E3 2008: Texas governor corrals game appeal

Rick Perry's keynote draws remarkably small crowd to hear a pitch for the Lone Star State's development community.

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When Texas Governor Rick Perry was named the keynote speaker for the 2008 E3 Media & Business Summit, the organizing Entertainment Software Association stated that the match was "especially timely given the high concentration of entertainment software developers and publishers in Texas as well as the state's long-standing support of our industry."

Perry address the "crowd."

Judging from the attendance at the E3 keynote address, event-goers may not have agreed wholeheartedly with the choice of Perry. In a ballroom with seating for more than 1,000, audience members numbered in the single digits just 15 minutes before the session's scheduled 9:15 a.m. commencement. When the appointed time arrived, there were just over two dozen attendees spread thinly throughout the room.

The dearth of listeners to hear Perry talk may have been partly due to Activision Blizzard's unofficial E3 press event the night before, a marathon affair that featured a fair bit of sponsored revelry. Another factor might have been a statement from the governor that ran on the San Antonio Express-News' Web site the day before. In that missive, Perry laid out what he would say in his keynote to the movers and shakers of the gaming industry (a couple dozen of them, anyway).

"The answer is simple," Perry wrote. "I want those leaders to hear about everything Texas has to offer their companies."

Entertainment Software Association president Michael Gallagher warmed the crowd up with a bit of biographical background on Perry, then introduced a video clip featuring some of the biggest names in Texas' game development community: Junction Point Studios head Warren Spector, BioWare's Gordon Walton and Rich Vogel, and NCsoft's Starr Long. The four developers talked about the reasons to make games in Texas, from the talent pool to the cost of living and lack of income tax.

"I think they need to know that Texas rocks," Walton explained. "Texas is a great place to make games."

Long finished the clip by introducing Perry, who first thanked the organizers for inviting him and said it was a pleasure to be around so many people who "get it."

A quick snap of the audience, midspeech, from the front-center of the room.

One of the things gamers instinctively understand, according to Perry, is the benefit of competition, whether it's battling the Covenant in Halo or smoking your friends at Mario Kart. Competition makes society stronger, he said, and even when people come out on the losing end, they pick themselves up and try again. That mentality is familiar to gamers, he said, who can just respawn after falling short of their goals.

Perry also said gamers get the concept of a global economy, that there are opportunities in that. Whether it's competing in games against players from other countries, keeping games secret to avoid other companies stealing ideas, or pulling all-nighters at the office during crunch time, Perry said gamers and game creators do these things because they're inherently competitive. That spirit has thrived in the Texas development community, he said, from Origin Systems to BioWare to NCsoft to Junction Point.

The key bottom line is that competition leads to job creation, Perry said, adding that jobs that come from competition are more stable than those created by social programs. He noted that Texas is the third-biggest game-producing state, "but I'm gunning to be number one."

While he noted that Texas has some incentives for game developers who spend money in-state, Perry said he'll push legislators to sweeten those in the next year. He added that he wants to expand on the educational system for game development in the state, pointing specifically to the Guild Hall at SMU.

Perry touted a judicial system that keeps employers and doctors working instead of defending frivolous lawsuits, and emphasized the cost of living that allowed workers to get by on less. He also talked about a regulatory atmosphere that allowed companies to go about their business.

Pointing to the home loan crisis and skyrocketing oil prices, Perry said some of the answers can be found in the competitiveness of the game industry. The game industry is built on shared interests, Perry said, and manages to create jobs faster than just about any other field.

Taking a page straight from the ESA's fast facts book, Perry talked about the expanding game audiences, from children to parents. He mentioned that wounded soldiers in a San Antonio hospital are using Guitar Hero and other games to help get their dexterity back.

"There are fascinating things going on in your industry that not enough Americans--that not enough people around the world--know about that," Perry said.

He added the industry is in a constant state of evolution, "and yes, for all you bloggers out there, I used the 'E'-word."

Perry then laid down a challenge to the audience and the industry, asking what they could do to use the power of the medium to make the world a better place to live or make a difference. He asked if the next game to be made would save a life, prepare soldiers for the challenges of a peacekeeping role, teach an abusive parent about proper disciplinary options, or teach the next generation.

The game industry represents a work ethic, a business model, and an embracing of new ideas that would fit well in Texas, Perry said. He closed out his presentation by inviting the crowd one more time to come to Texas. But instead of recapping the economic incentives, cost of living, and other business benefits, he instead appealed to simpler enticements, namely the state's BBQ, weather, and music.

