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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.

UPDATE: Austin and Houston based Night Owl Games recently put its support behind the new LFG organization along with the following statement:

"We at Night Owl Games are opposed to any type of legislation that prevents innovation in online gaming. We have decided to join the League for Gamers because we believe the new organization will do a better job at representing the interests of the entire game industry rather than a small number of the biggest companies," Chris Mayer, CEO, Night Owl Games, reports.

"While we strongly believe that fighting piracy is a major concern for the game industry, the potential for abuse and the chilling effect of SOPA and PIPA outweigh any relief it might provide to copyright holders. We believe this new organization can help us identify and support legislation that protects our industry while not inadvertently hurting creativity."