Stand up for Gamer Rights

Like I mentioned in my last blog post, I've been lucky enough to land some contract gigs while I look for a full-time community management job.  One of the main projects that I've been able to line up is working with the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), in an effort to raise awareness of their Gamer Petition.

The Gamer Petition is a petition that is arguing for gamers rights with regards to the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case, the "violent video game" case that hopes to restrict the sales of violent video games to minors.  This case is going before the United States Supreme Court, which is the first time a case like this has been ruled on by the Supreme Court.  If the Court agrees with the lower courts/the case, it would mean that video games remain to be protected by the First Amendment and will be seen as Free Speech.  If the Court disagrees with the case, it would mean that Video Games are no longer protected as Free Speech, and would be open to special legislation that restricts the sales of video games, which could impact the game industry in a huge way.

This is what the law proposes to do (For more details, go to the Why This Case? page on the ECA website):

The law that California passed imposes a fine of $1,000 on retailers that sell “violent video games” to minors. The definition used in the law labels a video game as being a “violent video game” if it meets one of two methods of determination. The first method requires a game to be violent in a manner that meets the standard of variable obscenity which has been developed by the courts. This standard provides exception speech that is protected for adults, but may be regulated for minors. Variable obscenity has never been broadened by the Supreme Court beyond sexually explicit material to apply to violence. The second method relies on definitions written in the law that focus on the gratuitous and heinous nature of some violence depicted in the game “upon images of human beings or characters with substantially human characteristics” without defining what “substantially human characteristics” means.

The Schwarzenegger law is trying to undermine the ESRB rating system, which is an organization setup by the game industry to self regulate.  This is the same way music and movies are regulated.  There is no government interference at all – it's up to the industry to make sure their entertainment is rated properly and that consumers are educated well enough to make good purchasing decisions.  At the end of the day, it's up to parents to protect their children from content that they feel could be harmful to their child.  It isn't up to the government to make that decision.  Studies have shown that the ESRB is pretty effective, as 86% of parents of children who play games are aware of the ESRB ratings.

To make an exception to the First Amendment for video games is really scary, as it opens the door for future legislation against "violent" books, movies, music, and other forms of entertainment.  We shouldn't let the government regulate our art and entertainment – This is America, and artists should have the freedom to choose what they want to create, and consumers should have the right to decide what they want as entertainment.  Even if you don't care about this particular case and how it will impact video game sales and video game creation, I hope people realize what this could mean for other forms of entertainment that they love.  I don't think any of us want to see our music, movies, or books restricted or censored.

Please join me in signing the Gamer Petition on the ECA website, as it is a fantastic way to show the Supreme Court that we, as consumers, care about this case and how it will impact our favorite hobby.  The ECA is standing up for us as consumers, and I hope you can help the cause by signing your name on the petition.

Thanks so much!

-Sam

Update: Just spent two months with EA

Hi everyone! It's been a couple months since the last update..and as always, a lot has happened.

After I lost my job at Perfect World, I started receiving calls and emails almost immediately from people, interested in talking to me and trying to line me up with opportunities that were out there.  Through sheer luck, right timing, and knowing the right guy…I was called by EA, interviewed with them on Friday of the week that I lost my job..then started at EA the following Wednesday.

For the past two months I was a contract Community Management Specialist, and I worked on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – An upcoming action RPG being made by Big Huge Games and 38 Studios.  I worked with EA to create our social network accounts for the game, create all the assets for those social networks, as well as create assets and fill out data for Xbox Live/Xbox.com, PlayStation.com and PSN.  That was just the first two weeks, because after that we had to officially announce the Amalur IP to the world at San Diego Comic Con via a panel starring Curt Schilling, Todd McFarlane, R.A. Salvatore, and Ken Rolston.  Luckily I was able to convince the team that there was value to having me be at Comic Con to live-tweet/facebook the panel, so I got to go to Comic Con for a day and spend time with the four visionaries by 38 Studios.  It was pretty awesome!

After that, I worked on various Community plans for Reckoning, and transitioned on to doing more asset creation and data filing for the upcoming FPS "Bulletstorm", from Epic Games and People Can Fly.  All the new PSN icons, Xbox Live icons, etc for both Reckoning and Bulletstorm were made by me – so check em' out!

Besides all that, I got to work with the EA Partners video editor to create some community videos for Reckoning, one of which I'm really excited about since I selected the footage for it and the video came out pretty awesome.  I can't wait for it to release!

Unfortunately yesterday, August 31st, was my last day at EA.  The contract was only two months, and unfortunately there wasn't enough work for me to do to have me sign-on for another contract.  Everyone at EA was awesome to work with, EA Redwood Shores is an amazing campus, and I'm so glad I got to work there for the time that I did.  Working at EA was such a good experience and I'm glad I got insight into what it's like to work at a game company like EA, with a great team of supportive people.

Now I'm getting ready to go to PAX, speak on two panels, and generally have a great time.  I'm really excited to see my friends and have a relaxing weekend in Seattle.  I've got a lot of people to see, luckily some of them potentially job related, and a lot of business cards to hand out.

I'll be following up this blog post with some details about some contract gigs I'm going to be working on while looking for a full-time gig, as well as all my PAX Prime 2010 details and where you can find me.

Summary of this blog post:  EA was awesome, and I'm really glad I got to work there and wish it was longer.  Hopefully there's a next time!