Representing the Gamers: Nika Nour, Director of Federal Government Affairs, ESA
by Michael Charboneau
Nov 1, 2017
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The Entertainment Software Association represents gamers and game-makers across the US—we got the scoop on their Webby Win and more.
When you think of video games, you might think of a certain Italian plumber/not plumber, battles in space, or causing trouble on Grand Theft Auto—totally valid. But what about all the people who create and distribute those games?
Gaming is a massive industry, and the Entertainment Software Association represents gamers and game-makers across the US by lobbying for the industry and supporting it in many ways, including with their informative website, “United State of Video Games,” which nabbed a Webby for Best Association Website last year. Nika Nour is the Director of Federal Government Affairs at the ESA, and she and her team are leading the charge to show just how vital the gaming industry is.
The first thing you need to know, Nour explains, is that gaming is big. Very big. According to an ESA report, gaming has grown into a $30.4 billion industry, and it directly employs 65,768 people across the country. Beyond the hard numbers, gamers are also major drivers for innovation in software, game consoles, and even hardware and PCs.
“We are a force of nature in how creators determine what people are looking for,” she says, “so we have a lot of impact that goes beyond just playing video games.”
A major aspect of the her job is making sure Congress knows about gaming. The ESA tallied 2,858 video game company locations across the US, and found that they’re located in 84 percent of the congressional districts. That’s news to many members of Congress, which is why Nour and her team created United State of Video Games. From video game companies to university programs and more, it’s a clear visual representation of where gaming happens.
“It’s been really impactful for us because it drives home the message of why we need their attention on the issues that face the video game industry,” says Nour.
The website is designed for gamers, too. Nour says tax reform, talent acquisition, and trade are the biggest issues for the gaming industry right now, and the ones the gaming community at large should be most focused on. United State of Video Games makes it easy for them to have their voices heard: It allows them to send a message to their Senators and Representatives directly with just a few clicks.
Away from Capitol Hill, United State of Video Games also caught the attention of the Internet, including IADAS judges. Nour calls winning a Webby “really validating,” and she went all out for her 5-Word Speech: She dressed up like an assassin from the legendary game Assassin’s Creed, and hopped on a pogo stick to mimic the character’s impressive jumping skills.
Overall, Nour hopes that hardcore gamers and noobs alike will find United State of Video Games to be a helpful resource. She also expects even more growth from gaming—and more info to add to the site’s map.
“We’re unique in that we’re not just an industry of coders, we recruit from all levels of talent: Artists, copywriters, musicians, everything from photographers to design to animation,” she says. “The possibilities are just truly endless and consistently exciting.”