Posts Tagged ESA
On this week’s show hosts Andrew Eisen and E. Zachary Knight discuss the latest poll on GamePolitics (how do you divvy up your Humble Bundle payments), FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and net neutrality, the ‘New Essential Facts on Video Game Industry’ report from the ESA, China’s restrictions on game content released in the country, and the horrible story of a Call of Duty player who called a SWAT team on an opponent. Download Episode 96 now: SuperPAC Episode 96 (1 hour, 14 minutes) 85 MB.
As always, you can subscribe to the show on iTunes and use our RSS Feed to add the show to your favorite news reader. You can also find us on Facebook, on Twitter @SuperPACPodcast andGoogle +. You can send us feedback on the show by dropping a note firstname.lastname@example.org.
Credits: The Super Podcast Action Committee is hosted by E. Zachary Knight and Andrew Eisen, and produced by James Fudge. The show is edited by Jose Betancourt. Music in the show includes “Albino” by Brian Boyko and “Barroom Ballet” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are in the public domainand free to use. ECA bumper created by Andrew Eisen.
Over the last few weeks, the Video Game Voters Network, the astroturf group set up by its parent the Entertainment Software Association, has been touting that it has over 500,000 members. While this number may sound really impressive on the surface, it doesn’t really hold up to reality. Take this graphic it just posted to Twitter:
500,000 members is a lot but are there really that many? Are they really active and engaged in the work of the VGVN? To answer this, let’s first take a look at what it takes to become a member of the VGVN. Here is its sign up form:
If you don’t notice something wrong up front, let me explain. To become a member of the VGVN all one has to do is fill in an email and a zip and you are done. No further steps, nothing. Pretty simple. With such a simple method to become a member, then what is to stop a lot of people from joining. There is no risk, no effort. With such a simple form, how do they prevent people from signing up multiple times? With this form, I could sign up with all 8 of my current email addresses (yes I have 8, probably more) and I would count as 8 members. So how do they account for that possibility?
If the process of signing up is so simple, what incentive is there to drop out of the organization? Is there even a way to do that? Does the VGVN have any way to measure engagement in the organization outside of those who simply sign up? Not as far as I can tell. With no meaningful method of establishing activity in the organization, what is the point of touting this number? It would seem that this is merely a smokescreen to make it sound like this organization is worthwhile and effective, when it may very well not be.
But aside from the questionable nature of the membership numbers, the primary concern we should be considering here is how much weight these “500,000 gamers” have in the overall direction of the organization. As I mentioned in the opening, the VGVN is owned by the ESA, the largest lobbying organization for game publishers. What happens when the interests of the gamers represented by the VGVN clash with the interests of the publishers represented by the ESA? Look no further than last year’s Stop Online Piracy Act debate.
For many months, the ESA openly claimed support of SOPA. They claimed it was necessary to protect their members’ interests and profits from online piracy. However, many consumer groups opposed the legislation as it would have had severe unintended consequences for free speech online. Many consumer organizations were in opposition of SOPA except the VGVN. Throughout the whole debate and the site blackouts all over the internet, the VGVN never once spoke up in support of its members. It never once said a single thing in regards to SOPA. Despite many attempts to contact someone at the VGVN, I never once heard back from them. This event showed that those 500,000 members it claims to represent don’t matter when the interests of its publisher controlled master clash.
So what should you do if you are a “member” of the VGVN? That’s up to you ultimately. However, my suggestion is to unsubscribe. I have no idea if that will delete you completely and you will no longer be counted when it touts its numbers, but at least it sends some kind of message. My other suggestion is to join a gamer organization that actually cares about you. One that is independent of any corporate masters. A group like the Entertainment Consumers Association. (disclaimer, I am a member and work with them over at Game Politics as well as other aspects) This group has done wonders over the years to protect the rights and interests of gamers. Yes it costs money to be a member and to stay a member, but the benefits you get in return far outweigh the costs.
Don’t be fooled by big numbers like those touted by the VGVN. Those are mere distractions from what really matters, its record. What does it really stand for and who is it really speaking up for. That is what matters in the end. If it is not 100% on your side, then you should not be on its side.
On this week’s show we talk about Congressman Frank Wolf’s hearing this week to slam video game violence, changes being made to the ESRB, the ESA’s plan for a PSA campaign, the latest SimCity news, and the results of the latest GamePolitics poll. Download Episode 45 now: SuperPAC Episode 45 (1 hour, 12 minutes) 66.6 MB.
As always, you can subscribe to the show on iTunes and use our RSS Feed to add the show to your favorite news reader. You can also find us on Facebook, on Twitter @SuperPACPodcast and Google +. You can send us feedback on the show by dropping a note to email@example.com.
Credits: The Super Podcast Action Committee is hosted by E. Zachary Knight and Andrew Eisen, and produced by James Fudge. Music in the show includes “Albino” by Brian Boyko and “Barroom Ballet” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are in the public domain and free to use. ECA bumper created by Andrew Eisen.
We all know that the ESA supports SOPA. This is absolutely horrid. What makes this even more horrid is that the ESA just last year asked for the help of gamers in their fight to stop violent video game legislation. They did this by creating a gamer advocacy group called the Videogame Voters Network. While the ESA and gamers were united in that battle, the ESA has decided to leave those gamers who joined the organization out in the cold on SOPA. These two interconnected events have left a lot of developers and a lot of gamers fuming. You can see an example of this on the VGVN’s Facebook page (look but don’t like).
But something else happened. Something that has the potential to shake the ESA to its very core. This something started with a game company called Red5 Studios and Extra Credits. Yesterday during the anti-SOPA protests, Extra Credits aired a video asking gamers, the gaming press and game development companies to all boycott the ESA and E3 until the ESA drops its support of SOPA. This is a really great message and one that I think every one should live by. When a business or organization is actively out to harm you like the ESA is with SOPA, why should we give them support? This is a question that Red5 asked itself and it is doing something about it.
Earlier this week, Red5 decided to found a new organization, one that brings both gamers and game developers to the same table to fight together for freedom and the internet. This new organization is called the League For Gamers. In its opening statement LFG said:
League For Gamers was founded by Red 5 Studios and Mark Kern, CEO of Red 5 Studios, who serves as LFG’s President. League For Gamers (LFG) was created on January 14, 2012 in order to give gamers, as well as developers, a voice in Washington and an organization that would serve and foster the interest and e-sport of video gamers and our favorite pastime as played on PC/Mac, mobile and console platforms.
I think this type of organization has been long overdue. While we have organizations that separately defend game developers, publishers, retailers and gamers, we have never seen any combination of those interests. This is certainly an experiment I can get behind. When we have gamers and game developers sitting at the same table discussing the issues, we can get mutually beneficial results. While I myself am a member of the Entertainment Consumers Association and still very much support their work and efforts, I think the VFG will be a great ally in the fight against legislation like SOPA and PIPA.
I can’t wait to see what this organization gets up to and who decides to join. Let’s hope it gains the power to influence policy debates to benefit both gamers and game developers.