Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black Friday brings video game violence: Moral Combat

In just a few hours Black Friday starts, overtaking "Adam Lambert video controversy" in online popularity, and Black Friday sales of all kinds will be available for shoppers, including video game buyers. Some will purchase Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto, Company of Heroes, Ninja Gaiden, or God of War, which happen to be some of the most violent video games ever created. Why? Why are these games made. Why do people buy them in record numbers? What does this issue say about our culture and the game makers themselves?

All of those questions and more are explored in Spencer Halpin's new movie Moral Combat.

Moral Combat is Halpin's first film and took him four years to make. It "takes the pulse of what's happening right now" in the industry, as Halpin said to me.
The film's a lovely mix of video game images and interviews with some of the game development industry's brightest talents. Halpin told me (in the video above) that getting married and becoming a father really impacted how he saw the role of video games in our lives. I saw recently it at a special screening at Yoshi's San Francisco, where it attracted a standing-room-only crowd.

As of this writing Moral Combat has not played the festival circuit, nor is it in line for theatrical release.  In my view it's a film everyone in the gaming industry should see at least once.  It's a conversation-starter on a subject that should be on the minds of game developers everywhere: violence in video games.   That was discussed by industry leaders in the film and at the screening event.

We'll get to meet some of them - like Lorne Laning of OddWorld - in the second blog post on the movie. But for this blog post I have a question: what's the most violent video game available for purchase today?

I'm using a write-in polling system for this blog rather than my standard pollsb website device. I don't want to influence the final poll results by giving pre-set game titles.

Let me know what you think and the new system will tally the results.

Take the poll here.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Happy Thanksgiving! Just communicating that is very important to me. In the past I've felt I had to make some profound comment or lengthy statement to mark this annual tradition. But ya know, I'm tired of that, so I'll keep it short.

I'm thankful for my friends everywhere. New Media, and Google and YouTube and CNN and SFGate and the Examiner, and and have opened a whole new World for me.

The YouTube folks are my family, from Chad Hurley to the YouTube Partner Support team they're just some of the most terrific people.

The folks at have been awesome. They really get where New Media can take the Chronicle and make all of the work I've done worth it. I also thank those who have taken time to email with ideas, corrections, and thoughts.

But mostly I'm thankful for my Mom and relatives and a lot of very special people who know who they are.

So if you're reading this today, Thanksgiving Day, take this day to call people who think about you and to just be nice to everyone. Kindness is a blessing.

