Stanley Pierre-Louis ’92 returned to Clark University on April 20 for a special two-part visit centered on Clark’s robust presence in the world of game design and interactive media — and what that portends for employment prospects and opportunities for Clarkies who embrace gaming in its many forms.
Pierre-Louis, the CEO and president of the Entertainment Software Association, chatted with students in the Becker School of Design & Technology while touring the Barrett Center on the former Becker College campus. Some of the students were preparing to demonstrate their original games at that weekend’s PAX East, the annual four-day celebration of gaming and gaming culture held in Boston.
As he popped his head into classrooms to learn about projects in the works, a master of fine arts student noted they were running into challenges with creating a survival-themed game. Pierre-Louis quipped, “In game development, we call that Wednesday.”
Later, he sat with Matt Malsky, director of the Higgins School of Humanities, Paul Cotnoir, dean of the Becker School, and Professor Ezra Cove to recount his professional journey and discuss the future of gaming.
That evening in Dana Commons, Pierre-Louis joined Cotnoir in Dana Commons for a wide-ranging discussion about the state of gaming and its growing influence on popular culture. The conversation, followed by a Q&A with the audience, was part of the Higgins School of Humanities’ “Fair Game(s)” series.
Pierre-Louis, who traces his own interest in video games to Pong and other early Atari offerings, noted that today’s games are painstakingly researched, drawing on history, archaeology, and other scholarly disciplines to inform their narratives and visuals. The result is a steady supply of games of elevated sophistication and widening appeal.
While gaming has in the past been criticized as an isolating activity, Pierre-Louis said the advent of online gaming promotes connections and builds empathy among communities of players, doing far more to foster social interactions than solitary pursuits such as watching television. Gaming during the COVID-19 lockdowns, he added, is credited with giving many people an avenue to engage virtually when they lost the ability to be together in person.
Pierre-Louis lauded Clark for its planned Center for Media Arts, Computing, and Design, which breaks ground today and is expected to open in Fall 2023. He described it as an example of the University “future-proofing” its students by helping them develop in-demand skills in game design, publishing, and promotion. The market, he said, is awaiting them.
“They are literally always hiring in our industry,” he said. “I hear from CEOs on my board that there are never enough people to fill the jobs.”