When video games and government have found themselves in the same sentence these past few decades, they’ve generally been in the company of “violence.”
But according to a man who spent almost two years as a White House adviser on gaming, there’s a new perspective in vogue, one of opportunity and even positivity.
Mark DeLoura was senior advisor for digital media at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2013 to the end of last year. Previously, he enjoyed a long and varied career working with the likes of Nintendo, THQ and Ubisoft.
During his tenure in government, he witnessed games thrust into the news media, and into the White House, in a familiar role. In the aftermath of the Newtown massacre various game industry representatives were invited to D.C. to talk about games and public perceptions of games as purveyors of violence. The White House talks were generally agreed to have been useful for all concerned.
In the past, various politicians have sought stringent restrictions on the sale of games, an issue that came to an end with the Supreme Court’s 2011 ruling that games are protected under the First Amendment.
These days, DeLoura says, the government is mostly interested in how games can serve the public.
“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, in an interview with GamesIndustry. “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?”
He said that the conversation has now moved onto issues like getting tax credits to game companies and encouraging more people to work in tech industries, like gaming.
“You don’t get a ton of positive stories,” he said. “They are out there but they don’t get a huge press. That’s the challenge, as games are doing more and more great things. UCSF neuroscience research, for example, they’re looking at games and maybe getting FDA approval on a game to help people multitask. That’s a great story to get out there, to say look video games can do more things.”