‘Not All Gamers Look Like Me’: Xbox’s Phil Spencer On The Importance Of Diversity In Games

‘Not All Gamers Look Like Me’: Xbox’s Phil Spencer On The Importance Of Diversity In Games
Image: Gizmodo

“I think that every one of these leaders would kick me under the table if I tried to make this an issue, so I’m going to say it once – and I won’t say it again.”

Following Xbox’s E3 Conference, I asked Executive President of Gaming at Microsoft Phil Spencer about the importance of diversity.

This is an excerpt from the full Australian exclusive interview with Phil Spencer – read it here.

“The fact that Nina Kristensen runs Ninja Theory, Helen Chiang runs Minecraft for us, Bonnie Ross runs Halo for us, Shannon Loftis is our publishing lead – I look at our organisation and the fact that so many of our senior leaders there are strong women in the industry, and I love that.”

Spencer describes the high-level leadership roles occupied by women within Xbox and Microsoft as simply “a natural ascension of people to the positions that they’ve earned, based on their track record and their leadership. Nothing else.”

“And it wasn’t divisive in any way for us to do that.”

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Back in Australia, a staggering eighty-two per cent of people currently working in the local video game industry are men – despite them making up only half of all consumers in what is currently a $3 billion market.

In response to this overwhelming overrepresentation, a number of initiatives have sprung up over the years. These initiatives, taking the form of hackathons and coding camps, mentorship programs and scholarships, are largely run by the underrepresented people they are targeting.

Diversity isn’t just a social issue. It makes sense, from a business perspective.

“When you have an aspiration to reach two billion gamers, not all the gamers look like me,” Spencer says.

“When you’re trying to reach a gamer… you need to represent the content and the taste and the stories and the sentiment of many different people.”

The various ways Xbox looks at diversity contribute to what Spencer calls a “diversity of thought”.

“Being inclusive to new ideas, new creative ideas at our table, is critical to our work,” Spencer says.

Gizmodo Australia travelled to E3 as a guest of Xbox.