Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) President Hal Halpin talks to Destructoid about SOPA, PIPA, the importance of advocacy, his thoughts on the VGVN and League for Gamers, Kickstarter, what the gamer advocacy group has planned going forward, and much more.
We want you to go over and read the Destructoid interview because they ask some great questions, but we could not resist stealing two answers from Halpin on the fight against various laws being pushed by lawmakers in Washington D.C. and his comments on VGVN. First the question about past advocacy efforts:
We interviewed you a little over four years ago. At the time, the main threat to gamers was a sensationalistic public. The Mass Effect sex scandal was the big thing. Since then we’ve seen some major victories for interactive media in the courts, and some really great progress in winning over the American people. Within the past few months, however, it seems gaming has been slammed on all sides by publishers and politicians. With the rise of SOPA/PIPA, the introduction of warning labels on games and rumors about anti-used games measures for the next generation of consoles, where do you think the greatest threat to our medium lies in the coming future?
The easy answer is with our digital rights, generally. As witnessed with SOPA, PIPA, ACTA and now CISPA, the movement by trade associations which represents the rights of companies in the movie, music and games sectors is persistent and well-funded. We're very proud of our success with SOPA and PIPA, being one of just a few nonprofits in the coalition, but it's clear from a recent visit to meet with Congressional legislators and their senior staffers that our digital rights, as consumers, will be our focus, politically.
The next answer is a little stronger to a question about the ESA's Video Game Voters Network and League For Gamers:
Mark Kern from Red 5 Studios and the League for Gamers has recently gone on record stating that he felt that ESA and more specifically the Video Game Voters Network has let gamers down. Do you agree?
I'm familiar with Red 5, but know very little about either Mark or his nonprofit. My initial reaction to their formation was confusion to be honest. Since ECA exists, is established and influential, why would there be a need for another similar entity that isn't? Wouldn't it be far more productive to simply lend support to an org that has full-time dedicated staff and who've all come from a decade each of running other nonprofits (IEMA and ESA)? I don't know… As for Video Game Voters Network, they've been publicly called out for being an astroturfing entity many times, including Destructoid. It's a machine that ESA turns on and off when needed, politically. Consumers sign up and provide their information to a database, likely believing that they're joining a nonprofit that represents gamers and our rights. But an ESA staffer only flicks the switch on when the rights in question align with their own interests. That stopped being speculation and became fact during the SOPA/PIPA situation, which is why VGVN's own members and the endemic press became so upset and concerned. Those feelings have since been dealt with and VGVN goes on, recruiting new members to replace those that left. I'm not sure what else can be done about it, as astroturfing isn't illegal yet.
You can check out the entire Destructoid interview with Hal Halpin here.
[Full disclosure: GamePolitics is an ECA publication.]