AFC Wrap Up Week 11

  AFC Wrap Up Week 11
By Rafael Garcia
Sr. Contributing Writer
Southeast Region
Tennessee 20 Houston 17
There are many people in the football world wondering what is going on in Nashville these days. The season started with six straight losses and the call from owner Bud Adams to start Vince Young. Ever since that Sunday against Jacksonville things have not been the same. Receivers are catching balls and the running game is on point. Against Houston, on Monday night, it was another homecoming for Young and he came to play. He did not have the spectacular numbers but accomplished more. He showed a command of the offense never seen before in him. You could see him going through his progressions as he hit the second or the third read. When he couldn’t pass he ran for 73 yards on 11 carries. Some of those were of the third down conversion variety and when he was throwing the football he did it smoothly and very effectively. The questions after his first game back were understandable and after the second game maybe. Now after four consecutive wins the Titans find themselves at 4-6 and only two games out of the wild card with six games to play. Chris Johnson continues to be off the charts as he racked up another 151 yards putting his season total to 1,242 yards rushing on the year. He is ahead of the pace set by Eric Dickerson when he set the NFL record with 2,105 yards. He had two marvelous runs and one in particular may be the highlight of the year. He took the handoff and went right when he was hit once and then a second time much harder. It should have put him on the turf but instead he kept his balance, spun away from the tackle and went for 36 yards. He has shown a strength that does not seem possible for his size. He is so elusive that teams are too tired by the time they figure him out. The defense still needs work as they allowed 305 yards passing to Matt Schaub but were able to sack him four times. Now another coach goes on the hot seat and this time it is Gary Kubiak. When he was hired he was supposed to bring this team to a playoff game but has yet to deliver. Now they are 5-5 and have these Titans in their rear view mirror. Back in Tennessee the thought of Young continuing to mature and the nuclear threat of Johnson has fans salivating at he mouth. If these two can continue to build a rapport and Young keeps maturing the combination could be almost unstoppable. So what was once a lost season in Nashville now becomes a battle cry. A cry to those who did not believe, to those that gave up and those that never tried. Now the locker room is full of confidence and fun. The game means something again and players, coaches and fans see a possible playoff birth with some luck. They must win out and hope that other teams fall too. This past weekend helped them when a slew of AFC teams lost to improve their odds of making the postseason. Now let see what they have left because if they can beat the Colts they have a good chance to finish with 10n straight wins. Now the season is in high gear folks.
Indianapolis 17 Baltimore 15
First off to the Ravens I say just put the ball in the end zone. Well they couldn’t and the Colts find themselves at 10-0 after just getting by in this one. The Ravens had a chance to get a touchdown on a first-and-goal from the one in the fourth quarter. Instead of the lead they had to settle for a field goal. The win was the 19th straight for the Colts, which puts them two away from the Pats NFL-record 21 straight. They won despite three turnovers and the inability to be as effective as usual on offense. The defense allowed the Ravens 354 total yards but got lucky when Baltimore had to settle for threes. They have won these past few weeks by the hair of their chinny chin chin and must get back to the drawing board on offense. Still they have Peyton Manning and he is like a human video game out on the field. Joseph Addai is doing his part, as are players like Pierre Garcon. It is still along road to the finish line but the Colts look to be on cruise control now. They will have to stay healthy and the young receivers must keep maturing. Most of all they will count on their leader Manning to take them to the promise land once again.
Jacksonville 18 Buffalo 15
The Jags have a way of letting a player shine every once in awhile and this time it was Terrell Owens. He got away on one for a 98-yards score and he finished the day with 197 yards on nine catches. Other than that it was just another blown chance for the Bills as they fell to 3-7 in season to forget. The Jags were not much better as David Garrard could not move the ball with any consistency. Maurice Jones-Drew never got on track but the Jags won their third straight game. The Owens catch made it 15-10 and it looked like the Bills might pull this one out. That’s when Garrard remembered he was here to win the game. He got the ball with just over six minutes left and drove his team down the field. He won it connecting with Mike Sims-Walker from three yards and then running in the two-point conversion himself. I still don’t know if all of this will be enough to save Jack Del Rio’s job. He too was brought to Florida to take the Jags to the next level and has failed. This is a as close to a do-or-die season as you can get and it looks like Del Rio may ended up on the unemployment line when it’s all said and done. What was supposed to be a sure second place has turned out to be harder than they thought. Now they have six games left to save their season and possibly their head coach’s job.

