In a recent conversation with Sarah Bond, the head of creator experience and ecosystem at Xbox, the significance of video games becomes evident beyond the mere functioning of cameras. Bond’s radiant Disney Princess smile accompanies her recognition of the individual she’s speaking to, leading to a deep dive into the profound impact of video games on the lives of nearly 3 billion people worldwide. In essence, they both explore the question: “Why do games matter so immensely to us?”
Unlike her conversation partner, Bond has conducted extensive research on the subject, a role that aligns with her position at Xbox. As she delves into the topic, she introduces a threefold perspective on empathy. “There’s three types of empathy,” she begins. “There’s cognitive empathy, where you can understand another person’s perspective. Then there’s emotional empathy, where you actually imagine that you are that person. The last one is compassionate empathy, which means that you decide to act differently than you normally would.”
While this might initially sound like a course in advanced psychology, Bond is, in fact, presenting a groundbreaking view of the gaming industry as a whole. She asserts, “Games take you all the way through this arc. And they are the only form of media where you can have that experience with another person.” In Bond’s perspective, gaming transcends traditional forms of entertainment and emerges as a radical art form with the unique capacity to unite people in a manner unparalleled by any other medium.
During her tenure at Xbox spanning over six years, Sarah Bond has been at the forefront of efforts to democratize the game development and playing experience. One of her notable contributions has been to the success of Game Pass, a subscription service launched in 2017 that has proven to be a lifeline for smaller game developers and their projects, offering them visibility that might otherwise be challenging to attain on traditional digital storefronts.
For Bond, the core principle is clear: “To me, the most important thing is that everybody has an equal opportunity to share their story or their perspective, and have that be experienced through a game.” She emphasizes the significance of inclusivity, where individuals from diverse backgrounds and regions can contribute their narratives and viewpoints through the medium of gaming. She highlights that game creators are primarily concentrated in East Asia, North America, and Western Europe, and underscores that expanding geographic inclusion leads to a richer tapestry of stories and experiences within the gaming world. Bond’s work at Xbox reflects a commitment to breaking down barriers and ensuring that gaming truly becomes a global platform for creative expression.
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