To celebrate both International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Xbox has announced a new mentoring program that aims to help everyone looking to build a career in game development while improving “diversity and representation among the people who make games.”
The mentorship program will offer anyone interested in “valuable one-on-one coaching sessions with key leaders” to help foster a career in game development in a number of countries, including the US, UK and more. More details on the program will follow in mid-March. Since this is an Xbox-focused initiative, the mentorship is with key women figures at Xbox Game Studios – which will be upward of more than 30 studios by June 2023 – so it seems the hope might be to bring more developers into the Microsoft-owned development teams.
In a post, Xbox says that 45 percent of women identify as gamers according to the ESA, but when it comes to female game developers that work at game companies, that number is much lower at 30 percent. For Microsoft Gaming, that number hovers a tiny bit under that number at 29.7 percent, so you can kind of see the company’s secondary motivation.
“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,” Rare executive producer, Louise O’Connor said in a blog post.
“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.”
In addition to that, Xbox is hosting a live GDC panel happening later this month and will feature many women working at Xbox Game Studios. Some of those women include Mary McGuane (Xbox studio manager at 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).
Another way Microsoft is celebrating the month is by letting Microsoft Rewards members on console donate points towards organizations supporting women in gaming with Xbox. Those organizations will be featured on the console include Girls Who Code, Games & Online Harassment Hotline, ReDI School of Digital Integration and PretaLab. Xbox is also hosting Women Streamers and Game Creators on its Twitch channel throughout its “Streamer Takeover Week” which is happening this week. Microsoft is also returning for Season 2 of its Women of Xbox UK Podcast, which spotlights “talented women from a wide spectrum of roles within the games industry that work closely on first- and third-party titles.”
Check out the whole Xbox Wire blog post for more details about everything the company has planned for Women’s History Month because this only scratches the surface of its plans.