Slinging mud: ESA vs. GamePolitics

A war of words has been exchanged throughout the day between the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), and the website GamePolitics. The battle began after GamePolitics picked up on a statement given by this years E3 keynote speaker and Governor of Texas Rick Perry. Back in 2006, Perry allegedly agreed on a comment given by Reverend John Hagee when he said all non-Christians will burn in hell. Since then, the ESA has acquired Michael Gallagher as its new President. Under his leadership, a few companies have opted out of E3, coupled with speculation of Gallagher being the main reason for their departure. Earlier today, GamePolitics accused him of trying to politicize this years E3 by having Governor Perry as the keynote speaker. GamePolitics also suggested the ESA consider changing speakers.

In response to the published story, Dan Hewitt, the ESA director of communication wrote to Joystiq, stating the following: “If the ESA posted a blog and called it a news site, journalists would rightfully balk and it wouldn’t pass a smell test. Remarkably, GamePolitics doesn’t face the same scrutiny even though it’s funded by the ECA and tainted with anti-ESA vitriol. At the end of the day, calling GamePolitics a news site is as laughable as saying there’s a Cuban free press.”

GamePolitics editor Dennis McCauley said he stands by what was written regardless of what the ESA had to say about it, “GamePolitics is the same news site it has always been, covering the nexus between video games and politics. Since acquiring GamePolitics in October, 2006, ECA president Hal Halpin has insisted that GP retain its editorial independence.

I suspect that, given its current difficulties retaining member companies, the ESA is uncomfortable with the level of scrutiny directed at it by some news outlets. Ultimately, an organization like the ESA is judged by its performance, and, right now, it’s fair to call that performance into question. When a politician is keynoting E3, that’s worth questioning. When the politician has made divisive comments, like those attributed to Gov. Perry, that’s really worth questioning.”,

In addition to this response, Heather Ellertson, VP of Marketing for GamePolitics’ parent organization the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) addressed her concerns about the ESA statements, “We were shocked by the quotes that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) provided to Joystiq about GamePolitics this afternoon. Comparing a non-profit consumer advocacy organization to communist Cuba is unprofessional to say the least… especially given the broad support that the ECA and our consumer members have shown for the ESA. We stand behind our publications and their editors and appreciate their talent and dedication.”

The ESA is getting it from all sides on this issue. The “Cuban free press” statement was definitely beyond the lines of corporate professionalism. The ESA is getting nothing but bad press leading up to E3. We’ll see if this bickering results in any backlash.