In his PressSpotting column which ran on GameSpot yesterday, scribe Kyle Orland looked back at last month's ugly dust-up between the ESA and GamePolitics.
Kyle writes, in part:
Claiming that GamePolitics has a history of "anti-ESA vitriol" just isn't supported by the facts. Yes, GamePolitics covered the ESA's recent troubles retaining members, but so have countless other sites that have nothing to do with the ECA. What's more, GamePolitics' coverage has been relatively moderate compared to the blistering portrayals of the organization in some corners of the gaming blogosphere.
While I appreciate the support, I'd be remiss if I did not point out that Kyle is off the mark when he refers to the ECA which owns GamePolitics as a "rival" of the ESA. They're completely different animals.
Hal Halpin created the ECA to represent video game consumers, while the ESA has been around since 1994, representing video game publishers. What this means is that any individual could become an ECA member, if they choose to. Only game publishers can join the ESA.
Perhaps an easier way to think of it is: ECA is game buyers; ESA is game sellers. While there is some common ground (e.g. - censorship), the interests of gamers and publishers often diverge widely.
Back to the point, there's really so much I could say here. For today I'll simply point out that for the ESA to charge me with "anti-ESA vitriol" is ludicrous. Here's an organization that sat on its hands for years while Jack Thompson said the most vile things about its president, comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Joseph Goebbels.
That former ESA boss, by the way, was a guy I very much respected. Didn't always agree with, mind you, but respected. The organization has the same P.R. guy now as then, by the way, so what's different? Why am I suddenly the one with the "vitriol"?
Different management, for one thing, so maybe that's part of it. Beyond that, I've broken a few ESA stories this year, ones they probably didn't like (closure of the New York office, member company departures), but reporting the news is my job. It's a competitive business and in this arena, being first with a solid story is what it's all about.
I've also dinged them on a few issues (2007's mod chip raids, failing to speak up on the Mass Effect-Fox News debacle, signing Gov. Rick Perry to keynote E3) and, again, as a commentator, that's part of my job description.
That said, I'm certainly not against the ESA as an entity. The video game industry surely needs a voice in Washington and in state legislatures. It needs an organization to represent its interests. I may not always agree with what the ESA does, but that comes with the territory.
While I'm at it, let me describe the relationship between GamePolitics and the ECA: ECA owns GamePolitics. They pay me to edit the site, and I operate it just as I have since I founded GP in early 2005. Hal Halpin's office is in Connecticut. Mine is in Pennsylvania. I see Hal a couple of times a year at trade shows. The last time we were face-to-face was November, 2007 at VGXPO here in Philly. I'll see him at E3 later this month.
Hal and I trade a few IM's and e-mails on most days, have the very occasional phone call. But from Day One, Hal has insisted on maintaining GP's editorial freedom; I wouldn't have it any other way.
Obviously, Hal is running a business with the ECA and hopes to sign up as many members as he can. I wish him all the best with those efforts, but I don't get involved in that aspect. I mention this by way of demonstrating that while we get along quite well, the ECA does not dictate, approve or edit GP's content in any way. I was very pleased to see that Kyle Orland understands this:
There's a difference between being owned by a company and being a paid shill for that company. GamePolitics is clearly the former but not the latter.
UPDATE: GamePolitics stories tagged with "ESA" as far back as August, 2007 are listed here. If you want, you can decide for yourself on how fairly I've covered the ESA.