With each new medium that arrives, the issue of bad cultural influences arises, Gallagher said. It happened with the arrival of movies, broadcast TV, cable television, and now video games.
“Yes, these questions about violence do come up, but they come up for all media in the entertainment space, including video games,” Gallagher said.
He noted that the industry has never had a broader range of entertainment options.
“The first thing we offer is choice,” he said. “Ninety-one percent of titles last year were rated at Teen or below. The composite of the industry stretches from your smartphone to your flat screen.”
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He noted that game ratings are still in place, and in recent Federal Trade Commission compliance tests, more than 90 percent of retailers now stop a minor from buying a Mature-rated (17 and older) video game at the cash register. He noted that Target was able to prevent a minor from purchasing a Mature game 100 percent of the time in a recent test. And he said the industry continues to encourage parents to supervise what their children buy and play.
E3 isn’t all about violent games and booth babes despite the attempts of some mass media to portray it that way. Gallagher said he appreciates the presence of a cadre of veteran journalists who can interpret what E3 means to the larger society and those who can’t make it to the show floor.
And the larger society is coming to the show. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab will come to meet game companies. The show is attracting participants from education, as the Games and Education Summit is taking place for the fourth year at E3. The ESA has invited college game creators to compete in a contest for the first time. The finalists are joining the show, and the winner will be named during E3. And the Glass Lab — a collaboration of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Electronic Arts (EA), and the ESA — is celebrating its first anniversary of doing research into how games can improve learning.
As the new consoles arrive, they will come with new technologies that prevent piracy. But consumers are already waving the red flag about rumors that the console will have new restrictions that infringe on consumer “fair use” rights, which historically enable a consumer to do what they want with an item they purchase, including reselling it. Microsoft and Sony have not yet completely explained whether their new consoles will allow the resale of used games.
Asked about this heated controversy, Gallagher said, “The video game industry is the closest to its consumers of any form of entertainment, period. The game industry is instantly dynamic, instantly connected to consumers, and immediately responsive to their concerns. That’s a hallmark and why we are growing. Sure, there are issues that come up. But consumers voices are heard and reacted to faster than any other industry.”
In other words, if the industry blows it and tries to do something anticonsumer, people will speak up, and the companies will listen. After all, consumers have more choices now than ever.
As for digital gaming’s complexity, Gallagher says, “The digital nature of the industry has created almost infinite opportunities for the industry. When it comes to business models, companies can be more creative about providing value to consumers. From free-to-play smartphone games to the connected online experience you have in triple-a titles and new levels you can download and new things you can personalize — those create opportunities. They create multiple layers of communication with consumers, and they create a duty for clarity so that you hit the right mark.”
As for the future, Gallagher says, “The frontiers have never been bigger. The opportunity for growth has never been more robust. New games are being created every day. The consumer benefits from the innovation and competition.”
So there you have it. The Suit has spoken. Go have some fun.
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