Sunday, July 31, 2005

PODCAST: Game On! Vol 1 no 3 July 31, 2005: Video Game Witch Hunt

The content of this podcast discusses Grand Theft Auto's hot coffee modification in detail, and the pixilated nudity and simulated sex in the Sims. This podcast is recommended for mature (17+) audiences.

Length: 23:26

If you can't get the streaming audio, I tried archiving at ourmedia. Download the MP3 direct from

Show Notes:
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

The Sims

Video Game News, July 31, 2005

Summer Camp Teaches Kids How to Create Video Games
by Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times 7/30/05
"For as long as he can remember, Randal Williams has played video games. So it wasn't surprising when he decided one day to design his own game, or that it involved a five-headed dragon that has taken control of Japan."

SAG Voters Approve Video Games Pact

by Cynthia Littleton, Hollywood Reporter 7/29/05
SAG members have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract governing their work in the fast-growing video game sector. The vote, announced late Thursday, goes against the wishes of the guild's divided national executive commitee."

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Video Game News, July 30, 2005

Pols vs. Video Games: It's not just Hilary Clinton trying to brush up family values bona fides
by Perry Bacon, Jr., Time Magazine Fri Jul 29, 2005
"While Hillary Clinton is taking on the video game Grand Theft Auto for its sex scenes, she's far from the only Democratic member of Congress who is appealing to the Mom and Dad Vote."

Don't Call Them Slackers: Playing video games is big business for local workers
by Jamie Malernee, Sun Sentinel 7/29/05
"Inside a nondescript Sunrise office building, about a dozen young men in their 20s and 30s sit in darkened rooms before glowing computer screens, their workstations covered with superhero figurines, poker chips, cards, empty soda cans and artwork of scantily clad women."

Video Games and Brain Training

Video Games and Brain Training
by Orson Scott Card, The Ornery American 7/26/05
"When you play videogames, you're giving your brain an intense workout, and the skills you're developing are useful across the board.. ."

Friday, July 29, 2005

Video Game News - July 29

Blind Teen Amazes With Video Game Skills
by Scott Bauer, AP , 7/27/05
"Brice Mellen is a whiz at video games such as "Mortal Kombat." In that regard, the 17-year-old isn't much different from so many others his age. Except for one thing: He's blind."

Australia Bans Grand Theft Auto
CBS News, 7/29/05
"Australian officials effectively banned the computer game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" and ordered it removed from stores Friday because it contains hidden sex scenes that can be viewed with a special Internet download. "

Terrorism: Violent Video Games Link to Leeds, Home of London Bombers
AndkronosInternational, 7/29/05
"Rome, 29 July (AKI) - As politicians and the public try to fathom how well-integrated Muslim youths in Britain could have been transformed into the suicide bombers who killed 56 people on London's transport system, an Italian newspaper has pointed the finger at violent Islamist videogames which it says are being promoted at British Islamic centres..."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Video Game News - July 27, 2005

Teens and Technology: Youth are Leading the Transition to a Fully Wired and Mobile Nation
Pew Internet & American Life Project, 7/27/05
"81% of wired teens play games online, which is 52% higher than four years ago..."

Christians Converting Video Games
Reuters, 7/26/05
"While Mature-rated games such as "Resident Evil 4," "Doom 3" and "Halo 2" are widely known for raking in millions for the video game industry, a small but growing number of game developers are creating titles for Christian gamers."

Illinois Video Game Law Challenged

No surprsie- it hasn't taken long for Gov. Blagojevich's bill (to prohibit the sale and rental of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors) to be challenged by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

Great quote from Abby Ottenhoff, a spokeswoman for the governor, "And recent research shows that playing these video games frequently impacts kids' development and brain activity. If we know these games are damaging to children, we should treat them like we do alcohol, tobacco, pornography and other materials that are harmful to minors." (A Reefer Madness for video games should be in the making! )

Yes, I'm a librarian from Illinois. So far, we've been fortunate not to have any negative feedback about having game fests at our library, and we're certainly not the only 'game in town'-
Eastview Christian Church is hosting their fourth Halo tournament this fall.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

An Open Letter to Jack Thompson cc: Will Wright

Dear Mr. Thompson,

I'm a 30 year old gamer and librarian. I've been playing the Sims 2 since it came out. I love the electronic dollhouse aspect of all of the Sims games, and loved being able to use my artistic abilities and love of design and architecture to create and modify furniture, wallpapers and carpets, and clothing. The Sims 2 is the most compelling, as it you can play as a character from infancy through to old age, with many opportunities along the way to practice critical thinking, strategy, and decision-making skills. The balanced life is the most difficult for a character to live, and the most richly rewarded. Furthermore, this game meets the Search Institute's developmental needs of teenagers by giving them a safe space to test out beliefs and form identity through game play.

