Help Defend Gaming: Sign the Gamer Petition

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Sign the Gamer Petition here.

ECA: Entertainment Consumers Association

This winter, the game industry — developers, publishers, retailers, et al — will face the single biggest legal challenge that such entertainment, broadly, has ever been up against and in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The State of California had appealed the U.S. Ninth Circuit decision to strike down the so-called CA “video game violence” law in Schwarzenegger v EMA, which every court had done in every such “violent video game” case. But this time was different; For the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case (via “accepting certiorari” aka “cert”). To be blunt, none of us expected it and we were all taken back by the decision. Just 1% of cases filed are granted cert — one percent!

At stake: gaming in America. Yes, you read that correctly.

California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) is the former child psychologist who championed the “violent video game” bill from inception and is coordinating with California Attorney General, Jerry Brown (D-Oakland), and their legal team to muster forces representing the anti-game side. In the pro-games corner are trade associations which represent the corporations which make and sell games and other groups which have skin in the game, such as First Amendment rights organizations. Both sides have an impressive roster of academics, researchers and legal teams committed to a decisive win. Forget 800-pound gorillas; this is more like armies going to war. And the reason is simple: all legal precedent can go right out the window. The slate is cleaned.

In the time since the Court’s announcement there has been a lot of media coverage, both from the enthusiast outlets and the national press. A disturbing theme that you’d find too often in the consumer comments is one of apathy. Perhaps it arose from winning in each of the violence in video game cases. Maybe because, from our perspective, it’s hard to wrap your head around the idea that we could lose — the logic seems pretty obvious. But this is the U.S. Supreme Court, the only court in our country where the Justices don’t have to “follow the law” because they make the law that everyone else follows. And here’s the rub, as industry executives will openly admit: a loss wouldn’t just be limited to any one demographic, such as minors; or any one area, such as California; or even to any one art form, such as video games. It wouldn’t solely change how games are merchandised and sold. Should the U.S. Supreme Court determine that games may not necessarily enjoy the same First Amendment protections as music and movies do now, it would be catastrophic and the implications for gaming and gamers, and entertainment consumers generally, widespread.

Many states and legislators across the country will be watching the outcome of this case closely and are eager to see that there may be an opportunity to re-start their regulatory efforts. Developers are anxious because their rights as artists and creators may be substantially diminished. A loss would have a chilling effect on the medium as a whole — not limited to the United States. Other forms of media could quickly follow, with movies, music, books and all other previously protected First Amendment free speech on the block. Foreign governments often fashion and amend their own laws after SCOTUS decisions. Retailers and publishers, who presently employ a self-regulated ratings system (ESRB), not unlike movies, may be forced to comply with a regulatory environment, like alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. This case may significantly impact the rights of minors, as one of many First Amendment points to be debated will likely be whether minors have them or deserve to keep them. The age of majority is also inconsistent from state to state… The business, legal and cultural implications are mind-boggling.

In most SCOTUS cases, the perspective of the citizens is represented by the politicians — who are presumed to be representing the will of the people. The industry and its trade organizations represent the business. The idea of abdicating our personal consumer representation to the political figures in this case was and is unfathomable.

The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) is the non-profit membership organization which represents the rights of gamers in the U.S. and Canada. Our members pay an annual dues fee and in exchange receive advocacy representation, affinity benefits and discounts on games-related goods and services. We will be submitting a Friend of the Court document, called the consumer amicus brief, in support of the industry. That move, while it may appear obvious, is very uncommon. Similar membership organizations such as AAA or AARP are among the few that have the resources to bring such a document to bear. Additionally, ECA will be attaching a consumer petition, which any American of any age can sign on to. It simply, but emphatically, states:

We, the undersigned American video game consumers, purchase, rent and play video games the way we do other entertainment content such as movies and music. We respectfully request that you hold that video games are indeed free speech, protected under the First Amendment, like other entertainment media.

Petitions, historically, have not made or broken any SCOTUS cases; they have little legal bearing. The vast majority of what will determine whether we win or lose is predetermined. What a consumer amicus, and attached petition, will do is inform the justices, staff, clerks, historians, members of the Bar and Supreme Court press corps that consumers, in this case, are represented by consumers — not politicians. We will be showing that the will of the people is present, is not “covered” by a few select elected officials, and that we are making our case via the consumer amicus and also backing it up with the convictions of petition signatories. A petition that is viewed as successful may or may not be impactful, but one that is not successful could in fact harm the case. Maybe the amicus and petition will only change the game by one percent. Maybe it’ll be the same long odds that led to it being heard in the first place.

