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.