Just before the Electronic Entertainment Expo, aka E3 kicked off in force in Los Angeles, the event's organizing trade body, the ESA invited select journalists, including Gamasutra to an exclusive lunch to discuss the progress of its efforts to promote the business.
The event was hosted by ESA president Mike Gallagher, who was joined by ESA and IDG (show operator) staff for an informal but on-the-record Q&A session after Microsoft's press conference concluded.
Obviously, the talk of the table was initially around Microsoft's announcements, but conversation soon turned toward the ESA's efforts.
Kotaku's Brian Crecente focused on the legislation angle, wondering if increased efforts would be made, and about the progress of the ESA in ingratiating itself with the Obama administration -- relevant given his background in government
Said Gallagher, "It's the first time we have a video game console in the White House -- we understand that the president has a Wii. Having a degree of exposure to the technology is very, very positive."
He believes the Obama administration's focus on job creation and the economy will benefit the game industry -- but did not specifically outline how.
Gallagher gave a rosy view of the inroads he has -- and can -- make with the government. "We've had great meetings on the Hill -- the meetings on the Hill are amongst the best we've ever had."
He continued: "And that's for a good reason -- the industry is doing a great job, and we've been working hard." However, he refused to handicap the chances that damaging legislation might make it through the pipeline to some extent.
When quizzed about the effectiveness of the ESRB with consumers, Gallagher touted its effectiveness versus the MPAA film ratings system -- touting 20% failure of compliance at retail versus rates above 35% with theaters.
He also said that around 90% of parents are aware of the ESRB ratings system, and around 90% of those use it to make purchasing decisions.
Gallagher concluded by noting that at E3, he will be meeting with Yoichi Wada, president of both Square Enix and Japan's answer to the ESA, CESA and other foreign agencies' reps to discuss the success of the ESRB rating system and how they can help.