Game 'Self Regulator' NCGP Responds To Criticism

Last week, we reported on the formation of a new 527 organization called the National Committee for Games Policy (NCGP). The body seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and described its hazy goals and existence in a short press release. After a few days of silence, updating its website, and some bad press, the NCGP has finally made some new public statements.

After its announcement, two publications--Forbes and VentureBeat--did some investigating on the NCGP’s director, Kenneth Tran. What they found was not confidence inspiring. In an interview with VentureBeat, the 27-year-old Tran made a number of claims, including having chaired the 68th district of the Republican Liberty Caucus (which told VentureBeat it has no 68th district), being on the steering committee of the IGDA (which confirmed Tran’s membership but not his position), and having powerful political connections (which Tran said includes an uncle or cousin who is a governor in Vietnam, another who was a general in the Vietnam War, and yet another who is a multimillionaire).

VentureBeat dug further to reveal Tran’s spotty history of working marketing and PR for an indie game called Brutal Nature, whose founder and sole developer claimed included lying and engaging in “black-hat” tactics (raising popularity at the cost of reputation). Forbes looked up other members of the NCGP’s steering committee and found that they included a 17-year old and a translator. The publications’ findings led them to seriously doubt the organization’s legitimacy

In response to Forbes’ story, the NCGP released this public statement. In it, the NCGP counters Forbes’ points by leaning on its official stance of being an opaque organization with anonymous members who can maintain undisclosed political associations and positions. There is further evidence of this in a Reddit AMA with Tran, which was hosted in direct response to VentureBeat’s article.

In response to a Redditor’s question asking why no one in the NCGP’s steering committee had come forward about working with it, Tran wrote:

Because of the work that we do, everybody including me wants to be an anonymous member for the most part. You must understand that these people work in the industry and may at times be advocating for the consumer and not the employer. Or say they advocate for the opposite and now the consumers view them as anti-consumer.We have a very complex system for remaining anonymous.they[The NCGP’s members], like I, do not speak for the organization and feel no need to do so.

As for Tran’s own political associations, which VentureBeat’s article said included Republican dealings, Tran wrote:

I am not a member of the mainstream Republican Party as you know it by. I am in a splinter group of young Republicans who are hated by some establishments Party members. A friend of mine went on Glenn Beck and said “they [neocons] hate us.” Even in that splinter group, I splintered into my own group.

Tran engaged with a Redditors in a lengthy discussion on the ethics of loot boxes and whether or not they specifically target vulnerable individuals with gambling habits. He made remarks about his personal views, but he reiterated that the NCGP officially does not have a stance. The discussion demonstrates that Tran has some insight into the issue that was the catalyst of his organization, but his earlier remarks essentially absolve the NCGP of anything he says. The AMA did not reveal anything substantive about the body’s actual political associations and capabilities. Tran’s response to this was:

Our organization has not only made contact with politicians, we have anonymous members who are politicians themselves. I’m not saying we’re as connected as the ESA because I think they spend like 5 mil a year lobbying, but what we’re doing nobody else is doing. If you knew the inner workings of the organization it would be clear to you why we exist.

The NGCP Announces Mayor Ryan Reynolds As Its First “Champion”

In the latest development, the NCGP announced, in a new press release, that the mayor of Whitney Point, New York, Ryan Reynolds, is the organization’s first “champion.” The NCGP says these individuals are not members of the organization but are endorsed by it. They’re better described by the NCGP’s own words:

Champions may be in any political party and may be affiliated with persons or organizations not endorsed by the NCGP. Champions campaign on platforms with a variety of issues of which the NCGP does not bring any official commentary on.

It seems like  there is an overwhelming effort in the organization’s communications to pre-dissociate itself from its own dealings. With caveats placed on everything, the principles of the NCGP seem to have been built to separate it from potential liabilities. Given its members are anonymous, even if one had to be ejected, nobody would know whether or not they actually have been.

In our previous coverage, we made our own skepticism of the NCGP clear. We contacted the organization and Tran replied us to say that he would contact us again at a later date. He later sent us a copy of the press release above but did not answer any of our questions.

  • shrapnel_indie
    It seems like there is an overwhelming effort in the organization’s communications to pre-dissociate itself from its own dealings.

    It seems that on that note, it's best to not put any confidence in anything it does as it will contradict itself the next and claim both the contradiction and the original statements are both true.
  • phonea21
    Why the fuck does it matter if he's a republican?
  • coolitic
    @phonea21, no, its that he said he was in a district that didn't really exist apparently.
  • TJ Hooker
    20452040 said:
    Why the fuck does it matter if he's a republican?
    Because the group is billing itself as being as being apolitical. If the director of the group is a member of (or directly affiliated with) a major political party, that might raise some concerns about whether the group really is politically independent. Although, as said above, the main issue was that the chapter he claimed to be a member of doesn't seem be real...
  • gangrel
    The significance of the Republican Party link is also shown here:

    He's doing it for political brownie points. That article also points out that 527 organizations are for political non-profits. Evidence is this clown is selling a line of BS; it's not a consumer group in any way, shape, or form.
  • quilciri
    *patiently waits for Dr. Tran jokes*
  • shrapnel_indie
    I've found that many "apolitical" groups are not apolitical.

    Just because one is associated with a political group does not mean they cannot or will not act apolitically. Then again, there is also no guarantee that they won't act politically either. In this case the guy might have Republican leanings. If he had Democratic or other political affiliations, the same issue could easily apply.

    While it doesn't matter to me whether the guy is Democrat, Republican, Socialist, Constitutionalist, Libertarian, or what-not, If they say they're apolitical in nature... their actions better back it up... however with their voice of non-committed/conflicting this or that, it makes one wonder how apolitical they will actually be.
  • grimfox
    As I said before this group does not need to exist at all. This is something for the ESRB and it's international counterparts to weigh in on and regulate through their existing rating systems. Distinct pay-to-win and real-money-gamble-to-win mechanics should require a mature rating. No this doesn't stop all instances, or really discourage minors from purchasing such games, but it would discourage large studios, studios owned by family friendly corporations like Disney, to allow or encourage such mechanics in the first place. Disney doesn't like casino's and it would be very upset if it's game studios or IP were branded with a M rating for Gambling content.

    Originally I suggested a technical association akin to IEEE for self policing. but the more I think about it the ESRB already has the power and jurisdiction. I don't side with all their policy decisions and rating decisions but here I think they can do a lot of good.