Software/Shareware Industry Awards are back

After missing a year, the SIAs return for 2010, slightly renamed.

Recently, the Software [nee Shareware] Industry Conference unveiled a brand new web site design, which is much improved from the previous web site.  Kudos to Sue Pichotta of Alta Web Works for a job well done (and no disrespect for the previous designer, who I also know).

Perhaps lost in this story, though, is the fact that the updated web site quietly announced the return of the Shareware, I mean, Software Industry Awards and a new (hopefully improved) process for awarding them.  According to the Process & Rules page of the site, the awards are now determined by a score of unidentified “software industry insiders”, rather than by the whole of the industry, which should reduce the amount of bizarre results (from either manipulation or voter laziness) at the risk of making them less prestigious, no longer being truly voted by peers.  I do not know who any of these people are, only that I am not one of them and that I hope they appreciate our games.

One definite positive in the new procedure is that “nominators are asked to consider only software and services offered by MicroISVs“.  This means that products like Google Earth and Windows Live Messenger (Microsoft), both 2008 winners, should no longer be eligible, getting the focus back to the independent developers the awards were originally meant to recognize.  (We also go by the title, “the developers formerly known as shareware publishers“.)

The only obvious omission is a list of categories for which the awards will be presented, and specifically, whether any game categories are included (and if so, how many).  The last time games were recognized was 2007, when our own Pretty Good MahJongg won the SIA for Best Non-Action Game.  Hopefully, the list of nominees (and, hence, categories) will be announced prior to the conference; that would almost certainly increase participation in the “Gala Networking & Awards Dinner”, which attendance was reportedly dropping.

In any event, all questions should be answered in Dallas, Texas, where SIC will take place July 15-17, 2010.  Perhaps I will see you there.

Video Games facing Supreme Court review

The US Supreme Court will hear an appeal about a law restricting video game sales.

Two weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court announced that it would hear an appeal of the California ban on sales of certain “violent” video games to anyone under 18 years of age.

This case is very likely to turn on a decision about First Amendment protections of free speech.  On the one hand, this is a good thing, given that none of these types of laws has ever been upheld as Constitutional.  (At last check, video game and First Amendment advocates were 13-0 against overzealous legislators.)  Additionally, this Court recently held that it is perfectly legal to profit from video sales of animal snuff films (US v. Stevens, 08-769).

The scary part, however, is that this is also a Court that does not really understand current technology, as demonstrated in the questioning (on the same day) during City of Ontario v. Quon, when some of the Justices asked basic information about how text pagers work.  Further, recent Courts (with the same core Justices) have not been reluctant to modify the law of the land based on politics rather than law.

It is a crap shoot and we will have to wait until October for the case (Schwarzenegger, Governor of California v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 08-1448) to be heard, and probably even longer before a decision is announced.

In a recent opinion piece, The New York Times agrees that the law is unconstitutional, concluding that, “The Constitution, however, does not require speech to be ideal for it to be protected.”  Bingo!

Click on the banner below to join a free organization that informs citizens of these kinds of threats to free speech, and specifically to video games being treated differently from other forms of expressive media and entertainment, including films, books, and music.

If you are not easily offended, see this related piece of satire from the Onion. [warning: NSFW!]

Poll: Almost nobody disagrees with not regulating video games.

Earlier this month, U.S. News & World Report posted an opinion poll [still open for votes as of this writing] on its web site, using the misleading title, Violent Video Games: Should Kids Be Able to Buy Them? Of course, the poll question is “Should Kids Not Be Sold Violent Video Games?” which elicits an opposite response from the poll title.

Whether by a deliberate and hamfisted attempt to manipulate the results, or just utter incompetence, the confusing wording opens the results up to interpretation.  More than 70% answered the question correctly, and I estimate that 90% of the other respondents misread the question (missing the “Not” or simply answering the headline), so I place lamina in buccinator and conclude that more than 97% of the public oppose video game regulation.

Take that!  (I can be just as unscientific as the “mainstream” press.)

Most Popular Solitaire is #1!

One of our solitaire games tops the Apple Downloads charts.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Apple had stopped updating the pages on its Apple Downloads site back in March, so Most Popular Solitaire, our solitaire title with 30 of the most popular games, was reliably in the top 15 on the (dynamic) ‘Top Downloads’ list on the left of each page but was not listed at all on the ‘Most Popular’ pages in the ‘Games’ category.  (As of this posting, Most Popular Solitaire 2.02 is #11 of all Apple downloads, including Apple’s own products.)

This morning, though, Apple finally updated the pages and Most Popular Solitaire is at the very top of all game downloads, listed as #1 on both the Games: Most popular and Cards & Puzzle: Most popular pages.  Sure, this position is likely to be fleeting, especially now that new submissions are being posted again, but it feels good for the moment.  Of course, some of those new submissions will be from Goodsol Development, so we will be looking to match this success and get more of our games to the top.

Thanks to Apple for finally getting this fixed.