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“How we can leverage video games to bring good to the world” With Penny Bauder & Stanley Pierre-Louis

I think our Game Generation campaign is exactly the movement needed to leverage video games to bring good to the world. We have centered this campaign on the power of video games, knowing that more than 60% of people believe video games bring joy to their lives and more than 70% play games to relieve […]

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I think our Game Generation campaign is exactly the movement needed to leverage video games to bring good to the world. We have centered this campaign on the power of video games, knowing that more than 60% of people believe video games bring joy to their lives and more than 70% play games to relieve stress. Video games are fun and challenging, but they also foster community, inclusivity and inspiration.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Stanley Pierre-Louis the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the voice and advocate for the $43.4 billion U.S. video game industry. With more than two decades of entertainment and media experience, Mr. Pierre-Louis leads ESA’s public policy efforts to showcase the dynamic impact the video game industry has on business, entertainment, and culture.

Prior to being named CEO in May 2019, Mr. Pierre-Louis served as the ESA’s General Counsel, leading the legal, policy, and regulatory affairs function for the organization. His responsibilities included advocacy on First Amendment, technology and intellectual property issues as well as supervising the global content protection program. Mr. Pierre-Louis also oversaw all governance, compliance, and contractual matters and served as the Corporate Secretary to ESA’s Board of Directors.

Before joining the ESA in May 2015, Mr. Pierre-Louis was Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property at Viacom Inc. There, he was responsible for developing strategies to protect digital content, managing major intellectual property litigation, and revamping the cybersecurity governance program.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Pierre-Louis was Senior Vice President for Legal Affairs 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.

Mr. Pierre-Louis is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Clark University. He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, where he served on the University of Chicago Law Review Board of Editors. Following law school, he clerked for Judge David A. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Mr. Pierre-Louis served previously on several boards, including on the University of Chicago’s Alumni Board of Governors, the law school’s Visiting Committee, the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, and Lincoln Center Education, the education division of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the “backstory” behind what brought you to this particular career path?

I have always been interested in the intersection of the arts, media, technology and public policy. It’s been a theme throughout my education and my professional life. I ultimately chose to become a lawyer as a way to bring those interests together, and it’s been a fascinating ride. I have worked in music, film and television and have been involved in industry-shaping matters at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and at Viacom. Joining the Entertainment Software Association allowed me to move into the video game industry, which is experiencing exciting growth.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There have been several inflection points throughout my career, each having a wide impact on the way we consume entertainment. For example, early in my career, I helped lead several industry litigations for the U.S. record labels, including cases against the Napster, Aimster and Groskter file-sharing services. The latter case ended in a unanimous victory for the entertainment industries before the U.S. Supreme Court. While at Viacom, I led policy and litigation matters, including a legal case against YouTube for the unauthorized use of Viacom’s creative content. In each of these matters, I learned the importance of distilling how emerging technologies work for public consumption. This was a critical skill because these matters gained significant public attention, which meant we were not only trying to win in a court of law, we were also trying to win in the court of public opinion.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some fantastic leaders and peers. While I’d be hard pressed to identify a single individual, I would say that I approach each opportunity as one where you can learn from anyone on the team irrespective of their roles — and that you can also learn from those sitting on the other side of the table.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

In my role at the ESA, I have applied my experiences to advocate for an industry that I see bringing a lot of good to the world. Video games have become mainstream, as evidenced by the 164 million adults in the U.S. who play them. That’s 65 percent of adults! What has fueled this growth is that video games are challenging, fun and provide an escape from everyday stress while connecting us with family and friends. We launched the Game Generation campaign to highlight the positive aspects video games, which celebrates how video games foster community, inclusivity and inspiration. To me, that’s goodwill that will keep giving back to the world at large.

Let’s now move to the main focus of our discussion. Can you tell us about the technological innovations in gaming that that you are working on? How do you think this might disrupt the status quo?

While we at the ESA don’t work on any technologies directly, we advocate for innovations that will revolutionize the video game industry and the world at large. One great example is the advancement of tools in the accessibility space for players with physical limitations. Examples include Xbox Adaptive Controller by Microsoft and game settings that can be adjusted for players who are color blind. Another example is the introduction of cloud-based gaming, which allows gameplay without a designated device. We’ll continue to see advancements that make video gameplay more robust as well as more inclusive.

You, of course, know that games are not simply entertainment, but they can be used for important purposes. What is the “purpose” or mission behind ESA? How do you think you are helping people or society?

We’ve seen a number of ways that games have impacted other industries, and we at the ESA serve as the voice and advocate for the U.S. video game industry. Right now, video games are played in every demographic. 65 percent of US adults play video games — that’s 164 million Americans — and there’s a game for everyone. Because you have just as many people over 50 playing as you have under 18, it means that the landscape for games is very broad. This is an exciting time to be in the video game space.

I’m very interested in the interface between games and education. How do you think more people (parents, teachers etc.) or institutions (work, school etc.) can leverage gamification to enhance education?

Today, we see video games being used in several industries beyond just entertainment. The medical profession is using video games for surgical training and for physical therapy. In the education field, teachers are teaching coding and program development, but also using video games to educate students on regular subjects to make learning more exciting for students. In fact, 71% of educators say that using digital video games helps students understand computational and numerical skills at a higher rate.

Minecraft: Education Edition has been used by over 35 million students worldwide to help kids learn in new and engaging ways. There’s also iCivics, which is a game focused on teaching civics and social studies to generate interest in becoming better citizens. Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor developed this gamified way to engage students to help foster a more informed citizenry.

I know that this question may be outside of your core expertise, but I’m sure you will be able to share some important insight. In your opinion, how is the US doing with regard to engaging young people, and particularly girls and women in STEM subjects? Can you suggest three ways we can increase this engagement?

One of the things we have found about video game design courses is that they appeal heavily to underrepresented groups, including girls and women who enter college. Our survey shows that those who study video game design matriculated a higher rate. While they may not end up in a video game career, they are likely to pursue a career that’s very similar to it, such as creating flight simulation tools. We also know that girls who play video games are three times as likely to get a STEM degree, so playing video games creates this enhanced engagement with technology that translates into a new pipeline. We also support these types of educational opportunities through the ESA Foundation, which provides scholarships for underrepresented groups interested in video game development.

How would you define a “successful” game? Can you share an example of a game that you hold up as an aspiration?

It’s hard to define a “successful” game, because it really is a subjective question. I think what we’re seeing in the market is an affinity to bring back some of the beloved characters that made video games the industry it is today. With characters like Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog transcending the category and spanning generations, it’s clear that great storytelling helps games stand the test of time. Furthermore, games that make great use of new technologies also captivate new audiences.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think our Game Generation campaign is exactly the movement needed to leverage video games to bring good to the world. We have centered this campaign on the power of video games, knowing that more than 60% of people believe video games bring joy to their lives and more than 70% play games to relieve stress. Video games are fun and challenging, but they also foster community, inclusivity and inspiration.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I live by the Golden Rule. All of your credibility is based on how you treat people.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow us at www.gamegeneration.org, or on twitter, @GameGenOrg and @theesa

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