With its new Game Generation campaign, the Entertainment Software Association is hoping to make the case that treating gaming as a societal problem is an outdated way of thinking.
The video game industry hasn’t always had it easy in terms of its public reputation.
With violent games historically drawing political scrutiny and concerns of addiction dogging the industry, it’s often fallen on the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) to help focus the industry’s messaging, raise its profile, and make it clear that there are great things about the field.
One of the ways it’s doing that is through a newly launched campaign , Game Generation, which focuses on the way that games build inclusive communities, allow people to relax, and inspire new ideas. On the site, ESA makes the case that games are beneficial to children, can improve education by being a useful classroom tool, and are enjoyed by nearly as many female players as male ones.
“A funny thing happens when we play. We connect, we get inspired, we even develop new skills,” the campaign explains. “We may not know that we’re learning at the same time—and isn’t that the whole point?”
The campaign, notes ESA CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis, aims to show that games are just as universal as any other type of entertainment—and that it’s not just a subculture, but something nearly three quarters of Americans do in some way, shape, or form.
“Video games are made to challenge us and to be fun—but they also bring people together from different backgrounds, help build empathy, and inspire game-changing innovations in everything from education to healthcare, and even conflict resolution,” Pierre-Louis said in a news release. “This initiative will amplify the collective experiences of the millions who, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or political views, enjoy video games and share that joy with their children, families, and friends. That’s what makes us all part of the game generation.”
Given ESA’s roots as a solution to a potential censorship problem, it’s a feel-good message that could help it win some momentum in the coming years. In fact, the website makes it clear that Game Generation exists to help fight back against those boogeymen as retro as some of the industry’s greatest games.
“Despite the many benefits of games, a vocal group of detractors has made them the scapegoat for societal problems,” the association says on its site. “It’s an old, tired page from a long-outdated playbook, and one pretty much every entertainment medium, from music to movies to comic books, has been the target of at one point or another.”
With this messaging, the association behind the popular E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) conference wants to make the case that a round of games on a Switch or iPad has just as much value as a Netflix night.
And, considering the game industry brought in $43 billion in revenue in 2018 and supports 220,000 jobs, the numbers are in their favor.