The industry must not forget the audience that made it what it is, warned ESA president Mike Gallagher during his keynote address at the 2008 E3 Media and Business Summit.
Gallagher looked back on the ways that the video game industry has grown and expanded in recent years, with games reaching a broad range of new audiences and finding uses in healthcare, education, and all-ages entertainment. At the same time, he laid out five key tenets essential to the industry's continued growth, and the core gamer was at the top of this list.
"First and foremost, we must remember our base," Gallagher said. "We must never forget our core customers. Avid gamers have been with us from the start, and we must remember that as we expand our offerings."
Second, Gallagher said, the industry must welcome in the gaming converts who recently joined the industry by expanding content offerings and providing new game choices. Thirdly, he urged broadening the use of games. "The operative word is 'play,' but video games are increasingly not just recreational, but are also involved in more serious pursuits. The generation that grew up with games naturally... incorporates that educational aspect into their lives."
Fourth, Gallagher said, the industry must continue to seek innovative ways to help caregivers ensure that the games their children play are parent-approved. Today, according to Gallagher, 80 percent of children cannot purchase mature-rated games, say FTC statistics. "That's a 433 percent jump since the FTC began reviewing this subject in 2000... it places us above movies, places us above music when it comes to partnering with parents."
The fifth requirement for the industry, said Gallagher, is that it unites to continue to support policy and usage through initiatives with states that encourage the health of the games industry. Texas, Georgia and Wisconsin already provide economic incentives to the industry, and Gallagher said the ESA will continue to work with elected officials both on the state and federal level to expand support for the industry and to promote awareness of ESRB ratings.
Gallagher called on members of the industry and consumers alike to support the ESA's fight against unconstitutional anti-game legislation by joining the Video Game Voters Network - his goal is to gain 200,000 supporters by next year's E3. "If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to join the VGVN ... and make your voice heard."
"The industry has come a very long way in a very short time, and we're finally gaining the respect we deserve... now is the time that we need to keep working and doing what we do better than any other industry or community so that today's level of recognition and accomplishment will pale in comparison to what we are about to achieve."