Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Michael Gallagher dropped me a line...

For those of you who don't know, my good buddy Michael Gallagher (I call him Mike), is the president and CEO of the Electronic Software Association. They lobby on behalf of the video game industry and throw really big parties (like E3!).

Anyways, Mike sent me his usual Christmas card, but it sure was dry this year. Normally I get a few pictures of him and his family too, but I had to settle for the following:

Dear Friends,

Before 2010 begins, I thought it would be worthwhile to look back at the computer and video game industry's many accomplishments during the transformative year that is drawing to a close.

Similar to all sectors of our economy, 2009 was a year filled with challenge for our industry. We were not immune to the economic difficulties caused by the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. However, these difficult times did not prevent us from achieving a number of milestones that position the industry for continued success in the years ahead and further cement our place in our nation's cultural, social and economic life.

Our bright future could be seen in scores of new titles that attained significant sales and critical acclaim. The Beatles: Rock Band from Harmonix and MTV Games, for example, is having a unique impact on popular culture by providing players with a chance to experience the world of the Beatles. In addition, Take-Two Interactive's The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony helped make downloadable content a common term in even the most casual gamer's household.

The Federal Trade Commission commended the leadership of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) as it once again set the bar high as the entertainment industry's gold standard for consumer ratings systems. The federal agency said that "of the three entertainment sectors, the electronic game industry continues to have the strongest self-regulatory code."

One of the year's highlights was the growing recognition that games are making important contributions to all levels of education. In June, The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop issued Game Changer: Investing in Digital Play to Advance Children's Learning and Health, a report analyzing how computer and video games can be used to aid children's health and educational development. Many schools are incorporating computer and video games into their curricula, a trend the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) supported when we participated in the National Middle School Association's 21st Century Classroom Exhibit. In addition, last month, President Obama announced our industry's involvement in a new educational initiative to motivate and inspire students across the country to excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Finally, in a trend I am sure you all are following first-hand, an ESA survey found that a record number of colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning – 254 in 37 states and the District of Columbia – now offer courses and degrees in computer and video game design, programming and art.

Elected officials throughout the nation are recognizing our industry's economic benefits. Texas Governor Rick Perry proclaimed February 3, 2009, "Entertainment Software Day" in Texas and, in April, signed into law a significant improvement in the state's economic incentive program for digital interactive media production. The Louisiana legislature and Governor Bobby Jindal adopted a 25 percent tax credit for investment in game production projects and a 35 percent payroll tax credit for such projects. In total, 18 states actively considered legislation this year to create or significantly expand existing incentive programs for digital interactive media development and production.

With the help of industry advocates, we fended off two major legislative threats seeking to unfairly regulate the distribution of computer and video games in Utah and Louisiana. And as always, we remained vigilant in defending the interests of our industry and gamers. In 2009, we expanded the membership of the Video Game Voters Network (VGVN), which plays an increasingly important role in cultivating advocates and standing up for our Constitutional rights. This year, VGVN members sent thousands of letters to legislators across the country that directly impacted the debates on dozen of bills.

Reflecting our overall health, the ESA's membership roll also grew during this year with eight publishers joining the association. These companies are helping to set the industry's agenda and policies while, at the same time, receiving the unique benefits that come with joining the ESA. Their involvement makes our association an even stronger advocate for the computer and video game community.

Finally, I am pleased to highlight 2009's rebirth and revitalization of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 Expo). The improvements made this year once again make the E3 Expo our industry's preeminent event for announcing and previewing trends and cutting-edge and innovative products. The event now once again reflects the energy, innovation and excitement that are so much a part of the computer and video game industry. The support from all industry sectors and corresponding stakeholders position the 2010 E3 Expo for growth at a time when other trade shows are shrinking or fading.

So, as 2009 draws to a close, I look back with great pride at all we have accomplished together. I know that our strength, creativity and innovation will continue to grow in 2010 and beyond.

I wish you and your families a joyous and healthy holiday season.

Michael Gallagher
Michael D. Gallagher
President and CEO
Entertainment Software Association
What happened to you Mike? OK, I guess I should be straight with anyone still reading along.... I just got a little lazy and thought I'd throw the text from Gallagher's year-end letter out to any gamer not listed on the ESA mailing list. Hope you found something interesting in the wall of text I just published.

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