Phil Spencer Discusses Gaming’s Inspirational Value, Positive Workplace Culture

The head of Xbox gives a heartfelt DICE keynote about the magic of video games.

Phil Spencer’s date with destiny began when his father brought home a Sinclair ZX81. Together, they’d play and create games. On stage at the 21st Annual DICE Awards, Spencer appeared wistful as he recalled the fearsome monsters of Ultima Online, and credited the MMORPG for being the first to create a genuine feeling of immersion. He revealed his imagination was captured not by “people in history, but what people have built together and accomplished together” — virtual worlds included. Spencer has stuck with this vision in his role as Xbox Chief:

“I’m honoured to be here at DICE today to celebrate all the worlds we’re building with our teams and our organisations, and to focus on the hundreds of millions of players who experience them every single day. Most of all, it’s a privilege to share our thoughts on the world of gaming. The impact of gaming as an industry. And its value to humanity as an art form.

“I think we’re at an important juncture, where gaming can make a vital impact on all the worlds we move in as an industry. The world of creators, the world of gamers, and I believe the world at large…this industry excels at imagining and creating worlds.”

Spencer acknowledged games like World of Warcraft, The Legend of ZeldaInside and Halo, and how they each played a part in defining the industry. He also emphasised the significance of a healthy workplace culture and the necessity of making it an inclusive space for all:  

“In order for us to do our best work, we need our work environment to function well. If the core mechanics of our own teams and our own internal cultures are broken, everything stumbles…almost four years ago, Satya Nadella became just the third CEO of Microsoft’s history. We all knew something was different about Satya. When he assigned the leadership team to read non-violent communication, life-changing tools for healthy relationships. And then he started quoting poetry.

“But it was obvious that Microsoft needed a reboot. Morale had hit a low. We were all massively frustrated that we kept missing big trends. In some ways, it felt like real innovation wasn’t possible…so we hit refresh. On everything. Not just our communication, but our entire culture.”    

Check out the full keynote below.