Tag Archives: PIPA

Anti-SOPA Protests The Aftermath: Gaming Edition

Yesterday was a very interesting day. It marked the first ever anti-SOPA protest to be held online. There was a lot of great stuff happening. I wish I was able to document a lot of it, but sadly between work and sick family, I was only able to watch the protest.

The big things were that sites like Reddit, and Wikipedia were completely blacked out in Protest. Google had censored its logo and was pointing people to information on SOPA and how to contact their representatives in Congress. But that is not what I want to focus on.

On the gaming side of things, we had some really great showings around the web. The Entertainment Consumers Association (action link) had completely blacked out its websites including Game Politics. This was a pretty gutsy move from them as many people (myself included) had hoped they would stay active to document the protest. But hey, they got some more people to contact Congress and that is the important thing.

Gamasutra took a slightly different approach. They posted an editorial on why the site and its writers and editors opposed SOPA. This was the only thing available on the site and the article racked up a nice 100+ comments. I would have hoped that more people would have commented and that there would have been more discussion going on, but that was still pretty good.

Rock Paper Shotgun also blacked out their site. They have been pretty vocal in their opposition for a while now and have even compiled a list of ESA member companies and what their stances are on SOPA. I am really impressed with these guys.

Penny Arcade took the time yesterday to host a special anti-SOPA Extra Credits episode. In this episode, Red5, the creators of Firefall, Extra Credits and a number of other gaming figures put out a special plea for ESA member companies that oppose SOPA to drop their ESA memberships and for all those companies and gaming news sites that oppose SOPA to boycott E3 and other ESA related events. This is something that I will discuss in a separate article.

On the other end of the anti-SOPA spectrum there were a number of gaming news sites that did nothing but express their opposition to SOPA. Other than that, it was business as usual. Kotaku, Joystiq, IGN and many others really didn’t put their hearts into their messages. This was really sad. I don’t know what they were thinking. It is probably to do with the fact that most of those sites have parent organizations that actually support SOPA or that the owners of the sites didn’t want to lose any advertising revenue for the day. That is a horrible shame.

This is but a very small part of the whole anti-SOPA protest. I wish I could document everything that happened. The good news is that those who participated in the protest made an impression in Washington and support for SOPA and PIPA is falling. However, we need to keep this up. There is no reason to rest on our laurels now that we have won this small battle. We still have a war ahead of us. We need to keep our representatives held to their word. Those that still support SOPA and PIPA need to have their minds changed. We cannot rest as long as the internet and the freedom it embodies is threatened.

ECA Agrees, SOPA Is Bad For Gamers

Recently, we censored our blog title in protest to legislation proposed in the US. SOPA and PIPA threaten the very foundation of the internet, all in the name of stopping a few “rogue sites”. Since the introduction of these bills, many consumer rights groups have been vocal in their opposition.  Now the ECA has added their voice to those in protest.

In November, I had the opportunity to seek a guest editorial from the ECA on behalf of Techdirt. In this editorial, Jennifer Mercurio raised a few objections to this legislation from the point of view of a gamer. There are many aspects of the legislation that would be harmful to gamers. One of the more controversial portions is the felony streaming provision of SOPA. This would make it illegal to post videos of copyrighted works for display publicly. This would essentially make it illegal to post videos of your gameplay sessions.

There are many other issues raised within the editorial and I recommend that you read it.

More recently, Hal Halpin wrote in an IGN blog that most of the issues that SOPA are based around really boil down to a problem in customer service. In this article, Hal tells of Valve and their efforts in providing a better customer service experience for gamers. This business philosophy has done wonders for Valve which is the leader in online sales of games.

Expanding on this view Hal says the following:

Think about it objectively: the reason for any recent company or brand’s success of late stems from your affinity for the good or service that’s provided. Zappos is a great example. Online shoe ordering….really?! Books? Sure. Sneakers? Didn’t see that coming… The sole (no pun intended) reason for their success isn’t that they create something amazing. In fact, the thing they do create that is amazing is customer loyalty. They create an affinity bond between their brand and their consumers and anything that impedes that – to them, philosophically -is a threat to their core business.

This highlights exactly how a content provider can provide a level of service that not only competes with other similar businesses but also with pirates. If you are not only providing the product your customers want but also an experience that leaves them wanting to come back, you can certainly expect more sales. This is not rocket science. This has been the foundation of business from the rise of capitalism.

Hal also lays some of the responsibility on the gamer. This is something that I can agree with. As gamers, or really consumers of any digital good, we hold a responsibility to follow the law. However, as a business, they hold a responsibility to appeal to their fans and provide a level of service that will benefit their customers. SOPA does not accomplish that. SOPA effectively declares that all fans are potential criminals, which is something that fans are not fond of.

The ECA is certainly one group that understands the current digital climate and their views are very much in tune with gamers. I have grown quite fond of their efforts and will continue to follow and support their work. If you would like to support them in this effort against SOPA, I recommend that you visit their action page on the SOPA.

Disclosure: I am a comment moderator to the ECA’s political blog Game Politics. I am also a member of the ECA and a former Chapter President.