MTV: Will Gamer Videos Be Seen in Tonight's Republican Presidential Debate?

November 28, 2007 -

MTV's Stephen Totilo writes about the gamers who submitted video questions for tonight's CNN/YouTube Republican Presidential Debate.

In particular, Totilo focuses on 18-year-old Jesse Vetters, whose video inspired nearly two dozen fellow gamers to participate in the debate process by creating game issue-oriented videos of their own. Totilo writes:

Over the summer, Vetters started searching YouTube to see what questions had been asked during the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate. "I saw there was nothing on there about anything I really cared about, video games being the main thing..."

Vetters posted his 39-second question to YouTube... and asked aloud what politicians would do to make sure that games weren't vilified by the government.

Totilo also spoke with Entertainment Consumers Association president Hal Halpin, who, after seeing Vetters' video, decided to encourage others to follow suit by offering a free ECA t-shirt to those who submitted their own videos. Halpin commented:

Whenever I'm dealing with the mainstream media, their vision of gamers is apathetic, uninvolved, don't get out to vote. And here's this high school kid (Vetters) willing to jump into the deep end.

Halpin related an experience which occurred at PAX in August when a gamer approached him with a political question:

He was torn between [Barack] Obama and Hillary [Clinton]... [their position on video games is] the issue that could be a tipping point. I bet other gamers out there feel similarly. And that gave me a whole new perspective on what this could mean.

No one knows whether any of the gamer videos will make the final cut. But plenty of gamers will be watching. 


@ E. Zachary Knight

I don't think we can drag out that stat until its down to 25%.
Remember movies studios pay politicians.
Why do they continue to blame the ESRB when they have a problem with a game?? Don't they known that they can't do anything about it. If you want change you have to ask the companies.

i bet they pruned every single censorship question out, which would involve all the game questions.

The only way to eliminate pork barrel spending would be to change the rules for the creation of bills saying that you can't take extra crap on that has nothing to do with the original intent of the bill.

Of course, that will never happen.

The other problem is that voter apathy for the 18-20somethings is still prevalent. If we can get that group to vote as a block you'll see every politicians head spin so fast they'll whiplash.


Not that I'd speak a word to support Pandralisk, but Mormons are technically a form of Christian.

And honestly, I don't expect the gamer issue to matter much in the general election or even the primaries, largely because most politicians either support legislation or don't talk about it. (Has anyone but Brownbeck on the Republican side even brought up the issue?) The fact remains that terrorism, Iraq, taxes, and the economy are far more important issues and will probably decide most people's votes. (Besides, as long as the courts keep striking game legislation down, I don't think we have anything to worry about.)


I thought you were warned not to get your hatred of christianity into a topic again?

No mention of games at all, as many of you have already noted.

BUT, that simply means it's time to find a new outlet. Obviously, the net alone isn't working enough. Pump it up. More e-mails to Senators, to the candidates, if you have multiple e-mail addresses and a little free time send two or three messages to one person with different words but the same meaning and a different name at the bottom. Most likely, we'll get form replies.
But there's the chance that we'll see something positive.

As gamers, it's time to make ourselves more noticed. One of the questions tonight came from a group called the Log Cabin Republicans. They're known, because they have controversy despite how small they are. For those of you who don't know, it's a group of gay Republicans.

If we got every gamer of voting age together, regardless of partisan preferences, we'd outnumber a lot of minority-vote groups that are getting more sway than we are. Hell, I saw a question from the Mars Group or some such organization. How much support can they really give?

Now, imagine what we could do.

Go to Microsoft. Go to Sony and Nintendo. Go to EA, Ubisoft, Rockstar, Valve, anyone you can think of who is affected or could be affected by legislation that affects games, and call them on it.

If tobacco companies, soft drink companies, and McDonalds can have lobbyists, why not games? If drinkers, smokers, and people who want to live on Mars can influence decisions made in this country, why not us?

I think I'll e-mail Bush a few times tonight. He is still President for a while, after all. He could use a little good publicity.


Depending on how many questions were submitted and what percentage of those were video game related questions, I think it would be very unwise of them to not include one.

If they do include one they will most likely include the one that reinforces the gamer stereotype so that they candidates don't look bad.

Sucks for me. :(

@ GP

Bad GP. You did not include your disclaimer at the end. ;)

Sucks for me too. It'd be nice if they field my question, but I won't hold my breath.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

Politicians won't take gamers seriously until gamers become politicians.


