Monday, August 13, 2007

So what's OJ doing in a videogame anyway

The big news in the gaming world last week surrounded O.J. Simpson.

Video games and O.J. are two universes that had no business intersecting.

But it turns out that Simpson will surrender any money he makes off the football game "All Pro Football" to the estate of Ron Goldman, who was slain along with Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, 13 years ago.

The Goldmans won a $33.5 million judgment against Simpson in a wrongful death lawsuit. Simpson was acquitted of criminal charges in 1995 but was found legally responsible for their deaths in a civil court two years later.

Last week, a California judge ordered Simpson -- who has maintained innocence and vowed never to pay the jury award voluntarily -- to give the Goldman estate any earnings from the game.

So to review: Simpson gets terrible publicity (again) and Take Two Interactive, which makes "All Pro Football" and paid Simpson to use his likeness in it, gets terrible publicity, too.

All of this begs the question, "Why?"

Simpson never should have appeared in the game. It's hard to believe someone sat at a meeting and seriously thought that was a good idea. But they did, and, better still, they felt it was cool to create a team called The Assassins and give it a knife-wielding mascot.

When the Assassins do something good on the field, a big hooded mascot pops up over the scoreboard and starts violently jerking his knife up and down.

I know you can't wait for your 10-year-old to see that.

Worst of all -- whether you think O.J. did it or not -- Simpson can be added to The Assassins if a user chooses.

Take Two has also released violent titles like "Grand Theft Auto" and "Manhunt 2," which was so bad it was banned in Britain. But it's not just that company, which makes great sports games.

Despite study after study that shows playing violent video games leads to aggressive behavior, the market is flooded with more violent games every year, and they are getting more and more aggressive. Women are raped. People are beaten, shot or worse. Every year, the graphics get better and look more real.

I have heard the argument that the games are no worse than what you see at the local Metroplex. Well, I don't have a controller in my hand making Arnold or Vin Diesel shoot the bad guy over and over. And when the movie ends I'm leaving. I can play the game all day.

It's not all the companies' faults, though. Violent video games are among the best selling titles annually. The public eats them up. But it's time for the companies to find other ways to chase the dollar.

Nintendo's making a killing making simple, fun and easy-to-play games. That still works.

So does making a great football game, which "All Pro Football" could be -- minus one team and one player.


Jeanne d'Arc: Sony reinvents the Joan of Arc legend with a pretty cool PSP title based in the 15th century.You play as Jeanne, or 13 other human or mystical characters. France and England are locked in their Hundred Years' War.

You must defeat the English and a rather ugly army of demons who want to destroy mankind (no battle game is complete without the evil demons set to blow up the world, right?).

I really liked the graphics, and the game features the popular multi-tap fighting style. As you move through the game, you can gain teammates with different abilities and use them in battle. You can use up to seven in one fight (Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars).

Pet Vet 2: Think of this as a sort of Sims for pet lovers. Like Pet Vet 1, this title is aimed at children and allows them to take care of sick animals.

Players study the pet's symptoms and use real-life instruments to try to nurse their pet back to life. There's even a riding course behind the office to take the horses out for a stroll. Good fun and educational, too. (Rating: 3 out of 4 stars).

Madden 08: The new Madden title debuts Tuesday. Look for our review in Tuesday's Health section.

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Langston Wertz Jr: 704-358-5133;

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