ECA President: Lawmakers Know Anti-Videogame Bills Won't Pass

ECA President: Lawmakers Know Anti-Videogame Bills Won't Pass

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ECA boss Hal Halpin says that the politicians who question him flat-out admit that they know their bills are unconstitutional and will never pass - and yet waste taxpayer money with them anyway.

Until the Supreme Court agreed to review "Schwarzenegger vs. EMA," all types of anti-game legislation had one thing in common: They had all been struck down by courts as unconstitutional.

And yet, ECA president Hal Halpin told The Escapist, politicians keep bringing them up. While early bills might have been motivated from a genuine desire to help, the recent ones are for nothing more than political posturing - and Halpin said he's been flat-out told as much when he goes in to testify to committees.

A fair amount of those people, in the beginning, were doing so because they were in the right place and motivated from heartfelt feelings. But after the same bills keep getting rejected over and over and overturned over and over, it came to the point where I was testifying and the committees would say in advance that they knew what they were doing was perfectly not constitutional, that it wasn't going to pass muster, but that they had some questions for me anyway.

The committee members would refer to him as the "paid lobbyist from New York" to let their public know that he was from the "'evil' part of the country," said Halpin (who is from Connecticut). Instead of wasting taxpayer money on bills that they know will never pass, Halpin argued that they should spend that money to do "truly objective, longitudinal studies that are encompassing everything in entertainment."

"Let's see how media is impacting not just children, but adolescents and adults and everybody ... [the] whole last 70 percent of all of those bills were motivated from the wrong place. How do you counter that? How do you say 'stop wasting our money and our time and instead spend that money on research'? Fund your own state colleges and state universities to be able to do these studies instead of wasting all of our time and money on this."

"That message gets lost pretty quickly when there's cameras and it's re-election time."

To read more, check out our full interview with the ECA's Hal Halpin.

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And will this be posted on gamepoltics? :P

A ban in VG won't happen especialy in america. They have too many people making money from it...
YAY!

And this is why I hate politics. -Sigh- But whatever, not like it's ever going to change.

The intent never stays, never.

Fallen-Angel Risen-Demon:
A ban in VG won't happen especialy in america. They have too many people making money from it...
YAY!

Well law is subjective these days as long as it can be shot down when its passed *and it dose get passed* all it will be used for is blunderbuss to get votes.

Wow, I knew politicians were inherent douche-bags but this takes the cake. I rather hope the Supreme Court is hearing this case simply so they can put an end to politicians using bills like this to gain attention. Heck, once the Supreme Court says "Yay" or "Nay" on a subject you're fairly SoL on doing anything about it.

I remember when Greece banned Video games full stop. Later, they said it was doing absolutely no good to their economy and had them re-instated immediately after a few months. Oh boy that was funny.

Calumon: They even Banned My Little Pony adventures!!!

Reason 856 why I hate humanity.

Fallen-Angel Risen-Demon:
A ban in VG won't happen especialy in america. They have too many people making money from it...
YAY!

Exactly. MS would be like "Are your sure you want to do that? I mean, we have a billion dollars in donations we'd donate if you didn't do that."

This is how our money is being spent?

I really like this guy, he seems sensible and sees both sides of the argument. I'd like to know more of his opinions and such before I actually start rallying him for Presidency of the World.

I am concerned though... knowing that the Supreme Court has shifted quite a bit and that the current roster of new recruits aren't exactly the best guys we want for this decision. I can't help but feel they planned this one from the start.

How do you say 'stop wasting our money and our time and instead spend that money on research'? Fund your own state colleges and state universities to be able to do these studies instead of wasting all of our time and money on this.

Exactly like that.

You get called before a committee make sure you get to make a statement to the committee and press that are present.

Christ, as if they didn't already look bad they flat out say this shit?

I can only wonder why we've even elected this morons.

Politics, makes you wonder how people actually aim for a career in their without a common sense. Seriously. Always so detached from their actual residents and talking about how they should knock up cows with the HIV Virus to exterminate Africa's population..Oh wait..

Being a politician is the ultimate balancing act of being seen to be "doing something" while actually doing as little as possible.

America has a bad habit of trying to make a point with ridiculous lawsuits just to gain media coverage. Also, I hate it when someone claims they are sueing "just to prove a point" but then sue them for $132 bazillion dollars

With the way the Supreme Court has been acting recently I do have some reason to fear the Schwarzenegger end of the suit might be upheld. Otherwise, assuming they're thinking with their brains and that little thing called the Constitution then I think we have nothing to worry about and that 'Nay' decision gives these politicians something new complain about.

