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娱乐软件协会ESA CEO谈游戏成瘾问题

娱乐软件协会ESA CEO谈游戏成瘾问题

原作者:Branden Casteel 译者:Vivian Xue

作为娱乐软件协会(Entertainment Software Association, ESA)的总法律顾问,斯坦利·皮埃尔·路易斯(Stanley Pierre-Louis)曾是该保护美国电子游戏行业利益的贸易协会的首席律师。尽管很少在媒体上露面,但他时刻关注并处理着影响大大小小的游戏发行商的诸多法律问题。

不过在麦克·加拉赫尔(Mike Gallagher)去年10月辞去CEO一职后,皮埃尔·路易斯被任命为ESA的临时CEO。如今他成为了人们关注的焦点。最近在拉斯维加斯举办的顶级游戏盛会DICE峰会上,他就游戏成瘾这一敏感话题发表了演讲。去年6月,E3展刚刚辉煌落幕,世界卫生组织提议将游戏成瘾归入精神疾病范畴。

皮埃尔·路易斯并不认可这项提议,因为它缺乏足够的医疗证据支撑。演讲过后我同他谈论了这个话题,并探讨了为什么父母可以与孩子讨论屏幕使用时间过长的问题,以及为什么世界卫生组织把这种情况视为一种疾病是不合适的。他说,一旦世界卫生组织的判定有误,将造成严重后果:监管危机、错误诊断、游戏被污名化,在某些国家孩子们甚至会被送到严酷的“治疗”机构。

我们还讨论了很多其它话题,包括联邦政府对游戏的关注、国际游戏就业机会竞争、与中国潜在的贸易冲突、战利品宝箱在某些地区被认定为赌博的问题、工会化、以及美国游戏行业该如何保持竞争力。

Field runners Attack(from pocketgamer.biz)

Field runners Attack(from pocketgamer.biz)

加入ESA之前,皮埃尔·路易斯是维亚康姆(Viacom,美国三大传媒公司之一)的副总法律顾问。在他的职业生涯早期,他曾担任美国唱片业协会的首席律师。在此期间他领导了数个战略性的版权侵权诉讼,包括娱乐业对MP3.com、Napster和Aimster公司的控诉,以及由MGM Studios为代表的电影及音像公司起诉Grokster的著名案件,该案最终由最高法院审理并一致通过了有利于控方的判决。

以下是编辑后的采访内容:

GamesBeat:你觉得联邦政府最终会成立一个游戏部门吗?

斯坦利·皮埃尔·路易斯:(笑)这我可不知道。不过我觉得联邦对游戏的力量很感兴趣。比如,教育部资助了游戏研究,研究如何让游戏发挥教育作用。历届政府都设有电子游戏协会,并且他们真的在讨论游戏。我们还有康斯坦斯·斯坦库勒(Constance Steinkuehler)这样的人物,如今她是加利福尼亚大学欧文分校的教授。她在白宫宣传游戏对学习的价值。人们对游戏的力量很感兴趣。

GamesBeat:可我们没有真正与游戏相关的政府职位,像马可·德鲁拉(Mark DeLoura),前白宫数字媒体官一样对吧?

皮埃尔·路易斯:每一届政府优先发展的科技不同。如今我们经常看到——白宫今天还是昨天宣布将重点发展人工智能技术。显然隐私是政府关注的重大问题。我们一直努力在做的是将游戏的力量应用到娱乐、经济、教育、健康领域。谈到游戏对各个领域的帮助,很多人都有共鸣。

GamesBeat:你希望一直担任目前的职务吗?

皮埃尔·路易斯:我很乐意以任何身份为这个组织服务,我对此感到很兴奋主要是因为我们拥有超棒的成员,他们制作激动人心的游戏,并且关心我们的问题。我们拥有超棒的董事会,即便现在处于过渡阶段,他们仍然希望我们推进重要的工作。我们拥有超级优秀聪明的同事——有的是律师,有的是分析师,有的是说客,还有公关人才——并且他们都热爱游戏。我们的员工有的是游戏比赛的选手。能够在此时为ESA工作、在如今这个行业内工作是一件令人兴奋的事。

GamesBeat:我觉得你的话题很有意思,就是关于世界卫生组织引发的争议。你是一名父亲吗?

