Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA Grant

September 30, 2008 -

Buried deep in last week's ESA press release which detailed a million bucks worth of grants to non-profits was word that the National Institute on Media and the Family was to be one of nine funding recipients.

NIMF is an interesting selection for the ESA, to say the least. Over the years the group has been a highly vocal, politically well-connected, and rational (in contrast to certain other critics) thorn in the side of the video game industry.

As recently as November, 2005, for example, NIMF head David Walsh, flanked by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), gave the ESRB an "F" on its Annual Video Game Report Card. In its 2007 report card, NIMF charged the game industry with "an ominous backslide on multiple fronts." Walsh has also worked with Hillary Clinton and other members of Congress on video game sex and violence issues.

Given NIMF's history as self-appointed media watchdog, it's more than a little surprising to see the group accept funding from the video game industry. Doing so raises obvious conflict of interest questions and GamePolitics put those issues to NIMF. Late yesterday, spokesman Darin Broton responded on behalf of the organization:

For 12 years, the Institute has been a leader in helping families maximize the benefit and minimize the harm of media. To continue our success in helping parents navigate the constantly changing technology, the Institute will work with organizations that support its mission to give parents the tools to make them even more successful. Reasonable organizations can disagree on principle, but can work together for the betterment of families and children. 

 

This isn’t the first time the Institute has worked with an organization it has been at odds with in the past. As you may recall, we worked together with the ESRB earlier this year during the release of GTA IV. The two organizations issued a joint statement telling parents to beware and follow the ESRB’s rating on the box. Where there are areas of agreement, the Institute will work with reasonable organizations to help parents and families. If the Institute has concerns with a particular issue within the gaming industry, we will respond appropriately. Nothing has changed.

Broton also told GP that the amount of the ESA grant is $50,000, but did not respond to our question as to whether NIMF approached the ESA regarding funding or vice-versa. According to the ESA press release the grant will be used to "develop an on-line e-learning zone for using the latest interactive technologies to help kids and adults understand the issues and potential areas of concern with the Internet."

GP: Broton is correct to point out that NIMF worked with ESRB on the GTA IV advisory. However, there's a wide gap between "working with" and "accepting money from." Whether one agrees or disagrees with NIMF and its mission, taking funding from the industry it purports to be watching is a credibility-damaging decision on the organization's part.

What were they thinking?


Comments

Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

Hey guys shut up the ESA wants us all to sit on our thumbs and twirl well everyone else is trying to ban games

Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

It'll be interesting to see what the report card says this year.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

Who was is that promised to out organizations/politicians/whoever that accepted donations from the video game industry? Was that NIMF or someone else? Or am I remembering something that never happened?

Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

That was the PTC.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
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Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

Actually, "working with" is a lot more damaging to credibility than "accepting money." Let's all calm down now people. The NIMF has been a lot more logical and less persecuting than anyone else. This isn't Liberman; this isn't Clinton, and it sure as hell isn't Thompson. The only problem I've had with the NIMF is their attacks towards the ESRB, claiming the ESRB isn't doing it's job. We've got 2 players, on the same team, fighting for the same goal, but the NIMF was attacking their own quarterback for the opportunity to make that winning touchdown for their own personal glory, rather than thinking about what's best for the team. If they want to be on our side, let'em.

Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

While I can see where this can be a potential 'conflict of interest', I could also see how this could be a step twoards both groups being on the same side.  While NIMF and ESA have locked horns in the past there is no fundemental reason for them to be fighting eachother.

I could easily see a bit of middleground being found.  If the ESA puts work in to addressing NIMF concerns, that reduces the need of NIMF to go to people like Lieberman and Clinton to pull weight for them.  At that point the NIMF can reduce it's hostility and help the ESA keep things going too.   In other words, much of the conflict between them exists simply to manage the conflict.. the actual goals are not incompatible.

Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

So the ESA sold us out?  Doing business with any company with any connections other than negitive ones with Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, and other worthless like minded politicians is not good for the industry.  What is this for?  More DRM laws that let publishers put the software in the games?  This would be like ECA having Jack Thompson or a group that represents Jack Thompson represent them legally isn't it?

I like this whole situation as much as I like hearing Bush assure us that everything is going to be okay, or Palin even being close to the VP seat.

Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
How to set Xbox 360 Parental Controls

Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

"develop an on-line e-learning zone for using the latest interactive technologies to help kids and adults understand the issues and potential areas of concern with the Internet."

If this is what the money is to be used for, then I don't see it as a conflict of interest. The "areas of concern" to an extent dovetail with areas and topics that effect video games. For example, there are sites and services on the internet that are for adults only. Same with games. People should be responsible with their personal details on the internet, same as within games online (remember the xbox live nude pics for points and the DS pedophile tool reports?).

