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Help Defend Gaming: Sign the Gamer Petition

Hal Halpin's Avatar + Posted by Hal Halpin on Jul 15, 2010 // President, Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA)

Sign the Gamer Petition here.

ECA: Entertainment Consumers Association

This winter, the game industry — developers, publishers, retailers, et al — will face the single biggest legal challenge that such entertainment, broadly, has ever been up against and in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The State of California had appealed the U.S. Ninth Circuit decision to strike down the so-called CA “video game violence” law in Schwarzenegger v EMA, which every court had done in every such “violent video game” case. But this time was different; For the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case (via “accepting certiorari” aka “cert”). To be blunt, none of us expected it and we were all taken back by the decision. Just 1% of cases filed are granted cert — one percent!

At stake: gaming in America. Yes, you read that correctly.

California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) is the former child psychologist who championed the “violent video game” bill from inception and is coordinating with California Attorney General, Jerry Brown (D-Oakland), and their legal team to muster forces representing the anti-game side. In the pro-games corner are trade associations which represent the corporations which make and sell games and other groups which have skin in the game, such as First Amendment rights organizations. Both sides have an impressive roster of academics, researchers and legal teams committed to a decisive win. Forget 800-pound gorillas; this is more like armies going to war. And the reason is simple: all legal precedent can go right out the window. The slate is cleaned.

In the time since the Court’s announcement there has been a lot of media coverage, both from the enthusiast outlets and the national press. A disturbing theme that you’d find too often in the consumer comments is one of apathy. Perhaps it arose from winning in each of the violence in video game cases. Maybe because, from our perspective, it’s hard to wrap your head around the idea that we could lose — the logic seems pretty obvious. But this is the U.S. Supreme Court, the only court in our country where the Justices don’t have to “follow the law” because they make the law that everyone else follows. And here’s the rub, as industry executives will openly admit: a loss wouldn’t just be limited to any one demographic, such as minors; or any one area, such as California; or even to any one art form, such as video games. It wouldn’t solely change how games are merchandised and sold. Should the U.S. Supreme Court determine that games may not necessarily enjoy the same First Amendment protections as music and movies do now, it would be catastrophic and the implications for gaming and gamers, and entertainment consumers generally, widespread.

Many states and legislators across the country will be watching the outcome of this case closely and are eager to see that there may be an opportunity to re-start their regulatory efforts. Developers are anxious because their rights as artists and creators may be substantially diminished. A loss would have a chilling effect on the medium as a whole — not limited to the United States. Other forms of media could quickly follow, with movies, music, books and all other previously protected First Amendment free speech on the block. Foreign governments often fashion and amend their own laws after SCOTUS decisions. Retailers and publishers, who presently employ a self-regulated ratings system (ESRB), not unlike movies, may be forced to comply with a regulatory environment, like alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. This case may significantly impact the rights of minors, as one of many First Amendment points to be debated will likely be whether minors have them or deserve to keep them. The age of majority is also inconsistent from state to state… The business, legal and cultural implications are mind-boggling.

In most SCOTUS cases, the perspective of the citizens is represented by the politicians — who are presumed to be representing the will of the people. The industry and its trade organizations represent the business. The idea of abdicating our personal consumer representation to the political figures in this case was and is unfathomable.

The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) is the non-profit membership organization which represents the rights of gamers in the U.S. and Canada. Our members pay an annual dues fee and in exchange receive advocacy representation, affinity benefits and discounts on games-related goods and services. We will be submitting a Friend of the Court document, called the consumer amicus brief, in support of the industry. That move, while it may appear obvious, is very uncommon. Similar membership organizations such as AAA or AARP are among the few that have the resources to bring such a document to bear. Additionally, ECA will be attaching a consumer petition, which any American of any age can sign on to. It simply, but emphatically, states:

We, the undersigned American video game consumers, purchase, rent and play video games the way we do other entertainment content such as movies and music. We respectfully request that you hold that video games are indeed free speech, protected under the First Amendment, like other entertainment media.