If you care about gaming and your rights, please, consider signing the petition.

Comments are closed.


20 Author Replies

  • When is the exact date of the hearing? This issue with the Supreme Court is bothering me. Does this mean that video games will be banned in the United States?

    • We don’t have a date as of yet. Our amicus and petition are due in mid-September and we believe that the case will be reviewed over the winter (perhaps late this year, but possibly early next).

      I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say that. But the repercussions of a loss would be profound, certainly.

  • Pass. At least until I see the actual bill so that I know this isn’t over-dramatic grandstanding because the game industry may actually be forced to regulate who purchases/uses their games (you don’t see stores selling porn to minors, but no one’s standing between them and an M-rated game). I guarantee the results won’t be “Violence in video games is banned forever!” so I know there’s some hyperbole going on here. You’re playing to an audience here just the same way they are.

    As an aside, people are far too quick to play the “bad parent” card: not every parent is/can be up-to-date on every piece of technology and not every parent can monitor their child 24 hours a day.

    And while a violent game does not necessarily make a violent person, years of psychological, anthropological and personal training and experience tell me that NOTHING has “no effect.” Anytime an expert claims games DO have an effect, gamers rarely have anything above childish denials and retorts. You are most definitely playing to an audience here. (See #43)

    What’s more, you have more corporations/money, and rich people just don’t lose in this country. Case and point, Big Tobacco, AIG, Haliburton, the Auto Industry, etc, etc.

  • Is there a certain age requirement to sign?

    • Nope. We’ve made it so that any American gamer can participate. Recruit your friends and followers!

  • Does Senator Yee and the rest of the legislative body in California realize how much money the video gaming industry brings into their state? If I were an studio or publisher exec I would already be looking for a new place to relocate my business.

    You have my signature.

  • I signed this a month or two ago. I’m probably going to link this on Facebook and ask everyone I know to sign, although most of my friends are non-gamers. Can’t hurt.

    Also, I’d just like to say that I consider myself a liberal/progressive and I completely disagree with this. The Governator himself is a conservative – making this even more odd. Some industries (IMO) do need regulation (you know, the ones that run things into the ground out of sheer greed) but gaming is not and never will be one of them. I’m following this issue closely and hope free speech wins the day.

  • Oh hell no!….signed.

  • —————


    Where’s the petition to sign about users rights?

    We need one to help say what a company can take away from it’s users. Like other OS. I’ll sign that one. If not, don’t ask the people you stole from to help you win a fight. That’s like me being a bully and beating you up, then asking you to help me fight a bigger bully.

    Yea, good luck with the petition.



  • im 11 i dont understand this does this mean they are trying to ban violent video games in america?

    • At issue is whether games are different than, say, movies. Those that believe that gaming should be treated differently think that there’s a difference between watching a space alien be shot on TV and virtually shooting one in a game. They believe that because gaming is interactive, it’s more detrimental.

      Their goal isn’t to outright ban games (to the best of my knowledge), it’s to restrict them in ways similar to buying cigarettes or beer. And we disagree.

  • The ECA is a scam. Do not do anything to associate yourself to this group. While they do now have a way to cancel a subscription automatically they did not have it until a huge outcry and 600+ cancelations were being processed. They tricked people into joining them with fake “benefits” and then removed all means of cancelation beyond snail mail. It also came out later that those who did cancel were still getting charged anyway. Everytime something goes worng Hal comes and plays it off like nothing happened. Penny Arcade and multiple other companies have also withdrawn their support for the ECA due to their horrible policies and shady practices. I am a member in active standing yet they banned me for no reason. The claim I made a complaint with the BBB which I will swear under oath I did not. They just randomly grouped me in with a huge banlist becuase I have a CAG account. This petition is just a ploy to get more paying members to their group. Avoid it. I can go on and on with proof of issues with this company but just do a web search, you will find it.

  • And BTW: I know he isn’t with SCEA. But he is posting on their blog. So, yea.

  • Solid-Snake-Eyes

    I read the article and though I’m Canadian I followed the link to the petition. I just want to say I think it’s a little bit unclassy to add options to sign up for a subscription to your association as part of the petition.

    • I appreciate your perspective, but would hope that you’d understand that we’re a self-funded non-profit organization. Meaning that we are entirely membership dues-based. If we have an opportunity to engage with prospective new members, offer them a discounted trial membership to see if they’d like it, I think we have an obligation to do so. Unless you’d like to make a sizable personal contribution – in which case, we should talk! ;)

  • What happened to the good old days? Now they’re trying to child proof everything. Riot in the streets people! Dont let them walk all over you.