I wanted to address your concerns with the game, as your stance that it is harmful to minors indicates you have never played this game as it was intended to be played. The nudity you are so concerned with is completely pixilated, no matter how close you zoom in. There is NO hack from the manufacturer, EA Games/Maxis, to remove the pixels or replace the pixels with genitalia.

Because the Sims is a simulation game of life, the characters one creates may reproduce. The act of reproduction is portrayed as a couple in a bed having a tickle fight under the covers. No nudity, no sex acts. I would argue that most teens understand that babies don't come from the stork and won't be shocked by the concept that if your Sims want to have a baby, they need to have sex.

As for pedophilia, the game tastefully does not allow adults to have romantic relationships with children and teen characters, or for related family members to engage in romantic relationships.

There are a number of modifications to the game, including nude patches with realistic genitalia, that can be downloaded from fan sites. The few sites that I have seen that offer this make it very clear the site (or that section of the site) is 18+ - for adults only - and may contain material appropriate for adults. EA has no control over the modifications people make; in fact, the support from the fan community to take EA's game and create amazing new objects, characters, homes and clothing is what makes this game so fantastic. I have downloaded items from over 400 fan sites in my 5 years of playing the Sims games, and would estimate that less than 1 percent of the fan sites are adult content.

It should be up to parents to determine what their own child reads, watches, listens to, and plays, and to monitor their purchases and leisure activities, and to engage in conversations about values and beliefs. This does not mean that you have the right to determine what is appropriate for my child or anyone else. Government should not be mandating the punishment of retailers who sell games to minors whose parents don't parent, or who don't parent according to your values.

I appreciate that Rockstar games is being held accountable for the adult content of Grand Theft Auto that the designers deliberately inserted into the game. The ESRB gave a rating appropriate to the information they had when the game was submitted for review, and they were right to alter that rating. The Sims and EA games are not all in the same league as GTA and Rockstar. Please cease and desist this video game witch hunt and focus on something that really matters: child abuse, violence against women, illiteracy, poverty, and hunger.

Thank you for your time.

Beth Gallaway

Video Game News -July 26, 2005

Shifting the news posts to a daily feature. Also changing the format a bit, so if the link is dead in a week, you can try to find it in your favorite database. Feedback welcome!

Video Game Ads Attempt Next Level
by Chrisopher Lawton Wall Street Journal 7/25/05
"Advertising in videogames, dominated in the past by static ads such as billboards and signposts, is beginning to look more like TV commercials..."

Florida Attorney Jack Thompson Attacks EA, Sims
Game Daily
"Anti-game crusader Jack Thompson has shifted his crosshairs to a new target: EA's The Sims 2. Thompson believes it's EA's responsibility to crackdown on the modders..."

Escapist issue #3 now available

Features include "Gamer Nation," a look at the proliferation of gaming in Korea, where the StarCraft matches of professional gamers are broadcast on television and broadband is universal; "Banned of Brothers," which examines the ethics of the gamer equivalent of kicking a man when he's down (hovering over a kill and slaying again as soon as the other player regenerates) and interviews the founder of Don'tCamp, an organization dedicated to fair and fun gameplay - as a team; an in-depth look at Sega's Derby Owner's Club, a horse racing arcade game; and "The Left Behind," about a man's quest for agame to love.

Video Game News - Week of July 25

Ill. to Restrict Mature Video Games Sales
(AP) "
Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Monday signed a new law meant to keep adult video games away from minors, although similar measures in other states have been rejected by the courts..."

Techies: Video Games Need a Woman's Touch
"Tammy Yap, a game programmer for six years, once asked [that] of a colleague — after all, the skimpy clothing and exaggerated body parts might offend some women, she told him. His response: “What difference does it make? Women don’t play video games.”

Video Game Lures Youths to the Library
"The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County is thinking out of the box -- XBox, that is -- to get more young adults into its facilities."

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Video Game Librarian looks at video game books

If you're not a fan of shameless self-promotion avert your eyes now. For those familiar with it, I have published the third article in my Video Game Librarian series at Gaming Target. For those that aren't familiar, here is the original article, titled The Video Game Librarian, detailing my experiences adding console games to my library.

