Emma Buttin, the New Media Officer at the Embassy of France in the United States, joins Brand Safety Exchange to discuss sustainability and how she is tackling social challenges with a new program called Games for Good. The program will build a more inclusive gaming industry by raising awareness, sharing expertise, and creating a diverse talent pipeline to bring underrepresented people into the gaming industry.
Listeners will also learn how a global vision of sustainability can help ensure brand safety, why diverse teams must be the ones to design safe virtual spaces, and much more.
Listen and subscribe to the Brand Safety Exchange podcast via your favorite podcast service, or read the interview transcript below.
The following interview transcript has been edited to make it more concise.
Tiffany Xingyu Wang 00:11
Hi everyone, welcome to Brand Safety Exchange where you will hear unique perspectives from experts and leaders within the world of brand and user safety. Brand Safety Exchange is hosted by Oasis Consortium, a think tank to unite stakeholders and create actionable and measurable standards for the protection of online brand safety. I'm your host, Tiffany Xingyu, GM and co-founder of Oasis Consortium. Today, I'm so honored to have my friend Emma Buttin, the New Media Officer of the French Embassy in the US. Welcome, Emma.
Emma Buttin 00:43
Hi, Tiffany. It's a pleasure to be here today.
Tiffany Xingyu Wang 00:46
So Emma, tell us a little bit about your work scope. What does New Media Officer mean?
Emma Buttin 00:53
At the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US, I promote French and American cooperation through different programs, such as French immersion, on immersive experiences, Le Créative Lab North America, which is a program for cultural entrepreneurs, and Games for Good to build a more inclusive gaming industry. And previously I worked for different local governments in France and abroad. I was the Head of the Residency Program at the La Gaîté Lyrique digital control space in Paris. And my role is really to connect different people in order to enact changes. I was always interested in the link between culture and technology, so I'm so happy to work at the French Embassy Cultural Services to conduct these programs in order to not only help creators but also to tackle social challenges.
Tiffany Xingyu Wang 01:58
Great, thank you so much, Emma. So Emma is one of the founding advisors for Oasis Consortium, specifically representative of the pillar of sustainability. A lot of what we are thinking about is how we curate the next generation of leaders who understand diversity and inclusion. I'm super excited about your new initiative called Games for Good. Can you tell our audience a little bit more about this new initiative?
Emma Buttin 02:23
Yeah, of course, I'm so happy to because it's our new ambitious initiative. It will be a platform to gather key players of the gaming sector to build a better gaming industry. Basically, what we want to do is to address main challenges that the industry is currently facing, which are a lack of diversity, the need also for new talent, and the constant search for innovation. By joining forces and by building this platform, we can enact transformative changes. So we want to gather not only top gaming companies but also NGOs, training organizations, public organizations to take concrete actions. First, we want to create a talent pipeline to bring more underrepresented people into the gaming industry and we are working on that with OpenClassrooms, which is a leader in the edtech industry in Europe. We also want to organize workshops and delegations to raise awareness, share expertise, and initiate further projects. And we will love to launch a call for projects to support U.S., Canada, and France cooperative projects that would have a big impact on these challenges. And the first project we are working on with Unity and with Games for Change, the NGO, is a game jam. And this jam will gather 20 universities from France, the U.S., Canada, and Senegal to collaborate and learn more about inclusivity in the gaming industry. So students will join cross-cultural teams to develop games, but also immersive experiences in augmented reality VR. And by doing this game jam, we want to raise awareness on inclusion and train the students to also really integrate this challenge of inclusion when they become professionals in the gaming industry.
Tiffany Xingyu Wang 04:46
Thank you, Emma. Diversity, equity, and inclusion by design is a principle we talk a lot about at Oasis Consortium. Only by baking this principle at the design phase, can we create games that would reduce the toxicity we see today online. So I'm curious as you try to connect the different countries, have you encountered the opinions and challenges to get people on the same page?
Emma Buttin 05:20
At the beginning of this project, we encountered many challenges. But what I want to say related to sustainable development is I do think that culture plays a big part in a sustainable world. Previously, I started my career working on the links between cultural and sustainable development and the concept of sustainable development is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental, and social as we all know. But considering culture as the fourth pillar of sustainability means understanding that development is not exclusively about economic growth, but it encompasses human, personal, and cultural development. And culture is a way of life - it's part of your identity. And you cannot build a sustainable platform if you do not recognize and promote cultural diversity - why? Because if you have a global vision of sustainability, you can generate a diverse ecosystem that ensures brand safety. Sustainability means you need to create safe spaces in which all people will recognize themselves, and will feel that they can take part in the conversation. So culture and inclusion are key as we are developing games and online platforms because we have two lives; we have our real life and our virtual life. And we need to be able to live in safe spaces in our real and virtual lives.
Tiffany Xingyu Wang 07:16
It's very powerful to take the perspective of culture. And when we talk about sustainability, you're totally right, we can only feel safe if we can feel proud about our own culture and our own culture is reflected and celebrated in games. So really great initiative and a great approach of gathering different cultures and curating the younger generations to understand that. So I want to move to our tradition, which we call Rapid Refresh. So it is a round of questions and for each question, you only have 30 seconds to answer. Are you ready for that?
Emma Buttin 07:58
Tiffany Xingyu Wang 08:01
We talk a lot about brand safety at Oasis Consortium. And why do you think this topic is of growing importance these days?
Emma Buttin 08:11
I think that with COVID-19, we saw an acceleration of our digital practices. And as we live in this digital world, there is a growing awareness around privacy and data protection. And we need to go further into the design of online platforms and games because design plays a big part in building an online safe place.
Tiffany Xingyu Wang 08:39
I love the design components that we have talked about a lot -- safety by design, DEI by design, privacy by design -- Thank you. And a second question, why are you personally invested in this topic?
Emma Buttin 08:51
I think brand safety is deeply connected with inclusion. I talked about a safe place in real-life or online -- It is where you feel you can take part in the conversation. And we all want to feel that we can participate in digital environments, no matter our origins, gender, sexual orientation, or culture. And to create a secure and resilient digital setting, we need to look at people who are designing experiences, platforms, and games. We are not there yet in terms of diversity with tech companies.
Tiffany Xingyu Wang 09:35
The consortium is all about creating standards and guardrails to build a safer internet, and building for brand safety. So what do you think, without these guardrails that we will try to build, the world will become?
Emma Buttin 09:51
I think that we need to have guidelines because it will help to limit potential cybersecurity and privacy threats. But also if the tech industry does not take action regarding diversity and inclusion, it will be business as usual with regular discrimination and harassment scandals. But they will not only be about video games, they are recurring warnings for bigger cultural battles over inclusion and diversity in the tech industry.
Tiffany Xingyu Wang 10:29
Thank you so much Emma for joining today's episode.
Emma Buttin 10:33
Thank you so much, Tiffany. It was nice speaking with you today about sustainable development and also the gaming industry, and I'm so happy to be part of this. It's a great opportunity to connect with the industry and to join forces to tackle key challenges.
Tiffany Xingyu Wang 10:51
We're honored to have you at the consortium and having a connector across cultures, continents, countries; it's so important to build the perspectives of diversity and inclusion. And thank you for joining us. Please stay tuned for our next episode.