Petitions, historically, have not made or broken any SCOTUS cases; they have little legal bearing. The vast majority of what will determine whether we win or lose is predetermined. What a consumer amicus, and attached petition, will do is inform the justices, staff, clerks, historians, members of the Bar and Supreme Court press corps that consumers, in this case, are represented by consumers — not politicians. We will be showing that the will of the people is present, is not “covered” by a few select elected officials, and that we are making our case via the consumer amicus and also backing it up with the convictions of petition signatories. A petition that is viewed as successful may or may not be impactful, but one that is not successful could in fact harm the case. Maybe the amicus and petition will only change the game by one percent. Maybe it’ll be the same long odds that led to it being heard in the first place.

If you care about gaming and your rights, please, consider signing the petition.

//Add Your Own

221 Comments   20 Replies

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1

+ carbonfiberworm7 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:04 pm said:

Even though I’m Canadian, I’m watching this with a huge amount of worry.


2

+ RynoIV on July 15th, 2010 at 12:05 pm said:

I have signed this petition. Games deserve the same protections as other forms of entertainment.


3

+ xaos on July 15th, 2010 at 12:06 pm said:

I’m actually one of Senator Yee’s constituents who hand-delivered a letter to his office expressing my concern over this legislation before it was passed. The Senator’s office never saw fit to respond to me at all, so I feel like he is pretty uninterested in any input on this issue, unfortunately.


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 12:43 pm said:

    I’m sorry. That happens far too often, but typically for reasons that are understandable (i.e. human error). To be fair to Senator Yee, it’s not likely that he’s the one to blame. But you’re right that his office probably should have been more thorough, Xaos.


4

+ ballsofsteelss on July 15th, 2010 at 12:07 pm said:

for some clarification is this supposed law to simply BAN violent video games in general or to restrict it to those are above 18?


5

+ ballsofsteelss on July 15th, 2010 at 12:08 pm said:

is this law a ban on all violent video games or just to restrict it to those above 18?


6

+ nokedimyo on July 15th, 2010 at 12:08 pm said:

This is a very good idea since many politicians seem to have the misguided belief that violent video games turn people into psychopaths.


7

+ DeviantBoi on July 15th, 2010 at 12:09 pm said:

The ECA is a sham. They’ll gladly take your money online, but then require you to submit a snail mail to remove you from their list because they don’t have the ability to do it online… and if you don’t send it, they’ll charge you the annual fee all over again, and you can’t do anything about it. Don’t support this organization.


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 1:09 pm said:

    I’m sorry that you’re still upset. Members can cancel their membership in the association at any time once logged in to their profile on the main website (http://www.theeca.com), by selecting Membership and following the appropriate steps.


8

+ carbonfiberworm7 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:10 pm said:

I would also like to add that, the US government needs to stop being the moral police and realize that the PARENTS need to stop their kids from playing violent games.


9

+ Anubis80 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:12 pm said:

@2 RynoIV

Your absolutely right! How is that music (ie rap) talk about drugs and killing but its not ok for video games? What about tv shows? Or movies? They are just looking for something to blame.


10

+ Anti-BarbieClone on July 15th, 2010 at 12:13 pm said:

I sign the petition, it shouldn’t be fair to take games away from those who are old enough to handle it. If parents dont want their kids to play violent games, then they should take the responsibility of not buying them for their children.


11

+ Enigma777 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:15 pm said:

Signed.


12

+ Koga_Inuzuka on July 15th, 2010 at 12:15 pm said:

What is wrong with this picture? It’s not that there are violent video games, it’s because there are extraordinarily idiotic parents out there. It’s called FREE WILL people! We all have it! There is NO REASON for the US Government to ban video games of any form. Video games are not detrimental to anybodies health. If anything video games help certain minds expand. Using myself as an example, my vocabulary and imagination grew from the video games I played. Sure, it seems like a biased opinion since I love video games so much that I am now going to college to make them. But that’s what drove me, what inspired me! There are others out there in the world who even use violent video games to take their minds off of some stress that is in their lives. I once again repeat that there is NO REASON for the US Government to ban ANY FORM OF VIDEO GAME.


