GameSpot Examines ESA’s Attack on GamePolitics

In his PressSpotting column which ran on GameSpot yesterday, scribe Kyle Orland looked back at last month’s ugly dust-up between the ESA and GamePolitics.

Kyle writes, in part:

Claiming that GamePolitics has a history of "anti-ESA vitriol" just isn’t supported by the facts. Yes, GamePolitics covered the ESA’s recent troubles retaining members, but so have countless other sites that have nothing to do with the ECA. What’s more, GamePolitics’ coverage has been relatively moderate compared to the blistering portrayals of the organization in some corners of the gaming blogosphere.

While I appreciate the support, I’d be remiss if I did not point out that Kyle is off the mark when he refers to the ECA which owns GamePolitics as a "rival" of the ESA. They’re completely different animals.

Hal Halpin created the ECA to represent video game consumers, while the ESA has been around since 1994, representing video game publishers. What this means is that any individual could become an ECA member, if they choose to. Only game publishers can join the ESA.

Perhaps an easier way to think of it is: ECA is game buyers; ESA is game sellers. While there is some common ground (e.g. – censorship), the interests of gamers and publishers often diverge widely.

Back to the point, there’s really so much I could say here. For today  I’ll simply point out that for the ESA to charge me with "anti-ESA vitriol" is ludicrous. Here’s an organization that sat on its hands for years while Jack Thompson said the most vile things about its president, comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Joseph Goebbels.

That former ESA boss, by the way, was a guy I very much respected. Didn’t always agree with, mind you, but respected. The organization has the same P.R. guy now as then, by the way, so what’s different? Why am I suddenly the one with the "vitriol"?

Different management, for one thing, so maybe that’s part of it. Beyond that, I’ve broken a few ESA stories this year, ones they probably didn’t like (closure of the New York office, member company departures), but reporting the news is my job. It’s a competitive business and in this arena, being first with a solid story is what it’s all about.

I’ve also dinged them on a few issues (2007’s mod chip raids, failing to speak up on the Mass Effect-Fox News debacle, signing Gov. Rick Perry to keynote E3) and, again, as a commentator, that’s part of my job description.

That said, I’m certainly not against the ESA as an entity. The video game industry surely needs a voice in Washington and in state legislatures. It needs an organization to represent its interests. I may not always agree with what the ESA does, but that comes with the territory.

While I’m at it, let me describe the relationship between GamePolitics and the ECA: ECA owns GamePolitics. They pay me to edit the site, and I operate it just as I have since I founded GP in early 2005. Hal Halpin’s office is in Connecticut. Mine is in Pennsylvania. I see Hal a couple of times a year at trade shows. The last time we were face-to-face was November, 2007 at VGXPO here in Philly. I’ll see him at E3 later this month.

Hal and I trade a few IM’s and e-mails on most days, have the very occasional phone call. But from Day One, Hal has insisted on maintaining GP’s editorial freedom; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Obviously, Hal is running a business with the ECA and hopes to sign up as many members as he can. I wish him all the best with those efforts, but I don’t get involved in that aspect. I mention this by way of demonstrating that while we get along quite well, the ECA does not dictate, approve or edit GP’s content in any way. I was very pleased to see that Kyle Orland understands this:

There’s a difference between being owned by a company and being a paid shill for that company. GamePolitics is clearly the former but not the latter.

UPDATE: GamePolitics stories tagged with "ESA" as far back as August, 2007 are listed here. If you want, you can decide for yourself on how fairly I’ve covered the ESA.

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  1. j0k3r says:

    Thanks good job;

    Btw, I think Atari and Midway will drop out too, but mostly travesti because  these guys have done nothing travesti or little and need to start saving costs. and dizi izle


    Now I don’t have to get off my ass for the important shit anymore!

    Whats next, ordering pizza from Xbox live?

    Wait… I think that sounds like a good idea.

    But I think voting should MAKE you get off your ass, and see outside or a second while you go vote. I mean, your picking the president of the United States of America for God’s Sake… least you can do is drive down there and punch out a card.

  2. oto kirlama says:

    I’m all for freedom of ttnet vitamin speech and allowing rent a car game makers to put whatever they want in games, but there’s one thing about this app that has me scratching my head.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but from araç kiralama the previous article araba kiralama on this I gathered that players can use Google maps in-game to find the other (real-life?) dealers in their area.  If this is the case, has travesti anyone considered what’s stopping someone from using this app to actually move drugs between hands for reals?

    But majority araba kiralama of their outrage araç kiralama stems from what it could DO TO children, not the content itself.  Talk to one of these people and you’ll find they don’t think any books kiralık araba should be banned from children.  Mention American Psycho and they talk about kiralık araç the redeeming value of using imagination to construct a story.  Reading, no matter what the content, is largely viewed as a consequenceless activity for people of any age.  The reason why I mention American Psycho is because of the content itself.  Gaming never has and likely never will have any scenes where someone has sex with a severed head.  Not gonna happen.  Yet despite this, they’ll fight tooth and nail to protect their children from two boys kissing in Bully but whatever they read is harmless… yeah.

