For a few years now, the Video Game Voters Network has been working behind the scenes to protect the rights of gamers and game developers. While many sites have written about the VGVN in the past, I figured it was time for me to step up and give you MY take on the situation.
Founded in 2006 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), who also owns and operates E3, the VGVN has been fighting court battles all over the United States in an effort to protect games and gamers from the evil forces who like to compare our gaming to things like rock and roll, The Beatles and crack fueled satan worship.
Here’s the VGVN’s take on who and what they are.
The Video Game Voters Network is a place for American gamers to organize and defend against threats to video games by registering to vote and letting Congress know how important this issue is to the community. Without a critical mass of adult video game players who are registered to vote and willing to stand firmly behind their games, politicians will continue to fire criticism at games and game players in order to score easy points for their political campaigns.
Video games are fully protected speech under the Constitution, and receive the same First Amendment protection as books, movies, music and cable television programs. The Network opposes efforts to regulate the content of entertainment media, including proposals to criminalize the sale of certain games to minors, or regulate video games differently from movies, music, books, and other media. The Network also enables gamers to stay educated about issues, reach out to federal, state, and local officials, and register to vote. The Video Game Voters Network is a project sponsored by the Entertainment Software Association, a trade group representing America’s video game publishers.
So what’s this all mean?
Well, I’ve been a member of the VGVN for a whole now – 2 or 3 years, at least – and I get regular updates from them on what’s happening in the world of gaming. Any time some jackass lawyer or politician takes a stance against video gaming and tries to get some kind of fucked up law passed that says we have to have no blood or that video games shouldn’t be considered a form of art and or entertainment and shouldn’t be covered by the laws which protect free speech (as are television, music, movies and the ENTIRE FUCKING INTERNET) they send me a happy-gram and let me know what’s going down so I can get involved.
Being involved is huge. It’s what helped us win a major victory by getting the U.S. Supreme Court to recognize video games as being protected under the constitution, in the same way other forms of entertainment are. As part of its decision in the landmark case, started when California attempted to restrict the sale of video games (especially violent games), the SCOTUS had this to say:
“California also cannot show that the Act’s restrictions meet the alleged substantial need of parents who wish to restrict their children’s access to violent videos. The video-game industry’s voluntary rating system already accomplishes that to a large extent.”
“Under our Constitution, “esthetic and moral judgments about art and literature . . . are for the individual to make, not for the Government to decree, even with the mandate or approval of a majority.”
“And whatever the challenges of applying the Constitution to ever-advancing technology, “the basic principles of freedom of speech and the press, like the First Amendment’s command, do not vary” when a new and different medium for communication appears.”
The Electronic Consumers Association was also fully involved in that historic decision…We even got a chance to interview Hal Halpin (ECA’s founder and president) after the decision was handed down.
The VGVN has also been involved in a number of other suits and protests, pretty much ALL of which have gone in favor of gamers and the video game industry.
So this is the kind of thing the ESA and the VGVN are doing to protect our rights as gamers. So what’s all this? Well it’s a good idea, that’s what. And you say you’re not a member, yet?
Get over there and join up before I pull your spine out with a rusty barbecue spatula. Go…NOW!