Games Industry Lobbyists Target Washington Pols

By Chris Remo, Jan 16, 2008 10:35pm PST After years of playing the defensive game against Washington's continual attempts to over-legislate video games, the Entertainment Software Body now plans to take a more aggressive tack.

Michael Gallagher (pictured left), who has headed up the ESA since founder Doug Lowenstein's resignation last year, has indicated the organization will start courting Washington politicians in the months to come--deep in the midst of Republicans and Democratics choosing their presidential nominees.

"We will be writing checks to campaigns by the end of this quarter," said Gallagher to The New York Times. "This is an important step in the political maturation process of the industry that we are ready to take now. This is about identifying and supporting champions for the game industry on Capitol Hill so that they support us."

The ESA will establish a political action committee (PAC) to push the interests of the games industry; it represents Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony--the industry's traditional Big Four--as well as increasingly prolific game publisher Disney. Gallagher said the group intends to donate $50,000-$100,000 to campaigns this year.

Though few attempts to curb or restrict video game sales have seen any measure of success, games remain a frequent target for politicians who see harm in virtual depictions of violence or sexual content. The medium tends to be considerably more often under fire than other entertainment forms such as film and music.

Game laws tend to be attempted at the state and local levels, though presidential candidate and senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has been a frequent figure in game- legislating politics; she has more recently backed down in her attempts.

Last November, Gallagher and the ESA held a reception attended by several dozen members of Congress; Wii Sports was reportedly a big hit.

Gallagher himself has experience in politics; according to the Times, he installed Doom on the office computers of former representative Rick White (R-WA) when he was the congressman's chief of staff.

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  • I'll bite and play the defender on this bit.

    The simple side of this whole issue is that, though this gigantic pile of bullshit is reprehensible in the extreme, it's the bare minimum any industry in this country is REQUIRED to do just to gain enough respect not to be hammered with oversight and ridiculous laws limiting their scope.

    Politicians understand nothing beyond how to get re-elected, and the lobbies and PACs (along with the occasional citizen riot) tell them which issues to support and how best to support them.

    Folks, gaming has been the black sheep money maker industry in the US for two years now, and we're still suffering a massive image problem because the generation that's in charge didn't grow up with gaming the way ours did.

    Something has to be done to keep our hobby viable and solvent from a political perspective--right now it's politically savvy to hate and try to censor games. PACs and Lobbies can help stem this while the industry continues its growing phase, and over time more educated minds can enter the halls of power.

    I don't like PACs and Lobbies. They're corrupt little gremlin-hovels that frequently buy money-over-manpower votes on bills using fancy dinners and shady fundraising tactics--I should know, I've worked with politicians through my media job for 6 years now, and am even on a first name basis with a leading presidential candidate (who frankly I wouldn't vote for). Like them or not, PACs and Lobbies get things done for their represented businesses.

    Every ounce of this reeks of wretched scum and villiany, but so does every industry with any political clout whatsoever. It's not a matter of lowering ourselves to some arbitrarily base level. This is simply the most expedient and effective way to ensure our passtime's survival until cooler heads prevail. It worked for the film industry, it can work for us.