    The entire arguement is kiralık oto based upon a social normality inflicted by luddites who can’t figure out the controls for Halo so it’s frightening and terrifying and obviously the cause of youth violence on the rise even though, in reality, it’s in decline (which is actually a HUGE suprise given minibüs kiralama the economies status).  In  a perfect world, we would have parents that actually parent.  The idea of sales restrictions on media on oto kiralama any form to accomidate parental unwillingness to get involved with their child’s life is the real problem to me.  Here I am, 32 years old, and being held up at a self-scan rent a car needing to show ID before I can buy a $10 M rated game all because Soccer Momthra can’t be bothered to look at the crap Billy Genericallystupidson does in his free time.  It’s too hard for her, so I have to suffer?

  3. Krono says:

    Except that that’s not what GP wants us to think. It’s what some have decided based on their actions as reported by GP and elsewhere.


  4. Burke ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Then I would suggest you read it again.. Nowhere do I find any of the exhortation to "Get an ECA membership" in the text above.. Unless you happen to be commenting about the pro-ECA comments..

    Other than the "Love for ECA" vibe from the article above, I’m not seeing any request/begging/exhortation to join the ECA there.. Or were u seeing some illusionary subliminal advertising that I can’t see…

  5. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    While I do like GP and appreciate them and what they do, they do have an obvious pro-game bias.


    -If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we’d all be livin’ large. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard Medical School researchers Larry Kutner and Cheryl Olson

  6. Burke ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Erm.. Ya do realise that that’s a pretty extreme oversimplification there..

    Chances are, you’re only going to attract the shrill voices who’d go on about how GP lacks professionalism and/or journalistic integrity and/or editorial freedom.. Or complain about how GP is an industry shrill…

  7. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yes, GP WANTS you to think they have editorial freedom, but the entire time I read the article the only thing I saw, was "Get an ECA membership" printed over and over again.

  8. Aliasalpha says:

    I’d like to make a guess if I may:

    Methinitis: Mr thompson, could you please cite your source on that?


    Server Message: User "Jac|<Th0/\/\ps0n, @t0rn3y" has left the lobby


  9. JackDon'tKnowJack says:

    @Mr. Methinitis:

    Completely off-topic but, forgive me, I’m catching as catch can.

    What ever became of the debate between you and Jack Thompson? 


  10. I wasn’t forgetting the IGDA (heck, I’m a member), but they do have members from across the sepctrum in addition to just developers (like me, for example).  I mostly mentioned the three Es because they I think their similar acronyms cause them to be mixed up more often.

  11. TJLK says:


    Mark: I think not mentioning the IGDA (International Game Developers Association) would be ignoring an extremely important and influential part of the industry.

    ECA = Consumers

    EMA = Retailers

    ESA = Publishers

    IGDA = Developers

    It is no secret that I’m not exactly a fan of some of the policies held by the ESA but I don’t deny they are needed.  Everyone needs to be represented at the table if the industry is going to be kept self-regulated.

    I tend to side more with the ECA and IGDA because those are two things I’m interested in.  Developing games and gaming.  I do believe that the ECA is growing and it is only a matter of time before gamers are taken seriously.  All there is to say is "it is about time."  Hal Halpin hit the nail on the head when he started the ECA, and it is exactly what the industry needed.  It is important to remember the success of the ECA revolves greatly around team effort.  I hope to see the chapter list grow and I hope to see some of those chapters doing interesting things.  (And I’m certain you will.) 😉

    If you think about it… even game developers are gamers, game retailers are probably all gamers, game publishers are probably all gamers.  Not being interested in the very thing you sell, promote or create doesn’t make much sense to me.  I believe essentially everyone is and has been a gamer first.  Even if you’re only a gamer and only interested in gaming there is more than plenty that you need to be concerned about.  The only way to strengthen your voice or make a difference is to get involved and to gain knowledge on the situation.

    I think it is important to mention when I say I "side" with the ECA and IGDA I don’t mean they are right and the others are wrong.  I don’t mean they necessarily support all the exact same ideas.  I’m saying their concerns are more inline with my own because to my interests and goals.


  12. tollwutig says:

    well Dennis you should know my opinion by now, I support GP, and I think your record shows you don’t actually harbor anything against the ESA, well except thier lack or response to you know who.  Why they think you have something against them I have no idea… but then my opinion is semi-biased as one of those semi-GP employees.

  13. Olvan says:

    Now, if only they could use all that energy complaining about all the negative crap in the medias instead of complaining about GP. Can you imagine how effective they would be?



  14. TBoneTony ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    You and ESA are like me and my Dad,

    While we both don’t always see eye to eye, I can talk to him and we can exchange different opinions.

    GamePolitics, wheather it be a news site or a blogging site like what some people like to call it, I feel it is the best for Gaming News as well as in the UK that covers the Videogame Business stuff while you focus on the political side of it.

