Video games, like most things, cannot escape the political sphere, and with this being a major election year, having a say in the individuals who govern us, and referendums and laws put on the ballot, is all the more important. While many gamers may not care much, there is an organization out there who wants to encourage gamers to speak their voice. The Video Game Voters Network is a United States non-profit, whose primary goal is encouraging and educating gamers on voting and issues pertinent to the industry. The organization was out at E3 this year, spreading the message and reminding attendees to get registered before the big election happens in November. In addition, they tackle issues in the political sphere that have an effect on the gaming community and industry and the stigma and stereotypes that have become so pervasive.
While VGVN has tackled issues from the perception of violence in video games to cloud taxing, this year at E3 one of their big focuses was on the. eSports has reached viewership and participation that can rival even major United States sports leagues, with the League of Legends Championships getting more viewers than any other sporting event in the United States except for the Super Bowl. Despite this, gaining respect for that industry is a slow process, and while the government has started to recognize companies like Riot and games well-known for their competitive communities, smaller games or games with smaller competitive outlets still struggle. The goal is to try and get these games recognized, allowing international players to obtain Visas in the same way they can for other sports.
Reed Albers, a Senior Manager for the Entertainment Software Association who organizes E3, was at the Video Game Voter Network booth, talking about the issues and promoting their cause. The Entertainment Software Association is also the main lobbying group for the video game industry. In the wake of tragic events in the United States and worldwide, Albers says, some stereotypes and assumptions about video games have arisen again painting games as a cause for violence in society. Albers defended gamers and the industry, and says that the key is to be positive advocates and proactive in trying to educate government officials on the industry, saying, “As the tech industry and video games innovate and find new ways to deliver content … the government will always be a little slow to catch up with it.”
It’s asinine for someone to get on television, or radio, or the Internet and just screech about how video games are the reason for all the violence in the world.
Albers related this specifically to virtual reality, which had an enormous presence on the showfloor at E3. He predicted that there may be legislation regarding virtual reality content and technology because of their realism and immersion. Those unfamiliar with virtual reality and the research on video games may assume them to be dangerous because “you’re actually holding the gun.” Albers was adamant in defending the industry from those assumptions: “We’ve seen the rush to blame video games … the fact that it comes up is just a distraction from the real issues … It’s asinine for someone to get on television, or radio, or the Internet and just screech about how video games are the reason for all the violence in the world.”
The primary push by the Video Game Voters Network is for gamers to get educated on the issues federally and locally, and know what those issues are so they can further educate others and be self-advocates. While currently still small, Video Game Voters Network is constantly growing. Gamers interested in getting involved can start registering to vote through their Start Democracy campaign. They can also join VGVN here, and “Join a movement of Americans who are protecting free speech and defending video games from intrusive legislation and regulation.”