Well, one of the problems with the US is that it allows constant preserverance when it comes to laws and regulations. Getting shot down does not prevent people from continueing to do the same things again and again indefinatly until they get lucky.

Consider that the lawmakers not only are creating the apperance of trying to do something to solve problems (attacking the current scapegoat) but are also constantly keeping the issue on the table in some form, in hopes that it will eventually get through.

The disturbing thing is that it worked, because The Supreme Court is about to hear the case, and truthfully there is always a chance it's going to rule in favor of something like this. It's done some really borked things in the past. This pretty much demonstrates why trying to pass bills you know are going to fail on a subject constantly happens. Keeping an issue alive can be more important than any specific battle on the subject.

Exactly why all government positions need to have term limits, not just the President. Force new blood into the system, because very rarely do people actually vote in new blood.

Welcome to organized politics.

Where everything is fair game.
Where a fair game means nothing.
And worthless nothings are everywhere.

Paddin:
America has a bad habit of trying to make a point with ridiculous lawsuits just to gain media coverage. Also, I hate it when someone claims they are sueing "just to prove a point" but then sue them for $132 bazillion dollars

While somewhat off subject, I tend to agree with those kinds of lawsuits on principle. Generally speaking if your sueing for truckloads of cash it means that the person/group your after has that kind of money.

Simply put to prove a point to a big company requires hurting them, and that means costing them substantial amounts of money. A paltry settlement isn't going to encourage a company to change it's practices in most cases, rather the legal fees from small "reasonable" law suits just become part of operating expenses. If some practice is making a company hundreds of millions of dollars, taking the occasional hit for even a hundred thousand dollars here or there isn't going to make a differance. Besides which they keep lawyers on staff to make sure most of the suits are going to fail anyway (and this means that for a big business legal fees aren't that big a deal, since again keeping their legal teams around is part of their overall operating expense to begin with, making it a bit differant than when some regular guy needs to hire a lawyer).

The key word here is "Punitive Damages" the idea that it's more than what you endured, but intended to punish someone who was a wrongdoer civilly (as opposed to criminally).

I don't believe in going to court at the drop of a hat to try and get money. On the other hand if a big company was to slot me off enough to go to court, the amount I wind up trying to hit them for is going to depend on how much money they have.

To put things into perspective, let's say I'm up against a public company like Sony or something. I'm going to look at the profits they claimed for one of their quarters (3 months), and sue them for that much. Profits are computed after expenses, so technically it isn't costing them money so much as meaning they aren't making any from that time period. It's enough of a loss that if they take the hit they are going to seriously consider not doing whatever it was we went to court over again, because they can't survive taking those kind of hits.. compared to say occasionally tossing out 50k or so from petty cash.

Some people might scream that it's "unfair" that I made bajillions of dollars off of something in court, but at the same time someone who has that much money for a settlement to begin with wasn't going to be affected by anything less.

Such are my thoughts on the subject. I tend to be more critical of WHY people sue, than what they get from it.

Ah, politics. The one place where the most succesful ones are the most famous people in a field pretty much no one cares about. And the one place where most people admit to not caring about even though they're the ones controlling pretty much every thing we do with our lives.

We need to go back to Athenian democracy. This time we should let women vote, too.

It's 2010, aka, an election year.

Banning violent video games is just a warm up in the "Pure and Real American Values" line up card. I'm sure in a couple months we'll be talking about flag burning amendments and constitutional changes that mean only a man and a woman can (do it) get married. And of course they'll all say on C-SPAN

"This has nothing to do with the fact that it's an election year and we need to whip up bigots and other people who don't understand that this country was founded on the right to free speech and free elections, NO SIR!!"

We see this every 2 years, I don't know why we don't just ignore them. They're political trolls.

Therumancer:

Paddin:
America has a bad habit of trying to make a point with ridiculous lawsuits just to gain media coverage. Also, I hate it when someone claims they are sueing "just to prove a point" but then sue them for $132 bazillion dollars

While somewhat off subject, I tend to agree with those kinds of lawsuits on principle. Generally speaking if your sueing for truckloads of cash it means that the person/group your after has that kind of money.

