How the Entertainment Software Association is promoting the positive power of video games

Speaking with players across the country, the ESA made some discoveries.

Campaign: Game Generation
Company: Entertainment Software Association (ESA) 
Agency partners: Ketchum (creative), DDC (online community and web platforms), maslansky + partners (message development and testing)
Duration: February 2020 – present

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) launched Game Generation, an online platform showcasing the benefits of video games.

Every year, the ESA releases national survey data exploring the state of video game play in the U.S. This year, the association wanted to use the data to showcase that video games aren’t just popular, but have a host of benefits. According to its latest survey results, 60% of Americans believe that video games bring joy through play, while 73% of gamers play to relieve stress. 

One of the things the ESA realized speaking with players across the country is that video games are more than entertainment.

“They are about building a community and being part of a community,” said Stanley Pierre-Louis, president and CEO of the ESA. “They’re about inclusivity.” 

The aim was to showcase these insights by allowing players to share their own experiences and stories, in addition to providing parents with information, resources and tools for maintaining healthy video game play for their families. 

On February 4, the association launched the Game Generation website, an online platform showcasing the survey results and other data on the benefits of video games.

“We wanted to create a hub that could bring the community together and allow people to share their stories about what video games mean to them,” Pierre-Louis said. 

Two days later, the ESA threw a live launch event in partnership with the Washington Post, which brought together 200 players, policymakers and other stakeholders in the video game space to discuss the power of play. 

In the weeks leading up to the launch date, the ESA pitched the media under embargo. After the campaign went live, the association promoted its various components through paid support on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, including information about the event, data from the survey, personal stories players shared through the hub and a promotional video.

It also deployed SEO marketing, targeting residents of states with a high concentration of players, including California, New York, Texas and Washington. 

As the campaign progressed, so did the situation regarding COVID-19. In mid-March, as the pandemic intensified, much of daily life in the U.S. ground to a halt in an effort to slow the virus’ spread. In retrospect, the launch date was fortuitous.

“The timing couldn’t have been better,” Pierre-Louis said. Playing video games became a safe way to stay engaged while observing stay-at-home orders. 

In its first 60 days, the campaign’s promotional video was viewed more than 1,193,000 times across platforms. In the first six weeks of the campaign, more than 94,000 people signed up to join the Game Generation hub, a process that involved giving their email and signing up for community updates. A stream of the Washington Post event, meanwhile, has been viewed more than 132,000 times. 

The campaign generated more than 69 earned placements, most of them broadcast.

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