Knack 2

Jul 15

Jul 15

Help Defend Gaming: Sign the Gamer Petition

Hal Halpin's Avatar Posted by 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

Android66 said:

July 15th, 2:43 pm

Almost every retailer already has a voluntary system set up to ask for ID when you purchase an M-rated game. Yee’s bill provides civil and criminal penalties for selling a “violent” game (who decides what is violent?) to a minor. If Target gets fined thousands of dollars, or if a Wal-Mart clerk could go to jail for selling a game by mistake, retailers won’t carry M-rated games to avoid the risk.

Yee’s bill treats videogames as harmful matter to minors–same as alcohol and tobacco. When you smoke, you inhale carcinogens. When you drink, alcohol enters your bloodstream. When a 17 year-old plays a “violent” videogame…what is the documented, physical harm that would cause us to classify games as dangerous? There isn’t any. Yee’s bill is based upon no actual evidence.

Finally, ratings for movies, and games, are supposed to be ADVISORY. They are letting parents know the content so that they can make decisions. Ratings were NEVER intended to be legal determinations. Plenty of mature 16 year-olds can watch an R-rated movie or play an M-rated game without having it affect them, just as there are probably violent adults who shouldn’t watch or play certain content.

Muppetpope said:

July 15th, 2:47 pm

i think id rather sign the petition that enables the gamers to subdue the parents that get these games for their kids with no thought of what content said game contains and pop them on the nose with a rolled up copy of the esrb. and if anyone can tell me what videogames the [DELETED] played to get them all riled up, id love to hear it. bottom line people were violent and crazy before games and will continue to be so until we are extinct. dont blame games for your lousy parenting skills.

N_8_ said:

July 15th, 2:50 pm

Seems like it would be the job of the parents, not the government. If these kids are playing rated M games, then the parents didn’t use the parental controls on the system properly, or they flat out allow their kids to play violent video games. If they allow their kids to play rated M games, they probably allow them to watch rated R movies. Removing rated M games from society by classifying them away from the freedom of speech will fix nothing, irresponsible parents will still be irresponsibly feeding their kids mature entertainment.

SpyDudeFX said:

July 15th, 2:50 pm

The Justices of The Supreme Court of the United States of America never factor petitions or public opinion when a case is before them. So what’s really at stake here? A very narrow question of whether states can limit violent video game sales to minors. Retailers/Publishers would be required to add a 2″ x 2″ sticker that says “18” on the front. Look at the comments, people are mislead to believe this could be the end of gaming and it’s not. Very misleading post!

Android66 said:

July 15th, 2:52 pm


Only 17.4% of 2009 game sales were for M-rated games. 48% for E, 12.1% E10+, and 22.3% T. So, you are wrong–most games are not M rated, even if it might seem that way.

The average age of a game player is 34, by the way, and most game purchases are made by adults (Taken from the ESA’s 2009 Essential Facts). So who does this legislation help?

You feel that there is a lot of “mindless blood and gore” and “excessive violence” in games these days. I happen to agree with you. My response is to closely watch what my kids are playing, and to not buy those excessively violent games. I can do that now.

Your response…since you support Yee’s legislation…is to get the government involved, which will end up with someone else mandating what my kids should or should not play and which will ultimately affect what I am able to play even though I am an adult.

This bill might not seem like a big deal, especially if you are tired of the blood and gore in games, but it goes beyond that. It’s a basic question of personal responsibility vs. government mandate.

riko540 said:

July 15th, 2:54 pm


mcbuttz78 said:

July 15th, 2:56 pm

N_8… I know tha avg gamer is 23-29 yrs old by statistics charts, at the same time alot of adults dont play video games,Becuase they have other adult things to do .

My point is these companies dont need to be targeting 9-13yr old to violence, thats the same as a porn network targeting 9-13yrs old, while theres no real way to stop kids from getting to this violent, . It all starts with gaming companies and how they present them selfs. Not all of them out 4 profit, some really care about the gamer. Some have families and make family games, which do sell alot but not as well as gore gore galore the video game.

