Sad news first.
Crave Entertainment reports that VP Mark "Chip" VanDeVelde, a game industry veteran, died on Saturday. Before joining Crave, Chip was national sales manager for Konami.
Crave is starting a scholarship fund for Chip's 11-year-old daughter, Callahan. Contact Lynda Broderick at Crave for info on how to contribute.
On a happier note, the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) and the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) have issued a joint press release announcing the hiring of a new lobbyist. Stuart Spencer will represent the interests of the IEMA (game retailers) and VSDA (video stores, i.e. - game renters) before Congress and federal agencies.
Spencer was previously a partner and general counsel of the Stanton Park Group,a bi-partisan lobbying firm for which he represented technology and health care clients. He also worked as chief of staff for Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY). He is a grad of Princeton University and Tulane Law School.
"We are very pleased to have an individual of Stuart's caliber representing us in Washington," said IEMA President Hal Halpin. "He brings an impressive breadth of experience, knowledge of the Hill, and understanding of the legislative process to the position."
"In retaining Stuart, VSDA is recognizing a strategic goal of having a full-time Washington, D.C. presence before Congress and the executive branch," VSDA President Bo Andersen noted. "With the variety and gravity of federal legislative and regulatory issues our industry faces, including piracy, scrutiny of entertainment marketing, and calls for censorship of entertainment products, our members cannot afford for VSDA not to be fully engaged virtually every day in Washington."
Movers and shakers: The stuffy Wall Street Journal (can't read their website without a subscription) has named a list of key video game industry players. Luckily, joystiq does have a WSJ sub, so we can leech onto their recounting of the list.
Notably included: ESA honcho Doug Lowenstein "This man is fending off attacks from rabid, misguided politicians who are looking for a galvanizing election issue. He's got his work cut out for him."; Professor Edward Castronova (MMO economy expert): " He writes about games from an academic perspective. Pretty cool gig, if you can get it."; Sam Houser, Rockstar Games: " He's the "Quentin Tarantino of videogame designers."
Notably not included: Jack Thompson