NFC South Week 11 Wrap Up

   NFC South Week 11 Wrap Up
By Rafael Garcia
Sr. Contributing Writer
Southeast Region
Miami 24 Carolina 17
The Dolphins came in to this game without injured star running back Ronnie Brown so they had to make adjustments. One of them was to put Ricky Williams in and see if the vet could produce for a whole game. What they got was a flashback of the old Ricky as he ran 22 times for 119 yards with two rushing scores and one receiving. It was the fifth win in seven games for the Fins after a 0-3 start and they find themselves right back in the playoff picture. Chad Henne continues to shine as well going 17-29 for 172 yards and one touchdown with no picks. He has made the most of his opportunity after Chad Pennington went down a few weeks ago.  He was able to get the win despite losing his starting and backup centers. The Panthers continued they’re disappointing season with Jake Delhomme throwing yet another pick and being unable to finish the deal. After starting 0-3 themselves the Panthers were trying to get in the playoff picture but are probably now out of it. Delhomme was a pedestrian 19-42 for 227 yards and a touchdown pass to Steve Smith. DeAngelo Williams had another good game with 122 on just 13 carries with a long run of 50 yards. Smith had seven receptions for 87 yards and a score but the Panthers will find themselves out of the playoffs again and more than likely with a new head coach next year.
New York Giants 34 Atlanta 31
When the Falcons took the field they were aware they were playing a Giants team desperate for a win. They came out flat and were down 17-7 at the half on the strength two touchdown catches from Kevin Boss. The second half would begin with the Falcons going downfield and scoring when Jason Snelling ran it in from one-yard to make it 17-14 for his second touchdown of the game. Snelling was in for the inured Michael Turner and had 25 carries for 76 effective yards. Matt Ryan has had his struggles in his second year but was ready to make a late charge. With his team down 31-17 he went to work as he converted third down after third down on a 12-play drive that ended with his 4-yard scoring pass to Eric Weems to make it 31-24. Then it was down to the last minutes of the game and the Gmen could not stop Ryan again. He converted a few more third downs and with time running out he hit Tony Gonzalez from 11 yards to tie the game with 28 seconds left. Now the Falcons felt confident since they were able to drive on New York late and wanted to end things in the overtime. Things did not work out as New York drove the ball and won it on a Lawrence Tynes 36-yard field goal. Atlanta saw itself at 4-1 after five games and have gone 1-4 since to have their playoff hopes dimmed at best. Turner is hurt, Ryan is struggling, and that combination will not help this team one bit. Next week is a divisional game against the winless Bucs and if they are not careful they will find themselves as the second win in a season gone bad for Tampa Bay.
New Orleans 38 Tampa Bay 7
Fantasy football owners have not been too happy with Drew Brees these past few games, as he has failed to put his projected points. Against a weak Tampa defense he got some of his fantasy moxie back on as he finished with three touchdown passes but had only 187 yards passing. Mike Bell bounced back after several quiet games and had 75 yards on 13 carries to go with two scores. His running mate Pierre Thomas chipped in with 92 on 11 carries. The defense did not have to work too hard as Tampa QB Josh Freeman was picked off three times and sacked just as many times. The rookie continues his growing pains in a season of lows with hope of only getting any win he can get. After their first possession the Bucs could muster no offense. They had 219 total yards and 95 were on that drive alone. The defense gave up nearly 400 yards to the Saints top-ranked offense. Now New Orleans faces their biggest test of the year when they host the New England Patriots next Monday night. They have ridden the wave to 10-0 but have shown flaws along the way. Brees has been explosive at times but has been inconsistent far too often to beat the Pats unless he has the near perfect game. They Saints defense will have to come up big also because even if Brees has a big day they still have to stop Tom Brady. We all know that will not be done without the utmost effort next week. So let’s enjoy the game and see whom the real heavyweight is when this one is over.

