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Activision Hires Big-Time Lobbying Firm as Violent Games Bill Looms

Illustration for article titled Activision Hires Big-Time Lobbying Firm as Violent Games Bill Looms

Activision has gone out and hired a lobbyist—one of the biggest lobbying firms in Washington—for representation when Sen. Jay Rockefeller's violent video games bill, which would order research into any causal links between violent video games and violent behavior, comes to the Senate floor.


Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is no joke. It's a bigtime law firm with tons of experience lobbying lawmakers. (The man who led the investigation of Pete Rose's betting activities for Major League Baseball back in 1989 is a big name there.) So this isn't coming cheap, but then, the maker of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Diablo does have a lot of money.

Generally, the industry's lobbyist is the Entertainment Software Association, which has done a good job of altering or shutting down anti-games bills in state legislatures, and has been visible on matters such as Vice President Biden's summit with the industry back in January, and in pushing for a version of the Stop Online Piracy Act (though it later withdrew its support of that bill altogether.) So it's noteworthy that Activision apparently sees this issue as important enough to get its own lobbyist as the bill makes its way to a vote. We've asked an Activision representative if the company wishes to comment on its goals here, but the publisher already no-commented to The Washington Post.


Rockefeller's bill, introduced back in January, was a response to the Sandy Hook shootings of December. It directs the National Academy of Sciences to "conduct a comprehensive study and investigation of the connection between violent video games and violent video programming and harmful effects on children." Video games would be scrutinized for their "interactive nature and the personal and vivid way violence is portrayed, have a unique impact on kids." When Rockefeller introduced the bill back in January, he argued that game makers weren't taking responsibility to protect children from violent content, necessitating the government's involvement.

‘Warcraft’ video game maker hires lobbyists to make its case [Washington Post]

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @owengood.

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There interesting thing is that this bill wouldn't be about actually doing anything regarding banning video games or limiting them, from my understanding of the article (I'll take a look at the actual text of the resolution later and see if there's more to the story).

From the article, it looks like Activision is shelling out the big bucks to prevent research about the impacts of video games on children — in other words "We don't care if they find harmful outcomes, our profits are REALLY important." As a corporation, whose goal is to make lots of money, I don't see anything wrong with that. What I find curious is that they've judged that the most expensive lobbyist is the rational decision, which sends a signal that they believe at least two things.

1: The report will come out negatively against video games.
2: The impact of the report will be larger in terms of loss of sales or future legislation compared to how much they're shelling out on the lobbying firm.