Mario’s Lobbyist: ESA’s Gallagher Profiled

He’s better known for his political savvy, but new ESA bossman Mike Gallagher knows his way around Guitar Hero II as well.

A profile in yesterday’s Washington Post focuses on Gallagher’s mad gaming skillz as much as his professional resume. Tech columnist Mike Musgrove writes:

On trips to Capitol Hill these days, Michael Gallagher usually has a black Nintendo DS stashed in his suit pocket… his main reason for carrying the device is to give lawmakers some hands-on time with the latest titles the video game industry has to offer.


As the new president of the ESA, Gallagher is the face of video games in Washington… Judging from the way Gallagher handles a rocket launcher’s "splash damage" effects, I’d say this is a guy who is familiar enough with a game controller…

Why put a Nintendo DS into the hands of politicians? …he’s trying to dispel stereotypes that he still encounters about video games. One stereotype he’s trying to crack, for example, is that games are primarily for kids, when research has shown that the average gamer’s age is in the 30s… Gallagher likes to point out that only 8 percent of the games released each year are violent, "mature"-rated titles of the sort that make headlines.


…Gallagher says he hopes to raise the profile of video games among policymakers and thought leaders. "Video games are not getting the type of recognition they deserve as an entertainment medium," he said.


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  1. 0
    lordlundar says:

    “On trips to Capitol Hill these days, Michael Gallagher usually has a black Nintendo DS stashed in his suit pocket… his main reason for carrying the device is to give lawmakers some hands-on time with the latest titles the video game industry has to offer.”

    Suuure he does. It’s not to actually pass time in some of those boring meetings, huh? 😀

  2. 0
    Twin-Skies ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “This guy is onto something. You Americans should give every politician a game system. PSPs for republicans and DS’ for Democrats? But what should independent get?”

    Hmm, a GP2X?

  3. 0
    Sidewinder says:

    This guy is onto something. You Americans should give every politician a game system. PSPs for republicans and DS’ for Democrats? But what should independent get?

  4. 0
    DarkTetsuya ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    My point was if he were a fan of Halo or one of those games, he could more easily say ‘hey guys? these games aren’t really that big a deal, if we keep them out of age-inappropriate hands.’ That’s all. Though he probably could play Metroid Prime hunters on DS for all we know…

  5. 0
    Chalts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    DraginHikari is right. You don’t have to be a fan of violent games to be against these stupid laws. I for one will probably never buy Manhunt 2, but I still think all these calls for investigations into the ESRB are ridiculous. Also, showing politicians the ‘good’ side of games is a step in the right direction because it will hopefully help to dispel the preconceptions that so clearly cloud the issues when you hear politicians talk about games. (How many times have you heard someone say that in Grand Theft Auto you get a higher score for killing cops?)

  6. 0
    DraginHikari says:


    Um… not to sound bad or anything, but what does playing violence video games have to do with respenting the gaming community on that angle? Just because someone doesn’t play those games doesn’t really mean they don’t understand the overall point.

    I don’t play Halo or most M games in general but I don’t believe in censoring the games anymore then anyone else here.

  7. 0
    DarkTetsuya ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    To me, saying he plays DS is like saying he played Tetris on the original Gameboy… who didn’t? (Well besides Jack T., I mean)

    Maybe if he played Halo or something he’d make for a better ‘one of our guys’ in the fight over videogame violence.

  8. 0
    Wookiee ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I have to say, since he’s been allowed back Mr. Thompson has been more-or-less civil. He’s been expressing his point of view without much in the way of making blanket statements like gamers are “all sociopaths out to get him” or “all brain dead and on drugs”. Now if he starts making reasonable claims and some hard non-circumstantial evidence to back them up instead of mass conspiracy theories people might start taking him a bit more seriously.

    And that wasn’t sarcasm, sir. I meant it. Keep up the good work.

  9. 0
    chadachada ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @E. Zachary Knight
    i think i agree, making a T16 and move M to 18
    i think halo would fall into the T16 category, its kinda comedic bloody-shooting, not like newer mature games of today

  10. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    @ Zippy

    As I see it, it could help in the long run but currently there is no need. As of 2006 only 31% of all games rated were T an M. Thats not much compared to E and E10 at 69%. When the E10 rating was introduced, there was a lot of strain on the E rating. There were also a number of games that did not quite make it to T but seemed not quite suited for a 6 year old. SO they introduced it. Right now there is little to no strain on the T rating or the M rating. The numbers are not there and the content is not right.

    So while a developer could make a game for a 15 year old crown, it is not really much different than making one for a 13 year old crowd.

    Personally, if I was going to make a long term fix for the rating system, I would make a T16 and move M to 18. This could leave room to just drop the AO while still having a older teen rating.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  11. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    E. Zachary Knight
    Do you think a T15 level would go to help the ESRB or pubs slot off games to better?

    been brewing a idea that in fact T15 might can remove a good bit of pressure from M letting the lesser M titles like Castelvina and others fall to a lower level,while letting slighty harder PG13 stuff go to it to.