Black Friday

Black Friday
By Michael – Louis Ingram
“Attention Wal-Mart shoppers – you are now free to buy cheap 50-inch televisions, IPods and laptop computers without guilt…”
PHILADELPHIA (BASN/FRO): In a courtroom in Kennett, Missouri, the “Show – Me” state showed everyone the antediluvian attitudes which accelerated the influx of assholes there are alive – in hell.
The trial of Heather Ellis, a 24 year old schoolteacher who stood to do 15 years in prison – for allegedly cutting in line at a local Wal–Mart – was concluded when lawyers for Ms. Ellis agreed to a plea bargain of a year’s unsupervised probation; as part of a lesser sentence for disturbing the peace and resisting arrest.    
While it seems a victory of sorts was won for Ms. Ellis, let’s not get this twisted: the people involved – and much credit to Dr. Boyce Watkins, Ms. Ellis legal team and everyone who helped stand up to defend her – only managed to nick a draw before final whistle.
Surely, if Heather Ellis were a white woman, this scenario would be very unlikely to happen; no need for security to step in, no calling the police, no outcry over cutting in line; it would be “thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart” and have a nice day.
In the race for humanity’s soul, the forces running toward 1850 seems to have a slight lead over those running toward 2010. That Heather Ellis almost became the new Dred Scott wasn’t lost on the few who spoke up and rallied to her defense.
I can still hear Dame Shirley Bassey singing in the background, “and it’s all just a little bit of history repeating…” 
Welcome to New Congo Square Mall
Now, before I hear, “what does this have to do with sports?” let’s mosey on over to the New Congo Square Mall – site of the NCAA (Negroes Carrying Athletic Aspirations) Claim Center Store.    
Looks like University of Kansas head football coach Mark Mangino is at the Returns Desk – let’s listen in, shall we?
(Male voice: May I help you, Coach Mangino?)
“Let’s take a look at this,” Mangino said. “We’ve improved graduation rates here for football. We have set semester records for team GPA. We’re graduating kids, we’re putting kids out into the world that are prepared. But I can’t do the work of some parents, what they should have done before they got to me.
“There’s some things for 18 years that happened in their lives that I can’t change in four years of college. Can’t change their behaviors, can’t change their attitudes.”  
(MV: Oh, so you’re saying your Negroes are defective? Well, given the four-year warranty has run out, I’m afraid we can’t offer a refund on them; but then again, you could have bypassed those people if you didn’t have such a hard-on for making a seven figure salary off these same Black men you treat like Niggers because they don’t bow and scrape.
That a scum-sucking parasite like you would stoop to blaming parents is the reason why your Negroes won’t work, muthafucka; and if I were the parent of any of those kids you made the negative asides about, I would bounce your fat ass up and down this mall.
What those parents should have done was avoid KU altogether. How many lies did you tell; how many times behind closed doors did you complain about how “those people” are lazy and stupid?  Well, attention shoppers – Niggers are on sale right now at the University of Kansas! Our Black Friday Special – Shot Homies, alcoholics and ghetto trash - now 50% - offed! Prices are slashed because products were slightly used by a self-serving, smug sonuvabitch who should be stomped into submission by the very people he looks to belittle.
Now stick that up your BCS, you punk-ass muthafucka!)
A tall young Black man (and, yes, he fits the description) named Alshon Jeffrey had the chance to choose between several schools, and had decided on the University of South Carolina. New Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin, in an effort to convince Jeffrey to come to UT, put on his best rap – and it didn’t work.
According to accounts by Jeffrey, who had committed earlier to Southern Cal, later told head man Pete Carrill he changed his mind. Carrill, who many felt showed his true colors in his bitch-fit press conference after quarterback Mark Sanchez left early to go pro, threatened to flex on Jeffrey, but his efforts failed.
 Kiffin, however, was even worse. After Jeffrey made it clear he was going to play for the Gamecocks, Kiffin told Jeffery that if he chose the Gamecocks, he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life; like all the other players from that state who would  dare to choose somewhere other than his school.
With that, we now go back to our Help Desk and our Claim Center Customer Service Department…
(MV: Young Jeffrey’s situation is a clear case of Bait-and-Beeyotch. The would-be coach gets all hot and bothered when he thinks he’s caught something when wooing the talent. Then, depending on the level of pettiness after finding out otherwise, insults the prospect, letting him know in his own special way that he was just another Nigger he wanted to help him win games – and get paid. Hey - cop-and-blow – every pimp would know. Next, please?)
I’m sure Alshon Jeffrey takes comfort in knowing that three other young men who chose to come to Tennessee won’t be pumping gas, either; at least not for the moment. Nu’Keese Richardson, Michael Edwards and Janzen Jackson went from assets to assholes when they attempted to rob someone outside of a convenience store.
Robbing someone is bad enough, and the people involved deserve to be punished; but what would motivate three collegiate football players to rob someone? After playing in front of thousands of fans on Saturday afternoon, they’re broke Saturday evening – and the school, the coach, the networks – everyone except the players – get paid.
As if that weren’t bad enough, Richardson was the subject of a situation that marked Kiffin’s indoctrination into the Southeastern Conference, whereas Kiffin implied Florida head coach Urban Meyer cheated to secure Richardson. The statement resulted in Kiffin being reprimanded by the SEC, but keeping Richardson.
Now, Richardson has been kicked off the team – and will be lucky if he gets to pump gas; so much for taking care of his recruit – gee, thanks, Coach…
Meanwhile, back at the mall, Boise State head coach Chris Petersen slinks into the Claim Center…
(MV:  Afternoon, coach – are you having a problem with your Negroes? I heard that nasty Negro person LeGarrette Blount is coming back to Oregon. Heavens to Nike! Aren’t you concerned?
"We have tremendous respect for Oregon. Those coaches, we know most of those guys very well. And so, whatever they decide we're 100 percent behind. I think that's good for all involved if that's what they chose to do."

