Okay, sorry about the acronyms. I just can’t help myself some days. Ever since I was in high school, when I actually met someone who used “LOL” in speech (they pronounced it “lowel”), I’ve been addicted to these things.
The real meat of this story, though, is that the Entertainment Software Association is creating a lobbying arm in Washington in an attempt to, I assume, reward game-friendly politicians on Capitol Hill.
Why is this a big deal?
Well, for one, it signifies the maturation of the game industry as something that needs to be taken seriously. As much as I dislike what both the music and film industries have done with their PACs, they’ve been both effective and attention-worthy in their actions to create something similar. In recent years, the video game industry has been much maligned by many politicians with claims of fostering both illegal behavior and immoral actions – claims that have been refuted by many major academic studies. The creation of a PAC to support the gaming industry is just another feather in the cap for an industry striving to increasingly appear, politically, as culturally significant as it is (Did I mention that there are 110 million gamers in this country alone? That’s about one-third of the population, folks. The average age of gamers is 34, by the way. It’s not like these are only kids who are playing the games.).
It might be a good time to mention that I proudly own the original version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and got a huge kick out of the Hot Coffee mod for it. Please take that into context when I say what comes next.
Much like television content or movies or music, every game is not created to appeal to every player. There are violent games and sexy games and nice, child-friendly games that are so saccharinely sweet that they make your teeth hurt. Not every game is for every person and, certainly, not every game should be played by every person. Ideally, having a Washington lobbying arm will help the Entertainment Software Association get this message across to the folks who are all too willing to blame games for societal blights like school shootings, increased promiscuity and the like. Ultimately, I imagine this probably falls to faults in parenting, but I’m only an armchair sociologist, so take what I say with a grain of salt.
The second reason that this is important, at least for us gamers, is that it means there’s someone in Washington fighting for our rights to play the games that we want to play. I’ve proudly been a gamer since I was about nine years old. I’ve played Zork, Leisure Suit Larry (a purloined copy from my best friend’s father when I was about ten years old), Doom, Quake, Tribes, Half-life, Everquest, Earth & Beyond and World of Warcraft — the whole gamut. None of this has, I believe, instilled in me any virtues to be either a high school shooter, a witch or lascivious in my behavior. At best, it’s increased my hand-eye coordination and provided many entertaining evenings and actually created a few online friendships in the process.
So, soapbox removed, let’s consider exactly what this news means: gamers are here. They’re a very real part of the population now and they’re willing to take political action to protect their rights AS gamers.