An Industry Shows Its Growing Value

ESA's Doug Lowenstein recently discussed the games industry's current trajectory -- one that attests to its rising influence

"The game industry is playing a pivotal role in shaping the economy of tomorrow. It is being added to the list of industries — television, automobiles and telecoms — that have transformed the lives of Americans."Those were the words of ESA president Doug Lowenstein speaking at his annual media briefing. He talked about the game industry’s role in driving components of the U.S economy. He unveiled a new report highlighting gaming’s role in the economy, impact industries as diverse as telecommunications, medicine, military and real estate sales."The U.S game industry was worth $10.3 billion in 2004, but it generated a further $7.7 billion  in economic value," he said. "Even that figure under-estimates the impact the game industry has on improving the performance of industry."He pointed out various examples of game industry technology being used to grow other businesses, including IBM’s use of Cell technology in medical image-,mapping, the military’s use of games for training purposes, how real estate agents use game-technology to entice buyers and how games are driving uptake of mobile phones, broadband and home networking. "Companies like Verizon and Comcast love that gems industry," said Lowenstein.He argued that gaming’s impact is only going to grow. "By 2010, there will be 75 million Americans between the ages of 10 and 30-years. This will be a bigger generation than the baby boomers, and they will all be comfortable with games. Videogames are the rock ‘n’ roll music for that generation. Halo and the Sims are The Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones."He said critics of the game industry "fail to see the nexus between the game industry and critical components of economic growth." And he pointed out that the great American industries of the past have also faced their critics, but have proven their value over a period of decades.Lowenstein pointed out that the game industry was directly or indirectly responsible for 144,000 jobs in 2004, a number that would grow to 265,000 by 2010. He also argued that the competition among young people to gain jobs in this industry is driving growth of interest in maths and physics education, key skills in a growing competitive global environment. And he talked about studies which link gaming with skills such as strategic thinking, problem solving and adaptation to rapid change.