I am a member of GAMA, the Game Manufacturers Association, because it's required to attend the GAMA Trade Show. In years I don't attend, I'm not a member. But this year, I'm a member. I certainly don't feel like a member. As a retailer, I feel like a customer, and occasional content provider.
This is because the organization is dominated by manufacturers, and retailers are only tangentially included to help put on the show which represents such a large part of what GAMA does. Retailers are allowed to have a seat at the table, but the short one next to where the adults sit. We retailers are customers and when in leadership roles, show content providers.
GAMA has done a poor job of representing retailers over the years and worse, by taking on this role and doing it poorly, it has prevented a legitimate retailer organization, which serves retailer needs, from taking root. Retail organizations come and go, their leaders undermined, their mission ridiculed, their membership fractured.
These organizations exist because of GAMA's failings, yet they can't prosper while GAMA pretends to serve retailers like me. GAMA is divisive in this way. So what I would really like GAMA to do is stop pretending they serve the interest of retailers. Keep putting on your show and feel free to charge a fee that would include a membership amount of money, because there's strong value there and a low price, but let us go as members and admit you're all about the interest of game publishers.
Or the opposite.
The opposite would be to take a far stronger role in serving game trade retailers, starting with tightening up the mission statement to explain who exactly GAMA serves. You haven't been genuine in the past, so it needs to be right there in writing. That's right, start with stating retailers are sitting at the big table. Because the vague mission statement has been used to underserve a large portion of GAMA constituents, it should be re-written.
If the opposite means letting go of obstructionist leadership, then I'm all for it. I have no doubt the current executive director has great organizational prowess and leadership skill. But I also know the executive director is obstructionist and disinterested in retailer needs and interests. So if finding a new leader is part of the opposite, I'm all for it.
I'm a little excited to think this is the direction GAMA is headed. I'm also a little apprehensive, because I've made it abundantly clear, I don't believe this organization is really about serving me as a retailer. I don't want to be responsible for breaking your organization, if you happen to be a publisher. But I'm also tired of GAMA sucking all the air out of the room and preventing retailers from proper representation. Make it my organization too. I'm a member after all.
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