by Louise O’Connor, Executive Producer, Rare
In honour of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month 2022, Xbox will celebrate the important role of mentorship — to uplift and support the next generation of women in gaming. As a champion and member of the fellowship of the Women of Xbox UK initiative, I had the opportunity to help connect the community of women who work across our UK studios. This includes game designers, engineers, audio/sound experts, and producers to share their knowledge and experience with young women encouraging them to pursue a career in the gaming industry. One of the greatest joys I have found through mentoring other women is what I call the “Leveling up Moment” — when the culmination of their hard work and resilience meets with breakthrough and success.
We know that while according to the ESA, 45% of gamers identify as women, there is an underrepresentation of women characters in gaming. Additionally, among video game developers, only 30% identify as women globally. By increasing diversity and representation in the people who make games, we can create new and unique gaming experiences for everyone. While there is more work to do, at Xbox we are proud that women make up over half of our gaming leadership team and are forging the future of gaming and at Microsoft, women now represent 29.7% of the core global workforce. This is also true of my team at Rare, where half of our design and production team are women because of our investment in making inclusivity and diversity core to how we build teams, and we remain committed to this goal. It’s also imperative to continue to support women once they’re part of the industry, and at Xbox, the Women in Gaming group provides career development, networking opportunities, mentoring and more to encourage retention.
Mentorship and leading from a place of empathy encourages a culture of women uplifting and supporting other women, and I hope to inspire others to do the same. Xbox is committed to building a community where everyone is welcome to play, and to creating a space where it is safe to do so. It is in this spirit of mentorship that we hope to see more women become part of the games industry so that they can see themselves as the hero in the games they play and in their own lives.
Join us as Xbox celebrates the voices of women during International Women’s Day, Women’s History Month and beyond:
Connect and Impact
Introducing a Mentoring Program by Xbox
Introducing a mentoring program for everyone aimed at partnering women in gaming careers across Xbox’s diverse range of studios and products with aspiring talent, giving them the chance to access to valuable 1:1 coaching sessions with key leaders in select markets such as the US, UK, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and Korea with additional markets to follow.
It is our hope that this program generates meaningful engagements with tangible and purposeful actions to help foster career development in the games industry. With the program available in multiple markets kicking off this month, Xbox is opening up their world to inspire and support the next generation of women leaders in gaming. More details will follow mid- March.
Game Developers Conference 2022: Inclusive Leadership @ Xbox Game Studios
(Pre-recorded Sessions – March 23-24)
Join our esteemed panel of tech leaders at Xbox Game Studios, as they share their career journeys and lived experiences at Xbox during the upcoming Game Developers Conference. Our session includes Mary McGuane, Xbox studio manager (Obsidian, Double Fine and InXile); Kate Rayner, head of technology for The Coalition; Shannon Loftis, former studio head for World’s Edge; Helen Chiang, corporate vice `president, Minecraft franchise; Kim Swift, senior director of Cloud Gaming at Xbox Game Studios Publishing; and Bonnie Ross, studio head for 343 Industries. This powerhouse line-up will share their unique perspectives on the evolution of game development teams, and what is expected on the horizon, as we navigate dynamic shifts in business culture, inclusive hiring and community support across our Xbox Game Studios teams. Learn more.
Microsoft Rewards on Xbox: Donate Points to Organizations Supporting Women in Gaming
Microsoft Rewards members in the United States can earn and donate points to organizations supporting women in gaming with Xbox. The below organizations will be featured on console throughout March:
- Girls Who Code: Girls Who Code is a non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in tech by equipping students who identify as girls or nonbinary with the necessary computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.
- Games & Online Harassment Hotline (via Feminist Frequency): The Games and Online Harassment Hotline is a free, text message-based, confidential emotional support hotline, created specifically for the gaming community. Whether you’re a player, a developer, a streamer, a competitor — any part of this community —we’re here for you, whether that means offering emotional support or finding the referrals and resources that you need.
- ReDI School of Digital Integration: ReDI School of Digital Integration is a non-profit tech school for people, mainly refugees and migrants, without access to digital education to support them on their integration journey, including upskilling-programs for women, children and teens.
- PretaLab: PretaLab’s mission is to work toward diversity and inclusion in the Technology sector, promoting the employability of Black Brazilian women through a platform that connects Black women in technology and companies.
Xbox gamers can earn Microsoft Rewards points in various ways, such as playing or purchasing games after downloading the Microsoft Rewards app on Xbox. Earn points and redeem them for real rewards. Join us today and donate through Xbox.
Xbox Ambassadors Spotlights Stories about Representation in Gaming
Throughout Women’s History Month, we will be spotlighting stories about representation in gaming from women gamers in the Xbox Ambassadors community. These are their stories.
Xbox Plays will Feature Women Streamers, Game Creators, and Non-profits
Throughout March, the Xbox Plays team will be streaming on the Xbox Twitch channel and feature programming celebrating Women’s History Month. Each week will have a different theme, featuring Women Streamer Takeovers, Women Game Creators and showcase nonprofit organizations supporting women to pursue technology and gaming as careers.
Gears 5 Women’s Tournament Coming March 26
The fifth quarterly Gears 5 Women’s Tournament will take place on Saturday, March 26. You are invited to watch 32 of the best all-women teams in Gears 5 as they battle it out for $5,000 in prizing. Learn more.
