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Posts tagged ‘Gaming’


Why celebrities like Lindsey Lohan are suing video game studios

In July 2014, Lindsay Lohan sued Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games, claiming that Grand Theft Auto V featured a character who is allegedly based on the Mean Girls actress. According to the suit, filed in the New York Supreme Court, the cover of the game depicts a bikini-clad woman who bears a striking resemblance to LiLo. And the game itself apparently consists of more similarities, including the fact that the character runs from paparazzi, takes cover in the Chateau Marmont and incorporates Lohan’s “image, likeness, clothing, outfits, [Lohan’s] clothing line products, ensemble in the form of hats, hair style, sunglasses [and] jean shorts.”

Also in July, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega filed suit in California Superior Court against Activision Blizzard Inc., the makers of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, for using his likeness without permission. According to the complaint, Activision depicted Noriega as “a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state,” (the audacity!) and the makers implied that he was “the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes, creating the false impression that defendants are authorized to use [his] image and likeness.”

Lohan’s and Noriega’s suits were filed in two different states, and because of this, the applicable laws vary a bit. Lohan’s battle is ongoing while Noriega’s has been dismissed. One involves a celebrity, and the other a political figure. On the face of it, these two suits don’t have all that much in common. The thread that connects them both — and most lawsuits involving the use of a person’s likeness in a video game — is the right of publicity.


In general, the right of publicity grants individuals the authority to control the commercial use of his or her own name and/or likeness. This right means that you can’t create an ad for new basketball shoes with Michael Jordan in it unless he’s given his consent. Simple enough!

Noriega’s Call of Duty likeness

Naturally, there are a couple of considerations that make it a little more complicated. First of all, as previously mentioned, right of publicity laws vary from state to state. A number of states have passed specific statutes regulating the right of publicity; others just have common law rights (meaning precedent established by case law); some have both; and a handful have neither.

In New York, where Lohan’s suit was filed, the right of publicity law is codified as part of its Right of Privacy statute and is primarily covered in two sections (Section 50 and Section 51). As is pretty typical, Lohan sued with reference to both sections. Section 50 is much shorter than Section 51, basically just defining a right of publicity violation as a misdemeanor. Section 51, on the other hand, provides protection for a person’s name, portrait, picture and voice. To constitute a violation of Section 51, a use of a person’s identity must be: within New York state, for advertising or trade purposes and without written consent.

Compare that to California, where Noriega brought suit. California not only offers a statutory right, but also offers a common law right. California’s statutory right is fairly similar to New York’s, protecting against the unauthorized use of a person’s name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness for purposes of advertising, selling or soliciting. The common law right, however, is much broader and requires a person bringing suit to show that the use of his or her identity was for another’s advantage (commercially or otherwise), it was without consent and there’s a resulting “injury.” So, unlike the statutory right, the common law right is not limited to a commercial use of a person’s identity. Oftentimes, a lawsuit in California claims a violation of both the common law and the statute.

And second, as with most things involving the law, there is a heavily relied-on defense to a right of publicity claim. Gaming companies that are sued related to a right of publicity often claim First Amendment protection in the use in question.

When a court is faced with a First Amendment defense to a right of publicity claim, the “transformative use test” is applied to determine whether or not a company’s First Amendment rights trump a right of publicity. Whoa, legal jargon! Not to worry: All this really means is that a court is looking to see if there are substantial “transformative” elements added to the use of a person’s likeness instead of just the mere depiction of a person. In essence, when “a product containing a celebrity’s likeness is so transformed that it has become primarily the defendant’s own expression rather than the celebrity’s likeness,” the First Amendment is a legitimate defense to a right of publicity claim.


On one hand, a person should obviously have the right to control the use of his or her own likeness. In the same way that a brand can protect its name with a trademark, a celebrity or public figure should be able to limit where his or her likeness is used. Their “brand” is their identity.

