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SOPA drama creates ESA rival, the ‘League for Gamers’

January 19th, 2012        

SOPA drama creates ESA rival, the ‘League for Gamers’

Game developer Red 5 Studios has gone offline in protest against SOPA and PIPA. A temporary page, set to be replaced on Thursday, currently greets users with reasons why SOPA will be bad news for the gaming industry. For one, the bill would stop the free flow of user-generated content. It also has the potential to shut down the streaming of games and e-Sports. On a broader scale, it inhibits free speech and places “broad powers to control the internet in the hands of corporations and the government.”

But Red 5 Studios’ Blackout Day protest doesn’t stop there. CEO Mark Kern said that he has created the League For Gamers in retaliation against the Entertainment Software Association’s decision to side with SOPA and PIPA despite the wishes of its members. The first order of business for LFG is a petition to ESA, asking the association to drop its support for both legislation.

“With our own lobbyists working against us, we needed an alternative voice for developers and gamers in Washington,” Kern reports, who serves as the LFG president. “LFG will remain open as a beacon for gamers who would like to join a new voice for opposing SOPA, PIPA, and similar legislation now, and in the future.”

In an interview with VentureBeat, Kern criticized the ESA as too focused on the large publisher, box retail product motif – part of their support for PIPA and SOPA stems from this. “When are we going to learn from what happened to the music industry, and find new ways and new business models that offer consumers better alternatives to piracy?” he said. “Rather than preserve a dying model in the face of digital distribution, free-to-play and cloud-based gaming, we should embrace the change and shift our focus to these new models.”

“The ESA is blind to any potential for abuse and feels they and the courts will be fair arbiters of this extensive power,” he added. “Anyone who has witnessed the recent DNS takedowns, and spurious DCMA actions last year, can see this is a ridiculous statement for blind and naive faith. I also pointed out that many developers oppose SOPA and PIPA, and [big companies] have all quietly dropped SOPA support… so who the heck is the ESA representing at this point?”

Kern launched the LFG using $50,000 USD of his own money, and will file for non-profit status. In addition to the current petition, Kern wants to add a paid membership plan with benefits that will foster gaming in addition to representing gamers in Washington.

“We aim to be the NRA for gamers,” he said.