game does not have: an online multiplayer mode.
No online mode, no net connection. No network connection, no network lag.
“Do you notice any buffering?” Mr. Comcast then asks.
The gamers happily reply that they do not!
So I guess the moral of this story is, if you don’t want your offline games to lag, then get Xfinity. Else, get the best, or most likely only, option for high speed internet in your area.
Throughout the US and around the world, game developers are fighting for tax incentives and breaks similar to those offered to other creative industries such as the movie industry. Many groups such as TIGA in the UK make the claim that such tax breaks are needed in order to compete with other nations for game development talent, competition created in part by the tax breaks and incentives offered in those competing nations.
While these fights for increased tax breaks rage on, one question seems to remain unasked. Are these tax incentives worth the trouble?
In its Video Game Nation coverage, Reason asks that very question.
Under the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, the Lone Star state has set aside $95 million in funds over the next two years toward grants for both filmmakers and developers—making it the largest incentive program in the nation. And so far it seems to be working. Texas is now only second to California when it comes to video game employment.
But are these subsidies creating enough economic growth to justify their cost? [Calvin H. Johnson, professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin], who specializes in tax law, thinks that video game makers are enjoying a tax deal that’s too good to be true.
“If you’re going to double the rate of return for federal subsidies then you really ought to have a good justification that the public is getting a benefit equal to that incredibly intense incentive,” Johnson states. “And I must admit, I’m not convinced that the unemployed son spending 17 hours in the basement of his mother’s house working on his Doom 3 is making a grand contribution.”
While Johnson’s example of one potential recipient of these tax incentives seems a bit… ignorant, his main point does make some sense. Is the public getting a valid and worthwhile return on their investments in these programs? This is a very interesting question to ask, especially at a time when the Federal government and many state governments are operating under deficits in their budgets.
Game Politics Contributor: E. Zachary Knight
Originally posted on Game Politics
It might not come to a big surprise for many of you, but gamers are less likely to be conservative than non-gamers and more likely to use products and services that many politicians want banned.
The two most recent Reason-Rupe polls show that gamers are more likely to consider themselves independent in their political views. The polls show that 55% of frequent gamers consider themselves independent while 30% consider themselves Democratic and 15% Republican.
The polls also show that gamers support a wide variety of activities and products including buying energy drinks (84%), online gambling (71%), legalizing marijuana (62%) and using Bitcoin (55%). Of all the listed activities on the poll, the only notable exception to this is with 3D printed guns. Only 42% of gamers support the printing of guns at home.
Gamers also have a less favorable view of the police actions than non-gamers. 72% of gamers feel that giving the police drones and military equipment goes too far. Additionally, 63% of gamers feel that the police are not properly held accountable for their actions.
Source – Reason.com
Do you give or receive gifts for Easter? I was unaware of the tradition until my wife introduced it to me several years ago. Until then, Easter was about going to Grandma’s house and taking part in an Easter egg hunt. The eggs were a mixture of colored boiled eggs and plastic candy-and-money-filled eggs. But apparently people do give gifts on Easter and Target is hoping parents will shop there.
Not only do they want parents to shop there, but its latest ad has recommendations for gifts parents can buy their children, one of which is the M rated FPS Call of Duty: Ghosts.
Of course it is completely up to the parents to decide what games they buy for their kids, but usually that is left to the parents to decide on their own. For Target to recommend an M rated game seems …odd.
So what do you think? Is this a perfectly valid recommendation or is it a potential sticking point for concerned watchdog groups?
Source: The Consumerist
-Game Politics Correspondent: E. Zachary Knight
It is no secret that theft is a big problem in any part of the world. It is something that we as humans have been battling for our entire existence. The city of Tulsa Oklahoma recognizes how hard this battle is and is looking to give law enforcement more tools to work with in their fight against theft.
City officials are working to curb the fencing of stolen items by expanding regulations on pawn shops to include secondhand stores.
Tulsa Police Department officials told city councilors Thursday that secondhand stores are a loophole for thieves who have learned not to sell items to pawn shops because of a legal requirement to track the items being bought and sold.
The way they see it, thieves have realized that off-loading stolen goods at pawnshops is not a very smart thing to do as pawnshops are legally required to report any and all transactions, which include the name, address and other personally identifying information of the seller as well as descriptions of the pawned goods, to the police. To bypass this, thieves have turned to alternative sources selling off stolen goods.
So the Tulsa City Council is looking to expand pawnshop laws to cover almost all other secondhand stores.
Secondhand shops identified by Tulsa police include video gaming stores, computer and electronics stores, tool stores, sports stores and music stores.
Councilors agreed to start work on a draft for an ordinance that would address the loophole.
Such laws are not uncommon around the US. I worked at an EB Games in Arizona in 2003 and we had to report and hold all video game consoles that were sold to us. Most people were pretty content with such requirements.
Where these laws seem to lose all effectiveness is when the transactions completely bypass a third party and are done face to face. The Tulsa Police recognizes this weakness in some respect.
A proposed ordinance to regulate garage sales is being worked on, and Seibert said flea-market sales are a separate problem.
“That’s its own monster,” she said. “We’re probably going to need something different for that.”
There are still other means that are a lot more popular and far easier to use than flea markets and secondhand stores. I am talking about online websites such as Craigslist and ebay. A savvy thief would likely use those due to their relative anonymity. There is no indication that this proposed ordinance would have any impact on such direct person to person sales utilizing the internet.
-Reporting for Oklahoma, Game Politics Correspondent E. Zachary Knight