Your Semi-Daily Dosage – 07/07/06


I’ve always enjoyed news roundups. It’s a big world, and for busy, intelligent people like you and me, having an RSS reader with over 40 sites constantly trickling in news updates and editorial is just going to kill our productivity. (I mean, really, who has time to read 40 websites a day? Especially gaming websites. Certainly not me, I can tell you that [Hi, boss!].)

Anyway, if you’ve been busy this week, like me, here’s a few headlines you may have missed.

Sony hates black people, but only in Europe.
In the faraway land of Europe, where I’m told people sport faux-hawks and dress like fashion models, Sony’s running a PSP ad depicting a white woman gripping a black woman around the neck and staring at her menacingly, with the words “White is coming” in the upper-left hand corner:

At least, that’s the only image being tossed around most media sites. However, intrepid parties who do a bit of searching will find there are two other ads, one of which giving the black woman an upper hand in what appears to be a battle of supremacy between the avatars of PSPs black and white:

And suddenly, we’ve gone from “racist” to “racially charged” and “kinda hot.”

Really, Sony’s been doing the race thing to death over the past few months. And while the idea of black and white people fighting may awaken generation-old tensions in the U.S., the ads themselves don’t really take on that connotation. If anything, the ads are playing along that thin line that most of us in the States don’t like to approach – which is probably why the ad ran in Europe. (If you really want to see Sony being racist, look no further than “Squirrel, Please.”)

This one’s been spreading like wildfire over countless blogs, which is exactly what Sony wants to have happen; just ask our own Russ Pitts, who was smarter than I by a factor of seven weeks.

A Doom fixation does not a murderer make.
The year: 1999. I’m a freshman in high school. The day: April 20. I’m strolling over to a buddy’s house, and on the way, some kids baked out of their minds mumble something to me about a school shooting. “Yeah, whatever,” I say. “I’m gonna go to my friend’s house and play some Goldeneye.” When I get to his house, my friend’s watching MTV News, which is proudly replaying the image of a bloody kid falling out of a broken window in a high school somewhere in suburban Colorado. Kurt Loder tells me what the potheads didn’t quite get out: Two kids wearing trench coats shot up their school and barricaded themselves in the library. They shot themselves about an hour after I became glued to the TV set.

In the following weeks, a lot of things changed. Having fun in high school quickly became outlawed; scared kids were scared of bullies, who were scared of scared kids. People looked wildly for who was responsible for Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris’s rampage: Most experts decided it was bad psychology or bad parenting. But as hysteria grew, I kept hearing the same meme repeated over and over, across multiple news organizations: “The shooters played a videogame called Doom religiously.”

Oh, Christ.

That’s where a lot of it started. Gaming’s first huge step into the mainstream will forever be tied to a bloodbath. We’re rock ‘n’ roll, only rather than swaying their hips on TV, our first superstars killed children.

And now, they’re speaking from the grave.

Game Politics, my second-favorite blog in the universe, has some choice game-related specifics from Eric Harris’s diary, which Denver police released earlier this week, including a fan letter to id.

Dude liked his Doom. Obviously, this isn’t going to help us during congressional meetings, where the ESRB gets shaken down like a pizzeria owner in the bad part of town. But the thing is, Congress’s heart is in the right place; they’re just damaged people. They’ll see something wrong with Harris, and they’ll take the videogame carrot rather than looking at the issue from a slightly less stilted angle.

Harris’s fixation on Doom was clearly a warning sign for what was to come, not because he fixated so doggedly on Doom but because he fixated so doggedly on something. Attaching oneself to anything, especially the extension of a violent fantasy (that’s right, I said it), should be a red flag to anyone paying attention.

Oh wait, no one was paying attention.

Friendster patents social networking; Dan Brown patents reading.
On the great day of June 27, social site Friendster nailed down a patent on a “system, method, and apparatus for connecting users in an online computer system based on their relationships within social networks.”

The actual text of the patent covers most of what makes social networking sites actually network people together, which could have dire implications for sites like Myspace, Facebook and every other website created since 2004.

With any luck, this will also have dire implications for the U.S. software patenting process. There’s no patent on dreaming, baby.

Adios, muchachos.
That’s it from us at El Escapo. Have a great weekend.

From Durham, NC, I’m Joe Blancato and I can’t come up with something witty to close out.

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