The World Without Games

The World Without Games
Empowerment of the Innocent

Ian Easton | 7 Mar 2006 11:04
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The first thing we need to do is ask ourselves an important question: Why do politicians go after targets like comic books and videogames? The answer is simple: We let them. Politicians live and die by public opinion. If nobody votes for them, they don't get elected. Indeed, most politicians regularly poll voters when deciding what issues to address. Since they go where the votes are, you'd expect politicians to represent the interests of everyone in their jurisdiction, including gamers - after all, there are a lot of us.

The problem is, when people don't vote, this system breaks down. Many gamers are in their late teens or early 20s - a demographic which is notorious for not voting. By not defending our interests at the polls, we become our own worst enemies. The politicians who are elected don't understand gaming because there's no political gain in it. Worse yet, our apathy makes gaming an easy target. Older voters don't identify with videogame culture, so when games are demonized, the average voter doesn't know enough to disagree. In effect, decrying games is about as politically dangerous as saying, "Murder is bad."

As we're all aware, the wolves are already at the gate. Opportunists like Jack Thompson have set their sights on the videogame industry, and have already had a disturbing level of success. If we want to avoid the fate of the comic book industry, we need to take control of the gaming industry's political situation. The industry itself has begun to take action on the political front - The Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association recently hired a political lobbyist to push their interests in Washington, but there's still plenty we as gamers can do. Some have suggested running a pro-gaming political candidate, but that isn't likely to work. As important as games are to us, it's a single issue - not nearly enough to build a political platform upon.

The real answer is much simpler: Make our cause worthwhile for politicians. If you don't vote, register now get yourself to the polls. The more of us who vote, the harder we are to ignore. If you're already registered, it's time to take an active stance in defending your hobby. Writing your local congressman is a great start, and getting organized is even better. Being a concerned voter doesn't have the political pull it used to, so a few scattered gamers may not have much clout; but if we organize ourselves into a special interest group, we have the numbers to effect real change in Washington. Working together we can have some real power in the struggle to defend the industry.

Ian Easton is an aspiring technology journalist with plans to attend graduate school in the fall.

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