And when there’s no change — or not enough to be deemed “transformative” — to a celebrity’s likeness, courts tend to agree. In one case, the Court of Appeals of California for the Second District found that Band Hero‘s use of avatars that looked like No Doubt band members was not transformative. The court reasoned that the graphics and other elements in the background were not enough to transform the avatars into anything other than “literal recreations of the band members.”

But the First Amendment is a pretty huge trump card, and courts are apt to tread lightly when it comes to limiting the First Amendment’s protection of artistic and creative works. In 2006, a California court held that the First Amendment protected Sega’s use of attributes from singer Kierin Kirby for the character Ulala (from Space Channel 5). The court pointed out, “The freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment exists to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas and to further individual rights of self expression.” And it went on to note, “Video games are expressive works entitled to as much First Amendment protection as the most profound literature.”


One reason to care is that lawsuits like the ones brought by Lohan and Noriega have potential First Amendment implications. These cases will often ask a court to consider whether or not using someone’s likeness in an expressive work like a video game should qualify for First Amendment protection. And if and when a court says that certain uses do not qualify for said protection, the argument is often made that free speech is being stifled.

As if that’s not enough, maybe you care simply because you’re involved in the creation of video games. If you’re in this group, it’s definitely worthwhile to know what can be expected before you decide to incorporate a public figure or celebrity likeness into a game.

And finally, you might just care because you buy and play video games and want to know if any of your beloved characters could be at the center of a lawsuit. You know, caveat emptor and all.


And why wouldn’t you? If you want to know whether or not your state has a statute and what it says, is the place to go. Or, if you’re interested in the general do’s and don’ts related to using the name and likeness of another, the Digital Media Law Protect has you covered.

[Image credits: Rockstar Games (GTA V); Activision (Call of Duty, Band Hero)]

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‘Dragon Age: Inquisition': The Joystiq Review

Dragon Age: Inquisition is an immense fantasy epic, a sprawling adventure across the many landscapes of Thedas, unapologetically mature in its exploration of politics and brazen in its combat. Inquisition is also developer BioWare’s redemption song. It’s everything that a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins should have been, and time will slip by as players enjoy the hundred hours of escapades it delivers.

The end of Inquisition‘s spectacular first act gave me chills. The last time I can recall that feeling is when the Normandy was reintroduced in Mass Effect 2. It’s the chill of being at the beginning of a grand story and anticipation for what’s to come.

Click here for more

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Source: Joystiq


What if your game console only allowed one move per day?

Video games are usually high action affairs, requiring a flurry of activity in order to progress to the next stage, and ultimately complete the title. A New York-based designer is out to rethink how those games are played with a trio of diminutive cubes that only allow one move per day. The project is called Slow Moves, and according to Ishac Bertran, the goal is make classics like Mario and Pong about memory, observation and patience rather than stellar hand-eye coordination and concentration.

Each of the tiny boxes has a different type of input (button, orientation and toggle) to control three kinds of movement (jump, direction of elements and up/down moves). Games last much longer, and thanks to Bertran, the skills needed to complete tasks are very different. “Slow Games started as an exploration on the topic of immediacy — the fast reaction we demand of technology in response to our requests, and the consequent fast pace technology instills in us,” his site reads. When they’re not in use, the squres are designed to fit in better with the rest of your home furnishings — also a stark contrast to regular consoles and accessories.

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Via: Wired

Source: Ishac Bertran


NES30: Bluetooth/USB retro gaming controller $29.99 [Deal of the Day]


This one is right in my wheelhouse! With more and more vintage games getting ported over to Android, the only thing missing is the authentic feel of gripping a Nintendo controller and mashing away.

The NES30 has the look and feel of a classic NES controller, but connects with Bluetooth or USB. Its rechargeable battery provides over 20 hours of use per charge and the re-programmable keys allow you complete customization. This controller is compatible with not only your tablets and phones, but any Bluetooth or USB-ready devices including Mac and PC. For just $29.99 you can load up an emulator and vintage roms (of games that you own, of course) and re-live your gaming past! Anybody want to get destroyed in Tecmo Super Bowl?

