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Is Saving Video Game History A Waste Of Money? This Senator Thinks So
Is Saving Video Game History A Waste Of Money? This Senator Thinks So
December 22, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

December 22, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi
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    91 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Spending money to preserve the history of video games is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

That's according to U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, who identified a $113,277 grant issued to Rochester's International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) as being among 100 "unnecessary, duplicative and low-priority projects" that the federal government spent money on in 2011.

"Video games, robot dragons, Christmas trees, and magic museums. This is not a Christmas wish list, these are just some of the ways the federal government spent your tax dollars," Coburn wrote in a statement, referring readers to a report [PDF format] attempting to call out wasteful federal money spending.

The grant, issued in May, was given to establish best practices for conserving electronic artifacts for museums, libraries, and other organizations, in an attempt to help save game-related items that are in danger due to the volatile nature of electronic media.

"If we do not act now, many of the early electronic games and the record of their influence on society will be lost," Center director Jon-Paul Dyson wrote in response.

"Video games are stored in digital formats that don’t last forever. The lifespan of tapes, disks, cartridges, and CDs is measured in decades, not centuries, and the software and hardware running these games is becoming obsolete."

The ICHEG has been home to several high profile donations in 2011 alone, including but not limited the personal papers of home video game inventor Ralph Baer, a substantial archive of video game material from Microsoft, and the personal collection of Sierra co-founders Ken and Roberta Williams.


From Senator Coburn's "Wastebook 2011" report.

Gamasutra and its contributors have been involved in donations as well. A nearly complete catalog (including some very rare early issues) of our sister publication, Game Developer magazine, was donated by us back in May. Additionally, Gamasutra contributor Kevin Gifford donated his unprescedented collection of over 8,000 computer and video game magazines. Also, this author organized the donation of the Computer Gaming World archive, consisting of a near-complete 1982 through 2006 run of the magazine, as well as over 1,000 computer games sent to the publication for review over its lifetime.

The Center received an additional grant in August from Rochester's Excellus BlueCross BlueShield to further the organization's growth and development, which could see the museum hosting conferences and granting fellowships to further promote the advance of video game history as an academic pursuit.


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Comments


Ian Bogost
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Clearly the US Government has better uses of taxpayer funds, such as the $3 trillion it has spent on foreign wars during the last decade.

Andrew Pace
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Our government is going broke, and not because of "defense spending". Defense spending takes up 5% of the annual budget. We're going broke because we're subsidizing the laziness of half the country.

Andrew Pace
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Okay, you're right. It was actually 20% for FY 2010, according to the Wikipedia pie chart. The other spending went to Medicare & Medicaid (23%), Social Security (20%), Net interest, "Other mandatory", and discretionary. Thanks for making me look that up. I still feel justified in my comment.

Andrew Pace
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And the "ignorant" door seems to swing both ways. We can all mount up on our own high horses and think we have a circumspect view of the situation, but no idea, however high minded it may be in its basic conception, is without its flaws. On principle, we as free-minded people should all fearsomely guard against any agent that would seek to limit our liberty, or constrain us in our basic freedoms. I find it shocking that so many in our country would subjugate one group of people for the so-called benefit of another group.

Achilles de Flandres
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"defense spending takes up 5% of the annual budget"



bwahahahaha

Andrew Pace
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According to this one, defense spending was 6% in 2010. I suppose it all boils down to what your definition of defense spending is.



http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/spending_brief.php



bwahahahaha

Achilles de Flandres
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the fact that you believed that the annual spending for defense was 5% no matter WHERE you saw it is beyond excusing yourself, Andrew Pace.



bwahahahaha

Tom Baird
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@Andrew Pace

At least read your own sources. That article states it's 6% of GDP, not 6% of spending.

In that same article, right at the top in the introduction it states spending at the moment is 40% of GDP.

Tom Baird
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Duplicate

Andrew Pace
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Whatever. I'm done. Sorry to have bothered you all.



Cheers.

Matthew Mouras
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Don't even know where to begin. Let's get these boomers out of office and get some young blood in.... Well... young blood that isn't associated with the Tea Party.

Andrew Pace
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Or the "occupation."

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Matthew Campbell
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And don't forget the ton of money we gave to China.. which was actually borrowed from China.. yeah, gotta love the government.

Jane Castle
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One word: SOLYNDRA

Jane Castle
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solyndra_loan_controversy



The first few lines are all you need to read about "just some of the ways the federal government spent your tax dollars"

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Brenton Poke
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And BP hasn't cost us a dime...



Gotta love how people think conservatards are incapable of wasting money and always see the just uses when they do.

[User Banned]
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Evan Combs
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If we ever listened to everyone who egress said it wasn't worth preserving modern history, we would have no history to learn from.

Andrew Pace
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Again, it isn't the government's responsibility to preserve video games. It should be done by those that love and appreciate them.

