A Look At The Year Ahead From Michael D. Gallagher President and CEO, ESA
As thousands of us in the video game community prepare to gather at important events like DICE, the Game Developers Conference, and South-by-Southwest it is an opportune moment to share some thoughts on the industry’s direction as we drive greater innovation in game technology, expand the legions of gamers worldwide, and seize opportunities to heighten awareness of video games’ significant influence on our society.
2016 heralded a radical transformation in how consumers engage with our industry’s products and delivery methods for those video games – through virtual, augmented and mixed realities, new consoles, and mobile games blending with the real world for hundreds of millions of gamers. We know that nearly two-thirds of Americans play—or started playing again—video games, broadening the community of gamers and providing our industry an unparalleled runway from which to begin 2017. This record growth was evident last month when, in conjunction with NPD, ESA announced that the U.S. video game industry generated a record-breaking $30.4 billion in 2016.
Underscoring positive economic impact of our industry, today ESA released an economic impact report with an unprecedented level of detail. To support this announcement, we launched an interactive graphic map illustrating the video game industry’s growing and geographically diverse ecosystem throughout the United States, in terms of companies, start-ups, education institutions, and the grassroots network of engaged video game players. This map is an engaging portal for gamers, game makers, the media, and policymakers to utilize, interact, and learn more about the industry, its reach, and its public policy priorities, as well as schools in every state that teach video game design. For those of you have been around since the beginning, it is an inspirational portrait of how far we have come and how broadly our craft is spreading.
ESA is proud to partner with industry leaders and gamers across the country to chart a course that delivers great entertainment for gamers and success for those who create games. This year, the industry will invest billions of dollars and millions of hours to redefine the magic of interactive entertainment. Our key role is to extend and protect the frontiers for that creative effort and enjoyment. Over ESA’s 22 years, elections have produced four presidents, dozens of governors, and thousands of state legislators. That history has demonstrated that elections do not define our medium or our horizon—we do. Our industry is delivering greatness today – and has an exponentially growing ability to impact society inside and outside of government and elections.
In the past, states sought to impose restrictions on our creative rights, and we fought them to the U.S. Supreme Court. Federal officials attempted to lay blame for real world violence at our feet, and we proved them wrong. The President has set forth a reckless and misinformed path regarding our foreign creators and storytellers, and ESA joined with industry leaders to demand a better approach to security concerns. We will be vigilant in the months ahead to guide policies that grow our medium and collaborate with you to repel misguided efforts that dim our frontiers.
I look forward to sharing more details in the coming months, but a few highlights that we are looking forward to include:
- Educating stakeholders on industry priorities and policies. Traditionally, ESA’s center of gravity was First Amendment and content protection. Today, our sphere of influence and deep engagement have diversified greatly. In the coming year, we will work with key figures in DC and around the country on myriad issues, including privacy, immigration, tax, trade, cybersecurity, and communications. These issues will affect all video game publishers, developers, and gamers and many of you—through involvement in ESA as members—are guiding and shaping the outcomes. ESA will champion the innovators, creators, and consumers who make up the video game ecosystem. We are here on behalf of each of you to defend against misguided and harmful attacks as well as supporting and advocating for elements that contribute to the continued positive growth of this great community.
- Engaging policymakers with a comprehensive industry agenda. ESA will press a robust platform which sets forth the industry’s agenda for the 115th Congress, the new Administration, and state houses across the country. For example, this year, ESA will undertake new ways for policymakers to interact with video games and through expansion of the GovGames Twitch channel, which over the past year has featured numerous Members of Congress of both parties playing video games in Washington, DC and their home districts. The 115th Congress will also feature an expanded E-TECH Caucus, the only Congressional caucus devoted to the protection and advancement of video games. With more than 120 members in the 114th Congress, the E-Tech Caucus is one of the largest congressional caucuses. Extending that success, in the months ahead we will assist in the first ever Congressional caucus focused exclusively on virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. Broad Congressional leadership and engagement illustrate the strength of our medium – and your voices.
- Involving gamers in the political process. 1.7 million gamers joined the Video Game Voters Network, which is a grassroots coalition of voting-age gamers who take action on political issues affecting video games. We look forward to engaging these passionate gamers on important issues, and channeling the voices of our biggest fans to policy makers and the media.
- Welcoming the public to E3. We are gamers at heart and look forward to video games’ biggest fans joining the industry at E3 this June. The ticket sales we launched a few days ago have been fantastic. Consumer tickets will sell out soon. We have great panels and discussions in the works. Stay tuned for more news on this front in the weeks to come.
- Honoring industry legend Sid Meier and Jeromy Adams. Building on nearly two decades of harnessing the industry’s philanthropic generosity, I look forward to marking the outstanding achievements of these two industry legends at this year’s Nite to Unite (NTU) in San Francisco. Sid will receive the 2017 Champion Award for his accomplishments. And, Jeromy will receive the 2017 Visionary Award for his remarkable engagement of gamers to raise more than $30 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through the Extra Life campaign. NTU, the U.S. video game industry’s annual philanthropic gala, raises funds to improve the lives of America’s children with video games. The annual event is on February 28, 2017 in San Francisco, CA. I invite you to join us in celebrating our honorees and supporting the Entertainment Software Association Foundation.
- Providing new opportunities for youth. Through a variety of programs and with an array of partners from AARP to Brown University to Sesame Street to Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), in the coming year ESA will support diversity and promote the use of video games to affect change. In 2017, ESA Foundation will support Brown University’s Bootstrap program, which aids differently abled students who rely on screen readers or assistive navigational aids. BGCA will use ESA Foundation support in 2017 to train teachers so they can bring STEM education to the students who rely on BGCA for educational support. Also in 2017, the ESA Foundation scholarship program, which has awarded more than $700,000 in scholarships to women and minorities, will distribute scholarships to 30 deserving students from all across the country.
Ours is a great industry filled with finest creative talent in the world, and ESA is proud to advance our collective interests at every turn and in every forum. All of us at ESA consider it a privilege to be the voice and advocate for the most creative, innovative, and engaging of all industries and communities.
As a preview of the momentum, please take a moment to enjoy this short video, which includes a few highlights from the past year.
Thank you for your interest in and support of ESA.
Michael D. Gallagher
President and CEO
Entertainment Software Association
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