Discussion

51 comments
Neyowolf
Neyowolf

SCREW PERRY! I LIVE IN TEXAS!

detoxic
detoxic

Most of us Texans don't even like Perry! He was re-elected in 2006 with 39% of the votes.

scorch-62
scorch-62

@leofire: There are no booth babes. And there haven't been for two years.

leofiregod
leofiregod

who wants to hear a governor talk at a game conference? just put some booth babes on stage dressed as game chicks behind someone talking and every seat would be filled.

Verno77
Verno77

Is hoping texas has the hollywood of gaming or something?

icym
icym

I think its smart of him to court the industry to Texas as much as possible. Considering so developers are in CA and paying for it. Its very appealing to move or start somewhere with cheap cost of living for you and your employees. Then again, there is a reason why it started in CA, can Texas match that culture and life that CA offers?

jlh47
jlh47

@Bungout. He's always been about family values, but where did you hear he was against games? I live in Texas and haven't heard anything to that nature from him. I think you're just mad cause it's a republican instead of a democrat saying this. and most democrats are against video games.

Macgyver40
Macgyver40

this nice to see a politician willing to support rather than surpress gaming

markharris31
markharris31

For once we have a politician willing to support the growth of the gaming industry, and the industry doesn't even have the courtesy to show up and support him. I'm incredibly disappointed. Thanks to those who attended what is a symbol of the growing acceptance of gaming. A packed house, and a warm response could be used to show politicians across the world that the gaming industry takes itself, and it's relationship with the government, very seriously. Instead there is even more ammo for those who characterize gamers as lazy and oblivious. A quick thanks to the governor of Texas for being forward thinking, pro-business, pro-jobs, small-government, etc. If we could only get this to carry over to the rest of our control freak politicians maybe business (and therefore jobs) would thrive in this country again.

cooldude03
cooldude03

Another key point to support ESA. If the gaming industry has a supporter they find them. We need polititions that back the industry, in order to preserve our rights.

lilmp89
lilmp89

hm...a politician who was supportive for once to the game industry, and they couldn't show him the slightest sincerity. The turnout was just rude. So much comes from Texas, come on! We're great =)

lettuceman44
lettuceman44

At least it pushing business, and not stopping it.

gbrading
gbrading moderator

The keynote sounded very "Texas-orientated", and perhaps that was Governor Perry's another issue for the low turnout. Being more about overall games development opportunities generally (and then of course focusing on why Texas is the ideal place) might have raised appeal.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

It is pleasing to hear that someone in politics is taking time out of their "busy schedule" to speak at an event like this. Kinda of upsetting that so little people showed up for support of just that. I know y'all partied the night before, but it is important for the industry to show sincerity when a politician makes this much of an effort. Let me be clear that I don't really know how well this politician supports the industry outside of incentives for doing business in Texas. I just am glad that games are on his mind in some way.

grambyte
grambyte

By comming to this post I must have landed in a Twilight Zone of some sort, cause this kinda sounds.... how do I put it... "odd".

Aggie1295
Aggie1295

Considering that politicians in many other states are trying to pass unconstitutional laws to regulate games, I think it says something that the Governor of Texas is trying to push for more game business rather than trying to ban them.

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

I pity him to have some a low amount of audience attending

gmax
gmax

When I saw him listed as the keynote, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it - looks like I wasn't alone. I imagine that selling Texas in LA might not draw a crowd, but all in all it does seem a bit odd - both the keynote choice and the response. I guess he just didn't have any new games to demo... Oh well, maybe give him a token point for making a gesture...? +1 I don't know...

Lord_Tigger
Lord_Tigger

Blizzard, Sony Online's outlet, and many other gaming companies are based right here in Austin. I'm surprised he didn't have a bigger crowd.

Blazius2
Blazius2

If he praised GTA4 then i'd know the guy was really promoting games.

higgs64
higgs64

It is good to see a politician encouraging growth in the gaming industry. The cost of living is lower here than in the west coast, the housing market isn't nearly as unstable, and that lack of income tax is a nice incentive on its own. I thought the speech would be more about how other states should encourage video game companies the way Texas does, but I suppose it was more a pitch to get them to bring business our way.

Hungry_bunny
Hungry_bunny

Too bad he didn't get a greater audience... but to be hinest, I'd rather be on the show floor than go attend to this if I got the chance.

exedeath
exedeath

Mabey the passing of tumbleweed will help the developers make good games. Instead of all the fun stuff they could be doing somewhere else.