皮埃尔·路易斯:是的,我是。

GamesBeat:我是一名三个女孩的父亲。让我们来一场家长之间的对话,别太深入法律方面的问题。总的来说,我想父母们非常担忧并且经常谈论游戏上瘾。就我的孩子而言,我会和其它父母讨论该给他们多长的屏幕使用时间,什么样的游戏适合他们这个年纪。我们在讨论这个话题时使用的术语是“上瘾”。我能明白你们站出来对那些想要监管商业的人说不存在上瘾。但我希望我们可以更多地站在为人父母的立场上讨论,作为父母你当然希望能干预一些东西,而不是完全失去控制。我能理解为什么ESA希望对世界卫生组织采取法律立场,但我想如果ESA能帮助缓解父母的顾虑将很有帮助。

皮埃尔·路易斯:你为这个问题做了一个很好的铺垫,因为我们从各个方面讨论过这个问题。其一是我们对使用的术语非常谨慎,因为它是一个医学术语,它有特定的含义。我们小心地避免将医学问题和其它所讨论的事物混为一谈。

就屏幕使用时间而言,我们注意到人们在讨论它时不单指游戏时间。它指总的屏幕使用时间。你必须区分健康的屏幕使用时间和它的反面,无论你想怎样描述它。如今越来越多的孩子在学校用Chromebooks和其他设备上课。它成为了孩子们接受教育的主流方式。我们必须思考,比如,联合国儿童基金会的报告说明什么。它意在强调屏幕使用时间的质量,而不是长度。

作为父母,你有权管理孩子使用屏幕的时间。我们也提供了帮助父母管理的工具,我们在演讲中提到过。如今你有相应的工具,以及作为父母在管理孩子的时间上发挥的作用。

GamesBeat:如果世界卫生组织在缺乏真正的电子游戏研究专家帮助下做出论断,那么他们的判断是否科学仍值得争议。我不希望这场讨论终止,因为如今人们要么认为存在上瘾,要么认为不存在上瘾。因为如果我们不承认存在上瘾,我们就无法参与到父母的谈话中。

皮埃尔·路易斯:我们对世界卫生组织提出的争议主要是就这一缺乏医学认可的论断造成的影响,这和你所讨论的事情是不一样的。但你提到的也很关键,它影响了我们的讨论。它是一种症状还是一种诱因?这涉及到很多医学问题。作为父母,他们在意的是得到能在家中制定和执行规矩的工具。

GamesBeat:你怎么看待各国政府对待游戏的态度?你觉得其中有什么可取之处,或者你对某些政府正在采取的做法感到担忧?

皮埃尔·路易斯:我想不同的国家有着不同的管理方式。美国采取基于市场的方式。很大程度上依靠市场的自我管理以及一些政府——无论是州还是联邦——认为应采取的必要干预措施。其它的国家在管理上更集中一些,在很多问题上他们的处理方式都不同。你在不同的国家看到的是他们的政府对这个问题采取的策略。

GamesBeat:即便如此,“上瘾”的话题又回来了并且越发引起人们的重视。那些想要监管战利品宝箱的人说它像赌博一样,而赌博会使人上瘾,因此你必须规范战利品宝箱。然而如果你不认为它有上瘾的问题,就没必要做这些规范。因此人们对战利品宝箱的看法将会更加多样化,这很有意思。

皮埃尔·路易斯:人们的看法的确很多种。我们强调的是家长的监管。我们提供工具不仅能帮助家长限制孩子玩游戏的时间,还能限制他们在游戏中的消费。作为父母你能够利用这些工具管理孩子访问的内容、时长和花费。

GamesBeat:你认为未来会出现战利品宝箱的相关法规吗?你希望它朝着什么方向发展呢?