This just wants you to back him and subscribe to his new letters at a price, im sub to sony and many other newletters for free. Why is he looking to profit from us just to sign a petition, its a good thing with a twist.. dont be got by this.. He should be ashamed , yea its legal to do, that dontmean its the right thing to do. He should be pitching this to the rockstars, lucas arts, blizzard gaming companies, Our signiture and info can be sold and shared out because your on his newsletter sub..


Zee_009 said:

July 15th, 3:06 pm

that’s lame.i feel bad for them. i live in Canada so I’m lucky.

arnoldmcguire335 said:

July 15th, 3:09 pm

I signed this for the greater good. Seriously, why would you ban Video Games? they are a form of entertainment. Banning them will equal to more violence in the world. because, if this goes into effect, not only Video Games will be banned, but also later on, other forms of media, which in turn leave people bored, and later on, do more damage than prevention (wars, immoralities, etc.), because the entire country is demoralized. (Yup, I’m saying it from a Christian POV.)

Well Here’s hoping we can prevent that ban from happening, since I still got more games to save up for which I have to yet play.

NickDude said:

July 15th, 3:32 pm

In the UK the majority of adult games (which are classified as an “18” certificate, such as Dead Space) are rated by the BBFC. Its the law here, they have to be certified or else they cant be released. If a game gets an 18 cert, or any kind of BBFC certificate, then it is illegal for the retailer to sell the game to any customer below that age, and unless the customer can prove that theyre over that age, well, then, they aint gettin it. Certainly the fact that games here have legally enforced certification hasnt stopped them selling less, infact, most people see it as a reason to buy it. From what I understand of youre article, the Californian legal system want to ban minors from being able to purchase this content. Ultimately, isnt this a good thing for the industry? Games such as COD MW2 AND God of War 3 weren’t designed, targeted or marketed at children, so surely the publishers have some kind of moral obligation to deter such youngsters from getting the game, and a law like this would help that? Maybe it just because of the way things are here in Britain, but I personally think that the BBFC does a world class job at ensuring games get the right classification, and that can be a hard thing to do.

Bulletpainpills said:

July 15th, 3:37 pm

I wanted to deny it, but signs coming in just increases my worries. The United States is slowly, but surely becoming a totalitarian government. Sure it may not seem like that and you can say I’m wrong or not. But this I truely believe

warezIbanez said:

July 15th, 3:40 pm

Signed. I’m done with our politicians, but if video games were evil, someone would be crazy enough to already take care of these prostitutes. Yes, prostitutes.

ElektroDragon said:

July 15th, 3:42 pm

Hal, I have been an ECA member and supporter since you showed up in person for Video Games Live at Yale a few years ago and did a panel chat beforehand. I was the guy with the Xbox shirt in front row! Anyway, I think you should post this article in a few other places, like,, and Xbox forums. I did not quit or cancel my membership when you stopped the Amazon discount partnership, because I believe in the ECA cause… even though I was upset that you guys sent a message out advocating net-neutrality. We don’t need the government involved with the Internet! Look what they’re trying to do to gaming!

Kixx_MKIII said:

July 15th, 3:46 pm

Well Ima say the same thing I said before when the ..well…”people” who are posing this whole video game issue so hard, Most are complaining about it “affecting” childern which to an extent I may agree. I believe to much of it hours on in without taking a break, and without tending to your personal life and its aspects, can greatly affect you. However I will have to disagree with the “violent” end of it. Games comes out and slap a Rating on it just like your music and movies do. Plain and simple, if you don’t won’t your kids playing “bad” games, then duh don’t buy them! My second issue with the whole “kids become violent” no the childern don’t become violent over a game, its the parents responsibility to make sure THEY ARE RAISING THEIR KIDS! instead of letting them shoot off at the mouth and act like a fool. Nowadays parenting has plummeted, so DONT BLAME THE GAMES YOUR SORRY PARENTS, BLAME YOURSELVES. You SAW THE RATING and your the one RAISING YOUR KID. Your suppose to teach them, nuff said ty.