Check this deal out, and many others at!

The post NES30: Bluetooth/USB retro gaming controller $29.99 [Deal of the Day] appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Forget quadratic equations, play ‘Super Smash Bros.’ on your TI-83

The geniuses that guided Rosetta’s lander onto a freaking comet no doubt put their TI-83s to good use, but you know what the rest of us were doing with them? Yeah, playing Wolfenstein. Now you can misspend physics class with another game: Super Smash Bros. Programmer Hayleia managed to port it over to the TI-83/84, and even left the code open for anyone to modify. It has a great zoom effect to make better use of that low-res screen, though for now you’ve only got Fox and Falco to play with. Yes, yes, we know that there are brand new versions of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U (soon) with over 40 playable characters each, and you should totally try those. Meanwhile, you’ve got something to do (while appearing productive) when your trig prof hits a new level of boredom.

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Via: Tiny Cartridge

Source: Haylei (Omnimaga)


Kids can now program toys that talk to just about anything

DynePod on a wrist

There’s no shortage of smart toys, but they tend only to talk to each other. What if your kid wants the freedom to use them with just about anything? That’s where Dynepic’s upcoming DynePod might help. It may look like a simple 25-pixel block of LEDs, but it’s really the centerpiece of an “internet of toys” that lets it both respond to simple programming and dish out input of its own, whether it’s talking to another DynePod or something else entirely. You can tell it to light up when there’s movement, or buzz if another device is nearby; built-in motion sensors let it serve as a controller. Parents can even use it to set alarms, and at least the initial kits will come with a mounting clip and a bracelet. Yes, you can turn this into Junior’s first smartwatch. The long-term plan is to have an open platform that has toys of all kinds speaking to each other.

If you want in early, you can pledge $79 or more to Dynepic’s crowdfunding campaign to get a DynePod of your own. The first wave should ship in June, if all goes well. That’s quite a bit to pay, but the hope is that young ones will learn to program and start tinkering with gadgets; if the DynePod helps them get comfortable with connected technology, it might pay for itself.

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Via: TechCrunch

Source: Kickstarter


You can play Penn & Teller’s wonderfully uneventful ‘Desert Bus’ in VR

Desert Bus VR in 'action'

Ask veteran gamers about the least eventful title you can play and they’ll probably mention Desert Bus. The legendary minigame from the unreleased Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors has you driving from Tucson to Las Vegas on a featureless road… in eight hours of real time. That may not sound like much fun, but it’s considered a classic challenge — and now, you can play it in virtual reality. Shiny Shoe has released Desert Bus VR, a recreation that lets you experience the purposefully unexciting trip through an Oculus Rift DK2 headset. You can now see the bus door when you stop for passengers that never come, or look behind you when you’re towed back home after a crash.

If you have the curiosity (and stamina) to check it out, you only need a Windows PC with enough horsepower to drive Oculus’ VR gear. And don’t worry if you’d rather not immerse yourself in monotonous mass transit. If you’re reading this in mid-November, you watch others drive at Desert Bus for Hope, which is using the original game to raise funds for Penny Arcade‘s Child’s Play charity.

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Source: Desert Bus VR


One year in, here’s what our readers think of the PlayStation 4

One year in, here's what our readers think of the PlayStation 4

One year ago today, the PlayStation 4 was released in North America. When we took a look at it in our original review, we lauded the console for its “masculine chassis” that could “compete for visual attention” in your living room, a controller that’s “damn close” to being perfect and a user interface that marks a “massive improvement” over the PlayStation 3’s. But games are the thing that can make or break a system and, while the initial games lineup had a few bright spots, the system had few “satisfying game experiences available at launch.” Regardless, we called the PlayStation 4 “worth your hard-earned money” and said it was off to “a hell of a start.”

