As Culture Lead for Team Xbox Latinx, I dedicate 20 percent of my time in the workplace to bringing in and elevating diverse talent and applying that talent to build more inclusive gaming experiences. One such experience I’m very proud of, involved creating a racing game set in Mexico. Right away we said, “We need to make this authentic. We need to make this respectful. We need to make sure that we are not building a stereotypical portrayal of Mexico.” That meant hiring cultural consultants and working with the Mexican Cultural Institute to ensure a culturally authentic gaming experience.
For instance, in decorating the game’s race car, designers took inspiration from Día de los Muertos. But we tried to stay away from the stereotypical skull. Instead, I suggested we go with one of the pre-Hispanic Aztec legends that led to the Día de los Muertos celebration in Mexico.
My passion for inclusion expands beyond my work with Team Xbox Latinx. I’m very connected with HOLA, one of Microsoft’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) dedicated to supporting the continued growth and development of Latinx/Hispanic employees as well.
Some years back, a “cultural shift” at Microsoft gave me the push I needed to pursue long-awaited leadership roles. There was the thinking that we need all personality and work styles to be present in order to have a diversity of ideas and thoughts to really make the company thrive. That’s when I started thinking, “Hey, maybe I can be more than what I am now.” My first leadership position, as Team Lead, catapulted me towards other leadership roles, and to where I am today: Software Engineering Manager, leading multiple teams of engineers in providing foundational production technologies to development, production, and art teams.
I am grateful to work for a company that actively supports inclusion in recruiting and in the workplace and nurtures a culture of collaboration and empathy. In the workplace, I’ve learned that diversity and inclusion need to be connected, because if you over-index on the diversity aspect, it’s easy to make the mistake of just hiring to check boxes and then moving on. Real inclusion takes effort. It takes
commitment to making sure that talent not only gets here, but stays here and has the right support to grow. Through that growth, there’s certainly going to be a long term impact on the products we create.
In many gaming studios, for example, up until maybe the last five years, there were very few team members that were entry level fresh out of college. That’s because of this old way of thinking, “To work in a gaming studio you need to have experience in a gaming studio.” But I think, “Yes, but how do you get that experience? You figure it out.” In the last several years at Microsoft, we’re seeing more and more talent coming right out of college with little or no gaming experience, and we’re committed to continuing to attract that talent and help propel them forward.
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