Brenton Poke
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Again, it's not about preserving games; it's about preserving the history of them.

Keith Thomson
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We really should move these things to be privately funded. I'd be happy to put some of my own money into a proper video game preservation program instead of it coming out of the government slush fund. The government is a poor preserver of such things. Things that are politically funded ultimately become politically controlled, and we don't want them in control of our history.

Andrew Pace
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Here here!!

Jamie Mann
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Personally, my view is that a privately funded program is more likely to be biased than a publically funded program - after all, the latter is more likely to get a benefactor who's willing to donate $amount *IF* it's spent on what the benefactor views as important.



Then too, commercial entities have generally not done a good job of preserving TV, movies, books or music, compared to the efforts of non-commercial entities such as the Library of Congress...

Martin Sabom
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/agree

Brenton Poke
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@Andrew Pace



It's "Hear, hear". That saying is derived from the the parliamentary call "Hear he, hear he".



/obligatory history lesson

Keith Thomson
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In fact, the museum should start a kickstarter campaign to fund the transfer of these games to new media instead of relying on government funding.

Ian Bogost
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Yay, Libertarians!

Kale Menges
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The Political Terrorists in Washington scare me more than Al Qaeda ever did...

[User Banned]
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Joe E
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I don't know if I'm more baffled by this Senator or by the responses of some people here...

Keith Thomson
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Eh, have you ever heard of contingency planning? Politicians are fickle masters that shouldn't be relied upon. The sane business model is to assume that any money you're getting from the government could evaporate at any time, and plan around finding alternative sources of funding to replace that government money.

Martin Sabom
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Politicians are like diapers, they need to be changed often and for the same reason. ;-)

Ian Bogost
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I am going to leave this comment thread before I have an aneurism.

Matt Mihaly
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I'm amazed you managed to last this long. My eyes are already bleeding.

Christopher Engler
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We wouldn't have to worry about the government saving the history of video games if we encouraged emulation of older systems. I'm not calling for mass pirating, but there's a huge market for retro-gaming. If we could ease the licensing restrictions of 25 year-old games, this would make the industry money instead of taking money from the taxpayers.

Lennard Feddersen
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In agreement with Anthony Taylor. Start with that 700 billion dollar bailout rather than taking on something meaningless that will just get the rabble in his constituency worked up. What portion of the cost of having this guy around goes to fighting this 100K spend. I'm indifferent about the VG history spend but it's far from the biggest problem with the US economy right now, in fact raising it as an issue right now is just a distraction from conversations that should be going on.

Nathan Mates
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Gamers and game-oriented sites love to point out things saying that game X did better than Hollywood X, Y, Z, or has had $1 billion in sales in a week or two. A game or two like that could very easily find $100K to privately fund such an effort.



You shouldn't crow about $BIGNUM sales and then turn around and ask a broke government to hand over more money. It just seems ... spoiled and entitled ... to me. We're not a few dozen people in garages creating things. We're a bit, profitable (in places) industry. We should be able to take care of our own, and our past.

George Blott
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I for one would like to know more about these "robot dragons"!

Ben Lippincott
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I think most of the comments here are missing some important points. Firstly, a publicly funded museum is able to generate profits. Not all of them do directly, but most of them increase tourism and help create hubs for other businesses. Secondly, a game museum would likely be able to return on the public's investment fairly quickly. So his concern that $114,000 is pretty moot given the popularity of the medium and the fervency of the folks who love them.



This place is located in Rochester New York, a city with over 200,000 people. If even 12% of the city's populace go to the museum a year, or a scant 9,000 people go in a single year, this museum has made a profit off of the grant. Furthermore, the museum gives jobs to more than ten people (assumed) and given how much the government spends trying to create jobs (and failing) this is a good use of the money.



So really, this buffoon is just unable to see the use of a location that provides enjoyment, education, jobs, a boost to the local economy, and displays something that is a big part of American culture. He's both anti-business and anti-education it seems. Should probably be removed from office next year.

Christopher Enderle
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Ya, institutions like this are needed to build trends and foster the vintage game market. It helps boost the public profile of our industry and lend legitimacy to industry professions and the people who go into games as a career choice.



The Smithsonian recently had its video game history exhibit and Kickstarter helped these guys http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/37003/Video_Game_History_Museu
m_Reaches_Kickstarter_Funding_Goal.php so there's definitely a viable market as long as it's nurtured properly.

Achilles de Flandres
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Coburn has a point in that the government shouldn't be spending money on very specific pet projects like a video game museum.



Coburn is on one of the few republican congressman who was on President Obama's side during the debt debate, and he and John McCain denounced the Tea Party freshman for holding the economy hostage.



Yes he's a republican but he's one of the sane ones. Not the other "lets destory Obama even if it means destroying the economy" types.



Coburn has always been vocal about government waste and spending tax payer money for things the government has no business on is his job to ring the alarm when it happens. It's not like he hates video games, he hates unnecessary federal spending.

