Changing the game

Content Program Manager Albert Dankwa didn’t have a computer until high school. Today, he’s working to create more opportunities in the gaming industry for people who look and sound like him.

I started my career journey at Microsoft as a retail employee. Back then, I had an affinity for gaming. One of the things that I loved doing on my subway ride to work was reading Xbox Wire, the official Xbox news blog. Those blog posts inspired me to eventually create my own internal digital gaming magazine, the 5th Avenue Nickel, which led to unboxings and interviews at events and conventions like E3 and Comic-Con. 

Over time, my magazine mailing list began to grow, and our corporate office, as well as some people at Xbox, began to take notice. It was a determining factor behind Microsoft’s decision to create a role for me. I remember finishing a virtual Teams training for a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic and, right after, finding out that my life was about to change. The Microsoft recruiter called to share that they weren’t able to find a role for me, but before I could register disappointment, the recruiter stated that they wanted to create one for me. Those were words that I’d been waiting to hear for half a decade. I finally heard them, and, at that moment, nothing else mattered. 

I have a unique perspective on life that comes from my previous job working on the front lines with customers, gamers, and fans. I still carry this mindset with me in my current job as a social media lead for Xbox support. Part of my job is to create accessible and informational content for our gaming fans around the globe, and I always try to make it sound like we’re having a conversation. So in a way, I’ve transferred those valuable skills I learned from working in the retail space to the corporate space.  

I’ve had an affinity for video gaming since childhood. It was my escape. As a kid growing up in the South Bronx, I was always having to look out and make sure that I was doing the right thing and in the right place at the right time. Video games allowed me to, instead, visit beautiful rich worlds with amazing stories and characters, and I was drawn to that every single day.  

Growing up in an underserved community where I didn’t have a personal computer until high school—and even then, computer programs were limited—made ensuring that kids from similar backgrounds have the access to tech that I didn’t have very important to me. Through the BAM Employee Resource Group, I got the opportunity to participate in a six-week summer mentoring program for students from the tri-state area. We hosted hackathons and gaming sessions for them and lined up networking events for them at tech companies like LinkedIn and Google. That was a meaningful experience for me: impacting kids who love gaming, most of whom are from my native city.  

Representation matters to me. While it is slowly changing today, when I was growing up, I never saw anyone who looked or sounded like me in the gaming industry. Over time, I achieved my dream of working in that space, and I promised myself that if I had the opportunity to do so, I would give others who look and sound like me the same opportunity. It’s been a long and challenging journey, but I’m slowly becoming that person.  

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