  • First, this Blog post is deceptive – it does not directly describe what the violent video game law is.

    Second, the only real effect such a law could have is to make mature games less feasible for large publishing corporations. Cry me a freaking river. In my 15+ years of gaming I’ve learned we do not need to rely on companies for our gaming experiences. If the gaming media and larger culture understood this, our climate would not be as disgustingly commercialized as it is now.

    Third, all you crying its the PARENTS responsibility should realize this law would only force parents to play a larger role in deciding what experiences are safe for their kids.

    I’m troubled by the ignorance most Americans view 1st Amendment issues with. All they think is “IN THIRD GRADE WE LEARNED GEORGE WASHINGTON LOVES FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!! NO CENSORSHIP!”

    Give me a break.

  • Godspeed is all I have to say.
    It seems quite clear that the 1st Amendment should rule out any possible negative outcome, but still God is very speedy!

    I’m not american, so I won’t sign the petition, but I strongly urge very single gamer to sign it, despite their recent debacles with the ECA. This thing seems bigger than that, and it’s not like the ECA will earn any profit from people signing a petition…

  • If you go to the petition site you see it asks for your personal information and then has 2 checkboxes about ECA newsletters and a trial membership. These come pre checked. Any real consumer advocacy group would understand this is bad form and if they wanted to include such a thing would have the boxes unchecked. Also beware the trial membership. The “Affinity benefits” mentioned either are on perma “coming soon” status or have no value. The one hasn’t worked for a year. The gaming magazine one isn’t a discount off what anyone wanting a subscription can get going to the normal site. None of the benefits have any actual value.

  • F You Hal! ECA is a rip-off, and does NOT protect gamers! In fact, they rip them off by automatically renewing their accounts (even though they canceled). Visit cheapassgamer, or do a google search on them. I’m surprised they haven’t had a class action lawsuit thrown at them.

  • Human nature will always fill with violence . its better to have the violence on screen then the streets. and if im right , by banning violence game then we will see alot more violence on the streets, im 28 yrs of age and my lil brother at age 10 and while i enjoy playing killzone and halo to mw , my lil brother despise it and rather play mario and old school metroid so why banned m rated games . my thoughts! arnold is a broke @#$ . look what he did , try to build more prison which turn the state of california into a state of dept , now he got nothing better to do . F him . were is the jobs, were is the school funds , instead he rather hired more dumb cops and smoke crack . look it up cuz its the truth . so go google it.

  • I’m Canadian so I cant help.

    Really don’t think it has anything to do with the 1st amendment though. The constitution(or any similar document such as in my case the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) are completely worthless pieces of paper.

    Everyone just twists the meaning of the 200+ year old worthless document to justify the thing they want to happen.

    “The founding fourfathers would have wanted free speach to apply to something that was still hundreds of years away from existing when they wrote the document”

    I really we get to the point where laws are decided/overruled based on common sense and what the majority now want instead of this fourfathers nonsense.

  • /signed. Much thanks to Sony and you guys at ECA for bringing the option to do this right to our to speak.

    • Thanks for the kind words. And by all means, please share them equally with Jeff and Patrick here at Sony – who made this possible.

      For those of you who read the guest editorial, my thanks. For those of you who signed the petition, welcome. And for those of you who did both and then took the additional time to spread the word, you guys are what inspires us. Thank you.

      For anyone who feels that I’ve somehow done them wrong in any way, shape or form, my sincerest apologies.

      If you’d like to stay on top of the SCOTUS case, please feel free to visit or sign up for our free members newsletter.

      Thank you for your time, interest, questions and consideration.


  • Freaking ridiculous. Parents shouldn’t allow their children to own violent video games if they can’t handle them. In no way should violent video games be banned because of bad parenting. The other 99.9% of the population which can handle violent video games still want to see more released. If they ban them, I’m going to be pretty angry. I (Think?) I signed the petition… To be honest, the site didn’t make it incredibly easy to do so. But I’m pretty sure I signed it. (I entered all of my information…)

    Btw, what would they do with all of the violent video games which are already out? Would they personally come take them from our houses…? I mean, how are they even supposed to handle that? There must be millions of copies located throughout American homes. And I’m definitely not willing to give the government my property which has been legal for the past few decades.

  • OH HELL NO!!
    they are not going to take away my only source of happiness!