皮埃尔·路易斯:我们把战利品宝箱称为——让我用另外一种方式解释。你提问的方式让我想到很多。电子游戏公司试图通过多种方式为游戏带来价值。有时候通过道具、众多虚拟物品。有时候是通过盈利,通过不同的机制。战利品宝箱只是其中的一种方式,它让消费者以一种可选择的方式沉浸游戏。它使很多游戏获得了更多赢得回报的方式。

有趣的是它其实就像一个沙盒,这使它区别于当前某些监管方面的讨论。你往游戏里充了钱,并且无法退还。这使它不同于很多其它正在讨论的问题。

GamesBeat:人们议论的焦点似乎集中于你是否可以从战利品宝箱中得到随机物品,还是你是否应该在购买它们之前了解自己将得到什么。

皮埃尔·路易斯:是的,不同的监管机构对此的观点不一样。

GamesBeat:它们之间的差别是如此微小,但这种差距可能会扩大,取决于你采取的方式。如果你想让它变成一门赌博生意,那么你不能让人们知道箱子里有什么。

皮埃尔·路易斯:声明一下,从法律的角度来看,战利品宝箱绝对不属于赌博。

GamesBeat:因为你拿不回钱。

皮埃尔·路易斯:正是如此。这说明你的投注是没有风险的。如果你观察赌博额定义标准,它是不符合这个特质的。不仅在美国人们这样认为,在法国、英国以及很多其它国家都是这样认为的。他们已经严正声明战利品宝箱并不是赌博。即便在那些提出这个问题的国家,它也仅仅被当做一种潜在需要管理的事物,没有发布任何正式的管理条例。

GamesBeat:你接下来还有什么其它计划?你还想说些什么吗?

皮埃尔·路易斯:我们如今的首要大事是传递游戏的正面形象,这是一段非常伟大的发展史。我们是技术和IP的摇篮,这意味着我们会涉及到其它很多关联话题——创意经济、创新经济。如果你去查看关于数字交易之类的政策问题,游戏行业的表现也是非常出色的,因为在美国游戏是一个贸易顺差的行业。管理者和政策制定者很喜欢那些能够发挥正面影响的行业,而我们就是。

我们还在查找其它州的鼓励政策,这样我们就能够建立更多额外的设备,创作更棒的游戏并将他们留在美国。这对于国家的经济增长和发展是一个非常积极的结果。

GamesBeat:到目前为止,你和麦克的做事方式有什么相似和不同的地方吗?

皮埃尔·路易斯:嗯,我是临时CEO。我只是尝试和一个很棒的团队合作确保我们完成我们的任务,也就是继续放大团队成员正在做的好事情,以及这个行业是什么样子的。

GamesBeat:今年的E3展就要来了,你期待它与去年有什么不同之处吗?你对今年E3的布置有什么期待吗?

皮埃尔·路易斯:多年来,E3已经进化了。最近几年有越来越多消费者参加,增加了E3 Conliseum、电竞比赛。你接下来所看到的E3,包括今年的是呈现出行业革新和趋势的新E3。这一点很重要,因为我们必须大力宣扬产品,也就是我们的参展商以及成员的工作成果,并且真正以积极的方式影响这个行业。它是如此重要的行业年度盛事,人们关注着E3展上宣布的东西,我们希望能吸引广大观众。敬请期待。

GamesBeat:你仍然觉得E3是年度大热点出现的时机吗?

皮埃尔·路易斯:我们希望如此。今年的活动会更加精彩纷呈。

GamesBeat:从技术方面来看,微软刚刚宣布的消息非常有意思。他们说从5G时代开始,将会有许许多多东西被应用到游戏里。也许将来我们能够在手机上玩任何游戏。如今手游制作存在很多技术方面的局限性。你认为行业需要做什么样的努力,尤其是在新技术方面?

皮埃尔·路易斯:过去的一个月内,至少有四家公司宣布他们将成为游戏界的Netflix,这和5G的诞生有很大的关联。你需要网速更快的宽带,你需要更高的宽带普及率,不仅在城市还有乡村。你需要调查市场上消费者的宽带情况来确定串流游戏市场是否有繁荣发展的可能性,单纯靠几个5G城市你无法取得成功。

这是我对微软宣布的解读。我认为它非常真实。如果你想要扩展,必须满足这些条件,特别是有些游戏对画面的要求极高,你需要一个强有力的输送渠道。

GamesBeat:关于市场基础,我们提到了政府如今对游戏的态度。我仍然对美国的游戏行业表示担忧——它所能带来的就业机会,以及这些就业机会是否会被别的国家吸走,比如说加拿大,因为他们有如此多的吸引力。政府是否应该做些什么来保护我们的就业机会?你觉得哪些地区可能会衰弱? 想要收购美国游戏公司的外国企业是否太多?当面对这些因素时,我们还能仅依靠市场来解决这些问题吗?我感觉不太行。

