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Gamasutra Podcast Transcript: Interview with IGDA Executive Director Jason Della Rocca
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Gamasutra Podcast Transcript: Interview with IGDA Executive Director Jason Della Rocca

February 26, 2007 Article Start Page 1 of 4 Next

Jason Della Rocca is the Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association, a professional society committed to advancing the careers and enhancing the lives of game developers. Jason and the IGDA focus on connecting developers with their peers, promoting professional development, and advocating on issues that affect the developer community such as quality of life, creative freedoms, work force diversity, and credit standards.

As a spokesperson for the IGDA Jason has appeared on countless news outlets such as Wired Magazine, Nightline, the L.A. Times, National Public Radio, the Wall Street Journal and G4 TV. He's also spoken at conferences around the world such as Game Developers Conference, E3, the Tokyo Game Show, SIGGRAPH, China Joy, and DiGRA. Jason's been a member of the game development community for over a decade and has spent time at Matrox Graphics,Quazal, and Silicon Graphics.

He is presenting at this year's Game Developers Choice Awards, which are voted on by members of the IGDA, at the 2007 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week.

Gamasutra: Thanks a lot for joining me today. I happen to be a member of the IGDA and I contribute a bit to the game education special interest group.

Jason Della Rocca: Excellent.

Tom: I'm very much looking forward to this year's Game Developers Conference because I think this is a really interesting year for the industry. It's gone through a lot of changes recently, several of them having to do with the launch of new game consoles.

Jason: Sure, I mean, every year seems to be an interesting year. It's never boring in the game industry.

Tom: There also appear to be some changes on the horizon with regard to game legislation and how that's being treated with the failure of a lot of these proposed game bills and some of the new approaches being taken with that. Well, maybe we can start with that legislation issue. It's an area that I know you're quite familiar with given you advocacy work as the Executive Director of the IGDA.

Jason: This is a question of creative freedom of expression for developers that, although day to day this may not affect most developers as they're sitting at their desk coding or doing their art or what not. But this is one of those issues that if it were ever to break through, that it could cause massive, massive issues with the industry in terms of the types of games that we're allowed to create, the types of ideas we're allowed to express.

Right now we do enjoy a lot of freedom on the same level as film and television and other forms of creative expression. And really the work we've been doing as an organization and the efforts we've been supporting is really about maintaining that parity, maintaining creative expression and rights of developers so that we're not treated as second class citizens versus other forms of art and expression.

At sort of a general level, that's really what we've been at and so that has kept us busy in terms of participating on panels or doing media interviews or helping, in some cases, in some of the actual court cases and such and it's really again about defending games as a medium of expression and defending the freedom of expression rights of developers.

Tom: It would appear that the federal judges side with your position on the issue of free speech. We've seen recent attempts to legislate the sale of games in DC, Minnesota, and my own home state of Illinois all fail to pass constitutional muster. In the case of the Illinois ruling, the Federal judge went as far as to stipulate that the state has to pay back the legal fees involved in trying the case. Ostensibly, because such legislation was viewed as irresponsible by the court.

Jason: Exactly. No anti-game legislation has succeeded at this point. There's many factors there. One is that, yes, the federal court judges do view games as a valid form of expression, and so are conveying the same level of rigor, same level of rights that they would to film or music or again other mediums of expression so that's certainly encouraging.

In terms of the state by state efforts, I mean in large part the people drafting these bills really don't understand games. Obviously they're not gamers or part of our community. And so they're sort of passing or attempting to pass judges that are really influenced potentially by a small vocal minority of outraged local critics or something like that. Or they view this as an ability to get a lot of media attention as sort of part of their political campaign, and so it becomes a soap box issue, or a sort of vote winning issue as opposed to a real attempt to benefit the local community. In fact, what we're starting to see is a negative kickback now from this.

You gave the example of Illinois, where they had to pay what I believe was close to $400,000 or $500,000 worth of legal fees. That's half a million dollars going in to fight a case that had no merit to begin with, and that a half dozen similar cases before it were also thrown out and proved invalid, and yet the Governor and the politicians in Illinois continued to push it and in the end they end up wasting a half million taxpayer dollars. And those are dollars that could have gone into real tangible efforts to improve the lives of children, whether medical research or foster care home support or educational resources or support for better parenting, and all these kinds of things which have massive, massive repercussions in terms of quality of life and the quality of society.

Yet these guys are putting bills through that are getting rejected. They're paying massive bills and there really is no direct repercussion outside from negative perceptions from the community at large.

Article Start Page 1 of 4 Next

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