13

+ Haskell420 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:16 pm said:

I’m signing this one, as well as the one I got from Gamespot.com where I signed up a long time ago for a different Pro video game thing…lol But in all seriousnous, bottom line is that if your a gamer, your signing!!


14

+ ManaKnight on July 15th, 2010 at 12:17 pm said:

First of all Hal, while I’m glad to see you standing up for this, I’m still upset over your ECA group screwing us CAGs over making it impossible to cancel our memberships. Even when some of us still canceled, you still found a way to charge us. Therefore, I rather not get involved in this all because of the ECA.

Hal, you deserve the CAG villain award from 2009.


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 1:12 pm said:

    Please see my response to Deviant Boy, above.


15

+ Enigma777 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:17 pm said:

@5: They added an option on their website where you can cancel your yearly subscription…


16

+ BlooodyCow on July 15th, 2010 at 12:17 pm said:

I sign and I will create a chain mail later to day link it to this blog post. Let your fellow PSN friends be aware of the situation.


17

+ SalMoriarty on July 15th, 2010 at 12:17 pm said:

Hate to be a wet towel, but the First Amendment will win out in this. Any attorney with half a brain will defend based on the merits of the First Amendment.


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 12:34 pm said:

    I hope you’re right, Sal… for all our sakes’


18

+ The_End004500 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:19 pm said:

The US Government needs to allow the parents to do the deciding.


19

+ Uraizen on July 15th, 2010 at 12:19 pm said:

You sure we can sign the petition online? Maybe we should send a letter with our signature instead.


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 12:29 pm said:

    Yes, the petition will be appended (attached) to the amicus brief. If you’re so inclined, please use the form on our site reachable via the link above, or http://gamerpetition.org


20

+ Shadow_00 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:19 pm said:

I am from Puerto Rico, and we are a territory of the United States of America, this will affect us as well. I am a father of 2 kids, 12 & 8 years, they are gamers, so do I. I restrict my kids the games they can play according to their age, I will sign this (if I can).


21

+ Major01 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:20 pm said:

Liberals are trying to control everything these days! Let the parents decide for their own children.


22

+ xiked on July 15th, 2010 at 12:23 pm said:

This is insane! Im from Sweden and I hope you guys/girls in US get out on the streets and show them that this is just bullocks! Im getting VERY worried! I don´t want soccer mom games ffs!!!


23

+ KainDrake on July 15th, 2010 at 12:23 pm said:

The ESRB was created, retail ask for ID before selling a game. So why is this happening? The answer: stupid parents who think they did nothing wrong by buying a violent/sexual game for their kid!


24

+ Shadow_00 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:25 pm said:

I just signed it, and I will spread the word on my gaming community and our forum.


25

+ LightAce on July 15th, 2010 at 12:26 pm said:

*proudly signed


26

+ poweredbyzen on July 15th, 2010 at 12:27 pm said:

kinda like the new rubber band craze that’s making kids psychologically unstable. there’s still the oil leak issue, people! focus on THAT!


27

+ Permafry_42 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:28 pm said:

I’ll sign it once sony fixes their customer service. nah i’m kidding I’ll sign it after i post this. still, sony you really need to improve your customer service…


28

+ Koga_Inuzuka on July 15th, 2010 at 12:30 pm said:

In case it wasn’t obvious before I sign this petition and have spread the word.


29

+ tripellex on July 15th, 2010 at 12:30 pm said:

I’ll sign it once Sony reverses their removal of OtherOS from “Phat” systems. They have consistently hosed over loyal users for a long time, and now they want something from me, one of those loyal users? Pass.


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 1:35 pm said:

    I can’t say that I’m familiar what those systems, but the ECA and our petition are obviously not related with them.

    To be fair to Sony here, they are certainly praise-worthy for the efforts they’re making to help us help them.

