The Week in Games: April 27, 2007

News from the virtual world:

YOUNG BLOOD: Tennessee Titans fans are biting their nails now that their quarterback, Vince Young, has been chosen to grace the cover of EA Sports' "Madden NFL 08."

It's a big honor in a world where more kids are likely to play "Madden" than watch Young on TV, but there's a catch: the notorious Madden curse.

Since 2001, every athlete who has appeared on the "Madden" box has been injured the following season. Last year's model, Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander, broke his left foot and missed six games.

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But Young, last season's NFL Rookie of the Year, told, "I am on the cover and I am not worried about the curse."

Another star from 2006, San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, was thought to be a candidate for this year's "Madden." But CNBC reported that Tomlinson turned down EA's (ERTS) offer — and not because of the curse.

According to CNBC, Tomlinson thought the gig didn't pay enough. EA denied the story, saying Young was the first choice all along.

CEASE-FIRE: Miami attorney Jack Thompson and "Grand Theft Auto" publisher Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) have been "The Lockhorns" of video games, seemingly locked in a bitter battle that wasn't likely to end until one of them died.

Last time we heard from the fun couple, they had filed suits in Florida dealing with Thompson's anticipated attempts to stop the sale of the forthcoming "Grand Theft Auto IV" and "Manhunt 2."

Much to everyone's surprise, though, the old foes have actually agreed to drop all their lawsuits against each other.

As part of the settlement, Thompson agreed that he wouldn't try to legally block the sale or distribution of any Take-Two games — although he's still free to criticize them.

Thompson had a busy week. Along with "Dr. Phil" McGraw, he was all over the airwaves trying to make the connection between violent video games and the killings at Virginia Tech — despite the lack of any evidence that shooter Seung-Hui Cho played such games.

DEGRADE INFLATION: The latest politician to take aim at video-game violence is New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

"It is now pretty well established that certain types of videos and images have an effect on behavior," Spitzer said, promising legislation that will restrict children's access to "violent and degrading" DVDs and games.

Retailers that sell such product to underage buyers would be sanctioned, the governor said, although it's not clear how stiff the punishment would be.

The governor might want to take note of other states' efforts to punish retailers for selling violent games.

Last year, a Louisiana law along those lines was rejected as unconstitutional; the state was eventually ordered to pay $91,000 in lawyers' fees to the game industry.

According to the Electronic Software Association, it was the ninth time in seven years that a law seeking to restrict game sales had been struck down or enjoined.

CLANKSGIVING DAY: Props to Sony (SNE) and the crew at Insomniac Games, who sprang into action to help out a 9-year-old gamer.

James Westbrook of Lawton, Okla., was paralyzed in a car accident last year; his father is an Iraq war veteran who was paralyzed in Iraq two years earlier.

When ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" went to rebuild the Westbrooks' home, they learned that James was a budding game designer.

That's where the Insomniac crew came in. The studio created a digital version of James and made him a flying saucer pilot in the upcoming PlayStation 3 game "Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction."

"This opportunity to help such an amazing family with our game-making experience was a real honor," said Insomniac CEO Ted Price.

NEW IN STORES: At long last, Nintendo forks over a proper Pokemon game (two, actually) for the DS: "Pokemon Diamond" and "Pokemon Pearl." ... PlayStation Portable owners will have to settle for a pair of puzzlers, "7 Wonders" (MacPlay) and "Cube" (D3), or another wacky role-playing game, "Aedis Eclipse: Generation of Chaos" (NIS America). ... "Rayman Raving Rabbids" (Ubisoft) finally comes to the Xbox 360, while "F.E.A.R." (Sierra) arrives on the PlayStation 3.