Simply put to prove a point to a big company requires hurting them, and that means costing them substantial amounts of money. A paltry settlement isn't going to encourage a company to change it's practices in most cases, rather the legal fees from small "reasonable" law suits just become part of operating expenses. If some practice is making a company hundreds of millions of dollars, taking the occasional hit for even a hundred thousand dollars here or there isn't going to make a differance. Besides which they keep lawyers on staff to make sure most of the suits are going to fail anyway (and this means that for a big business legal fees aren't that big a deal, since again keeping their legal teams around is part of their overall operating expense to begin with, making it a bit differant than when some regular guy needs to hire a lawyer).

The key word here is "Punitive Damages" the idea that it's more than what you endured, but intended to punish someone who was a wrongdoer civilly (as opposed to criminally).

I don't believe in going to court at the drop of a hat to try and get money. On the other hand if a big company was to slot me off enough to go to court, the amount I wind up trying to hit them for is going to depend on how much money they have.

To put things into perspective, let's say I'm up against a public company like Sony or something. I'm going to look at the profits they claimed for one of their quarters (3 months), and sue them for that much. Profits are computed after expenses, so technically it isn't costing them money so much as meaning they aren't making any from that time period. It's enough of a loss that if they take the hit they are going to seriously consider not doing whatever it was we went to court over again, because they can't survive taking those kind of hits.. compared to say occasionally tossing out 50k or so from petty cash.

Some people might scream that it's "unfair" that I made bajillions of dollars off of something in court, but at the same time someone who has that much money for a settlement to begin with wasn't going to be affected by anything less.

Such are my thoughts on the subject. I tend to be more critical of WHY people sue, than what they get from it.

Hmm, an interesting argument, I've never really thought about it that way. I would still say that some court cases, such as Lieback v. McDonald's Restaurants where a woman was awarded $2.86million for spilling hot coffee on herself. The cost was lowered to $640,000, but it is ridiculous in the sense that she spilled the coffee on herself, and McDonald's had to pay for it. Applying your argument to it, it did have a long term effect as McDonald's now serve their coffee at a much lower temperature, and so I can see what you mean by the principle of the case.

However, I still do not agree with America's constant frivolous litigation, where because there wasn't a warning on the box that, for example, you cannot eat an iPod, a man who ate an iPod holds Apple responsible for the damages caused. And the after-effect is ridiculous and overreactive.

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Or, for another example, a man gets banned from PSN and sues $55,000 because it restricts his right to exercise free speech.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/93314-Agoraphobic-PS3-Owner-Sues-Sony-over-PSN-Ban

Your argument has opened my eyes to why such large amounts of money are demanded through lawsuits, but I still feel that the reasons behind most of these large lawsuits are ridiculous and are just an attempt to gain money through their own faults.

Paddin:
[Hmm, an interesting argument, I've never really thought about it that way. I would still say that some court cases, such as Lieback v. McDonald's Restaurants where a woman was awarded $2.86million for spilling hot coffee on herself. The cost was lowered to $640,000, but it is ridiculous in the sense that she spilled the coffee on herself, and McDonald's had to pay for it. Applying your argument to it, it did have a long term effect as McDonald's now serve their coffee at a much lower temperature, and so I can see what you mean by the principle of the case.

However, I still do not agree with America's constant frivolous litigation, where because there wasn't a warning on the box that, for example, you cannot eat an iPod, a man who ate an iPod holds Apple responsible for the damages caused. And the after-effect is ridiculous and overreactive.

image

Or, for another example, a man gets banned from PSN and sues $55,000 because it restricts his right to exercise free speech.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/93314-Agoraphobic-PS3-Owner-Sues-Sony-over-PSN-Ban

Your argument has opened my eyes to why such large amounts of money are demanded through lawsuits, but I still feel that the reasons behind most of these large lawsuits are ridiculous and are just an attempt to gain money through their own faults.

Well, in many cases there suits aren't as ridiculous as they first seem. For example in the infamous "Mcdonalds Coffee spilling Incident" there was a legitimate problem here. The case wasn't just that she spilled the coffee, or even that she was burned, but that the coffee was so hot that it burned her so badly that she needed skin grafts.

Civil cases allow for there to be partial liability, this is how on an appeal the amount she was awarded was lowered. It can be argued that it's her fault for being a klutz to an extent, but by the same token there is absolutly no reasonable excuse for the coffee being hot enough to do that much damage. If she had drank that coffee she probably would have died according to most accounts.

In the final equasion (as I understood it) she got her medical bills paid off, some money for her pain and suffering, and Mcdonalds wound up becoming more responsible about keeping their beverages at a reasonable temperature.