皮埃尔·路易斯:我们机构的成员正在美国本土创造越来越多游戏。其中某一些正在为游戏发展提供充足的输送力。从教育系统开始,我们正在鼓励创立更多与STEM有关的课程和学位。同时我们还是H1B项目的支持者,希望由此吸引更多优秀的外国游戏制作人才来美国工作,包括来美国读书但因为签证原因没办法留在美国的学生。

关于H1B项目,我们有一个小插曲。我们正在招聘高技术、高薪人才在美国制作游戏。我们很喜欢讲述这个故事。我认为这将会形成一个很大的影响,通过H1B项目吸纳人才。

GamesBeat:我们有像加拿大这样的强有力的工作竞争对手,但却没有很多像Louisiana’s一样致力于为美国创造就业机会的公司。你会担忧这一点吗?你对此什么态度?

皮埃尔·路易斯:只要有机会,我们自然会争取奖励政策。去年我们成功为田纳西州的电子游戏音乐制作商争取到了税收减免。田纳西州是美国一个非常重要的音乐制作地。如果他们能制作更多的音乐,将会对我们的行业产生重大的影响。我们在寻找这些机会。我们是一个现代化的经济体,政府想要更多人加入电子游戏行业。本地社区在关注这些信息,我们也在积极推行这些激励措施。

GamesBeat:我记得Telltale倒闭引发了人们的议论。这件事震惊了很多人,很多人开始成立工会,这是他们对这个事件的反应。我想ESA不会认为这是事情的解决方案吧?

皮埃尔·路易斯:据我所知,我们的成员正在尝试建立最好的工作环境以达成最好的工作结果。这些决定是从公司层面做出的。如何解决这个问题,我们让我们的成员自己去决定。

GamesBeat:中国政府和中国游戏公司发展非常迅猛。他们的股市很强劲,使他们得到了充足的资金,而他们本土市场也很给力。他们可以通过收购美国公司,但美国公司想要打入他们的市场并获取利益却不太容易,他们必须以合资企业的形式与中国的某个公司合作,并支付一半的利润。这也是为什么中国公司发展得如此庞大。他们利用这种悬殊谋利。我不知道你觉得我们可以对此做些什么。但是尽管他们得到如此不公平的优势,中国仍然是最重要的市场之一。

皮埃尔·路易斯:这无疑是一个热议的话题。我们行业正在努力突破各国的入市壁垒。我们经常讨论的一种方式是通过电子贸易。但很多法规都要求有本地服务器以及对游戏内容做出调整——我们一直在盼望减少市场壁垒,能够通过较为简单、高效的方式达成交易。我们的政府为此做了很大的努力。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

As general counsel of the Entertainment Software Association, Stanley Pierre-Louis was the top lawyer in the country for the trade group that protects the interests of the video game industry. He stayed out of the spotlight, but he had to stay sharp on a lot of legal issues affecting the largest and smallest video game publishers.

But after Mike Gallagher left the CEO job last October, Pierre-Louis was named acting CEO of the ESA. And now he is stepping into the spotlight. At the recent DICE Summit, the elite game event in Las Vegas last week, he gave a talk about the sensitive topic of video game addiction. Last June, the World Health Organization rained on the post-E3 afterglow by proposing to treat compulsive video game playing as an addiction, subject to treatment as a medical disorder.

Pierre-Louis thinks that’s a bad idea because it isn’t supported by a preponderance of medical evidence. I talked with him about this after his talk, and probed into why it’s appropriate for parents to have conversations with their kids about too much screen time and why it isn’t OK for the WHO to treat the condition as a medical problem. When the WHO gets it wrong, it can have dire consequences that lead to risks of regulation, misdiagnosis, stigmatization of game playing, and even sending kids away to harsh treatment camps in some countries, he said.