GersanMW said:

July 15th, 3:51 pm

I honestly don’t believe that violent video games promote violence, however I’m tired of seeing 10 year olders playing M rated games like there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s…disturbing, especially when parents buy them ANY game just so they’ll shut up, thinking that all video games are for kids. I see it every time I pass by a certain video game store, every single time.That poor little ESRB logo just doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Still i’m not in favor of any side as I believe that they should dig deeper into the topic. Either way there has to be a change.

PoInTyNiPs said:

July 15th, 3:52 pm

i’m an adult well in january i will be but i see/hear parents preventing kids from doing drugs or bad decisions. it’s not the game’s fault it’s the parents it’s their choice to buy the game for their kid(s). parents stop their kid(s) from bad stuff but they don’t realise that games have some sort of violence either way it’s worse hearing it from rap and the streets. games are just virtual not real even it may cause some act of violence it’s not worse as rap or off the streets or maybe from a friend. i think it’s proven that games prevent kids from doing bad things even when it’s Rated-M. i sign and double sign. it’s the parents fault not the games and their creators.

Adraeus said:

July 15th, 3:54 pm

@87: Profit and revenue are not the same. ECA must generate revenue to continue operating and providing value to members. Profit is money left over after expenses. ECA is a nonprofit. Nonprofits may turn a profit. By law though, profit must be reinvested in the organization. As president, Hal is ethically obligated to raise money. (FYI: Red Cross works the same way.)

@97: The “average age” is a statistical average. Generally, 3/4 of consumers are adults and 1/4 are not. The average age is high because there are more adults than children; however, nearly all children in the U.S. are exposed to video games.

@100: The law would not ban games; it would restrict purchase of “violent” games to certain ages. This would have a “chilling effect.” Retailers prefer to carry products that can be sold with little hassle. Retail plays a big role in distribution. Manufacturers are understandably upset. Moreover, the law’s definition of “violent” is vague, meaning the law could be extended to games most do not consider violent.

GersanMW said:

July 15th, 3:57 pm

@at NickDude (comment 103) I’m a 100% with ya :)

Kagenish said:

July 15th, 4:06 pm

I already sign it. i can’t believed that they think store’s are selling violent video games to minors, i have work for both Toy’R’us and Gamestop both company’s make sure their employees are not selling mature games to minors. we have to let the parents know about ‘M’ rated game that they are buying for their child and most of them don’t even care. if anything i think they should have it were the parents get in trouble.

I think the ESRB need to come up with a new system or improve what they have now. all of the store show a notification that the game is rated ‘M’ and if 18yrs old nothing happens if your a minor and your OK’S the game nothing happens. to me it should be that the parent signs to say it “OK… for my child to buy this game” which the information is save on the other side by the ESRB know your name, game, store and location that way it is showen in court that the parent OKed the game.

nahum24 said:

July 15th, 4:08 pm

By reading that article that makes me more angry at the government even more. The government is full of crap and i absolutely believe nobody and i mean nobody absolutely should not have too much power and authority. There are plenty of things that are worst that the government should focus more on than bashing on violent games like focusing on banning tobacco companies that makes cigarettes for example which is far worst. I already signed that gaming petition to try to make a difference. I’ve been a gamer since i was around 6 or 7 or 8 years old and am not going to let the government take my video game passion (my ultimate passion) away from me without a fight. Even though this issue is in america all gamers from all over the world should join forces to win this fight. Happy Gaming !

pudgenet said:

July 15th, 4:12 pm

There is no chance that video games will not receive 1st Amend. protection. The question is what level of scrutiny they will use, and whether they think the law in question sufficiently protects First Amendment rights under that level of scrutiny.