    For years the game industry asked gamers to speak up and get involved in the defense of gaming. And now, at the most important time, we have. We’re here and willing to lend whatever support we can. When ECA asked for Sony’s help in getting the word out, they didn’t hesitate. Last week they made an official announcement from their Twitter account, encouraging people to check our petition out. Today they’re providing us with the opportunity to post and discuss it here. And this guest editorial will also be promoted on their respective Facebook and Twitter accounts, to make sure that all of those fans and followers are aware. We’re discussing even more, but suffice to say, in this situation, it is we gamers who should be thanking them. It’s hopefully just the start of an important partnership.


30

+ Growlingiant55 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:31 pm said:

they r not going to take gameing a way


31

+ anco989 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:32 pm said:

Racing games must be the cause of all my speeding tickets to right?(just signed)


32

+ SillyHatMafia on July 15th, 2010 at 12:33 pm said:

Better yet: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo really need to advertise parental controls. They all have them, but very few know about it. Best Buy and Gamestops need to advertise how each console has parental controls. They need to show that they dont want minors to play these games. An ESRB rating doesn’t do anything, the industry needs to show progress.


33

+ D-Squad3 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:34 pm said:

So can anybody sum it up in a sentence?

tl;dr


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 12:53 pm said:

    Sure: The Supreme Court is going to determine if games should continue to be treated like movies, music and books (which the industry – and ECA – wants) or if they should instead be regulated like alcohol, tobacco or firearms (which the State of California wants).

    The second sentence will just be my gratuitous plug: If you agree with us, please consider signing the petition. If you agree with them, I dare you to sign the petition anyway. ;)


34

+ Mobius_124 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:34 pm said:

@Major01

its not liberals or conservatives, its everyone with an outdated mind that thinks gaming is making kids violent.

sooner or later when that generation becomes too old to govern, the new generation will take over and get rid of such a mentality. it has happened with comics, movies, etc..


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 12:38 pm said:

    The generational argument is certainly true. Jason Della Rocca, a former counterpart of mine who ran the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) made that point quite eloquently in the violence in video games documentary, Moral Kombat (http://www.moralkombatmovie.com).

    Full disclosure: my younger brother, Spencer, was the film’s director and producer.


35

+ Chestertonian on July 15th, 2010 at 12:36 pm said:

Just a reminder California residents, Jerry Brown is also running for Governor this year! Do not vote for a politician who simultaneously stomps on First Amendment rights. Let’s make sure he gets this message loud & clear!


36

+ Permafry_42 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:36 pm said:

signed, but why do they really need some seriously personal information?? what could they possibly need our postal/zip code for?


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 12:41 pm said:

    Petitions are used rarely in U.S. Supreme Court cases, but only seem to have a negative impact when the Justices feel as though there isn’t full disclosure. The sense I got was that they’re concerned about astroturfing groups that would make it appear as though there was a groundswell of consumer support, when in fact there wasn’t.

    Our intention is to submit signatories first and last name, city and state. If the clerks come back and need more fields to verify the authenticity of the list, we’ll provide it.


37

+ Enforcer_X on July 15th, 2010 at 12:42 pm said:

Responsibility … learn it!

Just what we needed more laws for the government to control us and tell us what to do in this “free country” HA!So many irresponsible people looking for something to blame other than themselves looking to the Gov to help!


38

+ zombie9 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:42 pm said:

well I signed.
I live in Indy and they do not sell Alcohol on Sundays here (in stores). But I can go to the bar and get smashed. figuare that one out. Goverment needs to get ther Head out of there Ahole.


39

+ Saber_IV on July 15th, 2010 at 12:43 pm said:

Will this ever affect countries in the EU?


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 1:00 pm said:

    That’s a great question and one which is causing a lot of anxiety in the legal communities. The short answer is: a very key difference between U.S. law and just about every other country’s is our First Amendment, around which many rights – and related laws – exist.

    Countries look to each other’s successful laws when modeling or crafting their own. That said, in my opinion, it would be very likely to inform EU legislators… unfortunately.

    The other way a loss would likely impact the EU would be in region-specific content. Developers and publishers, theoretically, would need to create different versions of games so that they could comply with different laws. Since that process becomes exceedingly expensive, and they couldn’t pass those costs along to gamers, you’d likely see a lowest common denominator approach… what we refer to as a “chilling effect.”


