Former White House Adviser Says US Gov't Sees Positive Impact of Games
"There's an interest in seeing if games can be used to address societal challenges."
Video games and government have a long history, one which is rooted in controversy around virtual violence. But now, someone who worked at the White House for nearly two years on its digital media team and sat in on meetings following the Newtown massacre, says the United States government is changing.
Video game industry veteran Mark DeLoura worked as White House senior adviser for digital media at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for just under two years, from 2013 to the end of last year. Before that, he held positions at a variety of gaming companies, including THQ, Ubisoft, and Nintendo.
He tells GamesIndustry International in an excellent, wide-ranging interview that the government is actually more interested in pursuing video games for their educational purposes instead of targeting violent games.
"My takeaway after having been in the White House is there's an interest in seeing if games can be used to address societal challenges," he said. "That's the primary interest in games--we've seen other modalities in other media have an impact in different ways over time as we learn how to use them to teach people or express concepts. Can games do that? If they're not doing that how do we get them to do that? If they're doing it a little, do they want to do it more? How can we encourage this? That's the interest."
DeLoura went on to say that if mainstream media outlets report more about the positive impact of games, such as Ubisoft's new therapeutic game aimed at helping people with "lazy eye," then games have a better chance of being seen in a more favorable light.
"You don't get a ton of positive stories," DeLoura said. "They are out there, they are hard to find and they don't get huge press. In general, great feel good stories don't get huge press anyway. That's the challenge, as games are doing more and more great things."
The full interview is well worth a read, as it touches on a variety of other subjects, including DeLoura's thoughts on video game tax breaks, diversity in the technology field in general, and the 2013 White House meeting with US Vice president Joe Biden following the Newtown shooting. Read the full interview here.
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