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Ted Price’s Letter to Politically Minded Gamers

September 16, 2009 Written by Richard Allen

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Members of the Video Game Voters Network received a friendly email from Insomniac’s Ted Price this morning.  Reminding them not to take video game legislation lightly. As in the past with movies, music and comic books video game content is a hot button with some politicians.  Gamers should be aware of where their candidates stand on the issue.

To my fellow Video Game Voters,

What a wonderful thing freedom is. And it’s easy to take for granted if you’ve grown up in the United States, free from the threat of persecution for expressing yourself. This freedom we’ve enjoyed for over 200 years has given rise to modern entertainment — arguably the most influential force the world has known.

But we can’t take it for granted. Invite your friends to join VGVN today:

http://www.videogamevoters.org/invite

In many ways, our lives have been shaped by modern entertainment. What we experience through movies, television, books, music — and, of course, through games — inspires us, motivates us, teaches us, maddens us but ultimately touches us in some way.

And today the entertainment form growing the most quickly is games. Despite being a newcomer to the family, games have taken center stage. As VGVN members know, games easily hold their own against any other art form with their ability to engage in social commentary, to relate a message, or to simply tell a good old-fashioned story.

Yet unlike all other media forms, videogames are threatened by a growing wave of legislation that seeks to regulate its content. Those proposing anti-videogame legislation often blame games for society’s ills without any concrete evidence of games’ purported negative influence. The pitchforks are out, the torches are lit, and non-gaming legislators are massing to burn games at the stake.

How? Most bills propose heavy penalties if retailers sell games with “inappropriate content” to minors. Whether the bills suggest using the ESRB ratings system or a new state-determined arbitrary system, in every case game sales would be regulated by the government. If retailers are under threat of fine or imprisonment for selling “inappropriate” games to minors it’s less likely that they’ll carry those games; especially if the state ignores the ESRB rating system and makes up its own rules.

When retailers stop stocking certain games, game developers will be forced to restrict what they make to only the most innocuous themes. In this way game creators’ freedom to express themselves would be curtailed. It’s pretty unfair when you consider that no other form of media is under such a threat.

And when games fall, what’s next? If regulation and censorship establish a foothold in games, it’s a slippery slope from there.

If you’re a VGVN member and have checked out the stories and commentary on this site, you know that there are many, many other great reasons to oppose government regulation of games.

However, we have a long way to go. Not only do we face more anti-videogame legislation at the state level, the federal government is getting into the game. Now more than ever is the time to act. With a few clicks of a mouse on our website, you can send pre-written emails to your representatives. Or if you’re feeling eloquent, you can write your own. The VGVN site makes it incredibly easy. Just click “Take Action”. I did it. You can too.

But we also need numbers. We need to become a force that state and federal legislators cannot ignore. With video game consoles in almost half of all homes in America, we have the potential.

So I’d suggest clicking below and letting your friends know how they can pitch in:

http://www.videogamevoters.org/invite

Help protect what our country grants you and every game developer — the freedom to express oneself!

Ted Price
Founder & CEO
Insomniac Games