    And for that, I love reading your site for the news in the Games political front and the for the Games Business stuff.

    One thing I thought about this week, I was talking to a friend of mine who is in high school and I remembered that I did Psychology back in my High School years, but that was way back in 2004, a year before GamePolitics first came online.

    Now since we have got things like GamePolitics and books like Grand Theft Childhood, they would have been interesting for me for resources to talk to my teacher about Videogames, how they are portrayed in the Media and why is all this missinformation about Videogames and Violence going around where in truth the lab research in Psychology that is based on Videogames is heavily flawed and how it might be better to simply ask the kids and teenagers about why they love playing videogames instead of making up hypothosis out of something the researches never really took the time to understand videogames for themselves in the first place.

    Or at least play videogames at all to see if they felt like killing someone in real life. And if they don’t then that means that Videogames don’t always influence violence.

    That was my train of thought and how I tried my best to explain it to a friend of mine though, if it was me talking to my phychology teacher if they did also happen to play Videogames, then I would have gone into allot more depth and detail in my conversation.

  15. A viking says:

    I was just about to write something along these lines, but realized I couldn’t have said it any better. This is the only news source I check on a daily basis, which probably makes me the least well rounded person I know but I’m a history major so why should I be grounded in current events?

  16. Alderune says:

    In all honesty GP, I’ve been following the website since 2006 I think it was (The Utah Game as Porn Bill). You’re the first and last website I visit daily. I’ve always appreciated your opinions. And while you criticize the ESA, it isn’t ONLY the ESA you criticize. You don’t sidestep the way most mainstream media does. I appreciate OPEN HONEST and FAIR opinions. You’re not going out on a limb to knock people (Whack Thompson, Faux News, etc). 

    I’ll be a GP member for life! Is my hippie showing? Maybe I should get some cream for that…. 

  17. Funky J ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Game Politics is unbiased? That comment made me choke on my breakfast!

    I am willing to give GP credit where credit is due, they do some great stories, but to claim this site is "unbiased" is ridiculous.

    Many stories are posted without effort to contact the people involved in the stories for clarification – they’re just lifted from another site and re-written with the original authors bias as "pro-game" or "anti-game", when the truth of the matter is often the story is neither.

    And on many stories, the author has proceeded to "comment" on the story, which is merely the posters opinion and never actually backed up by fact.

    People keep claiming this site has journalistic integrity, but I see little here, and much more effort needs to be made, OR pretense to "journalistic integrity" needs to be dropped.

  18. Saladin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dennis, just keep it up. You’ve got ubiased views, and I’m highly appreciative of that. You give everybody a fair shake when they present a good opinion or topic.

  19. Pixelantes Anonymous says:

    "I think it simply amounts the the ESA refusign to admit to any wrongdoing."

    I think it’s even simpler just a different type of defense mechanism than what they had before.

    Before their defense mechanism was to withdraw inside a cocoon and hide. Now they’re going on an attack (sometimes).

  20. kurisu7885 (can't log in) says:

    I think it simply amounts the the ESA refusign to admit to any wrongdoing.

    That said, keep it up dude, you and your correspondant team do a great job, regardless of what corporate execs or what wananbe lawyers say.

  21. HalfShadow says:


    Toll:  While it is nice and imaginative,  I think it’d be best if they didn’t, or we didn’t at least tell  them to do it.

  22. cppcrusader says:

    Heh, I was about to say the same thing.

    What I find interesting is the fact that a game journalist doesn’t understand the difference.  Of course, we see this confusion of what the ECA is about once a month it seems like.  I wonder if a new advertising strategy might be in order to fix this.

  23. Not to be hyper-technical, but I really think it’s more along the lines of

    ECA = Game Buyers
    EMA = Game Sellers
    ESA = Game Makers

    That’s the "trifecta," I suppose.  And IMO, all three are important to the industry and community at large.

  24. "Why am I suddenly the one with the "vitriol"?"

    I should think it obvious, D.  With everything else happening to the ESA, everything out of their control, they will naturally lash out at someone, anyone, to divert attention from that fact.  And a small new site with a good following is a perfect target!

    If things continue this way, the ESA is on it’s way out and ECA on it’s way in and this has nothing to do with anything the ECA, You, or anyone else has done… they f’n did it to themselves by representing the business interests of a growing industry instead of the consumer interest of a growing movement. 

    The ESA is Dead! 
    Long live the ECA!

  25. Grendal says:

    I don’t think anyone ever really beleived the ESA about you Dennis, certainly not here and not on the other major gaming news sites. You’ve reported the facts about what was going on with the the ESA, it’s not your fault that the recent news has been less than good. If the ESA doesn’t want bad news to be reported than maybe they should get there act together.

  26. Anonymous says:

    It’s nice having a news site like this where we get the gamer’s side of things. I just wish we could get someone to prove Faux is such a craptastic news source so we can show people why they shouldn’t listen to that kind of news.

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