E Zachary Knight
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Personally, I don't see the preservation of gaming as a waste of money. I do see using tax payer money to pay for things not outlined in the US Constitution as not only a waste of money but a violation of the government's Constitutional limits.



By all means you should seek donations from the public, from video game companies and from other generous groups. But leave tax payer money out of it.



While I disagree with Sen. Coburn on a number of issues, him highlighting the tremendous amount of waste in Federal Government spending is not one of them.

John Andersen
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Is Senator Coburn aware that the ICHEG might be called on to help preserve the tax-payer funded America's Army video game? A game developed by our U.S. Army and used for military recruitment purposes? I just would like to point out that our own government is involved in game development, and perhaps should help out a little in funding organizations involved in video game media preservation.



On another note, video games are technology, they've inspired and educated countless people, this industry makes money and fuels our economy. I could go on and on about the educational aspects that video games play in our society.



The ICHEG deserves more than $113,277 - that's a very small amount in my opinion.

Laina Lain
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There a lot of other things that's wasting way more money than this. If he's going to point at this one, I'd like to see him point at the others too.

Robert Boyd
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He did.



"...as being among 100 "unnecessary, duplicative and low-priority projects" that the federal government spent money on in 2011."

Michael Joseph
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No he didn't.



That's just a fact.



What he did was cherry pick $30 billion dollars worth of the ones that make for good sound bites. Clearly most of these are frivolous and unnecessary, but my quick read through found some that seemed worthy... at least debateably so in terms of international good will.



Following is the LINK to the actual document. NOTE It doesn't look anything like a congressional "REPORT" you'd expect to read. It looks more like a politician's re-election campaign handout. Of course his senate seat is not open for election until 2014, but some still consider Coburn a dark horse candidate for the Presidency in 2012.



http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public//index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File
_id=b69a6ebd-7ebe-41b7-bb03-c25a5e194365



So this begs the question... he could only find $30 billion dollars worth of unnecessary spending? That's not gonna solve the budge woes!!! Not even remotely close.



Laina Lain is right in that he does NOT point out the enormous waste in the military budget for things the military doesn't even want... nor does he point out subsidies to various corporations which all quickly total up to vastly more than $30 billiion dollars. It was recently reported that $60 billion dollars had been "lost" to fraud and waste in Iraq related war spending alone. Talk about OUTRAGEOUS...

Devin Monnens
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To quote John Stewart: One cannot simultaneously fire teachers and Tomohawk missiles. These are the types of arguments they must have put against film in 1916. "Let's melt all that celluloid down into boot heels so we can send another million guys out to the front to get killed. George Melies? Who will care about him 100 years from now? There's a war going on!" Today we've lost more than 80% of films made before 1920 because nobody cared. We shouldn't let that happen to games.



Game preservation is too large a project for one group to handle alone. Funding for projects like Preserving Virtual Worlds and ICHEG are helping set the framework by which we can better understand what is needed to preserve digital media for future generations. Designers like Will Wright, Richard Garriott, and Ralph Baer recognize the importance of their work and have donated it to museums. The more people and organizations who take a vested interest in preservation of games - which is far more than just saving the bits, though that in itself is a serious issue - the better able we will be to ensure that what we create today - not just games, but digital film, art, and documents - will be around 100 years from now. This is our generation's creativity, and I for one do not want to see it gone to waste.



These and many other factors were outlined in a White Paper produced by the IGDA Game Preservation SIG. I encourage anyone who is interested in preservation to give it a read (and not just because I helped write it /disclaimer): http://www.igda.org/wiki/images/8/83/IGDA_Game_Preservation_SIG_-
_Before_It's_Too_Late_-_A_Digital_Game_Preservation_White_Paper.p
df

E Zachary Knight
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While you make some excellent arguments for why this work needs to be done, you make no such arguments for why the Federal Government needs to step outside its clearly defined Constitutional limits to use tax payer money to fund it. Art preservation is not part of the government's responsibility.

Michael Joseph
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I think he did make the argument. It (film preservation) didn't get adequately done otherwise!



"Art preservation is not part of the government's responsibility."



Nice ideological point of view there. What about health research, science, museums of flight and war history? Institutions, organizations and museums across the country in these areas and more receive grants every year. Does it matter to you that most Americans are in favor of government assistance in many of these areas?



Collectively the arts, science and health research are vital to a healthy functioning and prosperous society. They all lean on one another and depend on one another. People have forgotten the value of interdisciplinary arts and sciences in strengthening a nation. That is certainly a part of government's responsibility. You need only scan the globe for countries with poor focus in these areas to find the ones we call third world countries. People forget that before being smart was uncool, the focus on education in the US helped create the intelligent and creative work force that spurred all sorts of achievements and innovations that helped propel this young country into economic hyperdrive compared to the rest of the world. (the capitalists will cry "no, it was our free markets!" Well capitalism provided motivation, but the vehicle was the availability of (at the time) world class public education)



Where is the Supreme Court ruling declaring these sorts of grants unconstitutional?