TrueProphecy22
TrueProphecy22

Texas is great and all, I'm sure, but all he was doing was advertising Texas to the game industry... this wasn't a presentation about games, it was about "TEXAS IS GREAT, EVERYONE WANTS TEXAS".

Mizkreant
Mizkreant

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

The_Dude1212
The_Dude1212

...lolwut? >__________________________> GO CANADA!

WizengamotX
WizengamotX

I support the support of any politics that see the gamer's point of view. What a sad day to see gamers not in full showing.

Ranteal
Ranteal

Not the most exciting speaker they could have chosen. Really E3, I would have taken anyone over this guy. Maybe Stone Cold Steve Austin? Chris Cornell? Should have gotten Bare Naked Ladies to play a mini concert instead.

monroethanes
monroethanes

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

monroethanes
monroethanes

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Cube_of_MooN
Cube_of_MooN

A politician favoring the game industry? What is this? This is madness!

monroethanes
monroethanes

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

monroethanes
monroethanes

" bungout I've met this guy in person, and he's a putz. Hard to believe that he came off so reasonable-sounding. I guess with the economy in a recession across most of the country, he's trying his best to prevent Texas's economy from following suit. Back when he was Dubya's Lt. Governor, though, he was singing a different tune... all about how video games are promoting violence and eroding family values - the typical Republican Party line that was such a hot issue back then. Posted Jul 16, 2008 11:34 am PT" Actually, all the lawyers that have tried to sue to remove/inhibit violent video games have been democrats. Conservatives, by and large, want to leave people alone and let parents make the choices about their kids.

Viral-venom13
Viral-venom13

Judging by the audience majority not too many came out to show support!

ParisSun
ParisSun

People actually should have came out to support this guy. All the light goes to the politicians who rail against games but this guy will not get much press due to the small audience. You can tell the gaming industry is still young. Big business knows that having politicians in your favor can help your business grow and make more money.

Guts5
Guts5

He's a POS and it hasn't got a thing to do with his "public" image, policies, or party... That's the thing about most politicians... they are like mirages... get too close and the truth shows. A good speech writer can make almost anyone seem like they know what they are talking about.

jwb0711
jwb0711

He's my governor! AND HE'S REPUBLICAN! YEA! I love him! =)

Senor_Kami
Senor_Kami

He's a gamer, but some of his policies seem pretty conservative. Less gov impact in business (yeah, because Enron proves that when you leave big business alone, it always does whats right) and a lowered cost of living standard. As the dollar loses value he actually trying to have cost of living (which affects your wage and raises and benefits) lowered so that people get reductions in all the areas mentioned? Is he serious?

playstation_wii
playstation_wii

Samll audience. Maybe people didn't want to hear what he had to say.

combatsoldier
combatsoldier

In the military we often use games now for when we are not in the field. However you cant compare video games with the real thing. trust me on that. However I understand and respect what he is trying to say but video games will never compare with the real thing. However simulations are fun and you dont have to worry about actually dieing so thats a plus side. On the down side the only real way to train is to do it for youself.

bungout
bungout

I've met this guy in person, and he's a putz. Hard to believe that he came off so reasonable-sounding. I guess with the economy in a recession across most of the country, he's trying his best to prevent Texas's economy from following suit. Back when he was Dubya's Lt. Governor, though, he was singing a different tune... all about how video games are promoting violence and eroding family values - the typical Republican Party line that was such a hot issue back then.

planetpib
planetpib

WHOAHOO!!! I love living in Texas!

necronaux
necronaux

I'm all for having games as training devices (as Perry asks "...the next game to be made would save a life, prepare soldiers for the challenges of a peacekeeping role, teach an abusive parent about proper disciplinary options, or teach the next generation..." But... this is a far cry from video gaming (i.e. for fun and entertainment). Both genres need to be supported, but where gaming (selling video games) is a 'for profit' business, the latter isn't going to get the support it needs. Nintendo is starting to break the barriers (wii fit, stop smoking, weight loss, brain training, etc.). Only time will tell if this trend catches on.

anti-viper
anti-viper

Corrals? Oy, god, does it ever end? Wow what a cool guy. Rock on man, I love Texas (except driving through it-it takes FOREVER).

ivan_the_one
ivan_the_one

I live in texas too and he's done a good job so far.. now that he's a video game supporter I like him even more^_^

GSmitty07
GSmitty07

I live in Texas and I love it here, didn't know that Perry was such an avid video game supporter though, guess he's got my vote in the next election lol

Proman84
Proman84

This, in the nutshell, I think reprsents the attitude most companies have towards govermental involvement.