If we had to summarize thismorning's E keynote speech by Texas Governor Rick Perry in three words, it would be "Texas is awesome." If we had a few more words, we'd say "Texas is awesome, and so is the game industry."
After a short introductory video featuring a few Texan developers (including Warren Spector), Perry launched into a laundry list of the business virtues for the Lone Star state, including a legal system low on frivolous lawsuits, an income-tax free revenue structure that "lets workers keep their wages" and a "sensible regulatory environment," whatever that means. Texas also has more Fortune 500 companies than any other state, making it an economic powerhouse.
"The weather is hot, the barbecue is hot, the music is hot, and we want to see the game industry even hotter," Perry said, gushing about the 2,800 new jobs created by 22 Texas game development companies (the third highest concentration in America, but Perry is "gunning for No. 1"). The governor lost us a bit when he said the industry average salary of $63,000 a year "may seem like pocket change to those of you here from California or Washington," Personally, we'd love to make that kind of scratch.
Perry also cited the game industry as a potential cure for the negative trends in the economy. "You all get it when it comes to the issue of competitiveness," he said. "You harness the creative power of nearly 80,000 people and connect to consumers at the heart level, building a community based on shared interest and creating jobs faster than just about any other industry out there."
Since this is an ESA keynote, it was perhaps not too surprising when Perry went to great lengths to dispel negative stereotypes about gamers. "Those who think gamers are just a bunch of pale teenagers sitting in a basement casting spells and indulging in adolescent fantasies don't really know this industry," he said. "They'd be stunned to hear the average age for gamers is approaching 35 and that best selling games are rated E." While acknowledging the influence of violent first-person shooters, Perry also exhorted the industry for including "families taking up Wii Tennis, children mocking their parents score on Brain Age" and games that help soldiers recover from injuries and doctors practice their craft.
But most of all, Perry was effusive about the artistic merits of the medium. "Virtual reality resembles actual reality more every day [and] your ability to influence the world increases at the same pace," he said. Perry went on to call games "a medium whose potential I think is only beginning to be tapped. ... Games convey a view of the distant future, your industry has a work ethic, business model, and embrace of new ideas that the rest of our nation would be wise to consider. I congratulate you on your success and applaud your creativity."