It appears Coach Petersen wasn’t as much worried about Blount as he was whitewashing his own team’s involvement in one of the nastiest episodes in collegiate sport. Not since Johnny Bright’s being savaged in broad daylight by scumbags from Oklahoma A&M, has there been such a polarizing event.
It is also interesting how most mainstream sports media labeled this the LeGarrette Blount incident and not the Byron Hout/LeGarrette Blount incident, Hout being the jackass from Boise State who pulled on Blount’s jersey and called him Nigger after winning a decisive 19-8 victory against Oregon earlier this season.
Hout was summarily knocked on his ass, and all hell broke loose.
Now – how do we know Blount was called Nigger? My friend and colleague Zennie Abraham, in his City Lights column for the San Francisco Chronicle, produced the following information:   
Abraham writes: This is the contents of the blog post I wrote outlining my source’s claim that Hout said the N-word to Blount:
Twitter was the source of the latest information torpedo in the (unfortunately) still unfolding story behind the "punch seen round the sports World" by Oregon Running Back LeGarrett Blount to Boise State Defensive End Byron Hout.
Track athlete E.J. Prince used Twitter to blast this:
@realskipbayless Just talked to Jamere Holland (from Oregon WR) said that L. Blount socked dude from Boise State cuz he called him a n_____
Jamere Holland is Oregon's wide receiver.
Prince also tweeted this:
@q17 yeah I just hope the news about LaGarett Blount being censored gets out to people like @jemelehill
@jemelehill is ESPN Columnist and Analyst Jemele Hill.
There's no indication that she responded to Prince's Twitter feed. He also sent a tweet to Skip Bayless; no tweet back to Prince from Bayless. Basically it seems that Prince's story is being ignored by certain mainstream media people. I can't confirm that, but it seems that way.
The main problem has been that none of the main actors in this play are talking. LeGarrette Blount's not moving his lips. Byron Hout's lost his voice. Both schools are silent on the question.
(And on that note, my first blog post speculated on the use of the N-word, not claimed that Hout used it as one blogger inaccurately wrote; this is different.)
E. J. Prince's value in this story rests on his tweet that he talked to (not tweeted) a friend of Oregon receiver Jamere Holland who plays for Oregon and who I will not name here.
Abraham’s contention about mainstream media’s silence is significant. A writer with the Denver Post and a University of Oregon graduate, when told of the incident, said he “couldn’t believe Hout said the N-Word.” After revealing our source in this matter, he would later say, “If Hout did call Blount the N-word, he deserved to get hit.”
The same reporter would later contact my colleague Tony McClean, advising that according to his sources, Hout never called Blount the N-word; as if our source couldn’t possibly be correct …
Abraham, however, was later hit with a deluge of negative comments implying he “played the race card” - but let’s be real here – who played whom?
Let’s review: Boise State won the game, fair and square; but showed they had no fucking class; the scoreboard said everything needed to be said. They could’ve walked off and partied or whatever behind closed doors.
If Hout doesn’t go seeking out Blount, pulling on his jersey and calling him Nigger, we have no incident; and we would have no sociologists coming on prime time news to attempt to ascertain the mindset of the “savage Black beast “that lurketh under the helmet.
And let’s be frank – with Hout being a D-lineman, he figured no little running back was man enough to take him out; it just goes to show everybody’s got somebody’s number.
But Hout or Coach Petersen was never publicly disgraced for their poor sportsmanship and lack of moral character; nor was Coach Petersen punished for losing control of his team. Boise State didn’t punish Hout for instigating the situation, nor did the WAC or NCAA punish Boise State for their role in this travesty.
And let’s not let Oregon off the hook, either. If it weren’t for the glare under which this event manifested itself, they would’ve (in my humble opinion) tried to force Blount off the team and kill his scholarship; I moreover believe Blount’s parent’s were ready to layeth the legal Smackethdown on Oregon’s ass – hence Blount staying put.
If I am the parent of a potential student-athlete, I’m thinking, “Fuck Boise State - and double Duck fuck Oregon - for what they did and didn’t do.”
Abraham goes on to explain his rationale in highlighting this incident:
“I do it also because I've received a number of subsequent messages and emails explaining that many Boise State Football fans were referring to Blount using the N-word in online forums. That lends weight to the assertion that Boise State fans uses of racial slurs in taunting Blount.
Since Boise State never officially explained exactly what Hout said, the speculation plus the assertions of my sources that he did use a racist term have been given more and more value.
That was bad PR on Boise State's part, plus the news that Hout would not be punished as Blout was and that it would be handled "internally" by the Boise State Football team gave rise to more speculation on what Hout said and did.
I also press this because of the desire by some to cover it up. People need to see society as it is before it can become what we want it to be. We've still got a lot of problems to straighten out. Hiding from the truth in any situation does not allow us to make progress in making ourselves better.
LeGarrette Blount took his punishment and reportedly proved himself in the classroom and in the Oregon college community during his suspension. I welcome him back, but with the sad realization that the "tests" he had to pass to rejoin the team are the same ones that should be applied to many of the people who taunted him in the first place, but they never will be.”
So, with words like “contrition” and phrases like the deadly “role model” inserted into the discourse like suppositories up one’s ass, the phrase parents of potential student-athletes should be caveat emptor; beware of those smiling faces who come into your life promising the moon, then taking the star from your child because they refuse to work the plantation the way Massa wants.
Do your research and find out about the school’s graduation rate, curricula offered, and, most important – when that coach looks you in the eye and tells you he will take care of your son or daughter like he or she was his own – you make sure he ante’s up and does just that.
I’ll conclude by saying this: the likelihood that a young Black man is going to be told he will be “sent back to the ‘hood to be shot by his homies,” will be significantly less likely to be uttered by a Black head coach or a coach at a historically Black college or university – an HBCU.
Because, if you can play, they will find you; and if they find you at an HBCU, they will also likely find you – graduated, and with a degree.