We also talked about a variety of other subjects, including the federal government’s interest in gaming, the competition with other countries for video game jobs, possible trade conflict with China, the classification of loot boxes as gambling in some territories, unionization, and how the U.S. games industry will stay competitive.

Prior to joining the ESA, Pierre-Louis was associate general counsel at Viacom. Earlier in his career, he was the legal boss at the Recording Industry Association of America. There, he led several strategic copyright litigations, including the entertainment industry’s litigations against MP3.com, Napster and Aimster as well as the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case MGM Studios v. Grokster, which resulted in a unanimous decision in favor of the film and music industries.

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

GamesBeat: Are we going to end up with a Department of Games in the federal government?

Stanley Pierre-Louis: [laughs] I don’t know that there will be a department. But I will say, at the federal level there is a lot of interest in the power of games. You have, for example, the Department of Education that funds game research and how to use games in educational ways. Past administrations have actually had a video game guild, where they talk about games. Obviously there was Constance Steinkuehler, who’s a professor at UC-Irvine now. She spent time at the White House promoting the value of games in learning. There is a lot of interest in the power of games.

GamesBeat: But there isn’t really a games-related position anymore, [like Mark DeLoura held] right?

Pierre-Louis: Each administration takes its own tack on how they prioritize tech. What we’re seeing a lot of now — there was an announcement yesterday or today from the White House about their focus on AI. Obviously privacy is a big topic in Washington. What we’ve been trying to do is share the power of games for entertainment, for our economy, for education, for health care. Just talking about the full bouquet of issues where games help. It’s been a message that resonates.

GamesBeat: Are you interested in a permanent version of this job?

Pierre-Louis: I’m excited to serve in whatever capacity I can do for this organization. It’s been a thrill and it’s going to continue to be a thrill, primarily because we have amazing members who are making exciting games and care about our issues. We have an amazing board that wants us, even in this interim period, to press forward with the important mission of the organization. We have amazing colleagues who are super smart — lawyers and analysts and lobbyists and PR folks — and they all love games. We have people on staff who compete in game tournaments. It’s an exciting time to be at ESA and in this industry at our level.

GamesBeat: I thought your topic was interesting, about the WHO controversy there. You’re a parent, right?

Pierre-Louis: Yes, I am.

GamesBeat: I’m a father of three girls. Parent to parent conversations, I think, don’t get so much into the legalistic side of things, but generally speaking, I think parents will be very concerned and talk a lot about addiction. With my kids, I talk to other parents about how much screen time you want them to have, what kind of games are appropriate for them at certain ages. We talk about that using the word “addiction.” I can see the reason to stand up and say that there is no addiction to people who want to regulate a business. But I do wish we could have more of this parent to parent kind of conversation, where people acknowledge that there are some things you want to control and not have getting out of hand. I can understand why the ESA wants to take a legal stance toward the WHO, but I think it would also be helpful to have the ESA help with that parent conversation.

Pierre-Louis: That’s a great setup for the question, because we have this conversation on all levels. One is that we’re careful with our terms because it’s a medical term. It has a very specific meaning. We’re careful not to conflate medical issues with other parts of the conversation.

In terms of screen time generally, that conversation is interesting because it’s not just about video games. It’s about screens in general. It’s important to distinguish healthy screen time and whatever else you want to use to describe the other. More and more, you’re seeing in schools that kids are using Chromebooks and other devices for all their courses. It’s become a mainstay in how kids interact with education today. It’s important to think about, for example, what the UNICEF report talks about. It’s about the quality of the screen time, not the time.

As a parent, you’re empowered by being a parent to manage that. From our perspective, we also provide the tools that we’ve talked about in the speech, about parental controls on the consoles. There are tools in place, as well as just the role you have as a parent in managing your kids’ time.

GamesBeat: It’s still important to oppose the WHO if there’s some faulty science there, if they don’t really have video game experts helping them. What I would prefer not to happen is to have the conversation shut down because everyone is digging in and saying either there is addiction or there’s no addiction. Because we deny that there’s any addiction, we can’t have this conversation that parents have.

Pierre-Louis: Our argument with the WHO has been over the impact of a conclusion based on a lack of medical consensus, which is different from the conversation you’re talking about. But that’s critically important because it impacts the discussion. Is it a symptom? Is it the cause? That gets into a lot of medical issues. As a parent, it’s all about having the tools in place to impose the rules you want to impose on your household.

