Savimbi - Black Ops II

The tricky legal problem of videogames depicting historical figures

Games that seek to represent significant historical phenomena are, by their very nature, reductive. Real-time gameplay is, Timebound’s multi-year push notifications notwithstanding, not on the table. Beyond the time imperative, creative works must also make narrative and dramatic choices. These constraints are in no way exclusive to games; the process of making media necessarily involves making artistic and practical choices. Up to a point, that’s fine. In fact, it’s desirable. But what recourse is there when these choices are disputed? Three children of the Angolan “rebel” leader Joseph Savimbi recently announced that they were suing Activision Blizzard’s French subsidiary for the…


Bird lawyering game Aviary Attorney to flock to Steam next week

You might remember Aviary Attorney as the only lawyering videogame that features a crack team of attorneys straight out of Animal Farm. Set in 1848 Paris, the game only uses public domain drawings from that time to depict the trials and tribulations of bird lawyer Monsieur Jayjay Falcon. All characters have been lifted from Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux (Scenes of the Public and Private Life of Animals), by French caricaturist Jean-Jacques Grandville. As Aviary Attorney creator Jeremy Noghani told Kill Screen after the Kickstarter launched a year ago, “It was amazing how much of the humor carried across from…


Bohemian Killing explores our muddy legal systems

I sat in court as a member of the jury this past summer and found it disappointing. I’d been spoiled by the dramatized murder trials and the heart-tugging sociopolitical conflicts in the fictional courtrooms of 12 Angry Men, To Kill A Mockingbird, and A Few Good Men. The verdicts were obvious, there was no shouting or revelatory speeches to be made, no drama; one of the defendants failed to turn up, and so was judged entirely on the prosecutor’s argument, sentenced in less than 10 minutes. It wasn’t until I had spent those two weeks in and out of court…


A hacktivist artist printing the US Constitution on a sales receipt

There’s something startling about seeing a document with the reverence of the US Constitution scrolling out of an everyday receipt printer. And this art project by Thibault Brevet bores into that patriotic nerve. Revealed at SXSW, the CONSTI2GO is a small electronic device that lets anyone reproduce the noblest of American documents and let freedom reign with the push of a button. It’s that easy.  This is not exactly the dream key-ring utility for red-white-and-blue bleeding patriots, I don’t think. This smacks of sarcasm of some kind, though I’m not sure which. Brevet previously created the DRM Chair, a wooden chair that…


The newfangled videogame "sin" taxes are pure political posturing

In the wake of Newtown, state legislatures in Connecticut and Missouri are considering additional taxes on violent videogames, lumping our favorite digital pastime in a category alongside slot machines, soda, smokes, booze, and Prince Albert in the can.  In an excellently informed article over at The Atlantic, Jacoba Urist explains how the move to tax mature content in games constitutes a sin tax, the dirty tool of sly politicians who want to put revenue in the public coffer without causing an outcry. By labeling an activity a smaller percent of the constituency is doing as a bad thing, congressmen and…