Ultimately the government is responsible for what the people say it is. For example, even the almighty US Constitution can be (and has been) amended.

Evan Combs
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Zachary if you say it is unconstitutional, I say we need to start a movement to create an amendment that gives the US government the right to promote the preservation of history, the arts, and the sciences.

[User Banned]
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E Zachary Knight
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Michael,



We don't need a supreme court ruling. We have a Constitution that clearly outlines the role of the Federal Government. Please point to the clause that gives the federal government the authority to use tax payer money to fund a museum of any sort? Just because it has never been challenged does not make it Constitutional.



I don't doubt the importance of the work, but it should be done by the citizens.

Michael Joseph
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I would say that assuming it IS constitutional sans any lawsuits is more likely to be correct than your stance of assuming it's illegal despite never having been challenged.



--

re: Please point to the clause that gives the federal government the authority...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Welfare_clause



“WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, INSURE DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY, provide for the common defense, PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”



and



Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution refers to the “general welfare” thus: “The Congress shall have the Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States. . .”



But you already knew I was going to refer to these...

----



I would say ensuring domestic tranquility is a form of national security and that social programs, federally funding for public schools and college tutition grants, etc all help to ensure domestic tranquility (no riots, mass protests, etc) and provide for the general welfare of citizens. But you probably won't agree.



Your turn. Please point to the clause that gives the federal government the authority to draft you into the military? To build maintain roads and bridges? Please point to the clause that gives the federal government the authority to do food inspections or require safety labels and require food distributors to list ingrediant and nutritional info? Where do they ahve the authority to require doctors to be licensed to provide service? The launching of weather satellites and monitoring of the climate and oceans? Federal Aviation Administration? Environmental Protection Agency? (if you want to know what it looks like to not have an EPA at all, look at China)



I suspect you feel all this too is unconstitutional.



I would bet that if there was some US Supreme Court decision that suddenly made all of these things illegal, the very next thing you'd see is a bi-partisan movement to amend the constitution to allow for all of them. The states would not want to have to take on these seperate responsibilities themselves because without the fed gov doing it, they'd have to do it cooperatively somehow. The Corporations would be pushing for an amendment because they'd be afraid of 50 sets of state regulations taking the place of 1. The corporations would be against you on this one. Would you be ok with this if there was a Constitutional Amendment making it unambigiously legal? I suspect not.



There's also the simple reality that we've arrived where we are today because of the US Constitution. Everything that exists today that you are against (the things you consider unconstitutional) is because of the US Constitution and not inspite of it. You may say "No, the Constitution isn't the problem, it's the people!" to which i would say that is not logical. People are imperfect which means the implementation of the governmetn would be imperfect. The office holders would be imperfect. The Constitution cannot be perfect if it doesn't account for all this imperfection to help ensure an implementation that is resilient to what would surely be a barrage of attacks from all conceivable angles.



A specification that relies on smart, wise, good, loyal, unselfish, patriotic human beings to function is not much of a specification. It might as well say



"Following this Constitution will lead to a renegade government in the not too distant future. ADOPT AT YOUR OWN RISK" at the bottom.



If still you're essentially going to just say "everybody who thinks like you is wrong. it's unconstitutional because it's not listed in there."



My final response if you feel that way is you'd better to learn to live with the idea that your federal government has gone completely renegade and you are powerless to stop it because insufficient people think the way you do.



Do you think without federal funding for public schools people would be more or less likely to be manipulated by the renegade government into perpetuating it's renegade policies? Dropout rate is bad enough as is, I wonder how much worse it'd be with no public schools. Of course that would never actually happen. Invariably wind up with state funded public schools (because who wants uneducated kids who have no real responsibilities hanging out with nothing to do all year round?) resulting in higher state taxes. But somehow I think the Libertarians wouldn't like 100% state funded public schools either. They'd still be paying taxes for the benefit of "other people." They loath that. They can never be convinced that social programs actually benefit them indirectly by making this entire country a better place to live. This is why the whole "It's unconsititional!" argument is so empty. In actuality they don't want these programs funded at all - by the states neither but they are wrong if they don't realize the states would have to assume the full responsibility instead.



So _we_would_have_to_pay_for_it_one_way_or_another because the people demand it.



(So Dave Smith, you wouldn't get to keep your tax money afterall.)



However, if you're in favor of (more or less) the sorts of regulations we have today, but you'd rather the states do it and are ok with paying higher state taxes in exchange for lower federal income taxes, then I think you'd be able to sell your position more effectively. It may actually wind up costing individuals a lot more overall, and businesses would have a much tougher time navigating 50 different sets of regulations, but the it could be argued that it would be better for constraining corporate influence of government. Tougher to bribe and help electr 50 state senators in each of 50 states than it is to corrupt the 495 congress people sent to the District of Columbia.

