Kazuo "Kaz" Hirai, president and CEO of Sony Corporation, will be the 2013 ESA Champion Honoree at this year’s "Nite to Unite ‘ for Kids" gala on October 23. Recognized as one of the most influential executives in the entertainment industry, Hirai played a key role in shaping the vision for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 computer entertainment systems, the PSP (PlayStation Portable) handheld entertainment system, the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, and the PlayStation Vita portable entertainment system, as well as the PSN service, propelling PlayStation to one of the most powerful brands in the world.
"Kaz Hirai has made an indelible mark on the video game world. His leadership and vision are hallmarks of our industry’s creativity and innovation,’ said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA, the trade association that represents U.S. video and computer game publishers. "We are grateful for his contributions to the consumer electronics and digital entertainment industries and we look forward to the many future innovations and magical experiences that Sony will deliver under Kaz’s direction."
"I’m extremely honored to be recognized by the ESA," said Hirai. "The ESA has proven to be an invaluable partner in helping to create a vibrant, dynamic gaming industry that promotes fun and inspiring experiences for people everywhere. Being a part of the gaming world for the past 18 years, where I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most creative and brilliant people across the globe, has been one of the most rewarding periods of my career."
Under Hirai’s leadership, Sony helped elevate the profile of computer and video games in mainstream media and popular culture while creating exceptional entertainment experiences. As this year’s NTU honoree, Hirai joins a list of some of the entertainment software industry’s most distinguished leaders. Past NTU honorees include Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto; Gabe Newell, co-founder and managing director of Valve Corporation; Mike Morhaime, president, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.; Robbie Bach, former president of Microsoft Corporation’s Entertainment & Devices Division; and George Lucas, the famed director of "Star Wars."
NTU is an annual gala hosted by ESAF, the philanthropic arm of the entertainment software industry. The event is an unprecedented commitment by the computer and video game community to come together and make a difference in the lives of America’s youth while celebrating the industry’s success. Funds raised by NTU enable ESAF to provide annual scholarships to college students and grants to organizations that create opportunities for youths across the country.
The 2013 NTU co-chairs include Laurent Detoc, president of North America at Ubisoft; John Pleasants, co-president of Disney Interactive; and Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America. The casino night portion of the evening is sponsored by International Data Group (IDG) and IDG World Expo.