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Barely legal? Strip poker hits Cingular phones

por Keisha Foskett (2020-03-25)

id="article-body" class="row" section="article-body"> A tepid version of strip poker for cell phones has debuted in the United States, and while there's no nudity--on the screen, at least--the game's distributor is preparing for complaints that it stretches the boundaries of good taste. New York-based wireless-game provider ThumbPlay said players first download the game onto their cell phones for a fee of $4, then play against a virtual female opponent. The game's most controversial feature allows even a player who loses, for 99 cents (each time), to click a "Cheat Hack" button that lets him or her--OK, him--buy garments off the virtual opponent. Losing players get to watch their virtual opponents change outfits.

pokerAT&T Wireless, now part of Cingular Wireless, has been offering the game. The game is downloaded using a version of Java for small devices available on most cell phones. Additional U.S. operators are expected to join the fray soon, ThumbPlay representative Chris Pfaff said. Cingular Wireless already sells a version of what it calls "Sexy Poker 2004" for the same price, and which shares many of the same characteristics--but not the stripping--as the ThumbPlay game. However, the game is not from ThumbPlay, according to Cingular Wireless spokesman Clay Owen.

Pfaff said the company is readying itself for a storm of indecency complaints. The U.S. version has been "toned down" from the one now available in Europe, where the virtual models are nude, due to more conservative U.S. attitudes towards nudity.

The U.S. version is "about as racy as a lingerie ad," Pfaff said.

The game isn't the first to push the envelope on good taste. Playboy Enterprises, in conjunction with wireless content distributor Dwango Wireless, plans to soon sell adult mobile-phone content in the United States and Canada for the first time this year.

Representatives of the Federal Communications Commission and Chairman Michael Powell, which has made indecency a priority topic of his tenure, didn't have an immediate comment.

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