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NCGP formed to tackle “unscrupulous video game companies” [UPDATED]

Loot Boxes

UPDATE: A recent Forbes article has done the legwork on the NCGP. Turns out that suspicions about the groups membership and efficacy were seemingly well-placed. One of the main personalities behind the group is seemingly a 17 year-old with little game industry ties. The NCGP also had no formal tax filings until Tran filed them earlier today, in response to Forbes’ article.

The NCGP also responded to the Forbes article, but has since placed their website “under maintenance”.

Original Article:

In the wake of the loot box fervor over the last few weeks and an increased interest from outside the games industry, the industry has formed a new organization called the National Committee for Games Policy (NCGP). This new body includes “industry leaders and experts” and has been put together to help address concerns over unregulated online gambling in the form of loot boxes.

In order to try and understand what is being proposed, we suggest you read the full press release below.

As a result of the increasing external pressure for reform and regulation on the games industry, a group of industry leaders and experts has agreed to come together in a more permanent way, forming the National Committee for Games Policy (NCGP). We made this decision in response to the current crisis regarding the expansion of loot crate economies and concerns about unregulated online gambling, but also as an acceptance of a long in coming decision that we knew would eventually become necessary. Games are not represented or understood in the modern political and judicial world, and that needs to change.

Unlike the IGDA, we are not an association of game developers. We are a coalition of high level industry experts and influencers. Membership in the NCGP is by invite only. We will work on the behalf of games industry professionals of all political leanings. In order to do this, the NCGP has appointed a steering committee with significant political experience on both ends of the spectrum. Where video games, politics, and law intersect, you will be sure to find the NCGP.

The first action of the NCGP is its creation; a privately funded think tank known as the ITK. The work of the NCGP ITK is to represent itself as a group of consummate professionals from every part of the video game community. We seek to represent the entire industry, and as such will not release opinions on differences within the industry except as they relate to public policy. Members names will only be released if they give permission, and their writing reflects their own opinions. The NCGP will never take a position on policy; we will give policy makers the information the information they need to make informed decision. Our political connections will get this information to them.

The second and much more important arm of the NCGP is our establishment of the video game industry’s first, and de facto, self regulatory organization. Independent of the think tank is the NCGP SRO. As an SRO, our purpose is to protect consumers from unscrupulous video game companies by investigating and bringing legal action against those companies that have damaged the public consciousness in some way, whether mental or physical. To do this we’ve enlisted the aid of game developer’s employees as well. By establishing the first video game industry whistleblower center, we’re able to help the video game industry fight things such as overtime pay.

As part of our work as an SRO, we will release a quarterly list of companies who we have cited and the reason for citation. While we do hope to help as many people as possible, a complaint doesn’t become a citation without further investigation and action by the NCGP.

The timing of this press release is interesting now that governmental bodies have been alerted to loot box practices and their association with gambling. It’s reasonable to question how effective these attempts at self-regulation will be. Given that the ESA, which founded the ESRB, has been lobbying for big figures in the gaming industry for years; and as a result of that we’ve seen little political effort against predatory practices from those bodies, other than the ESRB declaring that lootboxes weren’t an issue.

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The distinction between think tanks and SRO as an organizational choice is interesting as well. A self-regulatory organization (SRO) is a non-governmental organization that has the power to create and enforce industry regulations and standards. These groups often work within an industry as a cooperative force to protect both businesses and consumers from a variety of issues. It’s becoming more likely, depending on the success of NCGP as a group, that the gaming industry may be heading for a sort of culture clash between the lobbying of the ESA and the industry attempts at regulation.

The NCGP has been set up by Kenneth Tran, (co-founder of Inckuvation Games), Jack Wegrichm (community manager for indie games), Rily Worcester (tax professional), Michael Luxion (founder of Parlx games), Byan Haskell (project manager at ESL), Daniel Doan (co-founder Black Shell Media), Jonathan Perez (president of MultiverseGames), Tion Bruton (games localization expert).

It’s a bit concerning that the NCGP doesn’t make more of its membership public, as it’s possible that they could have issues gaining public trust in a time where political collusion and backroom deals are so heavily hated as they are now. The NCGP promises that they’re non-partisan, but again it’s hard to know if that will remain true in the future. There’s also the issues that stem from the seeming unprofessionalism of the whole deal. From spelling mistakes in the press release to zero credibility in terms of documentation for the group casts some serious doubts on whether the NCGP will get anything done.

A website is now up and running and it will be interesting to see how this organization progresses, especially when it comes to loot boxes.

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