Remember how the US Senate is looking at doing a study about violent video games? Well, now it appears that Activision-Blizzard is preparing to fight the good fight in politics – they have hired a lobbying firm.
Activision-Blizzard has retained the services of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP, an established lobbying firm. On the registration documents, the lobbying issues are listed as “Art”. This may imply that we will see lobbying activities in the area of free speech, I’m not entirely convinced. Looking at the profile of Akin et al, it seems that they deal more with mergers and acquisitions, finance and intellectual property.
It makes me wonder what sort of results Activision-Blizzard are expecting from the US Senate’s bill to study violent video games. Are there signs of bans and restrictions? Could this have an impact on the intellectual property? If the US goes the way of Australia and restricts media, what impact will it have on studios aiming to develop these games? There are strong laws and regulations in the States against censorship of artistic expression. However, if the study finds that violent games are a matter of public health, companies like Activision-Blizzard may find themselves needing to defend their right to make these games.
I still can’t believe we continue to have these debates about violence in gaming. What about those studies that say that video games have reduced violent crimes because there aren’t as many bored youths roaming the streets? What about the anecdotal evidence of people who use gaming to blow off steam, thereby averting potentially violent outbursts? I’m glad that Activision-Blizzard is preparing for whatever comes, but I’m very nervous about what new rules, restrictions and insanity we can look forward to from the US Senate.