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DescriptionYou may remember Left Behind: Eternal Forces as the Christian videogame where you are charged with saving souls after The Rapture. The game got a fair amount of press for its controversial content, but now reporters are pointing out this game for another reason - its ingenious advertising strategy. Left Behind will feature music by composer Chance Thomas (who has also done scores for the Lord of the Rings and King Kong videogames), but the true innovation comes in the fact that, at the end of each level the game will feature links to the iTunes Music Store so that you can download any tracks you like.

Currently, it’s not clear whether the game will feature only snipets of longer tracks that can be downloaded from iTunes, or whether the full music will be included in-game. If it turns out to be the latter, one might wonder whether “frugal” users will work out a way to simply extract the tunes from the game libraries. Still, it’s a clever use of in-game advertising and I personally think it sounds much less obtrusive then some of the tactics companies like EA have tried (such as in-game Axe billboards in Need for Speed or Honda Elements that you snowboard through in SSX). Especially with licensed music in games becoming such a phenomena, it’s a wonder a major company like EA hasn’t thought of incorporating links to digital music distribution before!

Read More | Information Week


German FLagThe German version of the ESRB has banned Dead Rising from being released in Germany.  The game was deemed too gory based on the multitude of methods for killing and dismembering zombies.  It is hard to believe that anyone who really wants to play Dead Rising won’t find a way to get the game into their 360.  Any readers in Germany already looking at importing this title?  It drops in September.

Read More | Xbox360.QJ.net

Deltona Case Mugshots

Three men are charged with the brutal clubbing and stabbing of six people in Deltona, FL. in an attack supposedly perpetrated in order to recover an Xbox video game console belonging to the group’s alleged ringleader, Troy Victorino. A fourth man, Robert Cannon, has already plead guilty to the charges, and will receive a life sentence in exchange for his testimony against the remaining defendants (Victorino, Michael Salas, and Jerone Hunter) in the case. Central Florida media coverage surrounding the crime itself and the subsequent arrests of the four suspects has been so intense that the location of the trial was moved to St. Augustine. Today, the process began to select a jury for the trial. Thirteen prospective jurors have qualified to return on Monday for the continuing selection process.

Read More | The Herald Today

Reservoir DogsWith roughly a month before its release, Eidos Interactive’s upcoming adaption of the 1992 film Reservoir Dogs has been effectively banned from The Land Down Under.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification has refused to give the game a rating, claiming the graphic violence in the game places it outside the realm of “MA15+,” the government’s most mature classification.
Since Oz stores aren’t permitted to sell unrated games, and Atari has announced it has no intention to release an edited version, it looks like Reservoir Dogs will be sitting with the likes of Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto III, and Leisure Suit Larry at the “banned Down Under” party.

In a release from the Ratings Board, the game’s depictions of gangland interrogation are cited as a principal reason for the ban, namely the “‘series of so-called signature torture moves…such as repeated pistol whipping the side of the head with blood spray evident, burning the eyes of a hostage with a cigar until they scream and die,’ and ‘cutting the fingers off a hostage with blood bursts as the victim screams in pain.’”

Curiously, the board voiced no objections to the humiliating dye-job slapped onto the Harvey Keitel model.

Read More | Games Industry

PSM Cover “Mercenaries 2: World in Flames,” a new game by Pandemic Studios due to be released next year, is already igniting controversy. With tensions high at present between the United States and Venezuela, news of the game’s plot, which revolves around a group of mercenaries invading Venezuela to guarantee oil supplies for the US, received a less than favorable welcome in Caracas. Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel called the Bush administration “a government of gangsters, drug traffickers, and criminals” upon hearing about the game. However, the game’s developer insists that “Mercenaries 2: World in Flames” is merely a game and not a commentary on the state of world affairs, even though startling similarities exist between its plot and current events.

Read More | My Broadband

Hot CoffeeIt has been a bad couple of weeks for Take-Two Interactive Software, but probably good for their lawyers. Take-Two recently announced via news release that the District Attorney of the County of New York had served the company with grand jury subpoenas. The documents, according to the release, cover knowledge of the “hot coffee” content in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, as well as details of financial records relating to:

…termination of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and retention of Ernst & Young LLP; acquisitions by the Company in 2005; certain compensation and human resources documents with respect to the Company and certain of its current and former officers and directors; and documents concerning the activities of the Company’s Board of Directors and Committees thereof.

Take-Two also declares that neither individuals, nor the company are the target of the investigation. Given the controversy over the “hot coffee” mod, and the past problems Take-Two has had with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it seems that the District Attorney believes that there is something worth pursuing.

On top of this, more legal action has been brought against the company, this time due to content in Rockstar’s game, The Warriors. According to the New York Daily News, Roger Hill, the actor who played the gang leader Cyrus in the movie, has filed suit against both Rockstar and Take-Two. The suit seeks $250,000 in damages and an injunction against using his likeness in the game. Take-Two issued a statement to the Daily News that the company has a valid license for any actor’s likeness.

Read More | New York Daily News

Read More | Take Two Interactive

On the Daily Show Wednesday, Jon Stewart handed it to the members of congress who are self confessed gamers yet concerned by the violence in video games. Personally, this clip is above and beyond Jon Stewart’s previous thrashing of Crossfire hosts.  The clip includes some great quotes from congress members, such as Rep. Terry Lee, who facilitates his children’s playing of violent video games yet doesn’t seem to figure out how he can stop it.  Even better are the Pong sound effects provided by Rep. Fred Upton, “bup, bup bip bup.”  To top it off, check out Rep. Joseph Pitts from Pennsylvania,

It’s safe to say that a wealthy kid from the suburbs can play Grand Theft Auto or similar games without turning to a life of crime. But a poor kid who lives in a neighborhood where people really do steal cars or deal drugs or shoot cops might not be so fortunate.

It truly bothers me that this is taking so much time in the government and that parents don’t take a stake in their childrens lives and learn about the games they are buying them.  Back when I worked in retail, more often than not, parents would be upset that we refused to sell an M rated game to their child- end personal rant.  Readers, what are your opinions on the government’s newfound interest in regulating videogames?


Read More | YouTube

ESAAs more states enact legislation to restrict the sale of M-rated video games, the ESRB has unveiled it’s “Commitment to Parents” program as a means of self-policement.  After meeting today in Washington D.C., a committee of industry leaders, senators, and retail representatives established the nine-point Commitment.  Some of the more intriguing measures include “two ‘mystery shopper’ audits each year to measure…policy enforcement,” and “the sharing of best practices with other members,” highlighting the benefits of an internal policy over state-sponsored legislation.

No official implementation timeline was given, but it shouldn’t be long, given that retailers themselves helped craft the policy.  It will be interesting to see if this has any bearing on the upcoming showdown between the ESA and Louisiana…

Read More | Next Generation