  • @30 Chestertonian
    “Jerry Brown is also running for Governor this year! Do not vote for a politician who simultaneously stomps on First Amendment rights.”

    Uh…the other option is Meg Whitman…who wants to lay off 10’s of thousands of state employees. Yeah that’ll be real good for the economy. Laying off over 10,000 people, and then having to pay them for unemployment, and then having local businesses suffer without state workers. That’ll turn Sacramento into a total ****hole.
    No thanks, I’d rather vote for Brown.

  • I don’t blame this bill. I have no reason to sign this. Violence has gone WAY too far in games. Many games put blood in just to be gorey. It’s usually not necessary. For example DeathSpank, does NOT need blood, but it has it. I do believe parents should have the right to tell their kids what they can and can’t play, but many parents don’t know what kind of things their kids play on games. I’m not saying the violence is the worst, but I do agree that I shouldn’t be seeing 10 year olds on Modern Warfare 2.

  • wtf? i liked that guy!!! now hes a duch. if i was old enough id sign the pition. games ftw!

  • oh and spoelstra3. parents do. so why the fu.. should this be passed?

  • Don’t do anything to associate yourself with the ECA.

    Head over to CAG and check out how the ECA has effectively assaulted the gamers they claim to serve. They allowed people to sign up for a one year membership for free. They then proceeded to remove some of the benefits (to their credit, some were abused), which caused several people to opt out. HOWEVER, their online opt-out system was fake. People who canceled got charged for another year.

    The ECA then said “our system never had an online option to cancel an automatic re-subs,” and removed it from their site. They then MANDATED that people send them registered snail mail to cancel, saying that “there was an old database no one knew about, and it kept everyone’s CC info, which is why they were re-upped.” So they kept personal financial info long after someone wanted out. They don’t send out one month warnings about recharges despite saying repeatedly that they require themselves to do so. Hal set off on a huge campaign to complain about how “gamers abused everything, they got what they deserved, we are not at fault here,” and other nonsense.

  • (Continued from above)

    Do not trust them. Do not associate yourself with them. You can fight for gamer rights in much more pleasant, less underhanded ways. You do not need this shady organization, and it will be a nightmare to back out once they’ve got your credit card info.

    You have been warned. Again, check out Cheapassgamer for more information. People are MORE than glad to dole out the grisly details. The ECA is well aware of CAG, having banned many users from their forums for complaining about this situation, and then openly mocking them for doing so. But it’s pretty hard to shut us up, which is why we’re trying to spread the word.

    Don’t do it. You WILL regret it, falling for more snake oil salesman pitches from someone claiming to be fighting for you.

  • I would like to review the amicus brief before I consider attaching my name to it.

  • Reading the comments above, I have come to a decision to wait on signing this, as I have read a lot of poor things said about the company that is sponsoring this petition. Who knows, based on what I have just read about this company being “shady”, it is a possibility that they might take this information you have given them (the petition), and turn it against us, the gamers. I have to admit, that idea had come to my mind many times whilest reading the comments. And, to add another note, I have actually seen a gaming store sell rated M games to people without checking id or whatever. I was one of them ;). So I’ll just wait on this, and see what happens.

  • Is there some sort of background comment moderation going on here? I commented like 2 hours ago and it never showed up. Oh well. I didn’t think it was offensive or off-topic.

  • Okay, no. We can’t let them do this. This is criminal. They can’t regulate video games like I’m buying a gun! The very concept is [DELETED]! Wait, I bet this would mean that because I’m a minor, all I can buy is Wii-Super-Family-[DELETED]-Waggle-Thon…Don’t we have the ESRB for that? I’m pissed off, now. Consider it signed. This won’t pass.


  • I’m in Canada so I’ll pass.

  • In addition, to my request above (#69), where can I go to review ECA’s financial disclosures?

  • There’s no actual information on this page nor on the ECA petition page as to what we’d be signing. I’m unsure as to the ramifications of removing the 1st amendment support we expect in video games, especially since censorship is pretty frequent and accepted. An example: no radio station will play an uncensored version of American Idiot, which was a huge hit. It’s obvious that the majority of Americans aren’t completely opposed to censorship. I just can’t see what the true problem would be, and I definitely can’t see how signing the petition will be a vote to “defend gaming.”

  • -Signed-

    Right to gaming should not be banned!

  • An online petition will do nothing. The Supreme Court rules on law, not popular opinion.

    Hal is using these scare tactics and sensationalism to drum up membership for the ECA. Please don’t think they are anything but a sham organization that has done pretty much nothing for gamers’ rights. The ECA has shown in the past that their own organization doesn’t have consumers in mind, only the bottom line.