Since then, more games have been released and plenty of people have gotten their hands on a PlayStation 4 — more than 10 million people worldwide, in fact. After such a strong start, have things gotten better? Is it still worth the money? To find out, we turned to you, our readers, who have written some great user reviews to let us know how the system performs in the wild and whether it’s living up to its potential one year after release.

In many respects, our users agreed with our review, with MasterX25 loving its “sleek design” and admdrew saying it “fits well into standard entertainment centers.” Reactions to the controller were a little mixed, with admdrew calling it “almost” perfect, save for some odd button placement and the “weird nature of the touchpad.” But REZIN8 finds it “very small for my hands” with “terrible” battery life. The graphics were more well-received, with logicrulez calling them “clear and detailed,” while nug050 says, “The gameplay is smooth at any resolution.”

But with a year under the PlayStation 4’s belt, it’s worth talking about the state of its games library. Though Saltank notes it has “some great exclusives,” many users, like aussiegrossy, were left asking, “Where are the games?” Nug050 says there are “not enough A-List games” and PaulMEdwards also feels there aren’t “a ton of titles available currently,” specifically wishing for “more cooperative 2-player games so my wife … could play with me.” But he also notes that some “really good ones are coming soon.” In fact, many of you were optimistic about future releases, with admdrew “eagerly awaiting GTA V‘s upcoming release.” However, the continued lack of games especially hurts given what Saltank calls a “poor selection of apps,” and MasterX25 says, “I can’t use the PS4 for anything apart from playing games,” while aussiegrossy even feels it’s a bit of “a downgrade.”

Despite this continuing disappointment in the PlayStation 4’s game lineup, reviewers still feel rather magnanimous toward the system as a whole, with ghost616 telling us, “I do not regret buying it.” Meanwhile, in a similar vein, admdrew says, “I haven’t regretted my choice for a second.” With so much on the horizon for the system, year two looks rather promising for those who laid down their hard-earned money, as well as making it a great time for the rest of you to pick up a PlayStation 4.

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Playdate: We’re livestreaming ‘Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ on Xbox One! (update: game over!)

You’d think that ten years after Halo 2 launched, Master Chief saying, “I need a weapon” would have less of an impact. I thought that, anyway, and I was wrong. Like, super, super wrong. In Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Microsoft’s Halo studio (343 Industries) has made a decade-old game shockingly relevant once again. Halo 2Anniversary” (as it’s known) is gorgeous, it sounds dramatically better, and the cutscenes are completely re-made by the CGI masters at Blur Studio. But let’s not kid ourselves — unless you’re a hardcore Halo dork (like me), you’re here for the wealth of online multiplayer, right? Follow us below for a stream of both Master Chief Collection‘s campaigns and all that multiplayer.

[For the record, I’m playing Halo: The Master Chief Collection on an Xbox One, using a retail copy (disc) provided by Microsoft. I’m streaming the game over wired internet using Open Broadcaster Software and an Elgato Game Capture HD. All that to say, “This game will likely look prettier and run more smoothly on your home equipment. Streaming conditions vary!”]

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Facebook thought about featuring games in Messenger

Love it or hate it, you have to use Facebook Messenger if you’re to chat privately with your friends on the social network. As we know it, the application features a minimalist design and very straight-to-the-point functionality. That’s all great, of course — but, for better or worse, it could have been so much different. TechCrunch reports that Facebook quietly flirted with the idea of featuring games in the Messenger app, going as far as quietly testing this out and, eventually, deciding against it. Instead, Facebook’s EMEA Director of Platform Partnerships, Julien Codorniou, says the company opted for other ways to cash-in on the site’s gaming ecosystem, like letting developers take full advantage of its mobile advertising platform. More specifically, through app install ads.

Was it a good decision? We’ll never know. But what do you think?

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Source: TechCrunch


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