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The NCGP And Its First ‘Champion’ Respond To Our Questions

In the last two weeks, we've run two articles about the National Committee for Games Policy (NCGP), an organization formed in response to the ongoing loot box controversy. The self-proclaimed “de facto, self regulatory organization” of the video games industry announced the endorsement of its first "champion" last week. That person is Ryan Reynolds, the mayor of Whitney Point, New York, a village with a population of 964.

We asked Reynolds about his involvement with the NCGP, starting with how he, as a champion, was expected to help the NCGP. He told us that, as he understood it, champions have no formal role in or association with the organization beyond having received an endorsement from it.

A champion to my understanding is simply someone that the NCGP has identified as being worth of their endorsement. In my mind, that means demonstrating a thorough understanding of both governmental policy and the gaming industry.I have no formal association with the NCGP other than having received their endorsement. I have exchanged a few emails with members of their steering committee and offered my advice and critique on how I think the NCGP should or shouldn't operate, but I have no formal role within their organization.

We asked him what he believed the NCGP could accomplish. He told us that his hope is that the NCGP can become a “neutral and bipartisan organization,” which can help “foster a greater understanding of the gaming industry to elected officials.” Reynolds believes that as the industry expands and games affect more and more people, the “government will inevitably begin to examine its practices whether it be for safety, fairness, health, etc.” Recent developments show that this is already happening. Reynolds believes that current elected officials have little understanding of the videogames industry from either a creator’s or a consumer’s perspective. He hopes that the NCGP can help bridge that gap.

Reynolds believes his history of working for “various gaming sites”, including XBLA Fans, is why the NCGP chose to endorse him. However, he said that the organization hasn’t actually asked him to do anything.

They have not asked me to support any specific policies, positions, or organizations, and I would not agree to do so. What I would hypothetically agree to (and they didn't even ask me to) is to continue furthering my understanding of both government and the gaming industry and speak out where the two intersect.

Finally, we asked Reynolds if he believed that the NCGP was associated with any political party. The organization calls itself apolitical, but the past associations and words of its director brought this into question. Reynolds was not able to say if the organization is partisan, but he believes that it must avoid being so if it is to achieve its goals.

If the NCGP acts in a partisan manner, it will lose credibility and turn away people who otherwise may have been interested in their goals. For example, if the party openly supports one party or the other, gamers of other political parties might be "turned off" because of that party's stance on totally unrelated issues.

How Legitimate Is The NCGP?

The question remains: Is the NCGP a legitimate organization? When the organization was announced, we sent it a list of questions. After our previous article, the director of the NCGP, Kenneth Tran, replied to us. In response to the the findings of VentureBeat and Forbes, which we linked to, Tran pointed us to the organization’s latest press release. Tran says it was published to correct “what [VentureBeat] and [Forbes] dug up which are inaccurate.”

We don’t agree. Really, the only point shared with VentureBeat’s and Forbes’ articles that actually relates to the NCGP is the mention of its roots in another organization called the California Republican Caucus (CRC), which was also founded by Tran. Everything we found about this organization (if you can even call it that) agrees with VentureBeat’s findings. Its chairman is Tran, its website’s first and only publication is dated for September of this year, and it has zero followers on Linkedin.

The press release mentions that the CRC had a violent video games designation program, which ended after labelling only one game--Dude Simulator. The rest of the acronym-riddled press release, a smorgasbord of defunct or splinter organizations, is more of Tran’s personal history than anything related to the NCGP.

Tran did reply our questions about the NCGP, however. Starting with the ITK and SRO abbreviations, which are the two divisions that supposedly make up the NCGP, we now know they stand for “independent think tank” and “self regulatory organization,” respectively. As for the NCGP’s actual political connections, Tran said that he couldn’t disclose those. For the quarterly report of consumer complaints that was mentioned in the NCGP’s founding, Tran says he needs  “to discuss that with Jack,” who we now know is 17 years old. Tran also didn’t have any details about the planned whistleblower support program.

Tran also asked us not to call his "friends/associates" because they "have been complaining that the media is bugging them." (Tom's Hardware did not call or contact any of these associates.) Instead, he said, "IT WOULD BE EASIER FOR EVERYBODY IF YOU JUST REQUESTED MY DOCUMENTED PROOFS IN THE FORM OF CHATLOGS, PHOTOS, EMAILS, DOCUMENTS." Formatting is Tran's.

  • Math Geek
    so in other words, the organization is simply smoke and mirrors that intends to pretend it will self-regulate an industry while changing nothing........

    almost like i've seen this before somewhere.........

    the good news for the profits is that the gov will accept this charade and move on to more pressing matters, like they always do.
    Reply
  • anbello262
    I strongly suspect this is just a group of friends with truly good intentions, but some lack of knowledge ('naive').
    I would certainly support this group, but they are often prone to corruption in the long term.
    Reply
  • ubercake
    The organization is formed to lobby politicians and financially support the campaigns of those voting in line with the organization's wishes.
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    the rest of industry employs lobby groups to ensure no law gets made that might impede their profits. gaming industry never had a reason to before now.

    not really a surprise they would form such a group as soon as someone is looking into messing with their profits. it's how Washington works.

    of course the real answer is for gamers to just stop buying into these schemes. battlefront is a prime example but not the first one. if gamers just refused to buy the half finished bug riddled games, refused to gamble in game and refuse to play pay to win games that you also have to purchase full priced, they'd get the hint quickly.

    but until the folks stop pre-ordering games for $100+, then pumping more money into it on gambling boxes, and so on, it wont ever stop. i know many here stop pre-ordering, but if literally no one did that and then refused to buy once early reviews come out explaining it uses such schemes on top of being half finished and littered with bugs........ but alas such fantasies just won't ever happen.....
    Reply
  • gangrel
    20462443 said:
    I strongly suspect this is just a group of friends with truly good intentions, but some lack of knowledge ('naive').
    I would certainly support this group, but they are often prone to corruption in the long term.

    Not me. Sorry, but I think the naivete is yours. I read self-serving wannabes out to score brownie points by whatever means possible. They have no backing, they have *no* standing. They have no competence. All they can do is scream "Listen to me!"

    IMO, this political hack wannabe has gotten 99% of his credibility because of the coverage he's gotten.

    @Math Geek: I think the reason there's been little or no regulation is, it's just been too low-key to notice. Yeah, I do remember a few years ago, when a kid ran up a very large tab from IGPs, and that led to some laws about IGPs and minors. But by and large, these have flown under the radar...like poker did. Like daily fantasy did. Until each *exploded* onto our awareness, and after a while, quite a bit of legal consideration.

    And even if it is a form of gambling, it may be a form not subject to regulation.

    But by and large, I think you're naming the solution. Don't buy the stuff. Beyond that, I would definitely support clearer disclosure of the nature of in-game purchases, and this probably should be codified.

    But don't go giving the credit to this clown, if it happens.
    Reply
  • Olle P
    20462443 said:
    I strongly suspect this is just a group of friends with truly good intentions, ...
    To me it seems more like a "group" of one person looking for some publicity...

    Reply
  • anbello262
    20463939 said:

    Not me. Sorry, but I think the naivete is yours. I read self-serving wannabes out to score brownie points by whatever means possible. They have no backing, they have *no* standing. They have no competence. All they can do is scream "Listen to me!"

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding your words, but to be honest your opinion seems pretty much in line with mine. No competence, no backing, no stance. Just some people "wanting" to do something, but with no "means" to do it.

    I don't understand what you meant by brownie points, though. Could you please explain? (I am not from the USA, so I might not understand some of the slang)
    Reply