How indie game creators are leveling up creativity at Xbox

| Thomas Kohnstamm

Katie Stone Perez brims over with excitement when talking about Xbox games. All Xbox games. Today the senior program manager for Microsoft’s independent developer program, ID@Xbox, is particularly enthused about “The Hole Story,” a new game about a budding young archaeologist named Wendy who digs in her backyard and discovers a portal to a strange land.

The game, written and prototyped by a group of high school students, was selected from the Girls Make Games summer camp competition and will soon publish through ID@Xbox, which “enables qualified game developers of all sizes to unleash their creativity” though Xbox One and Windows 10.

“Just a few years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible for high school students to publish a game like this to Xbox,” marveled Perez.

Perez and ID@Xbox are working to create a truly democratic, equal opportunity platform where age, location and industry connections are no longer hurdles to publishing quality games.

“There are seats at the table for everyone,” she said. “And gaming will only achieve its full potential if it has a true diversity of game content and a diversity of game creators.” For Perez, gaming is the ideal platform to influence youth to fortify these inclusive social norms for the future.

Perez embodies a rare balance of corporate savvy and idealism. She radiates sunny optimism but is just as comfortable delivering cutting business insights or managing teams of engineers.

“We’re starting to see more and more games that speak to different populations, to tell their stories and show their heroes,” she said. “And with so many kids spending their time in this medium, this is where we need to start if we want to create a more inclusive world.”

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