US Gaming Gets Seriously Political

UK gaming gets into a cosy chat

Posted by Staff
ESA's Michael Gallagher: money talks.
ESA's Michael Gallagher: money talks.
In a week when the UK's video gaming peak body, ELSPA, has woken slightly from its usual torpid twitching to seek reassurance from the government regarding game censorship, US gaming bodies forming a political action committee (PAC) to increase lobbying.

ELSPA queried a Sun 'newspaper' report that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is "...very worried about video and computer games" in relation to knife crime. It returned - according to MCV with the following, "...we have been reassured by DBERR (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) that the government’s position in this area has not altered; the Prime Minister remains concerned about the protection of children from access to certain new technologies which is why the government commissioned the Byron Review.

"We have been further reassured that there will be no changes to government policy in this area until Dr Byron publishes her findings at the end of March."

Reassurance... How marvellously English. We wonder with this kind of bulldog spirit why it is that figures such as veteran UK game creator, Jon Hare told SPOnG, "The industry gets f*** all help from anybody in this country".

Back to the United States where they take industry, if not cutting edge creativity, amazingly seriously. Over the pond, its peak body - Entertainment Software Association (ESA) says that the PAC will be in full swing by late March. So, what is a Political Action Committee or PAC?

According to ESA chief executive, Michael Gallagher - it's really straightforward. He told The New York Times that, "...the PAC would probably donate $50,000 to $100,000 this year to national candidates..."

"This is about identifying and supporting champions for the game industry on Capitol Hill so that they support us.

"We will be writing checks to campaigns by the end of this quarter."

Yup, Gallagher, who took over as the head of the ESA in September last year, just comes out and tells us all that he wants to show (with cash) sympathetic politicians that “we are behind them". Transparent political/corporate relationship building or simple pay-per-vote - either way, it's up front.

The NY Times explains that, "Such political action committees are generally financed personally by industry executives rather than by corporations and under federal law are limited to giving $5,000 to each candidate per election."

So, the heads of, among others, Walt Disney Company, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony will be dipping into their pockets to give money to US politicians. The sheer 'moxy' and political savvy of Gallagher is to be admired. This is indeed getting your hands dirty on behalf of your constituents.

He is also trying to get gamers involved in the politics. The Video Game Voters Network already has 100,000 members and Gallagher knows how to use them, "If I can walk into the office of a member of Congress and tell them we have 20,000 voters in their state who are already signed up to write letters and act based on game-related issues that concern them, that’s powerful".

That's right... threaten the politicians with voters. It's brilliantly to the point.

Are you a UK gamer? Are you happy just to be reassured right up until game censorship comes fully into play? Do you think the ESA's PAC is a realistic approach or is it simply cash for influence? Can you trust a politician you can pay off? Tell us in the Forum... or don't... after all... they are only games aren't they?

The New York Times


Nicholas Hyett 17 Jan 2008 17:29
I'm sorry but i cannot keep reading stuff like this. It screws my head up, one minute you hear that games are compleetly safe, in fact they are good for your brain. Next you hear that they're bad and they influence you to go and kill someone.

Scientific reports have been done, certain parents have given games bad names etc. etc. A little off topic but, a 12 year old playing GTA is a bit of a moo point if he does something stupid because he was not meant to play the game in the first place.

Since when did politicians have to get involved to say whether a game is suitable or not, or to say that it is related to knife crime or even whether to release the latest technologies to us. I think this is completely out of hand now.

The people that go and commit crime and say they did it because they do it in a game are trying to find an excuse or are messed up in the head or are too young to play the game in the first place (Bear in mind, that they're most likely 12-14 years olds playing 18 games that will most likely copy what they see as we all know what kids are like if you swear around them too much.)

The PEGI system works by showing you what age group should be playing a game. So why change things now?
Rod Todd 18 Jan 2008 07:39
Nicholas Hyett wrote:
a 12 year old playing GTA is a bit of a moo point if he does something stupid because he was not meant to play the game in the first place.

This is true, but I'd much rather take on a 12 year old, in a fit of game-inspired rage than an 18 year old. 12 year olds have puny girl arms, and underdeveloped muscles. 18 year old are pretty much grown men, and many of them carry knives.

I say that we need to review the games rating system, so that only pre-pubes and those over 70 can play violent games. Those f@ckers can rampage in the streets all they like, we can handle 'em.

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