  12. 0
    BaronJuJu ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    They actually use Wii’s here in the local hospitals for patients going through physical therapy as part of their routines. It seems to work really well and I can imagine that it helps keep their minds off the pain alot more than standard therapy regimines.

    So many uses for gaming, the word just needs to get out.

  13. 0
    jonc2006 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    videogames have so much potential, its a shame that older people outside of the community commonly pass our hobby off a childs play. sure, there are games that look and play like what your sterotypical “game” is and that they are a big hit with kids. but then we have the ones that take a cinimatic approch and even surpass the quality of some films, some with more mature themes and some without them. the game industy cant possibly survive if it made products that only appealed to kids.

    it may have been that way at the start of the industry but just like books, film and music, it evolves and so does the content, not that it is a bad thing though. like i said earlier, we are really just fighting against time here, almost every other form of media has gone through something similar to this at one point or another and every one of them seems to have pulled through.

  14. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    @ Chadachada

    Yeah it is usually at about 8% I think that the highest I ever saw it for a year was 15%

    I am not sure where, but I have seen yearly pie charts for games released in each rating. M is always the smallest (after AO and EC) The most is E followed by E10 and T. E10 and T are usually around the same size but I think T is bigger most of the time.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  15. 0
    Aciesethon says:

    A laptop with something like Civilization installed would be ideal. Or Defcon, quick and easy to learn, an independant game and chillingly effective in it’s anitnuclear message.

    I’d like to see him demonstrate some homebrew software on that DS as well to show that modding has legitimate purposes (assuming it has homebrew, would someone like to fill me in here). Although my understanding is that ESA lobbies against this.

  16. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    @ Finaleve

    Yes they have an LCD screen for most consoles. I am not sure about this generation, but there was one for all the last gen consoles.

    As for the choice of the DS, I think that he is using the most predominate console. It also has games like Brain Training and such.

    I am sure that he probably thought of using an actual console, but the DS is more convenient and can be pulled out at a moment’s notice to show off a couple of games. You can’t do that with a larger console and LCD screen.

    Politician: “So what is in these “video games”?”
    Gallagher: “Just a moment while I set up this 360?”
    Politician: “Is this going to take long? I have got an appointment in ten minutes.”

    See it is much better to use a hand held that can just be pulled out and turned on.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  17. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I dunno, and when you are going for surprise butt sexz, its best to bring your own equipment 😛

    a WII and a PS2 would fit into a medium sized suitcase, what they need to do is show the solid PG13 titles like FF,Dragon Quest,metroid and a few of the M titles as well.

    Show the grumby old men its no worse than cable LOL.

  18. 0
    finaleve ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It’s a start. I love my DS but there isn’t anything violent about it (Maybe RE:DS but thats it).
    I’d have suggested a PSP since it has more graphic games (Silent Hill is coming out soon i believe).

    Anyways, its the effort of showing that not all games are for kids anymore. It shows that everyone can enjoy the games that are played, no matter the age.

    Don’t they already have a TV set-up for the PS2 anyways? I swear I’ve seen one somewhere…

  19. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    But a think a suitcase with 1-2 consoles in it and a 2 or 4 games and a LCD tv would go longer to help them understand…..the DS and even PSP are not going to have the best selection of games..unless you want to reconfirm games are for kids…….

    I built one use a PS2 and a gamecube used the cubes LCD monitor and could even power them off a car battery,sadly bat time is like 30 min 😛
    but a good old fashioned exstention cord will work as well 😛

  20. 0
    Goosey ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I think the main argument against games is not “it’s not as bad as you think”, though, but the themes that are presented in the games.

    It doesn’t matter how well those themes are handled in the games themselves, the fact still remains that there are people who know nothing about games saying that these themes are only suitable for other media. It’s a knee-jerk reaction that is pretty difficult to untrain in people.

    I like that he’s saying adults should be allowed access to content suitable for adults, though. Now and again I step back and find it hard to believe anyone -needs- to say that.

  21. 0
    Chibi Sylphe ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I like him, he doesn’t just talk about the industry, is an active gamer! That’s the best combination for his job and I like his approach of showing and giving simple facts.

  22. 0
    Tom ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There’s going to be a large old guard that will believe that games are for kids despite anything that Gallagher does. Plenty of people are completely unreasonable and happily believe meager anecdotal evidence that reinforces what they feel is true – that which is “truthy,” if I may use a Colbertism – rather then accept clear empirical evidence that exposes their beliefs as false.

  23. 0
    Shoehorn O'Plenty ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    His approach of actually letting politicians see the games is a good one. Like was claimed in the Bully case, the game contained gay sex (still boggles my mind), killings, racist discrimination, etc. When the judge actually saw it, he said that it was nothing worse than stuff that’s on tv and was practically harmless. More of this is needed, so that politicians’ only source of information is not hysterical, alarmist crackpots and over protective soccer moms looking for help raising thier kids.

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