    I’m disappointed in Sony for giving him this forum to spew his nonsense.

  • I dont understand what is considered violence? to an extent Mario would be considered violent since you are “stomping on enemies”, or rpg games where you are defeating evil for the greater good, or the “War-like” games which kinda has some educational value.

    If this does pass then we better be seeing this done to movies, books, tv shows, music,etc since it’s not fair to to single out games like this.

    What i also dont like about this is that its more than likely that the people that want this kind of stuff are the parents who bought their kids the games (Rated M) thought it was a good idea to buy it for them (most likely their kids where kicking and screaming to get the game) and for their ignorance to not do research on the games to see its its ok or bad for their kids.

    Seriously i dont know understand this. So its ok for Tv shows and movies to have beating/killings/swearing/etc, but games are a big NONO? why?

  • Oh, I would be pleased to sign this, but I think I can’t ’cause I don’t live in Canada or United States…


  • Signed and tweeted.

    I’ve created a short url for tweeting.

    Good luck Hal.

  • This would be terrible if the goverment does that, they need to leave games be. If people are letting there kids play violent games it is there fault, there is a ESRB rating on every game that shows what is in the game so its whovever buys the games fault if they don’t want there kids exposed to game violence. Don’t ruin it for the gamers who enjoy the styles of games like that.

  • Makes me sad to be one of his constituents. He has been pushing this stuff for years. Can’t wait to vote against him because he obviously does not represent me.

  • THis is very misleading and down right dirt ball..
    I think congress is right, gaming compnaies have no right to be targeting kids and teens with violence.. Games like Lbp get nasa endorsements and the president endorsement becuase there fun and educational..

    LOOk at tinky create games, they dont make violent games, they make family games, and they are making money . I understand your non profit , but why are you trying to profit from teens and kids off the blog, just becuase they play games, .You should be ashmed of yourself bro.. Yes you have the right, but it dont make it right.

    There no problem with comic mischef. but dont out targeting 9 yrs old with a gow3 type of game, if that child get a knife and stab some one, who responsible, you say his parents.? It takes 1 to paint apicture, one to draw it and one to sell the PAINT!! In Not signing this. becuase you did it 4 profit.


  • I would vote but i am British. This could hurt the european games industry as well, It’s bad enough our government backed out of a promise on tax breaks and Sony among others are considering moving their investments abroad.

    It would be a far worse situation if the influx of great games from the USA were to stop too, Good luck.

    P.S I’m also with tripellex bring back OtherOS to our launch units, There was no need to cause us financial harm.

  • /Signed.

    Someone was pointing out the other day how much of a hypocrite Schwarzenegger was appearing in the Expendables. It’s all lip service Politics.

  • We need Alan Shore for this one.

  • Sorry but I will have to take the side of the Senator Leland Yee on this one. Yes, I am an avid gamer and a 3d gaming engineer, and I support the gaming industry, but lately I have been appalled by the mindless blood and gore most games have been focusing on in order to create the wow factor in this generation. Games need to innovate in the gameplay department and stop focusing on blood and excessive violence.

    The fact that most games on PS3 and XBOX 360 are rated Mature should be a cause for concern. Not everyone who has a PS3 is an adult, yet most AAA games are rated M. Kids are more eager to play the latest and greatest games than adults, and they will find ways to get the games they want regardless of their rating. As an example,a cousin of mind, 13 years old, played all AAA games, let it be from GTAIV and Red Dead Redemption to God of War 3, Modern Warfare 2 and Bad Company 2. And you don’t need me to convince you on this one. Just log in on XBox live and PSN and play modern warfare 2 and you will see that most of them are kids screaming and yelling.

    Just because I am a gamer, doesn’t mean I like excessive mindless violence. So does that make me anti-gamer? I don’t think so.

  • @mcbuttz78
    You and congress underestimate the age of gamers.

    *Reminder to everyone, don’t share your age on the blog, it is a bannable offense. Almost shared mine and then remembered this little fact.

  • @Sponge-Worthy

    1) Seinfeld reference? Choice.

    2) You can check this thread out to see how the ECA was charging people with a subscription auto-renew without their consent:

    It’s got links to the original thread when stuff got shady last year as well. I hope this is the sort of information you were looking for.

    Do not trust the ECA everyone. Give your money to Child’s Play, or the ESA, or the people who run E3. Not this shady organization. There are far better groups fighting for gamers out there.

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