‘Warcraft’ video game maker hires lobbyists to make its case

September 8, 2013

Activision Blizzard, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based maker of “Warcraft,” “Diablo” and other popular video games, has tapped lobbyists in Washington to advocate on a Senate bill that calls for a comprehensive study of the impact of violent video games on children.

The company has retained Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, one of K Street’s largest lobby shops. On the account are Washington-based partner Arshi Siddiqui and Austin-based senior policy adviser Ryan Thompson, according to lobbying records filed in August.

Akin Gump declined to comment, and Activision Blizzard did not return requests for comment.

It is unclear from lobbying records what position the company is taking on the legislation.

The bill, S.134: The Violent Content Research Act of 2013, was introduced in January by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va).

It calls for the National Academy of Sciences to examine whether there is a link between exposure to violent video games and aggressive behavior in children.

The study would also look at whether violent video games have a disproportionately harmful effect on children who are already prone to aggressive behavior, and whether video games “have a unique impact on children, considering in particular video games’ interactive nature and the extraordinarily personal and vivid way violence might be portrayed in such video games,” the bill says.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation sent the bill to the full Senate for consideration on July 30, but it has not yet been taken up for a vote.

The video game industry has fallen under scrutiny in recent years as lawmakers from several states — including Connecticut, New Jersey and Utah — have suggested that violent games prompt violent behavior seen in mass shootings, and pushed for legislation that would ban or tax the sale of violent video games.

There is limited data on violent gaming and aggressive behavior, and many researchers are split on whether the two are directly linked. The study commissioned through this bill “shall identify gaps in the current state of research which, if closed, could provide additional information regarding any causal connection.”

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for Capital Business, which she joined in 2011. She was previously a reporter at the Daily Journal in Los Angeles, covering LA civil courts and labor and employment law.
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