United they’ll stand

Vidgame, rental orgs merge to build clout

WASHINGTON — The leading trade orgs for vidgame retailers and video rental stores are joining forces as both groups face growing pressure from state and federal lawmakers looking to crack down on violent and sexually explicit videogames.

In an announcement expected today, the Video Software Dealers Assn. and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Assn. will merge to form a group christened the Entertainment Merchants Assn.

The combination brings together IEMA’s roster of mega-retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target, Circuit City, Toys R Us and CompUSA, with the vidtailer group’s bevy of indies.

In addition to greater resources, the new group should have heightened clout in state houses and on Capitol Hill as they battle legislation aimed at restricted sales and rentals of violent vidgames to minors.

“We’ve been fighting a lot of the same fights, so it made sense to fight them together,” said EMA veep of legislative affairs Sean Bersell.

Before the merger, the orgs had jointly hired lobbyist Stuart Spencer in Washington, D.C., to help on federal issues.

According to Bersell, 22 states, plus the District of Columbia and New York City, have seen antigame bills introduced in 2006, and a total of 82 are pending nationwide for the 2005-06 legislative session.

Most are variations on a few themes, including restricting the sale or rental of certain kinds of games to minors or requiring various types of in-store signage.

Some bills seek to define “violent” games, while others try to peg the restrictions to the voluntary vidgame rating system overseen by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.

Bills aimed at retailers have also been introduced at the federal level by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jim Matheson (R-Utah).

New group will be headquartered at VSDA’s offices in Encino.

VSDA prexy Bo Andersen retains his title in the combined organization. Former IEMA head Hal Halpin will remain as a consultant through the transition.

The two boards of directors will be combined into one but will occasionally meet separately to address specific issues, Bersell said.

Although the name change is official Tuesday, VSDA’s annual trade show in July will still take place under the old banner for this year.

More Scene

  • David Crosby

    David Crosby Says New Documentary 'Remember My Name' Is Like 'Being Naked in Public’

    “It’s not easy. It’s hard being naked in public,” David Crosby, the legendary troubadour of classic rock, reflected at Tuesday night’s New York City premiere of “David Crosby: Remember My Name.” “I don’t know what to do here. There’s no guitars, no drums,” he laughed. Directed by newcomer A.J. Eaton and produced by the legendary [...]

  • The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con

    The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con Parties and Activations

    Hollywood is heading down the California coast to San Diego because It’s time for 2019 Comic-Con International. The annual cosplay celebration officially kicks off tomorrow, July 18, with a preview happening tonight. Here, Variety gives you a guide to this year’s parties and activations. Make sure to check back for updates. Wednesday, July 17Amazon Prime [...]

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

  • Dwayne Johnson Idris Elba

    Dwayne Johnson: Idris Elba Nixed 'Black James Bond' Joke in 'Hobbs & Shaw'

    In the “Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw,” the movie’s villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, spreads his arms out wide and declares “I’m black Superman.” It turns out that might not have been the original line. Dwayne Johnson tells Variety that Elba was first asked to proclaim he’s “black James Bond,” but the [...]

  • Matteo BocelliAmerican Icon Awards Gala, Inside,

    Top Music Manager Calls Out American Icon Awards for Failing to Pay Talent

    The centuries-old adage no good deed goes unpunished is a common refrain for star music manager Scott Rodger of late. Rodger, who represents Paul McCartney and Andrea Bocelli at Maverick, says his client Matteo Bocelli, the son of the opera star, was stiffed out of promised expense reimbursement by the American Icon Awards. The event, [...]

  • Mary Bailey Steve D'Angelo, Jim Belushi

    Cannabis Industry Tackles Justice Reform With 'Last Prisoner Project'

    Jim Belushi is standing two feet away in the backyard of his spacious Brentwood home, honking a harp like he’s a Blues Brother back in sweet home Chicago accompanied by noted reggae band Rebelution’s Eric Rachmany and Kyle Ahern, who provide a 12-bar shuffle. There’s the sweet smell of skunk — and success — hanging [...]

  • Dwayne Wade holds up the legend

    Dwyane Wade, Megan Rapinoe Win Big at 2019 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards

    The 2019 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards was filled with incredible athletes, inspiring moments and — of course — a massive amount of slime. “I love the kids. I love the slime. I loved the games. I love seeing celebrities and athletes like become kids again. And it’s like my favorite thing,” Michael Strahan told [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content