|Born||September 1, 1969|
|Occupation||Consumer Advocate Consultant|
|Known for||Founder of the videogame industry's trade association IEMA, and consumer association ECA.|
Halpin is perhaps best known as the founder of the US video game industry's retail trade association, Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) which merged with Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) to form Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) in 2006. He is currently the president of the Crest Group, a consulting company serving the video game industry. Crest Group is the association management company that previously managed IEMA and now manages the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA). He is also a Contributing/Guest Editor for 1UP.com, BitMob, Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM), Game Informer Magazine, GameDaily, GameTheory, IGN, iMedia Connection, IndustryGamers, and The Escapist.
The Entertainment Consumers Association was launched in response to the need for consumer rights advocacy following a string of anti-games and anti-gamer legislation which would have criminalized the sale of certain video games if not for the efforts of trade groups in opposition. The industry itself was well represented by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), and the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), but those that purchase and play games went completely unrepresented until the launch of the ECA. Notable ECA publications include GamePolitics, GameCulture and ECA Today.
While running the IEMA, Halpin was involved in a number of historically important changes including the Hot Coffee scandal, retailers carding for mature-rated games, and the standardization of PC games packaging and related platform identification marks. During that time he also became a favourite target of noted anti-games activist and attorney, Jack Thompson. The two opponents were scheduled to debate publicly at the 2007 Penny Arcade Expo, but the debate was cancelled and replaced in the schedule with keynote speaker, Wil Wheaton.
Prior to Crest, ECA, and IEMA, Halpin was the founder and president of Cyberactive Media Group, a business-to-business publishing company. There he was publisher of Interactive Entertainment Magazine(formerly known as GameWeek Magazine and Video Game Advisor), which was the leading trade publication serving the sector. He also previously founded and was the publisher of GameDaily, the category's primary daily news outlet.
Although he claims credit for coining the phrase "interactive entertainment," this claim is certainly untrue. Halpin previously founded and was the publisher of GameDaily, the category's primary daily news outlet and career site and job board, GameJobs.com, which remains a staple HR tool serving the trade. Halpin also re-published David Sheff's Game Over, a book on the history of the videogame industry considered by many to be the "Bible" of the video game business and re-launched the industry's first charitable organization, Games for Good.
While acting as president of the IEMA, Halpin was frequently called upon to represent the sector in mass-media outlets, speaking at conventions and trade shows, and in representing the medium to federal and state government representatives. His role became more public as president of the ECA while advocating consumer rights issues such as Net Neutrality and Universal Broadband, Fair Use and DMCA, ACTA negotiations transparency and Taxation on video games and other digital products. On March 25, 2009, speaking at the FTC workshop on Digital Rights, he recommended in testimony that the presence of embedded Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology be disclosed to customers prior to the sale/license of the software and that End User License Agreements (EULA) – also known as software license agreements – be standardized for packaged goods software. Halpin and ECA also represented the position of game consumers via an amicus brief and online petition regarding the U.S. Supreme Court case, Schwarzenegger v. EMA, known as the violent video games case.
On December 2, 2009, controversy arose regarding the ECA’s membership cancellation policy, in which the association’s membership terms and conditions were changed without notifying ECA users. The change was made due to an exploit in a partner’s coupon codes. The cancellation policy change temporarily required that members mail a physical letter requesting cancellation while the association upgraded their systems. There were also complaints about the change in the terms and conditions being made without notifying the membership, which struck some members as ironic given the ECA’s stance regarding End User License Agreements. The three-week ordeal ended on December 24, 2009, once the promised new modules went public giving members online account termination and an online auto-renewal opt-out functionality similar to Xbox Live and ECA’s listing with the CT Better Business Bureau was raised to an A-.
Halpin's brother, Spencer, created a feature-length documentary about video game violence, Spencer Halpin's Moral Kombat, in which Halpin is interviewed. He also appeared in Playing Columbine, a documentary about the controversial videogame, Super Columbine Massacre RPG!. Halpin is a vocal consumer advocate, providing reaction quotes and interviews for news media on topically-important issues and making himself available for national news journalists.
- Jason Andersen (October 15, 2006) “About our president” theECA.com
- Hal Halpin (October 13, 2009) “Alphabet Soup” The Escapist Magazine
- Brandon Sheffield (October 25, 2006) "Gamers On Trial: The ECA's Hal Halpin on Consumer Advocacy" Game Developer.
- Curt Feldman (October 26, 2006) "Q&A: ECA president Hal Halpin" GameSpot.
- Curt Feldman (July 19, 2005) "Q&A: IEMA pres Hal Halpin Opens Exec Summit in SoCal."- GameSpot
- Frank Cifaldi (October 22, 2005) "Hot Coffee, Lawsuits and You." Gamasutra
- William Vitka (March 15, 2005) "CBS News Gamespeak" CBS News
- Dennis McCauley (June 5, 2007) “Thompson blames Penny Arcade Expo for cancelling debate...” GamePolitics
- Owen Good (November 23, 2008) “ECA Boss says Joe Lieberman is ‘Misunderstood’” Kotaku
- Ben Kuchera (March 31, 2009) “Hal Halpin to game pubs: disclose DRM and standardize EULAs” ArsTechnica.com
- Chris Walters (December 2, 2009) "ECA Tries To Prevent Members From Canceling." The Consumerist
- Hal Halpin (March 21, 2008) "EULA Hell." GameDaily
- Mike Fahey (December 2, 2009) "ECA President Blames Exploiters For Cancellation Concerns." Kotaku
- Griffin McElroy (December 2, 2009) "ECA members cry foul over auto-renewal cancellation hassles -update: Halpin responds." Joystiq
- Ben Kuchera (December 2, 2009) “ECA membership cancellation gaffe makes everyone look bad.” Ars Technica
- Aaron Ruby (December 7, 2009) “Hal Halpin, ECA Head, Discusses Membership Complaints.” GameCulture
- John Funk (December 9, 2009) “ECA Boss Hal Halpin Address Accusations of Fraud.” The Escapist
- Edward Mason (December 22, 2009) “Experts: Teen Gaming in Parent’s Hands.” Boston Herald.
- Russ Pitts (June 25, 2010) “When Games are Sold Like Guns” The Escapist.
- Adam Sessler (September 3, 2010) “Hal Halpin and Adam Sessler, Talkin’ Games” G4TV
- Alex Pham (September 9, 2010) “Video game industry gears up for battle against California law” LA Times.