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Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Xbox, Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Xbox executive Sarah Bond described her determination to make an impact through her work in expanding Xbox's outreach to diverse game creators, in an interview with Axios.

The big picture: The number of Black people in the games industry has hovered around 2% for 30 years, according to the advocacy group Black in Gaming.

  • Opportunities for Black developers to get their games funded and played are rare, though it’s not for a lack of talent.
  • As developer Aerial_Knight noted to Axios recently, "the first time a lot of studios said 'Black Lives Matter'" was in June of 2020.

Bond's interview with Axios was set up largely to discuss Microsoft's ambitious plans to reach billions of players by offering games via streaming and not lock them to expensive consoles and PCs.

  • Bond heads Microsoft's outreach to game developers and its push to bring the tools for game creation to a more diverse array of creators who, she hopes, will also make games about more diverse topics.
  • "Your ability to see all humans as truly equal is really built by having closeness with other people, experiencing things with them, walking in other people's shoes, developing friendships — and gaming has the ability to do that, unlike anything else," she said.
  • "But if there are only certain types of games or certain types of voices or certain modes or access is not accessible to all creators, that effect is muted."

We asked Bond how she felt Microsoft and Xbox were doing regarding pledges to increase the number of Black people in leadership roles.

  • "There is no other place that I have ever worked in my career that I personally have found to be more inclusive and accepting of people as they are," Bond said.

As Bond continued, she noted to two public relations minders on the call that she was going "off book" to share a personal story:

When I was a little girl, I was in second grade and my math teacher wrote four numbers on the board: the life expectancy of a white man, a white woman, a Black man and a Black woman. And she said she was trying to teach us statistics.
I was the only African American child in the class and everybody started whispering: "Why is Sarah going to die earlier?"
It was awful.
And the teacher says, "Oh, we don't mean you, you know, because you eat good food and your family has money and a house. We mean other Black people." No joke. I mean, they did have a bawling kid in here.
And I said, "Well, then I'm going to live to be a billion years old."
And they were like, "That's not really going to work."
But the thing is, I realize now at a company like Microsoft and at a brand that has global consumer reach like Xbox, it is not about making it possible for one person to live a billion more years. It is about making it possible for a billion people to live one more year.
And that's what I'm doing.

Go deeper

Sep 28, 2021 - Podcasts

Electric vehicles front and center

Ford Motor Company is making a big bet on electric vehicles in Kentucky and Tennessee through a new assembly plant and new battery factories. This comes as debate continues over President Biden's ambitious spending plan, which could transform the transportation sector when it comes to electric cars.

  • Plus, why it took decades to convict R. Kelly.
  • And, the debt ceiling, explained.

Guests: Axios' Joann Muller and Alayna Treene; Jim DeRogatis, journalist and author of Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly; Koa Beck, journalist and author of White Feminism.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Alex Sugiura, and Michael Hanf. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate panel will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with "crimes against humanity," alleging his COVID-19 pandemic response led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, per the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The latest: The lawmakers initially said Bolsonaro should be charged with mass homicide and genocide, but lawmakers updated the report to replace these recommendations with the new charge, its lead author, Sen. Renan Calheiros, told the NYT.