GamesBeat: What do you see across different governments around the world and how they’re approaching games now? Does anything seem like a better approach to you, or do you worry about the approaches governments are taking? I think in particular about China, which seems sometimes to have their act together, but other times they seem like they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Pierre-Louis: I think different countries just approach regulation differently. The U.S. has a market-based approach. It relies a lot on self-regulation, as well as rules in place where the government — whether it’s state or federal — feels like it needs to step in. Other countries are more regulatory states and they take a different approach to lots of topics, including ratings. What you’re seeing in various states in this discussion are really the governmental approach they have and how that interacts with this discussion.

GamesBeat: Even then, the term “addiction” comes back and gains importance. People who trying to regulate loot boxes are saying that it’s like gambling, and gambling can cause addiction, therefore you have to control loot boxes. And yet if you don’t think there’s an addiction problem there’s no need to do that kind of regulation. It’s interesting how it will come up in different ways.

Pierre-Louis: It comes up in lots of ways. What we try to stress, again, is parental controls. That provides an opportunity to not only limit the time you spend in games, but the amount of money you spend. As a parent you’re able to use those tools to manage what content is being accessed by age, what’s being accessed in terms of time, as well as spending.

GamesBeat: On loot boxes, do you think regulation is coming? Do you have any particular position on what you’d like to see happening?

Pierre-Louis: We’ve described loot boxes as — let me put it another way. The way you approach the question brings a lot to mind. Video game companies try to bring value to games in lots of different ways. Sometimes it’s through earned items, various digital items. Sometimes it’s through monetization, through different mechanisms. Loot boxes are just one of those ways that allows engagement by a consumer in an optional way. It allows for more ways to get a return on value in various games.

The thing that’s interesting about it is it’s really a sandbox, which makes it different from some of the regulatory discussions that are happening. You pay into a game and you can’t cash out. That makes it distinctly different from a lot of the other discussions that are happening.

GamesBeat: It looks like it may center on whether or not you can have random stuff in loot boxes, or if you should know what’s going to be in them before you buy them.

Pierre-Louis: Yes. Different regulatory bodies have taken different views on that.

GamesBeat: It seems like such a small difference, but it can, again, be magnified in importance depending on where you go with it. If you’re going to start a gambling business, you can’t have people knowing what’s in the box.

Pierre-Louis: Just for clarity, loot boxes clearly aren’t gambling from a legal standpoint.

GamesBeat: Because you can’t take money out.

Pierre-Louis: Exactly. That means you’re not putting something at risk. If you look at the standard for gambling, it just doesn’t meet that definition. That’s not just true in the U.S. It’s true in France and the U.K. and lots of other countries. They’ve determined affirmatively that it’s not gambling. Even in the states, even in the countries where the issue’s been raised, it’s been raised as the specter of the possibility of regulation, but nothing’s been approved yet.

GamesBeat: What else is on your agenda? What else do you want to talk about?

Pierre-Louis: The number one thing for us is getting a positive message out about video games. It tells such a great story. We’re dual DNA, tech and IP. That means we enter a conversation where we can talk about various components — the innovation economy, the creative economy. If you look at policy issues like digital trade, again, we tell a great story, because we’re a trade surplus industry for the United States. Regulators and policy makers like hearing about positive impact industries, which we are.

We’re also seeking incentives in various states so we can build out additional facilities, creating great games and keeping them here in the United States. That tells a very positive story of growth and development for the industry in the states.

GamesBeat: Do you have any approach so far that might be similar to or different from the way Mike was doing things?

Pierre-Louis: Well, I’m the acting CEO. I’m just trying to work with an amazing team to ensure that we’re completing our mission, which is to amplify the great things our members are doing and that this industry is all about.

GamesBeat: With this year’s E3, do you expect it to be different from past years? Any ideas on how E3 is taking shape so far?

Pierre-Louis: E3 has evolved over the years. We added consumers in recent years. E3 Coliseum, esports competitions. What you’ll see each year at E3, including this year, is the evolution of E3 to match the evolution and trends of our industry. That’s important, because we need to amplify the products being announced, the announcements being made generally by the exhibitors and our members, and really shine a light on the industry in a positive way. It’s such an important moment for the industry every year. People pay attention what’s announced at E3. We want to make sure that gets the widest audience possible. So stay tuned.

