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New report highlights the transformative power of video games

Press Release

TORONTO, March 26, 2024 – The Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) today published Beyond Entertainment: The Transformative Power of Video Games. Carried out by research firm Nordicity, this report is the first to explore how Canadian organizations are leveraging video games to benefit areas such as rehabilitation and healthy aging, mental health, education and community.

Video games are an important part of Canadian life. More than half of all Canadians play video games regularly, and a recent study from ESAC found that Canadians are increasingly playing video games together as part of an online community. The video game industry is also an important economic driver, employing more than 32,000 Canadians and contributing $5.5 billion to Canada’s GDP.

Often unknown to the public, video games and related technologies have also emerged as a powerful tool with significant benefits for both public organizations and corporate applications.

“The video game industry is first and foremost an entertainment business, but the world-leading technology can also be used to develop products and services that go beyond entertainment,” said Jayson Hilchie, president and CEO of ESAC. “This report shows how important the video game industry is to a thriving innovation ecosystem and how these technologies can impact multiple areas of society.”

Beyond Entertainment: The Transformative Power of Video Games profiles 11 Canadian organizations who have embraced video games and related technology to develop innovative solutions within their communities to benefit health, education, and community connection, as well as to improve industrial processes.

Rehabilitation

Video games are creating new opportunities to make rehabilitation and healthy aging accessible and engaging. Organizations like Ludica Health and Virtual Gym have respectively developed motion-sensing technology and virtual reality environments to provide rehabilitation exercises to adults and seniors, while PEARL Lab is harnessing movement tracking and gamification principles to provide paediatric rehabilitation therapy. These organizations are revolutionizing the way physical therapy is provided and are in the process of developing games that can move from specialized institutions into patient’s homes.

Mental health

A recent ESAC survey found that 76% of respondents reported that playing video games helped them feel less stressed, and 63% reported that it helped with anxiety. These potential benefits are being explored further in professional settings, with video games being leveraged as therapeutic tools with both children and adults. The intersection of video games and mental health has led to the emergence of initiatives like the Games for Emotional and Mental Health Lab (GEMH Lab) and Ludic Mind. Through carefully designed experiences, these games act as interventions that help children manage stress, anxiety, and other emotional challenges that work to create positive long-term outcomes.

Education

Through their engaging and interactive nature, video games can provide customized learning environments that improve student engagement and lessen resistance to traditional educational approaches. Prodigy Education has revolutionized the learning experience by seamlessly integrating mathematical concepts into an engaging online world, while Shoelace Learning provides an adaptative literacy learning game to help students master reading comprehension skills. Video games can also be used to explore career options. DigiBC’s Play to Learn works to inspire and empower middle school students through an interactive program to learn more about STEM careers.

Community

Video games can be a powerful community-building tool, with 70% of Canadian video game players reporting that they’ve met new friends through video games. For indigenous communities like York Landing, online games have become a vehicle to address challenges experienced in classrooms. The Manitoba First Nations Educational Resource Center has brought esports into reserve schools, with participating schools reporting a range of positive outcomes among students, including higher class attendance, a stronger sense of belonging, and improved self-worth. This is particularly important in remote Northern communities, where the platforms can help to overcome loneliness and social isolation.

Industrial

Video game technology can also reshape the future of industrial processes. Companies like Unity Technologies provide game development tools that are not only used for entertainment purposes but also serve as a foundation for creating immersive simulations and virtual environments. Prototype development and virtual testing within a game engine can save precious capital and development time by allowing companies to rapidly pivot during a design process.

“The video game industry supports a variety of real-life applications that people may not expect, from helping young people with their mental health to promoting healthy aging among seniors”, notes Jayson Hilchie, “And as our industry grows, we’ll keep pushing the boundaries of innovation.”

Beyond Entertainment: The Transformative Power of Video Games was prepared in partnership with Nordicity and showcases 11 case studies from Canadian organizations. To learn more about how they leveraged the transformative power of video games, click here.

About the Entertainment Software Association of Canada
ESAC is the national voice of the video game industry in Canada. We work for our members – Activision Blizzard, Glu, EA, Gameloft, Ubisoft, Kabam, Other Ocean Interactive, Ludia, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Epic Games, Relic Entertainment, Roblox, Solutions 2 Go, WB Games, Eidos Montreal, Take-Two Interactive, Tencent, Codename Entertainment, Certain Affinity and NetEase Games – to ensure legal, regulatory and public affairs environments are favourable to long-term business development. For more information, visit theESA.ca.

SOURCE Entertainment Software Association of Canada

For further information: Dominic Blais, Hill & Knowlton, (438) 988-6382, dominic.blais@hillandknowlton.com

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