Brenton Poke
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To all the people worshiping the "Constitution" as if it was some holy document that has never changed, it has. Many, many times, it has changed. Amendments to the constitution have been made expressly for the purpose of giving the government more authority than it originally had, and the founders designed the parliamentary process to be this way as a safe guard for the future. Something ideological libertarians refuse to acknowledge.



Bible-thump all you want, the Constitution never mentioned the Air Force, nuclear weapons, the stock market, or electronic warfare. Doesn't stop them from having all of that too, though. And ironically, you guys seem to have no problems with that.



Truth is, all this "but the Constitution didn't say that!" crap is just a convenient excuse for blatant greed. I don't think anybody who thinks libraries should be privatized knows the fallout of such a stupid idea. Kiss any books that criticized media companies goodbye as you get your 'no poor people allowed' text palace. I've yet to find anybody who can adequately envision what life would be like if everything but the military was handled by some corporation who is clearly doing something for reasons other than personal profit.



Go ahead, I dare any one of you hack philosophers to show me what this 'no government' dream society would look like and tell me how many people on this planet would actually go for it.

[User Banned]
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Brenton Poke
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And this $100K is not out of line with what the constitution allows the government to do. It has allowed the government to create social programs and spend money on them. End of story. The patriot act an affront to your civil liberties? Definitely. The creation and funding of museums and libraries? No.



And "bible-thumping" here refers to 'constitutionalists' treating the document as if it were the bible itself, or any religious text, for that matter. Replace it with "Constitution-thumping" if you want.

Jonathan Osment
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@Brenton, You are pushing your confirmation bias on others through exaggerated assumptions made clear via "bible thumping constitutionalists".



These people who you attempt to mock keep the foundation strong in what creates a constitutional republic. It goes back to the height of the Roman civilization, where the common law was above the people (including the politicians). Like any video game, it is the rule set which creates the limitations which in turn creates a stable and usable piece of software/social & economic order. The founders warned of democracy taking over, as it bubbles down to mob rule, they also warned of that same mob rule trying to change the constitution.



It is not supposed to be easily changed nor stray from its original path. You have to treat it as something, the law of the republic, its core, as something that is not changed or twisted by the mob, otherwise you destroy the purpose and foundation of that form of government. Historically it has been the strongest form of governance. Mankind has a good track record of, when relying on their own interpretation and desires, of messing everything up. It is why these documents, these LAWS (religion created the concept of law), must remain above the people. You call it "holy", but what does holy mean? Above ones self? Sacred? Special and honored. Yes it is both. It takes priority.



The laws of physics can be considered "Holy" in a way. If we had the power to constantly change it, there would only be chaos. So it and the people who support the stability of a constitutional republic deserve some level of respect. I do take some offense that you mock them for this. All it takes is looking at world history and finding those civilizations which prospered the most and in the most technologically advanced society. Check out the Greeks and Romans.

E Zachary Knight
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Michael,



I believe that a great deal of what the Federal Government is currently doing is unconstitutional. Over 3/4 of the Federal government's spending could be eliminated if we began adhering to the Constitution once again.



Will that mean that all those programs will end? Of course not. As the 10th amendment says, those powers not granted to the Federal Government are the domain of the states and the people. Let them handle the rest.



Now as for those that seem to think I am a "bible thumping constitutionalist", thanks for the complement. While I would love for the Federal Government to adhere strictly to the Constitution, I know that it is not perfect nor is it unchangeable. The Constitution can change as the citizens of the US wish for it to change. We have had many amendments to address the will of the people and that is fine. We have also taken on many things that are not strictly outlined within the Constitution but adheres to the spirit of certain clauses, eg the Airforce.



What I completely reject is the idea that we should bend the Constitution to comply to programs we set up. The Commerce clause is one of the more abused clauses. When it was written, it was meant for the Federal Government to act as a liason between the states to manage trade. Now it has been mutilated to give the Federal government sweeping authority to regulate all commerce whether intra or inter state. Same for the 2nd Amendment.



While this museum or any museum is a nice community good, it is not a federal responsibility. It can be managed quite well by the state within it resides or the city/county or even those people that are interested in it.



There is enough wealth within the games industry that this work could be funded into a new century. That is what needs to be tapped. Not the tax payer.

Brenton Poke
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@Jonathan



I'd suggest you look at your own examples again. Neither of those societies had any form of a constitution, only a senate which wrote most of the laws, and an emperor who could make a law himself by executive order. And no, the common law was not above the politicians - it never is. The Roman senate assassinated their own emperor simply because they realized he wasn't a good fit - twice. And nobody was punished for the assassinations in either instance.



As for our own constitution, you're the only one that says it's "easily changed", and even if it is, it doesn't matter because it was designed to be changed. How easily? Have fun in that debate somewhere else. The founders knew times would change. They knew that countries have to evolve, rather than live in the dark ages forever. There are economic, war, and legal systems that exist now that simply didn't in their time, and they were well-aware that this could and would happen.