This third part deals with the many books written on the subject of video games. It is also my first attempt in making the column monthly. So in August I'll be back with another one. Anyway, here it is:

The Video Game Librarian: Book 'Em

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

GTA San Andreas slapped with an AO by ESRB

Take Two and the ESRB announced several hours ago that they have completed the investigation into the "Hot Coffee" sex mini-game mod. The mod was first releasted for the PC version of San Andreas and it was later revealed that the mini-game could be unlocked on the PS2 version using a cheat device.

With this information the ESRB has decreed that the version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that is in stores now must be rerated as an Adults Only title for all platforms. It will be the first Adults Only title ever available on a console. Stores have the option of pulling it from their shelves or affixing an "AO" rating sticker on the box.

Rockstar has been ordered to create a downloadable patch for the PC version of San Andreas that disables the Hot Coffee mod.

Rockstar has also said they will create a new version of the game that will not include the mini-game code so that the Hot Coffee mod will not work. This version will retain the original M rating and be released sometime near the end of the year.

As a result of the new rating, Take Two has lowered their stock forecast for the third quarter to account for the expected decrease in GTA San Andreas sales. Take Two also announced that they may seek legal action against those who created the tools that changed the content of San Andreas.

I'm sure we haven't seen the last of the Hot Coffee brew-ha-ha. More coverage of this story can be found at GameTab.

Monday, July 18, 2005

PODCAST: Game On! Vol 1 no 2, July 18, 2005: Gaming and Developmental Needs

Scroll down to player at the end of the post to listen.

Length: 38:29

Apologies if it sounds a little disjointed, I switched over to Castblaster, but had to record in 10 minute segments, which I pasted together in Audacity.

Show notes follow; resources are in the order they were mentioned.

Search Institute
Independent nonporift research organization that created the developmental needs framework.

40 Developmental Assets of Adolescents
Framework of characteristics and experiences young people need to develop into healthy caring adults.

YALSA's New Directions in Library Service to Young Adults. (Chicago: ALA, 2003)
Makes a strong case for programs, materials and services driven by youth participation

Young Adult Library Services Association
ALA divsion for librarians serving teens ages 12-18.

Katamari Damacy
2 player game with unique premise and very simple game play.

MarioKart Double Dash
4 player game with racing and battle modes

Constance A. Steinkueler
Ph.D. Candidate, Literacy Studies. University of Wisconsin.


Wired For Youth
Austin Public Library’s teen computer room, webpage and program.

Created by teens at Austin Public Library

Zombie High
Created by teens at Austin Public Library


The Sims
Simulation game, like having an electronic dollhouse


Karaoke Revolution Party
Singing game

Dance Dance Revolution
Dancing game, like electronic twister

Virtue Games
Christian gaming company

What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee (New York: MacMillian Palgrave, 2003)
Defines 36 learning principles present in video games.

Sim School
Simulated classroom game for teachers.

Fun Brain
Educational games

Recreational games

Fee site - teachers can create quizzes and games for test prep and student learning

Education Arcade
James Paul Gee's site for educational games

North Hunterdon High School
NJ Library that hosts a student-run game night

Got Game? How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever by John Beck and Mitchell Wade(Cambridge MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2004)
Focuses on the gamer generation and their unique characteristics from a business perspective.

Black & White
Be good. Be evil. Be a God.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
RPG game

Deus X
FPS/action adventure

Video Game News - Week of July 18

Video Games - USeful in Health Care?
"According to Mark Griffiths, a professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University, one area in which video games may prove useful is that of pain management."

Racist Video Games Recruit Teens for Hate Groups

'The whole intent of making this video game was to make a racially provocative video game and if it does help promote the separation of the races, then it's been positive and that's what we want,' said Shawn Walker, chairman of National Alliance."

Video Games Get Religion
"...Virtue ---- not virtual ---- Games, a fledgling, San Anselmo-based video game maker is focusing on Christian stories or allegories with religious messages."

Clinton Wades into GTA Sex Storm
"Senator Hillary Clinton has stepped into the controversy over sex scenes in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."

Video Games to Train Executives
"A Scottish company is set to cash in on a growing trend in corporate America that has executives turning to computer games to capture the attention of their tech-savvy workforce."

