Game journalists are upset at the association that represents the entire video game industry for its praise of Donald Trump’s new STEM education initiative. Outrage has poured in from publications like Vice, and numerous critics expressed their anger on social media.
In a public statement on September 25, the president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, Michael D. Gallagher commended President Trump for his new science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiative, which includes education for coding.
The ESA represents some of the industry’s largest publishers and developers, including Activision-Blizzard, Bethesda, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Take-Two, Ubisoft, and Warner Bros. The group also organizes E3, the largest video game trade convention in the United States, each year.
“ESA commends the Trump Administration on its bold leadership in computer science education,” he said. “The White House’s new STEM initiative will help grow the diverse and high-skilled workforce that drives the $30.4 billion US video game industry.”
“By expanding opportunities for America’s youth interested in the creative tech sector, we can generate thousands of new American jobs and achieve new levels of innovation, invention, and economic success. We look forward to working with the Administration and industry partners.”
The ESA’s glowing words were posted following a White House memorandum to state that the Trump administration is expanding computer science education with at least $200 million in annual grant funding for STEM and related fields.
The Trump administration says it wants to “better equip America’s young people with the relevant knowledge and skills that will enable them to secure high‑paying, stable jobs throughout their careers,” adding that too many young people lack access to “high-quality STEM education” at the present.
On Twitter, the ESA’s Government Affairs account credited Ivanka Trump for “championing increased focus on STEM and coding in American public schools.”
The commendation from the ranks of the video game industry’s highest representatives didn’t come without harsh criticism from progressive game journalists. Writing for Vice’s Waypoint gaming vertical, game journalist Patrick Klepek decried the ESA for “applauding a racist, sexist political demagogue because it managed to do something right,” which he compared to “congratulating a broken clock for getting the time right twice a day.”
Klepek also took the effort of condemning the ESA as a “consolidation of corporate power,” stating that it “isn’t your friend.”
He added that all the ESA wanted was for consumers to “cheer for trailers at their glitzy events. They want you to buy the games the companies they represent sell. They want laws protecting the same companies. In the end, it’s about money.”
Other game journalists like VICE/Waypoint editor-in-chief Austin Walker, joined the chorus of condemnation against the ESA, arguing that the industry’s continued stability “means that the industry never needs to address issues of burnout among overworked, young employees.”
— austin walker (@austin_walker) September 26, 2017
It’s worth noting that the ESA previously opposed President Trump’s proposed “Muslim ban” for fears that it would impact the U.S. game industry. The industry group also praised President Obama in 2009 for supporting video game development competitions—a fact not forgotten by Klepek, despite his complaints.