Michaele Salahi crashes President Obama's State Dinner

Michaele Salahi is one person who knows how to get into a pre-Thanksgiving Day party. On her Facebook page, she writes:

I was honored to be invited to attend the First State Dinner hosted by President Obama & the First Lady to honor India. In June 2010, the America's Polo Cup will be between INDIA & the UNITED STATES. Please join me in this cultural celebration of politics, diplomacy, fashion, sports, entertainment & family fun.

She even managed to score this cool photo with Vice President Biden:

Trouble is, she wasn't invited.

According to the Guardian UK, Tareq and Michaele Salahi are socialites who managed to, as they described it, "breach security" into the State Dinner.

But to write there was a "breach in security" is really culturally irresponsible. I can speculate with some accuracy how the Salahi's got into the dinner: they knew someone and perhaps Vice President Biden himself.

Look, a little research will show this is a well-connected couple. A November 4, 2008 Washington Post article reveals as much. In an report on a winery sale dispute that involved the Salahi's, the Post reveals...

Tareq Salahi, 39, also a co-owner, and his wife, Michaele, a former Washington Redskins cheerleader who is now a Richmond lobbyist. The son, a member of the Virginia Tourism Authority, is hurrying to team up with investors to buy what he views as his heritage before someone else steps in.

She's a lobbyist and a former Redskins Cheerleader; he's co-owner of a winery. What happened was they knew someone within the chain of people who was assigned to vet who was to come into the event and they got them in.

Once at the State Dinner they were able to see a number of people they knew. In other words, invited or not, they belonged there because their network of informal connections got them in.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. It's also a good lesson for anyone to follow and comes from "How to win friends and influence people". They are in a business where knowing people and maintaining relationships is vital and its obvious they do a great job of keeping ties with a good network of the Washington elite.

Bravo! I say. Excellent.

For anyone who says "They could not have done that if they were black," I disagree. You can't think about what others might do and achieve success. You have to press forward. Make friends and keep contacts and laugh at those who poop on the idea that knowing people isn't important. Without people there would be no parties to crash in the first place.