The ESA issued a press release today announcing that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) will give the E3 keynote address.
We can't help but ask... why?
It's unheard of for a politician to give the opening remarks for the video game industry's big dance. Reading between the lines of the ESA press release, Perry's qualifications seem to be that: a.) Texas is home to a lot of game developers and b.) in 2007 he signed into law a bill providing financial incentives to film and video game productions.
However, as GamePolitics reported when Perry signed the legislation, the video game incentive package is fraught with potential content restrictions. The Austin American-Statesman wrote at the time:
To appease some concerned legislators, the incentive program was structured to guard against paying companies that make violent games. The state will be allowed to pick and choose projects, eliminating those that have "inappropriate content" or are "obscene." Game companies are left wondering which projects could be deemed "inappropriate."
The Daily Texan noted:
The bill requires the office to consider "general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the citizens of Texas" when considering grant applications. The bill also requires submission of a final script to determine if changes occurred during production would conflict with these standards.
Moreover, in order to qualify for incentives, a project "cannot portray Texas or Texans in a negative fashion."
A number of states have enacted incentive packages in recent times, most recently Michigan and Georgia. GamePolitics is aware of no state other than Texas that makes funding in any way dependent upon content.
Beyond the content issues, it just seems, well, odd. For many years as ESA president Doug Lowenstein gave the E3 keynote. After all, E3 was the ESA's big show. Lowenstein's annual speech was something not to be missed, a kind of State of the Union address for the video game biz.
However, in 2007, his first year at the helm, freshman boss Michael Gallagher begged off, citing newness to the position. This announcement means that the E3 crowd, which has yet to hear from Gallagher, will have to wait another year to learn whether the man has a vision for the industry.
It may be worthwhile noting that Gallagher has deep Republican roots, as does Perry, the current Chairman of the Repulican Governors Association. Perhaps the ESA (or Gallagher) views Perry as having loftier aspirations (say, the White House) when his second term expires in 2010.
UPDATE: The ESA has dropped GamePolitics a line to say that Gallagher will be giving some sort of state-of-the-industry speech at E3.