Or at least enough of us are exit polled in some relevant number.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

Truth is, too many people will focus on the wedge issues (immigration, abortion, gay rights, the war) and vote based on those. Games will fall by the wayside.

Go outside and shout "violent games are ruining our children!" and you just gained the ears of anyone over the age of 35. But in the end, if your wedge issue opinions don't match up with their's, then you lost their vote.

Republicans are even less likely to give a dang I think. In the first place the moral conservatives don't approve of games, and the moral conservatives are typically considered to be the transmission on the GOP vehicle. In the second place, they've pretty much just got their hands full convincing people that they won't be another Bush.

Personally. I don't see the point to electing a republican, I really don't. The years since I started watching current events have taught me nothing if not bipartisan bills are an endangered species. Politicians CANNOT get along. If we want a government that gets a dang thing done we can't elect a majority congress of one party and a president from another.

@ jadedcritic

I agree. When government comes to "Since this was not proposed by my party I won't support it" you really get nothing done.

Personally, I think that we need a more mixed government. Not just between Dems and Reps but plenty of other so called "third parties"

But you really have to look at it this way too. The president has something like a 25% approval rating. Congress has almost the same. The President is Rep and congress is mostly Dem. What does that mean? No one likes what either body is doing.

My opion may not reflect all gamers but it is my opion. My background is a gamer who grew up in the 80's and 90's right when it was just starting to become very popular. I play consoles, computers, arcades, and handheld devices. I have play all kinds of games. Shooters being my favorite among RPG's and others. I like Violent games but I agree with politicians on one account, our current rating system is not effective. What I mean by that is that the current rating system has little or no enforcement to make sure that the games of higher ratings aren't getting into the hands of underage gamers. I do love my video games and want to seem them protected but in the spirt of compromise, I think we need to find ways to help to enforce this current rating system for Video games so that our underage gamers aren't exposed to things not deemed appropriate for gamers who are underage. Now I do say that there will always be parents who let their childeren do whatever they like but their are those like me a parent of three who don't let their kids see or play games not appropriate for their age.

@ Nicholas

Just about every retailer has a computer promt for ID when an M rated game is scanned for purchase. IS that not enforcement enough?

The FTC reported that only 42% of underage kids (13-16) were able to buy M rated games. That is down from 65% the previous year.

Compare that to movies. When an R rated movie is scanned for purchase, what happens? the cashier puts it inot a bag and scans the next item.

The FTC reported that 71% of underage kids were able to buy R rated movies.

I am not trying to say "Don't blame us, look at movies." I simply pointing out the fact that we are enforcing the ratings as an industry. It is the individual cashiers who simply type in some arbitrary date into the validation field rather than ask for ID. But you cannot blaim the industry for that. That is idividual apathy.


the ESRB is ineffective? what do you propose, then? a government-run regulation committe? why just video games?

the MPAA is a self-goverened body. it's against policy to sell R-rated tickets to minors, but it isn't against the law. why, then, should it be against the law to do the same with video games?

enforcement doesn't begin and end at the cashier, despite what the censors tell you. nor does there need to be a law.

@ Nicholas Thomson

What part of voluntary system do you not understand?


Voting "at least something will get done" is dangerous, especially when you look at this crop of Democrats' ability to flop on the head of a pin for a few extra poll-points. Republicans are litte better - but at least with a D congress and an R President you don't have unneeded sweeping "reform" bills, with 1 billion in Pork Barrel spending tied to it.

Voting should be based on a candidate's legislative record and their views on the issues each voter cares about. And I realize that no one candidate will ever exactly match, but if there were more than 2 party choices, we'd have a real choice. The prentense of choice in recent elections is a farce - R and D are two side of the same Authoritarian coin. Making a choice based on party is the worst way to vote and the real cause of the crap we have for leaders.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

If the question were framed in the larger context of overall media - including games, music, movies, television and especially the internet!!! - then I believe the question would be more relevant. Conservatives have built their careers on "protecting the children", whether Democratic or Republican. It's a question that deserves to be asked, but not just for the niche concern of gamers.

