In what may be remembered as the best speech of this conference, Vivendi’s global director of strategic growth Nichole Bradford today called on the industry to act on its responsibility towards the education and aspirations of young people.
She told an audience of developers to show leadership to young people, and excite them about their own potential. Bradford said that the United States had only produced 70,000 graduates in engineering in the last year, adding that children are failing to se the potential of learning math, science and literature. Thius, she argued, was a failure of leadership by the game industry.
Bradford spoke on this subject at a diversity round-table last year, but in 07, the message was heard by a much larger audience. She told them, “We have a leadership responsibility to excite young people about math and science and literature. We make games and so we have the best hook to address the real challenge of poor learning in schools.”
A 2003 survey of young people found that more children aspired to be athletes and entertainers than those who wanted to work in computing or gaming. By 2006, computing had risen above those professions and ranked at number 3. “More people want to be Mike Morhaime than Kobe,” she said.
“This is hugely important and it is exploitable,” she said. “Not every child is going to make a career in gaming, but if we can inspire them, we can give them options. We can show them and their parents that underneath the action [in games] there is math, and literature and science. It’s not enough to tell children to do well in math because it is good form them. We have a responsibility as an industry to show them what it really means.”
She concluded, “As an industry, we bitch about our reputation and the ESA lobbies against legislation on our behalf. But here’s a question. How many schools have you spoken at lately?
“Don’t be abstract. Tell the kids and the parents what we do and watch the support grow. More that that, we have the power to effect real change. We should all grasp the scope of our influence and show children their own possibilities. We need to be leaders in our society.”