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Xbox’s Phil Spencer Talks Ending Toxicity In Gaming Community

Xbox boss Phil Spector discussed a number of topics during his appearance at this year’s DICE Summit in Las Vegas, but his main talking point was the toxicity that is present in today’s gaming community and his plea to stop it from continuing.

“In order for us to do our best work, we need our work environment to work well. If that is broken, everything stumbles,” Spector said (h/t Polygon).

Spencer then detailed his experiences leading the Xbox team in 2014 for the Xbox One launch.

“The team was in a world of pain. We hadn’t done our best work with the launch of Xbox One. Market share was taking a nosedive. It was painful to read all the headlines. The team thought the leadership team had gone tone-deaf about what our customers expected from us.

We needed a reboot. Morale was at a low. We kept missing big trends. Infighting and fiefdoms were so famous, people made fun of it. It would have been funny if it hasn’t been so true. So we hit refresh on everything, a comprehensive rethinking and rebuilding of our culture.

It is incredibly slow and painful to get everyone on board and to admit your own biases. It’s about making a commitment to keep listening and learning. We must keep at this transformation because we know it enables our best work. That means all genders, all abilities and all ethnicities in all geographies. This is our quest.”

Spencer then discussed the mistakes that his team made, pointing specifically to the infamous GDC party in 2016, where scantly clad women were paid to dance.

“The backlash was justifiable and furious” Spector recalled.

“The internal backlash was almost harder. The easy thing would have been for us to sidestep responsibility. Instead we bet on who we were and what we stood for. We don’t stand for any employee or partner who offends others. We communicated that we stand for inclusivity. I personally committed to do better. It’s the leader’s job to take personal accountability and to be clear about our culture, who we are and what we stand for.

When we make mistakes, the easy way is to retreat or maybe even deny there’s a problem. Instead I think we have to be active learners, educate ourselves, read, understand other people’s views. If we are informed, we can lead with purpose. We must listen first instead of jumping in with the supposed answers. We need to ask the quietest person in the room what they are thinking.”

Spector would then go on to call on companies to take extra measure to ensure that they are doing everything that they can to create an inclusive environment for all, riding the niche of it’s current toxicity.

“Toxic behavior doesn’t just hurt the individual, it hurts our entire industry” Spector said.

“We have to ask ourselves, ‘Am I building worlds where all of us can thrive and achieve more?’ Culture can be the tool that enables us to realize the true potential and power of gaming. The time to get our culture right is right now. It’s our increasing responsibility to make gaming for everyone. Representation isn’t just good common sense; it’s good business sense.”

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