Truth be told, I'm at the point I'd rather have unneeded sweeping reform bills then more, hold course/preserve the status quo nonsense. I'm usually pretty conservative, but I'll admit the Bush administration's seemingly complete inability to get any real kind of meaningful domestic legislation passed has pissed me off bad enough that I'm willing to tolerate 8 years under democratic rule again. (No, that wasn't a typo, I said 8 years and I meant it.) Considering that like the last four or five presidents have all been 2-term presidents, I see no reason to believe this will be any different. As for the pork-barrell spending, I'm not too worried about that either simply because it's not like the alternative (republicans) are going to balance the budget. How much has Bush spent on Iraq? Don't misunderstand me, I'd love to see the budget get balanced, but I don't see any of the canidates we have available as having the stones to do it, and even if they did; presidents don't write the budget, congress does. So if we elect a republican president and he keeps vetoing budgets because of pork barrell spending, we're still stuck where we were to start off.

Don't misunderstand, allot of folks are basically advocating more then two parties, and I wouldn't have a problem with that. By all means, let's do it. In the meantime though, that's not how it is. 2K8 we'll basically have to make a lesser of two evils choice. (South Park characterized it once as having to choose between a douche and a turd.) We can elect a republican who will most likely fuss and fight with congress for at least another two years, or we can elect a democrat and put up with their clumsy reforms and pork-barrell spending. Given the choice, I'm probably going to vote across parties. (I'm registered Rep.) At least clumsy reform still counts as action.


It is the individual cashiers who simply type in some arbitrary date into the validation field rather than ask for ID.

You have to do that down there? Up here it just prompts "Check customer 18?", and you can hit enter to skip it. It comes up (at Walmart anyway) on M rated games (even though they are 17+), and R rated movies...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

I don't expect any questions asked by anyone, let alone a gamer asking about games, to get a straight answer from a politician. It simply isn't in their nature, unfortunately.

Like it's been said before, politicians won't leave games alone until people like us are politicians. I just hope they don't forget their brains when they move to Washington.

Oh, I forgot to mention - it should also be highlighted that republican does not always equal fiscal conservative. Bush did not veto much of anything by way of spending for a LONG TIME, I think that stem cell research was the first one. Coincidentally enough, since we elected a democratic congress he's certainly shown no reluctance to take that veto pen out, but that's another subject.

Point is - if our goal is to curb pork barrel spending, we can't necessarily assume that electing a republican would help with that.

Huh, I didn't realize so many others were asking these kind of questions to the candidates. I asked a similar question myself.

...I hope they take one of the video game questions, but I kind of doubt they will...

Bill riders that cause pork barrel spending should more appropriately be called "bill stow-awayers". It's easier compared to someone stowing away in a vehicle when no one really told them to come along.

"Politicians won’t take gamers seriously until gamers become politicians."

Or voting citizens? Those don't matter to politicians?

Well, the thing is, the current crop of politicians are stuck in the mindset that ALL gamers are under 18years of age. They don't realize that most of us are actually of voting age.

Which would normally be useful for us voters. The problem is almost all of them believe "games= the evil."


Good points, and I'm glad to see you realize R and D have lost all meaning. I'm far more concerned with the trend of Democrats (the front runners for President), that are closet socialists. And true conservatives are few and far between - the current Republicans are big military spending, and for liberal use of the Constitution to enforce their religious views on gay marriage. The Democrats want government healthcare (which quite frankly frightens me), and government controlled media (which scares me). So a conservative person like me, who wants as little Government interference in my life as possible, is left with no one to vote for. In the last Congressional election I voted pretty much split, and wrote in a Green Party candidate for Senate (the damn shiester Democrat won).

I will likely be voting a third party in 2008. However, it's my belief that Hitlery will win.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

Is it really neccessary to ask the party of Christian fascism if they oppose, and wish to censor and stomp out, games that contradict their deluded value systems? Among a great many other things, the canidates featured in tonight's debate live for taking away your freedom as a free thinking adult and value the utility of censorship.

Questions about game laws are pointless. We know how these superstitious morons feel, and we know that they will never cease their attacks on the freedom of both consumers and the industry as a whole.

@ Timmay!

Well it would be easier to get that age bracket to vote, if they were taught proper politics during their high school years. Most of the kids that age don't know how politics work. That is why they don't vote.

There is also the fact that many of the issues that politicians pander on about don't interest people of that age. Most politicians only talk about issues that people over 40 are intested in because they have the highest voter turn out.

Terrible spiral isn't it?

That is why I am seriously considering Obama as he is openly taking stances on technological, privacy and government reform.

@ Pandralisk

Christian fascism
deluded value systems
utility of censorship
superstitious morons

Awe... No 'bible thumpers' today. I think you are slipping. Better refill your hate fuel.