And there is nothing about physical "law" that is "holy". Physical laws aren't written, they're discovered. If something is found out to be wrong, then it's just plain wrong and that's the end of it. Whether or not society likes it is completely irrelevant. Science has no similarity with the art of law, so don't even try that here.



Also, we don't have a "constitutional republic", we have a democratic republic. So whatever happens in a "constitutional republic" isn't up for debate because that's not what exists here. Governing by democracy is exactly what's supposed to happen. You can mock it as mob rule if you want, but that's not reality, and you're only wasting your own time in doing so.



By the way, you're still side-stepping the issue of where all this magic money is going to come from to take care of society...

Mike Griffin
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Three trillion dollars in a decade to "bring freedom to the middle-east" is obviously working!

... Or causing even more rebellion, more discontent, and the death of literally dozens of innocent citizens every day due to bomb carrying zealots detonating in congested public squares to demonstrate rejection of Western interests.



Anyway. Governments spend money on some very cyclically destructive things, often designed to send a message rather than to invoke true progression, side-effects be damned.



Preserving the works of positive, stress-relieving human ingenuity and creativity (video games) seems kind of noble in comparison.

Mikhail Mukin
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Agree with Senator. If somebody wants to preserve video games (or old locomotives, or different types of roses, or whatever else whomever else might be passionate about) - should be not at taxpayers money (when economy is in big trouble).



I guess in a way those little things are harder to track/plug the leaks... It is like code optimizations - a few big items are often easier to optimize compared to a hundred of little "fraction of millisecond" things all over the place...

Christopher Ellington
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Senators like Tom Coburn love making a big deal about "wasteful" spending like this. Normal people can understand an amount like $100,000, and he can wave this around and draw a lot of attention to himself as someone who is "serious" about the deficit. Never mind that his party just spent the last decade lowering taxes on the rich while funding wars with trillions of dollars of deficit spending. Tom Coburn's party is the reason we even have a deficit right now (let's not forget that Bill Clinton, skeezbag or not, left us with a budget surplus).



The fact that anyone thinks that killing this museum and saving the government one hundred grand would make any difference at all to our economy is just laughable. Nobody, ever, is going to be making money on a video game museum, therefore it is ridiculous to think that the private sector would have any interest in seeing this done. Things like preserving culture, history, or art are rarely good for business. I know the government is big and spends a lot of money, but that doesn't make it evil. One of the reasons it exists in the first place is to do things that DON'T make money, but benefit the public as a whole. Preserving history, especially the ephemeral history of this medium that we all say we are a part of, is one of those things.

Anthony Boterf
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Let's put this in a clearer perspective... whining about $114,000, out of a budget of $3 trillion. First, the straight math... $114,000 is approximately 0.0000039% of the total budget.



Now, let us make this more relevant to those of us who seriously don't have the context to envision what $3 trillion is like.



This is less than one quarter of a cent from a budget of $60,000, which is something I'm sure most of us can identify with. Even from the budget of a millionaire, someone who has an annual income of $1,000,000 this only translates into 3.9 cents.



So, if you truly think that a millionaire is being reasonable to make a scene in a store over $0.04, I really don't want to ever hang out with you...that's just over the top whiny.

E Zachary Knight
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Anthony,



He lists this within a list of 100 of countless wasteful spending programs. While this one program is .0000039% of the total budget, this plus everything else that the federal government has no authority to spend on takes up quite a bit more.

Michael Joseph
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Low hanging fruit so Tom Coburn can post a picture of a giant yellow pac-man eating up your precious quarters. Did Tom Coburn point out all the grant money given to museums of flight, war history museums, and various art museums around the country? Let's not talk about big oil and other corporate subsidies and tax breaks that let corporations like General Electric pay zero taxes right? Let's talk about video games!



Singling out video games sends the subtle message that video games are a waste of money.



This isn't about the honorable Tom Coburn promoting responsible tax spending. This is politics. It'd be a different story if our government was actually wise about these sorts of things 95% of the time and here comes Coburn once again advocating for us try to reach 100%.



This is just an opportunity to put up a silly graphic and get some people riled up for political benefit. It's like the guy who won't call the cops when he witnesses a young kid being molested in the showers, but who will start a bar fight because somebody looked at his girlfriend's rear. Where were you when it mattered most? Hyperbole for sure but Coburn is not the righteous defender of our tax dollars or our liberties.



Coburn did vote for TARP by the way.

Coburn voted for the Patriot Act and for extending it when its provisions were set to expire.



Other key votes by Coburn

http://www.votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/22085/





Frankly, I think museums in general preserve our evolving national heritage and history and I think it's entirely appropriate for the Federal Government to have a role in doing that.