Friday, July 15, 2005

Thinking Inside the Box: Games, Teens and Libraries

Thinking Inside the Box: Games, Teens and Libraries
Friday, July 15, 2005 beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time
(1:30 p.m. Central, 12:30 p.m. Mountain, 11:30 a.m. Pacific, and 6:30 p.m. GMT)

Are video games and their related programs the next hot trend? The Bloomington (IL) Public Library has a good track record in this area and is keen to share their experiences. Join Matt Gullett, Kelly Czarnecki, Lori Bell, Chad Brekke, Chuck Thacker, and Diane Colletti
as they explore the issues and potential partnerships.

This can be listened to online and will be archived at:

PODCAST: Game On! vol 1 no 1, July 1, 2005: Why YALSA needs to get a gaming committee together

This is basically the transcript of my request to YALSA that they establish a video game committee. Click on the link to download - I'll try to add it to FeedBurner as soon as I do the next one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Video Game News - Week of July 11

Video Games Are Not Necessarily Turning Kids Brains to Mush
"The sense that video games are bad is about to become as dated as the four basic food groups, the philosophy of spare the rod and spoil the child, and asbestos as a safety feature."

AP9 Connections Finds Ways to Save on Popular Video Games
"Members of AP9 Connections, a leading membership discount program offered by Adaptive Marketing LLC, can use their program benefits to save on a wide range of family entertainment, including the latest video games."

Rockstar, Media Group on San Andreas Scandal

"The "brew"-haha over the so-called "hot coffee" modification to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas continues, with a media watchdog group now issuing a warning to parents about the game -- and developer Rockstar finally commenting on the allegedly unlockable pornographic content..."

Video Games Slouch Towards Art: Commentary on Games Intensifies

The Escapist vol 1, Issue I
The Escapist covers gaming and gamer culture with a progressive editorial style, with articles and columns by the top writers in and outside of the industry. A weekly publication, its magazine-style updates offer content for a mature audience of gamers, entertainment enthusiasts, industry insiders, and other "NetSet" readers. Current articles include:
"The Mainstream is Coming! The Mainstream is Coming!"
"Gamer Like Me"
"Cultural Wargames"
and more...

Connect For Kids Chat Transcript

Topics covered include current research on gaming, new medias, EyeToy and the future of games, game ratings, and lots of questions about "too much gaming" and balancing games and real life activities.

I think the best point was Kurt Squire, saying "For those parents who have a lot of concerns about games, I strongly recommend trying to play them with kids."

Other thoughts?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Health Researchers Take Interest in Dance Games

Reporter Allison Aubrey refers to Dance Dance Revolution as "hopscotch on speed" during the Health segment of NPR's Morning Edition on July 5

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Gaming in Libraries - Photos

Jenny Levine at the Shifed Librarian set up a Flikr group for Gaming in Libraries. Check it out and add your own!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Second Life Celebrates 2nd Anniversary with Free Trial Memberships

Download this popular simulation game and get a free trial for basic membership between July 7-13, 2005!

Go to to register - you will need to enter a credit card to register, but it won't be billed during the free trial unless you select a membership option OTHER than "Basic." Cancel by 7/13/05 or your credit card will be charged.

Online Chat with Drs. Ben Sawyer and Kurt Squires

Connect for Kids hosts an online chat with Drs. Ben Sawyer and Kurt Squires on Wednesday, July 13th, 2005 @ 1:00 PM ET. The title of the program is Dr. PacMan? Smart and Healthy Games for Kids.

"For this online chat, CFK will pull two expert video gamers away from their joysticks long enough to take your questions and comments regarding kids’ gaming habits and how new advances might actually be healthy for them."

Submit questions online now at

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Video Game News - Week of July 4, 2005

Do Video Games Train for Violence?
"Mathiak and his colleagues have completed an interesting pilot study into the effects of video games on brain function, but their suggestion that video games train the brain for violence is premature and reaches beyond the data..."

AMD's $1000 Video Game Chip Hits Shelves
"The FX-57 chip, the successor to the FX-55, comes with a faster processing speed and quicker links to memory..."

Video Games Boost Student Performance
"Teachers in a Redmond, Ore., school have found by using video games in their classrooms, not only do students enjoy exercise more, they also produce better schoolwork and developed stronger interpersonal skills..."


Welcome to Game On: Games in Libraries! Game On strives to keep librarians up to date on gaming with convenient one-stop shopping for all your gaming news and information. Contributors welcome!

This is a supplement to the Google LibGaming listserv, a forum for discussion of gaming in libraries, including:
  • Circulating video games for PC & consoles
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