Protecting Our Future
From nurturing a diverse and robust pool of talent through the ESA Foundation to educating policymakers on emerging trends and technology, in 2017, ESA expanded on its efforts to protect the industry’s future.
Like too many aspiring video game developers, Tré Lannon had to do more than just earn a place at his perfect school. To study computer science at the University of Southern California (USC) he needed financial support.
“I was searching the internet for scholarships for computer science and video game design,” Lannon said. “I really needed the financial backing to attend a school like USC.”
Now a freshman at his school of choice, Lannon found the needed support through the ESA Foundation Computer and Video Game Arts Scholarship program, putting this bright, young talent on the path to a career in the video game industry.
“This scholarship meant so much to me because without it I don’t think I would have been able to afford my education,” Lannon said. “The fact that my academic achievement and my passion for video games doesn’t go unrecognized is something I find inspiring.”
The future of the US video game industry, ensuring its vibrancy and strength, is at the center of ESA’s work. From nurturing a diverse and robust pool of talent through the ESA Foundation to educating policymakers on emerging trends and technology, in 2017, ESA expanded on its efforts to protect the industry’s future.
Preserving our Past Despite a focus on the future, ESA preserves the video game industry’s past. In celebration of Video Game Day on July 8, ESA’s Chief Counsel for Intellectual Property Policy Ben Golant and staff traveled to the Library of Congress Audio Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia, to donate more than 800 video games for preservation. Recognizing the center’s video game collection was rather thin, ESA volunteered to help by asking its members to donate a variety of games from different periods in the industry’s history. By the end of 2017, ESA and its members donated more than 2,000 physical games to the Library of Congress. In the year ahead, ESA plans to continue and expand its efforts to preserve video game history – identifying games for preservation, ensuring proper credit for industry pioneers and creators, addressing the obsolesce of games only playable on defunct media, and creating public interest and awareness of the industry’s history and societal contributions. The ESA Foundation Computer and Video Game Arts Scholarship program provided an additional five scholarships for the 2017-18 academic year, helping 35 women and minority students on their way to careers in the video game industry. Women make up 47 percent of 2017-18 scholars, and every student in the class shows incredible potential.
Returning scholar Sam Lee, a junior at the University of California, Davis, made the dean’s list two years in a row and volunteers teaching K-12 students computer science. Scholar Jenny Xu, a junior at the Massachusetts Institute of technology, interned at Sony Interactive Entertainment and Electronic Arts, working on the PlayStation 4 and Madden NFL 18 respectively.
In the near future, the talent of Lee, Xu, and other scholarship alumni will be put to use growing and improving the program for future scholars. Through a $100,000 donation to the program by Bethesda Softworks, announced during The Game Awards 2017, the ESA Foundation will add a mentorship network for scholars to connect with alumni of the program and video game industry professionals.
In 2017, the ESA Foundation also partnered with Red Bull Media House to launch We Are, a traveling multimedia exhibit and campaign to raise awareness of the rewarding careers in the video game industry available to women. The exhibit, which first appeared at E3 2017, features photos and stories from industry women – developers, streamers, marketing and communications professionals, esports players, and executives.
“Shining a light on the talented women of the video game industry and their many exciting roles changes the conversation surrounding gender balance and inclusion,” said ESA Foundation Executive Director Anastasia Staten. “We Are sends a clear message to young girls that they can be part of the video game industry, and that ‘game developer’ is just one of many roles available to them.”
In 2017, the ESA Foundation and Red Bull took their message to six industry events across the country, including TwitchCon and the Capcom Cup. More than 200 women from the video game industry have added their voice to the exhibit’s collection.
Other ESA talent and diversity initiatives in 2017 included Capitol Hill events like Teach a Girl to Tech Day, which brought together local students and policymakers for a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) forum. Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Women’s High-Tech Coalition co-chairs, spoke at the event and played video games with the students.
The event also educated policymakers on the video game industry and emerging trends and technologies. Throughout 2017, ESA took every opportunity to contextualize the industry and its positions on key issues to policymakers and elected officials in Congress and executive agencies.
ESA hosted almost 20 events attended by members of Congress and their staff at its Washington headquarters and many more throughout the nation’s capital and around the country. These included tours of video game companies and events like Comic-Con, where ESA brought together members of California’s video game industry and US representatives from across the aisle to play and discuss the economic value of video games.
“Positive interactions with video games and video game technology are critical to broadening policymaker understanding of our industry,” said ESA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Erik Huey. “They will craft legislation related to video games and ESA gives them real, first-hand experience with the stories and technology our industry creates to inform those decisions.”
At Comic-Con, ESA partnered with WeWork to bring together Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Scott Peters (D-CA). The US representatives met with gamers, developers, publishers, and video game entrepreneurs and even played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe together before delivering remarks to more than 350 Comic-Con attendees on the importance of the video game industry.
When US lawmakers launched a new caucus in 2017 to guide the way forward on issues and legislation related to virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, ESA celebrated and supported their decision by connecting policymakers with the industry’s greatest innovators in immersive technology. ESA gave more than 150 congressional staffers hands-on time with immersive products from Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Discovery, and Mattel. The bipartisan caucus now includes 15 members of Congress.
Across the country and throughout 2017, ESA secured a successful future for the US video game industry, engaging the nation’s leaders and the next generation of video game creators. The new relationships built and investments made in passionate, young visionaries like Tré Lannon promise new opportunities and triumphs in the years to come.