ESA Foundation

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2019 Honorees

For the past two decades, the Entertainment Software Association and the ESA Foundation have had the pleasure of bringing members of the computer and video game community together to celebrate our industry and raise funds to support the next generation of computer and video game professionals.



The Xbox Adaptive Controller is emblematic of Microsoft’s belief that, through technological means, every person in the world can be empowered to realize their full potential. With this in mind, the company formed a team of designers focused on developing a controller for people with limited mobility.

In the past, solutions were expensive, hard to find, or required significant technical skills to create. With the Xbox Adaptive Controller, the idea was to have a team of design experts work with actual limited-mobility gamers as well as with organizations around the world, such as The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital, SpecialEffect and Warfighter Engaged. Input from all of these parties helped shape the design and functionality of the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

The result is a sleek-looking, plug-and-play setup that’s extensible and affordable and serves a broad range of gamers. In addition, it works with multiple external devices—such as switches, buttons, mounts, and joysticks—that help create a uniquely individual experience. More importantly, it levels the playing field for all gamers, so that their skills, talents and imagination can shine.

With Xbox, Microsoft strives to provide players everywhere with the opportunity to enjoy the games they want, with the people they want, on the devices they want. Thanks to the incredible talents of this team, and the help it got from players themselves, the Xbox Adaptive Controller provides an elegant solution.



Every 30 seconds, a child in the United States is diagnosed with a serious illness or injury that requires a stay in a hospital or health-care facility. While such facilities are staffed with excellent doctors and nurses, these children have been wrenched from the warmth and safety of homes and placed in sterile environments. They are scared, lonely, and in pain.

In 1982, the Starlight Children’s Foundation was established to ease these patients’ suffering by providing them with entertaining and educational respite. For more than 25 years, the nonprofit has done so, in part, through Starlight Fun Centers, mobile entertainment units that move with ease from ERs to waiting rooms to bedsides. Powered by many generations of Nintendo consoles, the centers offer access to family-friendly video games and other programs. They are often a source of smiles and much-needed normalcy for kids and families facing difficult medical challenges.

Most recently, the nonprofit added to its line-up the Starlight Xperience, a state-of-the-art virtual reality headset preloaded with content geared toward entertaining and educating young hospital patients. Created in collaboration with Star Wars: Force for Change, the charitable initiative from Lucasfilm and the Walt Disney Company, it enables kids to take virtual journeys into remarkable worlds.

As with all of Starlight’s efforts, it also helps patients and their families normalize health-care-facility stays as much as possible while managing pain. Since its founding, Starlight has provided its services to more than 60 million patients and families in more than 800 facilities nationwide.


For the past two decades, the Entertainment Software Association and the ESA Foundation have had the pleasure of bringing members of the computer and video game community together to celebrate our industry and raise funds to support the next generation of computer and video game professionals.

An important part of this celebration, since the first event took place, has been honoring an individual whose work has made a positive impact on the industry with the Champion Award. ESA Foundation’s Visionary Award, which was introduced last year, recognizes an organization or individual who is leveraging entertainment software to inspire and support kids. The inaugural recipient of the Visionary Award was John Graham, who founded Humble Bundle – a digital video game storefront whose sales directly benefit charitable organizations.

These honorees exemplify the outstanding applications of entertainment software. We are proud to celebrate the tremendous work being done to improve our own industry and to achieve meaningful social impact. 

2019: Xbox Adaptive Controller Team; The Starlight Children’s Foundation

2018: Laila Shabir, CEO and Founder of LearnDistrict and Girls Make Games

2017: Sid Meier, Director of Creative Development at Firaxis Games; Jeromy Adams, Founder of Extra Life

2016: Peter Moore, Electronic Arts, Vice President and Chief Competition Officer; John Graham, Humble Bundle, Co-Founder

2013: Kaz Hirai, Sony Corporation, President and CEO

2012: Gabe Newell, Valve Corporation, Co-Founder

2011: Mike Morhaime, Blizzard Entertainment, President and Co-Founder

2010: Robbie Bach, Xbox, Former President, Entertainment and Devices Division

2009: Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft, CEO

2008: Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo, Creative Fellow 

2007: Ken Kutaragi, Sony Corporation, Chairman and CEO

2006: Dan DeMatteo, GameStop, Former CEO and Co-Founder

2005: George Lucas, Lucasfilm/Industrial Light & Magic, Filmmaker

2004: Bing Gordon, Electronic Arts, Former Chief Creative Officer

2003: Jeff Griffiths, Electronic Boutique, President and CEO

2002: Will Wright, Electronic Arts, Game Designer, The Sims

2001: Isao Okawa, Sega Enterprises, Former Chairman

2000: Howard Lincoln, Nintendo, Former Chairman

1999: Michael Goldstein, Toys 'R Us', President and Chief Executive

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