Video games and a party - hey, sounds like a mini-E3!
In this case, however, the gamers at the party were also politicians.
Through a knowledgeable source, GamePolitics has learned that the ESA held a lobbying event for California legislators on Monday. ESA President Doug Lowenstein and the organization's General Counsel Gail Markels were among those who met with elected officials in Sacramento.
Following the meetings the ESA hosted a bash for state legislators, their staffs and families at a ballroom in downtown Sacramento. GP hears that about 150 people attended, enjoying refreshments and playing the E-rated likes of Dance Dance Revolution and a ping pong game (Rockstar's Table Tennis?) on monitors set up around the room.
We're not 100% sure it was Rockstar's game. It could have been a really early build of Nintendo's Wii Ping Pong, but we doubt it. Perhaps this was a way to show the assembled pols that Rockstar is capable of creating more than just GTA mayhem.
In addition to Lowenstein and Markels, representatives from some publishers were in attendance, including California-based Electronic Arts.
A representative of the ESA confirmed that the event happened, telling GP it was the first such state-level lobbying day. California's festivities were modeled on a successful annual lobbying day in Washington, D.C. at which the ESA has hosted members of Congress. The ESA spokesperson told GP the industry plans additional lobbying events at the state level although none are scheduled at this time.
(probably a good idea given the flood of state-level video game legislation in 2005-2006)
According to our ESA source, "Doug participated along with member company representatives and they spent the day in multiple group meetings with legislators one-on-one and then held a reception for members, staff and families at which they could play video games and learn more about the industry and our products.
California, of course, is a key battleground state for the video game industry. Currently the state's 2005 video game law is before a federal judge in San Jose awaiting a ruling on the measure's constitutionality.
GP asked Democrat Leland Yee (see at left in photo from GDC 2006), architect of the California law, to comment on the lobbying effort.
"It is important that we continue the dialogue on the issue of violence in video games and how we keep such games out of the hands of children," Yee told GamePolitics.
"Although we clearly have disagreements on the best means to reach such goals and the validity of the current rating system, I believe the industry is taking some steps to assist parents. I am hopeful that our law will soon be ruled constitutional and parents will have a more significant tool to raise healthy kids."
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