40

+ ZeroSection on July 15th, 2010 at 12:43 pm said:

Ya know its a little surprising that SCOTUS actually decided to review at all. Was there any base reason given for this? Any brain dead monkey with a years worth of law school can clearly see video games are covered by the first amendment. It’s a version of self expression which is is guaranteed by the 1st amendment through numerous other cases.


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 1:05 pm said:

    It’s impossible to know, unfortunately. As I noted in my guest editorial, above, it’s phenomenally rare that they’d agree generally (only 1% of cases!).

    The industry’s optimistic hope is that they’ve agreed to review it so that they can put an end to all of these (at one point hundreds) of pieces of legislation.

    The less optimistic view is that they’d like to probe if the interactive nature of games (as opposed to passively watching movies, or listening to music) should be weighed.


41

+ snowb420 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:43 pm said:

Signed when I first heard about this about 2 weeks ago. Best of luck to you guys when this all goes down.


42

+ Loonknight on July 15th, 2010 at 12:45 pm said:

Honestly, I don’t want anything to do with the ECA after what the debacle that I have experienced in the past with my paid membership. The offers that were present upon my initial membership were a great bonus but when Hal and the ECA in their infinite wisdom decided to give out memberships by the truckload for free the whole experience turned for the worse. In fact, the mere inclusion of this post on one of my favorite blog sites sickens me, especially when I see the ECA logo and Hal’s avatar.

I’d rather take the time to contact my representatives myself via the phone, email, and in person than trust the ECA to represent me again.


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 1:15 pm said:

    I’m glad to hear that you would still be willing to stand up for your rights and contact your representative, LoonKnight. In this situation however, the only political figures attached to the case are on the anti-games side of the argument.


43

+ WhiteF8ng on July 15th, 2010 at 12:49 pm said:

With the steps taken for parental control how is this even an issue right now? Before? Yes but not even an issue really now. These “violent” games can’t even be sold now without checking ID. Makes u wonder why this even got accepted…


44

+ Carl-G on July 15th, 2010 at 12:54 pm said:

Schwarzenegger? Hmm…no one gets killed in Schwarzenegger films? Sarcasm :-/


45

+ sindiewen on July 15th, 2010 at 12:55 pm said:

Spreading this pettion over the communities I go on, and signing.


46

+ gazaegaga on July 15th, 2010 at 12:55 pm said:

Im Mateus Prado Sousa, games journalist from Brazil

This case is a shame. Why about games? Why not about violent movies like Terminator?

We have the ESRB for exemple that RATE the games, tha games are for all ages too.

Luck to us gamers, from USA, from Brazil, from the planet,

http://www.gamesreflexoes.blogspot.com


47

+ TheTwelve on July 15th, 2010 at 12:55 pm said:

Signed.

12


48

+ Buuul on July 15th, 2010 at 12:58 pm said:

Would a Canadian signing this help out in any way..?


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 1:20 pm said:

    Unfortunately, no. But if you could spread the word as much as possible, that’d be great. The power of social networking means that you’d likely be impacting folks on this side of the border as well. And even if not, it’s great that they’re aware of what’s going on, how important it is and why it’s worthy of our collective attention. Thanks!


49

+ raptor210232 on July 15th, 2010 at 12:59 pm said:

If this petition doesnt work and the Amendments dont work than I wonder how many Californians will leave that state.


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+ BlindMango on July 15th, 2010 at 1:08 pm said:

Those idiot liberals in California are now controlling our country and running it into the ground, well you don’t mess with the gaming community. Glad you guys are supporting to put a stop to this Sony.


    Hal Halpin's Avatar

     

    + Hal Halpin on July 15th, 2010 at 1:30 pm said:

    I can tell you first hand that the politicians who advocate against games and gaming come evenly from both sides, unfortunately. For the almost ten years prior to running ECA, I ran the retail trade association which represented merchants (today it’s a newly merged entity called EMA, the same org as you see named in this case). In that time, I dealt with legislators and testified before committees, and it was rare to find them skewed to one side of the other.


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