The Entertainment Software Association's grassroots video game advocacy group Video Game Voters Network
now has 250,000 members, and has the support of comic book pioneer Stan Lee, who encouraged gamers to "take a stand," according to the ESA.
In a statement, the creator of X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man and the Hulk drew parallels between the government's ongoing attempts at legislating video games, and comic books' early run-ins with politicians. He also urged gamers to join VGVN.
"I remember a time when the government was trying to do to comic books what some politicians now want to do with video games: censor them and prohibit their sales," he wrote in a statement. "It was a bad idea half a century ago and it’s just as bad an idea now. And you can do something about it."
The plea comes as the Supreme Court considers California's video game legislation
, which if passed would put restrictions on the sale of violent video games to minors.
The industry argues that self-regulation from the Entertainment Software Rating Board combined with appropriate parental guidance is enough to keep inappropriate games out of kids' hands, and that the proposed legislation infringes on First Amendment rights.
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals already declared the law unconstitutional in February 2009, but the U.S. Supreme Court said earlier this year that it would review the legislation and make a ruling.
VGVN was founded in 2006 and members have sent "thousands of communications to elected officials" in support of the video game industry the ESA said. VGVN organizes members' efforts, and last year "activated" 46 times to send thousands of letters to everywhere from Capitol Hill to state legislative offices nationwide.
"Nobody thinks that every game is appropriate for every gamer," said Lee. "It’s important that elected officials know that the existing computer and video game rating system and parental controls available on every console help ensure that the games children enjoy are parent-approved. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission says that the video game rating system is the best there is. That alone should address the critics’ concerns."
The FTC reported last year
that the video game industry did a better job than other entertainment industries at informing its consumers about risque content and keeping mature-themed products out of kids' hands.
ESA SVP of communications Rich Taylor asked that VGVN members recruit three friends to join the group. "We have to be prepared to stop future legislation -- similar to the unconstitutional California statute currently before the U.S. Supreme Court -- before bad ideas become worse laws," he said.