So the petition is asking the Court to recognize only what it absolutely will recognize: that the 1st Amend. applies to games. I don’t well-know the law in question, so I can’t hazard a guess at the result.

I have purchased and played — and continue to play — lots of M-rated games (GTA III/VC/SA/IV, Max Payne, Godfather 1 and 2, Brutal Legend, Syphon Filter, etc.), but I can’t say outright that a ban on selling them to children is unconstitutional. Indeed, we have constitutional bans on selling other types of media to children. Whether these laws are good, they are not necessarily unconstitutional.

Frankly, if the industry did a better job of making sure children couldn’t buy these games (through voluntary action by retailers), then this law likely never would have happened. While as a libertarian I don’t want government getting involved, as a parent I understand that if these games are sold to kids, people are going to try to pass a law preventing it.

wolfzero1 said:

July 15th, 4:14 pm

I signed. There are already ratings for games & many ways for parents to find out about the Video Games their children are playing. The Government shouldn’t be be the ones to decide what is right for people’s children. It should be the parents job, with the retailers enforcing the ratings system.

PushinNshovinMe said:

July 15th, 4:23 pm

uh-oh its getting political up in here.

Democrats hate freedom, this is typical.


July 15th, 4:27 pm

im happy i signed

Sylin said:

July 15th, 4:27 pm

More fear mongering by the ECA. It’s difficult to respect that organization, knowing about its shady past.

Mr. Halpin is irresponsibly tossing around comments like: “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.” He neglects to remind you that the U.S. Supreme Court’s job is to interpret and uphold the Constitution–you know, the document we base all of our LAWS on.

This Orwellian scenario he’s proposing is ludicrous. This isn’t Stalin’s Russia. It’s 2010, and this is the United States of America. This concept of a nightmare scenario where the future of the gaming industry is in peril? Not a chance.

More: “Petitions, historically, have not made or broken any SCOTUS cases.”

Precisely! It has no bearing on the case–only the facts matter, and the facts support the gaming industry. This whole thing REEKS of a cheap ploy by the ECA to get more dues-paying members. Pass.

Maakasukage said:

July 15th, 4:28 pm

This act is stupid I signed the petition right away. I hope this Case won’t pass. The gaming Industrys deserves the same rights as other media.

If it does get passed (which i feel it won’t*knocks on wood*) and they change the gameing industry and etc…. I wonder what they would do if everyone who was against this act and loved gaming Went on strike from their jobs and school and I mean every availbe person to go on strike. It would mess things up pretty bad. Its a crazy idea….Or is it?;) Lets just wait and see what happens and do our best to keep gaming rights free!

Stand up gamers and defend our Rights and the Industrys rights!

shark301 said:

July 15th, 4:32 pm

I have always thought there it was strange that we have games with so much violence, but nudity and such is not ok. Like in the recent fanastic game Red Dead Redemption; you can kill the bar girls, but not ‘be friendly’ with with them or even see them dance or anything. How will this hearing (or whatever it is) affect that imbalance?

fsjustin1 said:

July 15th, 4:33 pm

Don’t let this happen you dumb senators who don’t want entertainment to minors and adults. I will move out of America if the law becomes effective.

mikedo2007 said:

July 15th, 4:34 pm

I sign the petition. I’m known as Mdo7 on Gamepolitic (yes, I’m a member of GP). I find regulating game just not right and what Arnold in California is what I define as double standard.

R0CkiNNR0BB said:

July 15th, 4:47 pm

I Sign this Petition As Well. I also Agree with RynoIV

Pantera_VDOP said:

July 15th, 4:50 pm

I Sign The Petition

Chuckbait said:

July 15th, 4:51 pm

Interesting. Petitions probably will have no affect on the Supreme Court’s decision. So I choose not to sign. (At the moment at least.).

