Jim Sterling’s Open Letter to the ESA on SOPA

Destructoid's irreverent and outspoken Jim Sterling pens an open letter to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) to point out their hypocrisy for supporting free speech in one instance and then going against it in another. 

He is speaking of the entertainment industry trade group's support of SOPA and Protect IP, in the aftermath of arguing about first amendment rights in Brown v. EMA before the Supreme Court in 2011. When the ESA asked gamers to support them, we came to their aid, but now that we need them to fight against laws that take away our free speech they seem to be on the opposite side of the issue. Even the Video Game Voter’s Network, a web site purportedly created to support the rights of gamers, is silent on the issue.

Does free speech only apply to corporations and is the ESA a fair-weather friend to the First Amendment? We'll let Jim Sterling's open letter, found here, fill in the blanks:

Dear Entertainment Software Association,

Last year, when free speech in the videogame industry was threatened, you asked for help from gamers. The famous Brown vs. EMA/ESA case provided a landmark ruling that protected videogame content under the First Amendment. You appealed to gamers for their support and coverage, and many gamers rallied around the industry.

Now, when free speech at large is threatened, you not only refuse to fight the threat, you actually join forces with it. You operate a group that claims to protect free speech — the Videogame Voters Network — and pretend to champion the rights of gamers, but until you stop supporting the Stop Online Piracy Bill, that's all the VGVN is — a pretense.

It is hypocrisy on a most despicable level to continue supporting SOPA after asking gamers to fight for the rights of the game industry. You are sending the message that you want exclusive freedom for your stable of publishers, while the freedom of others means nothing. You are sending the message that the ESA is an organization that begs for help from a community, only to abandon and betray that community at the earliest convenience. You are the Starscream of trade associations.

I find it wholly disgusting that you support SOPA in light of what you pretend to fight for, and what you asked of us all just months before. As other companies dissolve their allegiance with this poorly written, glaringly broken bill, I ask you to do the same. Do not be Starscream. Do for the Internet what you asked the Internet to do for you.

Thank you,
Jim Sterling
Reviews Editor, Destructoid.com


In using an image of Starscream for a blog header, I could risk becoming a felon. What fun!

You'll get no arguments from us. We agree with Jim – but we would include the EMA in that letter too, because they also support SOPA.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    And with this they have shown that the VGVN is complete land utter bullshit, only to be adhered to when they have something to gain from it.



  2. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    1) not sure if you are implying that the ECA and the ESA are related. They are not. the ESA operates the Videogame Voters Network (VGVN) which purports to defend the rights of gamers. In all honesty it only supports gamers rights as long as they rights are the same as video game developers rights.

    2) I think it is just as bad that the games industry wants to censor the internet. No person or entity has the right to that kind of power.

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

  3. 0
    Kojiro says:

    To be fair, the ESA does represent the business end.  The ECA represents gamers.  I would be outraged if the ECA supported SOPA.  But not surprised that the ESA does.

  4. 0
    Vake Xeacons says:

    OORAH! Couldn't have said it better myself. We all should be writing letters to the ESA on this account. Just wish I could reword it better.

    Jim, you have our total support!

Leave a Reply