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Xbox Games Showcase chose to lead with women as presenters, protagonists

The bar is low, apparently

Sarah Bond, corporate VP for game creator experience and ecosystem at Xbox, stands onstage as the introductory host of the 2023 Xbox Games Showcase Image: Xbox/YouTube
Maddy Myers has run Polygon’s games section since 2020 as deputy editor. She has worked in games journalism since 2007, at Kotaku, The Mary Sue, and the Boston Phoenix.

The bar was low for Microsoft’s Xbox Games Showcase on Sunday after Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest 2023 presentation on Thursday featured an all-male lineup of presenters and featured guests. Far be it from me to clap for a big brand for doing the bare minimum, but the difference between the two shows was immediately obvious to anyone with eyes and the ability to respect the reality that gaming is an extremely diverse hobby.

Sarah Bond, corporate VP for game creator experience and ecosystem at Xbox, served as the introductory host of the show, opening with a rundown of the three game trailers that kicked off the showcase — each of which happened to feature a female lead. Soon after that, the next presenter popped up: Melina Juergens, the actor who portrays Senua in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017) and the upcoming Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga.

Just like SGF 2023, the full lineup of games on display at the Xbox Showcase demonstrated the depth and breadth of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios projects and partners, by including indie and triple-A games and everything in between. But unlike SGF, the showcase also managed to signal to the viewer that it’s not just men who are making these games, as well as curating and showcasing them.

This shouldn’t even be something that’s noticeable in these showcases, especially at this point in the history of the video game industry. Despite marketing in the ‘90s painting the picture of video games as a masculine hobby, thereby influencing gamer culture and gamers themselves for decades to come, in 2023, it’s a well documented reality that boys and men are not the only people who are interested in games. And that’s before we even get into the fact that gamers are also diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, social class, disability, sexuality, and so on.

“But Maddy,” you might be thinking, “these showcases should be featuring people based on talent, not just based on fulfilling a diversity quota!” I completely agree. And there are plenty of extraordinarily talented people working in the video game industry. Let’s celebrate them, shall we?

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