GamesBeat: Do you still think that some of the biggest moments of the year are going to come at E3?

Pierre-Louis: We hope so. It’s shaping up to be an exciting year.

GamesBeat: On the technology side, Microsoft’s talk was interesting just now. They talked about how there could be a lot of implications for gaming from 5G. Maybe you get into totally different world where almost any game could be played in a mobile way. Right now we’re fairly restricted in what kind of mobile games we can make, technologically. Do you think the industry needs to push forward to do anything in particular on new technologies?

Pierre-Louis: Within the past month there were at least four announcements from companies saying they were going to be the Netflix of games. The conversation on 5G is really relevant to that discussion. You need stronger broadband. You need deeper broadband penetration, which includes not just urban but rural broadband. You need a consumer model of broadband that makes accessibility easy for the streaming game market to really flourish. It can’t just be in five really wired cities to be a success.

That’s how I read the Microsoft talk. I think it’s very true. You need that capability if you’re really going to expand, particularly with some of the games that are being developed and the richness of it and the amazing quality of the graphics. You’re going to need a strong pipe.

GamesBeat: We mentioned that there’s a market basis to how the government looks at games right now. I still worry about the games business in the U.S. — the number of jobs that get created here and whether those jobs can be siphoned off or exported to other countries like Canada, because they have so many incentives. Should the government do anything proactive about that? Do you think certain regions might be weakening? Are too many foreign companies starting to buy up American companies? I’m not sure market forces are always going to turn out the right way for the country when it comes to some of these things.

Pierre-Louis: Our members are looking to create more and more games here in the United States. Part of that is creating the right pipeline for game development. That starts with the educational system, encouraging more STEM-related courses and degrees, exciting students about STEM careers. We’re also proponents of expanding the H1B program to bring talented foreign nationals to the United States to create games, including students who come to study here and then have to leave if they can’t secure the visa necessary.

We’re a good story on H1B. We’re hiring for highly technical, high-paying jobs doing work on products made in the United States. We like to tell that story. I think that’s going to have a big impact, being able to have talent acquisition include a modernized H1B program.

GamesBeat: We have countries like Canada very aggressively going after jobs, but we don’t have that many efforts like, say, Louisiana’s, to create jobs in the United States. Does that worry you, or do you have a particular reaction to that?

Pierre-Louis: We certainly pursue incentives wherever possible. Last year we were able to secure a tax incentive in Tennessee for the production of video game music. Tennessee is such an important state in the music world. Being able to produce more game music there has been powerful for the industry. We look for those opportunities. States want to have video game employees. We’re a modern economy that modernizes a lot of the local community. It adds to the local discussion and flavor. We’re aggressively pursuing those kinds of incentives as well.

GamesBeat: I remember people talking about Telltale when they had their shutdown. That came as a surprise to everyone, and a lot of people started bringing up unionization as an answer, or something that could be done in response. I think the ESA doesn’t necessarily believe that’s the answer?

Pierre-Louis: What we know of our members is they try to create the best environment to create the best works on earth. Those kinds of decisions get made on a company by company basis. We leave it to our members to determine how best to address that issue.

GamesBeat: The Chinese government and Chinese companies are very powerful. They have a very powerful stock market that gives them lots of cash, and a home market that gives them a lot of firepower. They can go and acquire American companies, but American companies can’t go there and exploit that market so easily. They have to go in as a joint venture partner and share half the profits with a Chinese company. It’s why those Chinese companies have gotten so big. There’s an imbalance that can be exploited. I’m not sure what [you can do] about that. But of all the things that seem like they’re unfair in the world, that seems like one of the most important.

Pierre-Louis: It’s definitely a hot topic. Our industry looks for opportunities to reduce market barriers everywhere. One of our biggest topics is digital trade. A lot of the laws that require local servers, localized content — we want to ensure that there are opportunities for us to do business in the most efficient ways. We’re always looking to reduce market barriers. We see the administration trying really hard on that issue.(source:Venturebeat

 


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