@ Jabrwock

Walmart I believe is the execption. They request ID on both. But other stores like Target and Best Buy only require ID on games. I was simply guessing on the typing in the DOB here. I have never experienced it first hand. I don't buy M rated games all to often and not at all in the past couple of years.

Well, the line item veto power Clinton had was struck down for part of his time in office, which in some ways was a bad thing, especially when it comes to taking pork out of bills that politicians love to try and sneak in.

I believe that Germany, Britain, and Austrailia prove why a government-run "ratings" (lol) system is a bad idea. So much for free speech and choice for adults...

If one of these questions gets on tv I may die of shock. I would bet that they would air a Jack Thompson anti-videogame question before they would air one from a gamer.

I wouldn't worry about the Republicans, and the only Democrat I'd worry about is Hillary Clinton, so I plan on voting for Obama in the primary...I mean, the Republicans are more concerned with screwing over everyone who isn't lower upper class or higher, not getting rid of videogames.

@ Baramos

Yeah too bad I can't vote in the Democratic Primary or I would vote for him there. But he is the only candidate from either party I would consider.

But I am still keeping an eye out for some good "third party" candidates.

I hope none of these questions get on TV. Compared to all other issues I would have to say that these should fall on day 50 if this was to run 24/7 until all questions were answered.

Why aren't gamers worried about censorship that is even worse- like what the FCC does to TV and Radio. Go back to 10 hrs of mindless screen stare and let real thinkers determine what issues are important.

" . . . 10 hrs of mindless screen stare and let real thinkers determine what issues are important."

10 hous of mindless screen stare? You mean network TV, right? oR Fox News?

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

odds are they won't show any of these videos imo.

The whole thing'll be terrorists, blah blah, taxes, blah blah, national security, blah blah, school shootings, blah blah, terrorists, blah blah.

If they choose to bring up one of these videos, it will likely be taken entirely out of context.

Knowing CNN not only will they likely edit it, yeah they'll pick the worst of the bunch.


You forgot,

Create artifical fears about video game terrorism....blah blah blah... More tax cuts (for the top .05% of Americans)... blah blah blah... I'm tougher than my opponents.... blah blah blah...Stupid Hillary and Commie healthcare that would put my lobbyist masters out of buisness...blah blah blah... I love Jesus and families more... blah blah blah... moral decay of evil liberal society... blah blah blah... Be tough on foriegn countries and act unilaterally... blah blah blah... enviroment? Lol... blah blah blah...

Mmmm... Anti-Freedom, Anti-Peace, Anti-Healthcare, Anti-Gay, Anti-Equality, Anti-Middle Class, Anti-Working class, Anti-Enviroment, Anti-Evolution, Anti-Gaming, Anti-Movies, Anti-Any moral system except jesus, Anti-Canidates of Different Races.


What are the odds that they use that "angry german kid" video from youtube...

"Anti-Any moral system except jesus"

You do realize not all the republican canidates are christian? Last I'd heard Mitt Romney's mormon. Not that it matters, he's still highly unlikely to win, but I do think "anything anything except jesus" is an unfair generalization. Now that I think about it, didn't mass. legalize gay marriage? Geez, why is he even running?


(bows) I happily stand corrected.


Some of the GOP are Jews. And Rudy Giuliani is pro-gay rights.


And I thought you were warned not to coerce me against making valid comments? And not to offer Christianity a soft and cuddling hug -- making immune to objective critcism -- when it is a valid point of discussion?

Watch the debates. Does any canidate NOT ramble on about who loves Jesus more, hates different people the most, and will shove "family" values down the throats of America?

@ Pandralisk

If the weren't just vote-farming, then your arguments would be valid. However, as just about any politician would offer to legalise the eating of babies if they thought it would win more votes than it lost, you really don't have to worry about the christian "conspiracy" (replace christian with games and who do you have?).

I'm glad to see all the opinions and views here. I don't disagree that the system we have now can be effective through it has it’s flaws. I don't argue that it's improving either but maybe some support would be great but if we as a gaming community want to keep our uncles hands out of it then made be need to take this rating thing quite a bit more seriously than the past. With everything that is going on and the growing movement against violent video games maybe we need to put out the word more. Educate the parents that are ignorant of this system. As well as urge the retailers to push harder restrictions on the sale of games that age restricted. I understand that we want to keep it in our control but if something doesn't happen soon then we will have to deal with government controls. If that does come to play then maybe we need to make sure to have people in our community defend our views and opinions. My view is "Pro-Gamer" one way or another.
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