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Dennis McCauley
Joined: 2006-09-30


[B][I]New group gives voice to gamers[/I][/B]

By Richard Lee
Assistant Business Editor

December 27, 2006

A fledgling organization developed to serve millions of video gamers around the world has lined up some impressive partners, and more may be on the way.

The Wilton-based Entertainment Consumers Association, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, has registered 21 businesses as partners, most in the video game industry.

The association was formed by Wilton resident Hal Halpin, former head of the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association, to act as an advocate for interactive entertainment consumers, with the support of the new strategic partners.

"There's been an amazingly positive reception for the ECA from the industry -- be they publishers, developers, retailers or enthusiast media -- which has helped to support and strengthen our cause," said Halpin, its president. "The games industry companies for years has been saying they are committed to gamers, and with the help of the ECA, I believe that goal can be achieved as we strive to enable and empower the consumers and their voices."

The association will be the collective voice for interactive entertainment consumers who represent nearly 50 percent of the population, he said. They have an average age of 33, and spend $10 billion a year on gaming.

The organization will advocate for consumer rights and represent its members by taking positions on legislation and other public policy concerns, said Halpin, who charges an annual individual membership fee of $19.99.

Members can offset some of the fee by taking advantage of discounts offered by the partners, he said, adding that 166 people have registered.

As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, it cannot back a political party or candidate, but it will lobby state legislatures and Congress on behalf of its members regarding issues involving the video game industry.

"I'm hoping to start forming regional chapters to testify at the state level," Halpin said.

The association did not solicit corporate funding for support, he said.

Instead, it is operating through barter agreements with companies seeking to work with the new organization.

Among the partners, conferences, trade shows and events would provide free or discounted admission to association members. Industry media outlets could give membership discounts on subscriptions to magazines, newsletters and Web site content, and retailers could offer extended free trial periods or discounts on purchases, Halpin said.

Staff at 1UP Network/Ziff Davis Media partnered with ECA because they each serve the millions of people who play video games.

"The 1UP Network is about the gaming industry," said Rey Ledda, vice president of marketing, events and research at the San Francisco-based Zisk Davis Game Group. "We're all about giving gamers their voice."

The 1UP Network is the largest integrated Web, video and print media network for gamers, with more than 13 million monthly visitors to its Web sites, podcasts and video shows and 9 million magazine readers.

Ziff Davis is putting ECA's advertisements in its magazines and online.
Copyright © 2006, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.


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