“Women of Xbox UK” Podcast
The “Women of Xbox UK” Podcast will be returning for Season 2 this year, with a brand-new line up of empowering and inspirational leaders. The podcast will continue to spotlight phenomenally talented women from a wide spectrum of roles within the games industry that work closely on Xbox first- and third-party titles, with the aim to encourage young women to start or further a career within the games industry.
Discover Games, Movies, and TV Curated by Women at Microsoft
This March, celebrate women in entertainment with Microsoft Store and Xbox Game Pass through robust collections of games, movies, and TV curated by women at Microsoft. From game studios led by women to blockbuster movies with a focus on women’s stories, discover exciting and authentic experiences that bring focus to women creators, main characters and opportunities for individual expression.
- SkateBird – From women led game studio Glass Bottom Games
You’re a lonely lil’ skateboarding bird, and your Big Friend has hung up their board for good. Their job sucks, and lately, they’re barely ever home to play with you. You’re gonna fix all that – with the power of skateboarding!
- Unpacking – From creator Wren Brier
Unpack like never before in this zen puzzle game where you’ll learn about a character through a variety of moves. Unpacking weaves together a story through the everyday and sentimental belongings you’ll encounter as you decorate and organize each new space throughout the game.
- It Takes Two – The Game Awards: Game of the Year 2021
Play as the clashing couple Cody and May, two humans turned into dolls by a magic spell. Trapped in a fantastical world, they’re reluctantly challenged with saving their fractured relationship by the suave love guru Dr. Hakim.
Movies & TV
- Encanto – Walt Disney Animation Studios’ ENCANTO tells the tale of the Madrigals, an extraordinary family living in a magical house in the Colombian mountains. But when Mirabel, the only ordinary family member, discovers the magic surrounding their home is in danger, she decides that she might just be her exceptional family’s last hope.
- Beans – Written and directed by Tracey Deer, an Indigenous creator, this film follows a preteen’s involvement with protests during a government standoff to protect Mohawk burial grounds in Kahnawake, Canada.
View the collections in all Xbox regions. Visitors to both the Xbox and Microsoft Store on Windows can find community picks from women at Microsoft at any time by searching for “Women’s History” and related terms. Content subject to availability by country.
Active Citizen launched by Minecraft: Education Edition in partnership with Nobel Peace Center
Last week, Minecraft: Education Edition launched Active Citizen, a new learning experience created in partnership with the Nobel Peace Center. Players can walk in the shoes of four Nobel Peace Prize laureates and learn the skills needed to drive positive change in the world. Two of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates featured as non-player characters in the Minecraft world are Malala Yousafzai and Wangari Maathai, who have both championed women’s and girls’ empowerment. Players also meet Alfred Nobel and the 14th Dalai Lama and Fridtjof Nansen, both Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Active Citizen is the first collaboration between the Nobel Peace Center and Minecraft: Education Edition, and the first time the Nobel Peace Prize is part of a gaming activation of this scale. Active Citizen is available in 29 languages for all Minecraft: Education Edition players and in mid-March as a free demo. Read more about the project in this Microsoft blog by Head of Minecraft, Helen Chaing.
Halo: Happy Women’s History Month, Spartans!
343 Industries is celebrating Women’s History Month with our Team Xbox Community! In Halo: Infinite, 343i is hitting the battlefield with some community Spartans for a special play session with Big Team Battle action! Follow @Halo on Twitter for more details! Also, throughout March, 343i will be re-releasing the Spartan Kat nameplate in Halo: The Master Chief Collection, awarded to all MCC players during the month! Happy Women’s History Month, Spartans!
Celebrating Women’s History Month with Forza Motorsport 7
Celebrate women and their contribution to motorsport by joining racecar driver Shannon McIntosh for the Forza Motorsport 7 “Women in Motorsports” Rivals Event from March 3-15. Also, just for setting a time in the event, players receive an event inspired livery and if you finish in the top 40% on the leaderboard, you get very rare Forza driver gear. For additional information, follow @ForzaMotorsport on Twitter and head over to @Turn10Studios on Twitter to learn about women who have made impactful contributions throughout the automotive industry.
Microsoft Casual Games Celebrates Women Worldwide!
From the inventions brought to life, to the art created – women have made our world a more beautiful place. In March, we celebrate women and their accomplishments through the release of 3 in-game items that were inspired by their strength, skills, and impact on our world. For release details, click here.
Age of Empires Honours Women’s History Month with New Content, Community Stories & Events
Travel through history with Age of Empires as we highlight women both past and present. Visit our Sage of Empires as they highlight stories of extraordinary women from across the world and their contributions to the development of their region. Watch the Queens’ Clash, where women players will battle it out in epic show-matches featured by Age of Queens, a women-led group from the Age Community. Check out the special in game event for Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition, including the first female explorer customizations highlighting Ada Lovelace and Elisabet Ramsey in style. All this and more coming up as we celebrate the women of AoE! Learn more.
Xbox Honours Women’s History Month with a New Gamerpic, Profile Theme, and Avatar Items!
In partnership with the Women in Gaming community at Xbox, we’re introducing a new gamerpic, profile themes, and avatar items! The gamerpic and profile theme will be available on console and the Xbox PC app. The profile theme and gamerpic will be visible on all platforms (including mobile and Game Bar), but gamers can change the profile theme on the console and the Xbox app on PC. Get your avatar items here.