Noted game designer Warren Spector ripped GTA and Rockstar a new one last week. Is ESA honcho Doug Lowenstein angry with Rockstar, too?
The video game industry's point man didn't say so explicitly, but you don't need to be a rocket scientist to read between the lines of remarks Lowenstein made last Thursday during a keynote address at the PR for Games Conference in San Francisco.
As reported in Next Generation, Lowenstein told attendees that game publishers and developers must shoulder the blame for the industry's poor public image.
"We have met the enemy, and it is us," Lowenstein said, adding that the game business has made itself "an easy target."
Lowenstein cautioned the assembled public relations pros to be ready to jump on controversies before they get out of hand.
"Once that train gets ahead of you, you'll never catch up," he said. That is a truism that Lowenstein knows all too well. The game industry spent most of last summer conducting damage control on the Hot Coffee scandal.
Speaking of Hot Coffee, in a post-speech Q&A session, Lowenstein discussed what a political disaster that incident was for the video game business. As reported in the Next Gen piece, at the time the Hot Coffee story broke, the ESA was holding discussions with members of Congress on copyright issues as well as intellectual property protection. Support of elected officials quickly evaporated, however, as news of the hidden sex scenes in GTA: San Andreas spread.
Lowenstein also recommended that PR types work proactively with mainstream media and local government officials to talk up positive issues concerning games.