Anything that helps kids and especially parents become more knowledgeable about how to be more responsible with technology can only help the video game industry. I would prefer however, if they included things like parental controls on the consoles and the ESRB ratings in this program to ensure that parents have this knowledge, but anything that raises parental awareness and responsibility is a good thing.

Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

They do have parental controls on consoles, they have them this gen and I'm pretty sure they had them last gen.

----------------------------------------------------

God created alcohol so that the Scottish and the Irish could never take over the world. -Chris 'Jedi' Knight

---------------------------------------------------- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

Last gen was only for the DVD-movie component. It was first implemented with the new gen and vista.

Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

Looks like the ESA has decided to go for a 'Bribe them until they like us' approach.


-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Conflict of Interest? NIMF Responds to GP Queries on ESA

Conquer and divide comes to mind as well.

A really weird move by NIMF. Jackhole has been on David Walsh'es case for the imaginary BestBuy funding, and now they take money from the very industry they're trying to influence with their campaign. Critics of NIMF are going to have a field day with this one.

-- http://pixelantes.blogspot.com/

 
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MattsworknameWilson: how? Im still waiting for my upgrade notice07/29/2015 - 3:44am
Matthew WilsonI updated to a clean instill of windows 10.07/29/2015 - 2:36am
Mattsworknameargue that it's wrong, but then please admit it's wrong on ALL Fronts07/29/2015 - 2:06am
MattsworknameTechnoGeek: It's actually NOT, but it is a method used all across the specturm. See Rush limbaugh, MSNBC, Shawn hannity, etc etc, how many compagns have been brought up to try and shut them down by going after there advertisers. It's fine if you wanna07/29/2015 - 2:05am
Mattsworknamediscussed, while not what I liked and not the methods I wanted to see used, were , in a sense, the effort of thsoe game consuming masses to hold what they felt was supposed to be there press accountable for what many of them felt was Betrayal07/29/2015 - 2:03am
MattsworknameAs we say, the gamers are dead article set of a firestorm among the game consuming populace, who, ideally, were the intended audiance for sites like Kotaku, Polygon, Et all. As such, the turn about on them and the attacking of them, via the metods07/29/2015 - 2:03am
MattsworknameAndrew: Thats kind fo the issue at hand, Accountable is a matter of context. For a media group, it means accountable to its reader. to a goverment, to it's voters and tax payer, to a company, to it's share holders.07/29/2015 - 2:02am
Andrew EisenAnd again, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published?07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - I disagree with your 9:12 and 9:16 comment. There are myriad ways to address content you don't like. And they're far easier to execute in the online space.07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Banning in the legal sense? Not that I'm aware but there have certainly been groups of gamers who have worked towards getting content they don't like removed.07/28/2015 - 11:45pm
DanJAlexander's editorial was and continues to be grossly misrepresented by her opponents. And if you don't like a site, you stop reading it - same as not watching a tv show. They get your first click, but not your second.07/28/2015 - 11:40pm
TechnogeekYes, because actively trying to convince advertisers to influence the editorial content of media is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, especially for a movement that's ostensibly about journalistic ethics.07/28/2015 - 11:02pm
Mattsworknameanother07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
Mattsworknameyou HAVE TO click on it. So they get the click revenue weather you like what it says or not. as such, the targeting of advertisers most likely seemed like a good course of action to those who wanted to hold those media groups accountable for one reason07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
MattsworknameBut, when you look at online media, it's completely different, with far more options, but far few ways to address issues that the consumers may have. In tv, you don't like what they show, you don't watch. But in order to see if you like something online07/28/2015 - 9:12pm
MattsworknameIn tv, and radio, ratings are how it works. your ratings determine how well you do and how much money you an charge.07/28/2015 - 9:02pm
Mattsworknameexpect to do so without someone wanting to hold you to task for it07/28/2015 - 9:00pm
MattsworknameMecha: I don't think anyone was asking for Editoral changes, what they wanted was to show those media groups that if they were gonna bash there own audiance, the audiance was not gonna take it sitting down. you can write what you want, but you can't07/28/2015 - 8:56pm
MattsworknameAndrew, Im asking as a practical question, Have gamers, as a group, ever asked for a game, or other item, to be banned. Im trying to see if theres any cases anyone else remembers cause I cant find or remember any.07/28/2015 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenAs mentioned, Gamasutra isn't a gaming site, it's a game industry site. I don't feel it's changed its focus at all. Also, I don't get the sense that the majority of the people who took issue with that one opinion piece were regular readers anyway.07/28/2015 - 8:43pm
 

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