-

In the case of the shut-in going up against Sony, well that guy is insane, early on I agreed with him, but he started extending his lawsuits into all kinds of crazy areas and it just got stupid. I believe at one point he said that he was inspired by "Mortal Kombat Vs. Dc Universe" and wanted to wear a purple suit into court like The Joker and represent himself.

Getting past his personal craziness, he does have a valid point, modern game consoles are very expensive pieces of machinery, and one of their big features to justify that price is that they can go online. Not only that, but going online is increasingly becoming nessicary to get full functionality out of these machines.

Right now there is nobody really watchdogging companies like Microsoft or Sony to hold them to any kind of standards as to when they can and cannot ban someone. As the whole "Itzlupo vs. The Pro" thing demonostrated, The Pro was right in what he did, but there was a valid point made that in theory some of these "online policemen" could go out of control on a power trip and ban people without any real justification. Who is to say when this shut in was banned that there was any real justification for it. What's more there are already issues (albiet in their infancy) about private censorship, at least as it applies to the USA. An arguement being made that with almost all communications platforms being privatly owned, it gives citizens powers that not even the goverment posseses to limit the speech of other citizens. I expect the concept of "the banhammer" in general to be one of the central issues that will be being debated over the next decade or so.

At any rate, some guy bans you off of something like PSN, and it costs you $300 or more for all intents and purposes. He isn't held to any kind of standard to prove that complaints against you exist to any kind of actual authority, and really you have no viable court of appeal in such matters. For the most part businesses trust their mods and there rarely seems to be any kind of review involved. Some of the power trips that have resulted in the bans of dozens of people in guilds and such on MMORPGs are a related example, and very similar.

The point I'm making here is that there is some validity to that case. Even when a ban is temporary it prevents you from using a product that you paid good money for. When it comes to standards of conduct there are serious questions about whether or not such things are being adequetly explained BEFORE you pay money for a product, not to mention the fact that in the end it mostly comes down to the word of one guy, against the word of another. You'll find in a lot of cases when a mod claims "there have been tons of complaints before this" he rarely provides proof of those complaints.

While it's NOT a court of law, the right to face your accuser is also a key element. I mean if your playing online and all the members of a rival guild or clan decide to complain about you due to the competition you provide, that could render dozens of complaints extremely dubious by their very nature. However rarely are the people making the complaints even revealed.

As I said, it's a touchy subject because all of this takes place on private platforms which is how it's gotten away with. On a fundemental level the guy your paying for an item or service has the right to deprive you of it at will, with only the weakest justifications. Heck, in most cases it's not even the business in question but a low end employee.

Before he went totally off the deep end I kind of saw this as a legitimate free speech issue, and was kind of hoping it would have gone to court in a sane format. I think we'll see cases akin to this becoming more prevelant despite the handfull of rulings we've seen so far, because really it's a very touchy issue.

Mezzo.:
I can only wonder why we've even elected this morons.

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups, my friend.

Video games are just the current thing that it's politically cool to rag on. Politics is a lot like high school. The guys at the top need something to hate on that's safe to hate on, so others will think they have cool or interesting opinions. Cases in point from US history; comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, rock music, rap music. Case in point where it got beyond out of hand; the McCarthy hearings and the Hollywood black list.

The trick is, once the folks who love that stuff are the majority, any even half-hearted attempt to squash them vanishes. What politician today would actually try to build a campaign around getting comics censored or banned? When was the last time you heard a serious poltician talking about 'that Satan-worshipping rock n' roll'? It's the same blind stir-the-pot hatred from decades past, just with a new coat of paint on it.

Besides, Microsoft is in the game now. You think they'd sit on the sidelines if an aspect of their company they're pooling ungodly ammounts of money into could be at risk? They've probably got the lawyer cannons loaded and aimed right now in case the ECA doesn't succeed.

Mezzo.:
Christ, as if they didn't already look bad they flat out say this shit?

I can only wonder why we've even elected this morons.

It costs millions to run for election, the only ones with those millions are rich people, and they aren't usually the best of the best.

So its more of a "they win by default" type thing.

What I just read was so utterly stupid I feel less intelligent for reading it. Am I entitled to compensation from these idiots?

I think if anything, if they did start to pass, people themselves wouldstart to get angry and be making rather rash letter-writtings to the politicians...I can aree somewhat on violent game, perhaps more strongent controls...but not whole games, regardless

You mean politicians dont pass bills to help people and are actually motivated by self interest? NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! My world has been shattered!!!

Hypocrites in Washington?!! No wai!

I mean there is always gonna be the people who cry day after day that certain other politicians are wasting tax payer money and then do the exact same thing.

 

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