Has there ever been a Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of federal grants to museums, science research (astronomy, physics, sociology, etc), health, or any other kind? The US Constitution is pretty vague. It's not the word of God. We're also a representative democracy. If Coburn is so concerned about grants, why doesn't he sponsor a bill to make non defense related grants illegal? I'm sure that would be popular.



Collectively the arts, science and health research are vital to a healthy functioning and prosperous society. They all lean on one another and depend on one another. People have forgotten the value of interdisciplinary arts and sciences in strengthening a nation. That is certainly a part of government's responsibility. You need only scan the globe for countries with poor focus in these areas to find the ones we call third world countries.

Ted Brown
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I once had the first issue of Game Developer magazine, the one with Doom on the cover, I believe. Then I donated my entire collection to the Guildhall. Nintendo Fan Club magazine, Nintendo Power, GamePro, EGM... they dumped it all after I left. :(

Titi Naburu
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I wonder how many comments would have gathered this article if the senator was a Democrat. Internet is entertaining.

Michael Joseph
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42!



Wocka Wocka Wocka!



http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/66/Fozzie-bear.jpg

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Matt Cratty
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Just another moron that doesn't understand the topic about which he's ranting.



We're all guilty of that sometimes. The difference is that he's actually a lawmaker.

Tawna Evans
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I think that it's okay to use tax payer money to finance a museum of game history, but only if voters supported the matter by voting on it. Was there a proposition that voters approved that finances such a museum?

Matt Cratty
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Just about nothing that is passed by federal lawmakers ever receives direct voter support. Our only direct input is election of officials.



Our only recourse if we don't like their votes or actions is to cease voting for them in future elections.

Eric Ruck
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We live in a republic...there are too many decisions to go to the public, which is why we have a representative democracy. Esp for something a small as $100K, given the size of the Federal budget. Theoretically the people of OK disapproved by proxy. Or will vote Coburn out, if enough of them care. Or will keep him around, if enough care. Unlikely either way.

Justin LeGrande
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I doubt collective townships of U.S. citizens have had THAT much guarenteed influence on state government legislation proceedings since the 1800s...

Eric Ruck
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Consider how much prosperity the industry has brought to the United States, and the fact that we can generally learn from our history, I'd say its a good investment.

Jeremy Reaban
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Whenever you think something is "worth" the government spending money one, ask yourself this: "Is it worth kicking people out of their own homes at gunpoint for?"



Because that's literally what happens (It's a touchy subject for me, as it happened to my parents). You don't pay your taxes, you get your assets seized at gunpoint. If you're lucky. Otherwise you might end up in jail.



In the real world, a lot of people are just scraping by. Every increase in a tax, every time inflation raises the costs of food & fuel and other basic commodities, it gets harder and harder to make ends meet. Every bit of excess government spending contributes to this, either taking more money out of people's pockets directly (taxes) or by devaluing the dollar (printing money to pay off our debts).



Frankly, if you think video game history is a worthy cause, then why don't you pay for it? Host a donation drive and get people to donate money? Better than taking money away from people who need it just to get by...

Robert Carter
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I do think that a game museum is an excellent idea. I do not think that it should be taxpayer funded at this point in time; when we lack money SO bad that we have states near bankruptcy (Like California where I live) how can you justify taking taxpayer money for something that is quite clearly a luxury item?



When your not meeting ends meet, you dont go buy that Skyrim collectors statue because you like that kind of thing and want to remember it always. You buy your necessities and after your bank is stable and in the black and you are sure you can afford the necessities for the immediate future you can consider such things.



The game industry is not a poor one; let companies contribute to a fund for the museum if 100k is indeed a drop in the bucket. If the fund is open to the public, how many of you saying it should be taxpayer funded would contribute? I would hope everyone, for if you say that taxpayers money should go into it but will not offer even a little your own, then you are selfish indeed.



TL;DR it is not the governments role to preserve art, pop culture, social trends, or games. As with all luxury items if the budget was balanced I would have no problem with it being tax payer funded, role or not. Yes 100k is nothing to the overall budget. But if your in the red and maxing out credit for necessities but I see you pay 7 bucks for Netflix every month, Im going to question your intelligence when you say "Well, its not that much really".

Mohamed Almonajed
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The war on Iraq cost US more than 800 billion Dollars and it was a big failure!! So investing a small portion of money to finance the Video Game History project is a smart way to spend money.

Dave Endresak
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For anyone who thinks that preserving various areas of art, including pop culture, is not a government responsibility, I think you need to reconsider the facts.



As one poster pointed out, the government subsides public libraries. You could claim that such a thing is a "luxury item" but that simply leads to ignorance (or a greater level of ignorance, anyway).



Museums of classic art also may get grants such as this one.



