Gamasutra Considers Obama & Game Legislation

Gamasutra has posted a lengthy piece which examines the state of video game regulation and what we might expect from the Obama administration in regard to games.

Author Neils Clark interviewed me for the article, so I’ll share my quote on Obama and games:

To be honest, I think that when politicians get around to legislating video games that will mean that they’re feeling comfortable with some of the more important issues. Right now there’s so much on President Obama’s table: the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can’t see his administration prioritizing video game content legislation.

Let’s be clear, though. While I don’t think that Obama will be pushing game content legislation from the White House, that certainly doesn’t preclude members of Congress from introducing their own bills, as we saw recently with Calfornia Rep. Joe Baca’s push to include cigarette-like health warnings on games rated T and higher.

State-level efforts, of course, are unaffected by Obama’s view on game legislation. Thus we will likely see a Jack Thompson-authored legislative proposal in Utah soon. California’s contested law will almost certainly head to the U.S. Supreme Court, no matter how the 9th Circuit rules on the state’s pending appeal.

Actually, as I told Neils, going forward I see the fight between consumers and media corporations over IP issues like DRM as even more of a threat to gamers than government legislation. On that score, however, I will qualify one comment I made regarding the feds’ 2007 mod chip raid, which I blasted in the Gamasutra piece:

Yes, mod chips have applications for piracy, but possibly also for homebrew gaming. It seems heavy handed to me to have federal agents kicking down doors over mod chips.

What’s fascinating is that we’re more than a year beyond that [raid] and all of those cases are still sealed in federal court… This is America, what’s going on here? You kick down 32 doors over mod chips more than a year ago and it’s still a big secret?

I did the Gamasutra interview in mid-November, but that was before an investigative report on GamePolitics broke the news that at least one big fish was busted in those 2007 raids. So, while it’s clear that not everyone whose door went down was a small timer, it’s still pretty interesting that the case remains under wraps 18 months later.

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