Thursday, June 21, 2007

Manhunt 2: A Microcosm of Government Regulators

As I have watched the Manhunt 2 saga unfold, I have noticed that the issues facing Take 2 and Rockstar are really the same issues anyone dealing with governmental or pseudo-governmental groups faces. And so, I wanted to share a few general regulatory considerations with you. Keep these in mind if you ever have to deal with a regulatory agency, be it for a video game or a franchise system or an SEC filing or even just getting a passport.

1. Regulators appreciate being treated as people, and a friendly, polite tone will often go a long way.
How would you react if someone called you just to verbally berate you on the phone? Believe it or not, regulators get plenty of anger taken out on them. And, believe it or not, regulators are people, just like us, and not just some faceless mouthpiece for the greater bureaucracy. If you are polite to them, they will usually be polite to you.

2. If you have a problem with one regulator, you probably have a problem with a half dozen regulators.
Regulators among different regulatory bodies do talk to each other. Which means if you've had a regulatory problem in one place, other regulators probably already know about it, and are probably already looking into it for their jurisdiction. Just keep that in mind if you receive a compliance letter from one regulator, because a few more are probably working their way into the mail.

3. If you are a thorn in a regulator's side once, they will certainly be a thorn in your side for quite some time.
If your company is causing a big problem for a regulator, don't expect them to forget it. This doesn't mean they will actively pick on you, but it seems they might read your next document (or play your next game) a little more closely.

4. Blend into the crowd as much as possible.
This relates back to the previous. If your company blends into the crowd, it may mean you are cut a little more slack. Nothing is a sure bet, but calling attention to yourself is usually not beneficial.

5. Remember, it is their job to regulate.
And it's not personal. You may feel like all of the regulators are out to get you, but it is just their job. They are employed to find fault with what you have provided or what you are requesting. If it was just a rubber stamp approval, then it wouldn't accomplish whatever the original governmental goal is.

In conclusion, regulators are just people doing their job, and the people you talk to aren't the ones who came up with the rules they are enforcing. In fact, they may disagree with them just as much as you do. As such, a little common courtesy often goes a long way, and to a certain extent, so does a little luck.

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