I guess that all the research funded by federal and state governments should be eliminated as luxury items, too. In fact, a great deal of research has already suffered huge setbacks because the focus in many fields has shifted from simply learning about a topic to specific applications of the knowledge. For example, anthropology has shifted from simply studying and learning about people to profiling specific individuals and/or groups. The result is a perpetuation of stereotypes and discrimination, as well as an undermining of appreciation for diversity. The government has been pressured to avoid funding research that does not have specific applications, and this is the result. Private companies are based on capitalistic profit, so they are even worse. If you want to see a real world consequence of the difference between private companies and government, consider the civil action case of environmental pollution as portrayed in the film, "A Civil Action." This is a real life case, so it may help us to rethink the value of government as a balance to big business.



How about education at public instutions, including K-12 and higher ed? I guess those are luxury items and should be cut, too. After all, we can't cut defense spending, right?



Leaving elements such as pop culture in the hands of private companies is a very bad idea because that would mean that only specific elements are chosen while others are ignored. This already happens with areas such as film, TV, etc. The result is that a great deal of content is lost forever. Or, sometimes even worse, is the fact that specific elements that are preserved are chosen due to supporting specific political views, capitalistic goals, etc rather than for any educational, scholarly value.

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Michael Joseph
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Absolutely correct.



But it's too bad Coburn doesn't give us the whole picture instead of just the side he wants us to hear.



This is a big part of what's wrong with our politics. The outwardly adversarial nature of the two big parties has been an



ongoing



national



tragedy.

Justin LeGrande
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This might be unrealistic, but... everyone could just cooperate, doing what they do best.

Theoretically, what if government regulates museum project development, expansion, and property compensation; businesses sponsor the expenditures to raise rapport with potential customers; and community groups cooperate to maintain awareness?



After all, businesses are only as powerful as their customer base; government leaders are only as influencial as their supporters and followers; communities are only as committed as their level of dedication...



Don't forget - the gravity of bureaucracy can prevent swift action on even the most important issues! The real question here is: are we willing to give up our convictions established through our culture?

shayne oneill
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This is smoke and mirrors. $100K is a tiny amount of money in the scheme of things, and frankly its a pretty good investment. Art is the lifeblood of community, be it music, painting, dance, movies, or yes electronic entertainment. Historians in the future are going to want to know about this stuff so they can work out "how did we get to this point?". Its particularly so if you take heed of philosophers like Baudrilare who claim that the electronic simulacra has become a defining part of modern life.



The thing is, in the scheme of trillions of dollars in govt spending, people are uncomfortable with that (although I do think the fear is overblown, america has been in far worse debt relative to GDP before and climbed out OK. As one economist put it "government debt is something that worries politicians more than economists).



But politicians must be seen as tough on debt. So instead of actually tackling the big picture items, like inefficienceis in defense spending, or the out of control prison-industrial complex.



So instead, making a giant list of things that joe six-pack doesnt understand and chopping them, at a grand savings of barely a drop of piss in a bucket, gives the impression things are being done, whilst nothing is done at all.



The same thing happened here in australia under the howard government with education. The govt listed examples of "wasteful" university courses, like "surfing management" and the like. Of course this ignored that surfing is a multi billion dollar industry here, with a desparate need for qualified professionals (pot smoking surfies make great athletes and terrible businessmen!). And of course all the philosophy courses etc got cut too. The end result is a serious devaluing of the reputation of australian universities, with little discernable effect on the bottom line.



These people are snake oil salesmen. They are the people that Oscare wilde warned us about. The people that know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Jonathan Osment
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Nothing should stop the Publishers, which all their manner of wasting money, from donating $100k to preserve "history", which they can easily use to validate their industry.



Tax payer funding is UNNECESSARY, especially when the US government is in too much debt and we border on experiencing nation destroying hyperinflation.

Anthony Boterf
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And seriously, if we are going to be upset about a one-time expenditure of $114,000 on a Federal Grant to a museum, why aren't these same people harping on the $400,000 per month Gov. Perry is spending on travel and security, for his campaigning, out of Texas taxpayer's coffers? Really, people need to start looking at REAL issues, not piddly ones.

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Anna Tito
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As an Aussie I don't really see what all the fuss is about, I'd prefer my taxes to go to digital curatorship than helping out poorly managed private institutions or blowing people up. But then I don't get why people in the US are so weird about tax in the first place. You pay it and your kids get educated, your healthcare paid for, streets cleaned, police trained and paid, not-for-profits, art galleries, museums, festivals and other cultural events funded all up it makes for a stronger more diverse society. When you choose to live in a country you take the good with the bad, if you don't like it work to change it. In the end you always have your vote.

Brenton Poke
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It's about greed. People think if they don't have to pay taxes, they'll all be rich and magic corporations will take care of everything.

Michael Joseph
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For what it's worth, I like how this thread didn't erupt into some out of control flame war. It's a credit to the maturity of the gamasutra audience and respect we have for one another. I think it helps that ultimately we are all connected by our passion for games. It is the one common thread binding us all that helps remind us of what we share despite honest disagreements. This is something we've seen time and time again in various talk backs.


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