Risi1 said:

July 15th, 4:57 pm

first i must say that i´m from Brasil.And i´m a huge fan of games and this situation brings a great concern to me,but its also brings me some joy because it shows that no only in my country people put stupid people in the goverment!!!!!!

death_vader301 said:

July 15th, 5:02 pm


Jeigh said:

July 15th, 5:06 pm

I’d just like to take a moment to point out that, while no political party has been cited one way or another, the Republicans here are “certain” it’s those “durn liberals.” Granted, name-calling is what elephants are known for, but grow up. “A-rabs” aren’t responsible for terrorism, “liberals” aren’t looking to steal your rights, and the government isn’t out to get you.

Just because policies don’t go your way doesn’t mean the country’s failing- in fact, with Bush as evidence, it’s the other way around. Give us some time to fix the country and then, after Obama, you can take your shot making the world hate us again.

Destiny89 said:

July 15th, 5:07 pm

I hope this isnt the end of gaming :(. i will sign it!

BeerManMike said:

July 15th, 5:11 pm

Just browsed the ECA member “bonuses” and its all crap like usually. Before they had a discount on games and it was awesome, now its all 10% off codes which half of them don’t work. I bet this poorly run organization goes away after all the memberships expire, i know my FREE one does in september, ill check my credit card on that day closely.

Thanks for fighting the good fight though!

jacob-813 said:

July 15th, 5:17 pm

If I sign it does it mean I want to ban them or nit ban them? I got confused.

cruzer2 said:

July 15th, 5:44 pm

il sign

Ekoshyun said:

July 15th, 5:44 pm

LOL ECA. I remember I had to send snail mail in and waste paper because they had this stupid system up that wouldn’t let you cancel your membership unless and would automatically charge you an annual fee. After that, I lost all respect for what seemed to be a well-intentioned organization.

AJ364 said:

July 15th, 6:02 pm


abukii said:

July 15th, 6:06 pm

You let me know where to sign and its done. This aint good at all…

boricuacookie said:

July 15th, 6:06 pm

Fake wars on a screen doesn’t make anyone violent. Actual violence makes people violent, or victims.

Wars should be treated like this, not games.

P_dump said:

July 15th, 6:12 pm

This is turning into a Social Issue. I ain’t getting involved.

PaperCarrier said:

July 15th, 6:18 pm

Yet another threat of a gaming apocalyPS3.

Adraeus said:

July 15th, 6:25 pm

@136: You shouldn’t be joining organizations for the incentives. You should believe in their missions and want to fight for their causes. Paying dues is one way to support them. Volunteering is another.

@139: a) If the paper you used was already processed and cut, you can’t have “wasted” paper. Not using paper is wasting paper.

b) Most subscription-based payment systems are recurring. I just received an invoice for a domain name renewal that states my credit card will be automatically charged on the date the invoice is due. I can call them to make changes because they have a call center. Most nonprofits do not have call centers and are staffed with less than 10 employees. Your expectations are unrealistic.

@142: Violent video games can increase aggression in children and adolescents *who are predisposed to aggressive behavior.* To psychologists, “violence” is a type of aggression, an emotion and not an act. Over forty years of scientific research has produced no conclusive evidence that exposure to violent video games increases the incidence of violent behavior among youth. Politicians either do not understand the science or their constituents do not and pressure their elected officials out of ignorance.

orlin123456789 said:

July 15th, 6:41 pm

This is stupid! Why would they want to mess will our games? If the politicians kids cant handle games take it away from them and dont take it away from US! Games are games they aren’t hurting us!

GhostedMcGee said:

July 15th, 6:42 pm

I signed

ironhead32 said:

July 15th, 6:51 pm

Hey maybe along with the petition someone should print off this quick growing 3 page blog and slap on the desks of those Californian law makers.

Just a thought.

ironhead32 said:

July 15th, 6:52 pm

Oh and I singed.

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