Xbox and Gameheads are Amplifying Black Voices in Gaming

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Summary

  • Xbox partners with Gameheads to showcase Black-created games in recognition of Black History Month.
  • Explore a wide variety of games curated by Black communities at Microsoft.
  • This Black History Month, we’re sharing the importance of increased representation in gaming at Microsoft.

Gaming is an incredible medium. It has the power to bring people from all walks of life together through the shared experience of play and common connection. I often enjoy mobile gaming as both a quick mini break in the day and a break in between commitments, and PC gaming for more immersive strategy and entertainment experiences. However, more than a medium for creating a fun escape or a way of connecting with friends, video games also have the potential to be an incredible platform to preserve our shared history and honor the stories of people of color in an engaging way that can disarm defenses and build empathy and understanding.

As a corporate officer, a leader in the gaming space, and a woman of color, I am keenly aware that I stand on the shoulders of many trailblazers that came before me. Understanding this rich history as I navigate my day-to-day journey inspires me to pay forward the same mentorship and sponsorship to others that will someday blaze similar trails for those following them. In doing so, I hope this increases representation, further building upon an organization that represents the broad demographics of the gamers we serve.  

Microsoft, Xbox, and gamers all benefit from increased representation on every level.

Gamers from underrepresented communities will not only feel like their voices are heard, but have a greater opportunity to see themselves and their history in the characters they explore. As a more diverse population of employees and leaders assume a broader set of positions at all levels of the organization, employees from underrepresented groups will feel a greater sense of belonging and inclusion, such that they can bring their best and more authentic self to the workplace. Similarly, designing games that reflect the diversity of our world and incorporate authentic narratives based on our shared history can promote an understanding of different lived experiences and build unity through gaming. Overall, games are a powerful form of art and storytelling which can both preserve our rich history, especially those of people of color – and allow us to carry that into the future, as we look with hopeful expectation to a more inclusive world.


Give


Gameheads x Xbox Black History Games Showcase

Gameheads helps to prepare student developers for a meaningful career in the games industry – this year we’re taking our partnership with them further than ever before. With our theme of “Louder,” we’re aiming to not only amplify these students’ stories, but to preserve them as well. The games we’re showcasing here are created by students and center around Black history, Black experiences, and Black talent. Xbox also provided a donation to Gameheads to support their commitment to diversifying the pipeline in the gaming industry and empowering the next generation of game developers. This partnership and campaign are a testament to a brighter and more inclusive future for the games industry.

Learn more about these students, including how to play their games here.

Gaming and Impact with Microsoft Rewards

Microsoft Rewards members in the United States can earn and donate points to organizations supporting Black communities with Xbox. The organizations below will be featured on console throughout June:

  • Gameheads – A tech training program that uses video game design, development and DevOps to create diverse talent and bold new voices, train youth of color for the tech eco-system and prepare them for college, career and civic life. [US]
  • Cxmmunity – A nonprofit organization committed to increasing BIPOC representation within the gaming and esports industry through STEAM education and career development. [US]

Xbox gamers can earn Rewards points in various ways, such as playing games and completing Game Pass Quests, and purchasing games and other eligible items at the Microsoft Store (exclusions apply). Earn points and redeem them for real rewards. Join us today and donate through Xbox. 


Play


Explore Games Curated by Black Communities at Microsoft

A compilation image with game box art and the Xbox sphere stylized with bright patterned bursts for Black History Month.  The games are Redfall, ValiDate: Struggling Singles in Your Area, The Lamplighters’ League, Treachery in Beatdown City: Ultra Remix, and Halo: Infinite.

Celebrate Black history through the power of play. During February and beyond, you can play a variety of game collections highlighting Black creators, lead characters, and character creation options that include a variety of skin tones and inclusive hairstyles.

Available on the Microsoft Stores on Xbox and Windows, check out the Store’s community games collection that exists year-round as part of our ongoing work to create more inclusive gaming ecosystems and elevate content that resonates with communities. For Xbox Game Pass members, check out the Xbox Game Pass community collection on Xbox and the PC Game Pass community collection on Windows.

A few highlights from these epic collections include:

Redfall (Available with Xbox Game Pass on Console, PC, and Cloud) – Voiced by Queen Noveen, Layla is a Black woman with telekinetic powers and one of the playable heroes in Arkane Austin’s most recent release, Redfall. Not only is she a powerful fighter, but Layla’s story has a fun twist – she can summon her vampire ex-boyfriend to help in battle.

ValiDate: Struggling Singles in Your Area (Available on Console) – Veritable Joy Studios is dedicated to making games that place people of color and LGBTQIA+ characters front and center. With a story written by people of underrepresented backgrounds, their debut game, ValiDate: Struggling Singles in Your Area, features 13 playable millennials, including Black, trans, and non-binary characters.

The Lamplighters’ League (Available with Xbox Game Pass on Console, PC, and Cloud) – Recruit a team of misfits and chase the Banished Court to the ends of the earth in a character-driven story of adventure and intrigue. Playable character options include Lateef, a master of misdirection from Cairo, Egypt; Alexandrite, a Black woman who specializes as a glamour mage; and Judith, a Black engineer that acts as a powerful defensive tank.

Treachery in Beatdown City: Ultra Remix (Available on Console) – Designed by Shawn Alexander Allen and programmed by Manuel Nico Marcano, this beat ’em up offers social commentary on racism through dialogue, action, humor, and brutal realism.

Halo Infinite (Available with Xbox Game Pass on Console, PC, and Cloud) – Led by studio head Pierre Hintze – the first Black studio head in Halo franchise history – 343 Industries continues to celebrate diversity in the Halo Universe and beyond. Hintze was also featured in Project Amplify, a video series showcasing Black voices across Xbox with the goal of educating and inspiring youth interested in careers in the gaming industry.

New Forza Horizon 5 Black History Month Decals

Screenshot from Forza Horizon 5 showing the Xbox Black History Month design as a virtual sticker to put on an in-game car.

This year’s Black History Month-themed Xbox art, designed by Dominique Ramsey, is now in Forza Horizon 5 as a vinyl: an in-game decal that you can use to customize any car. Show off this unique design on your car using #ForzaBHM on Instagram, X, YouTube, and Twitch for a chance to be featured!

Halo Infinite Celebrates Black History Month with Spartan Customizations

Image of a Spartan in Halo Infinite in Black History Month custom armor coating and visor.

Halo infinite is celebrating Black History Month with a brand-new suite of Spartan customizations! Players logging in during the month of February will gain access to a special armor coating, visor, emblem and nameplate.


Discover


Artist Dominique Ramsey Redesigns the Xbox Logo for Black History Month

Portrait of artist Dominique Ramsey wearing a mint green tee shirt, large cross-shaped earrings, and a green pendant necklace.

Xbox commissioned artist Dominque Ramsey to redesign the Xbox logo in recognition of amplifying Black stories. Her art is heavily inspired by Ethiopian and Nigerian textiles and folk art. She also looked to the Ghanian fabric, the “Kente cloth,” which is known for its bright, striking colors, with each carrying special meaning. Similarly, Dominique thoughtfully chose the palette for this design to spread a message of hope and unity. In her words, “This piece, with its varied colors and textures, highlights that Black people may look different from each other in many ways, but acceptance for our fellow community members sets a wonderful example for everyone around us.”

Xbox Ambassadors Community Spotlight

White Xbox controller icon with white laurels surrounding it layers over a blurred rainbow background.

This Black History Month, we reached out to the Black community of Xbox Ambassadors to ask them about the importance of feeling seen and heard within the gaming industry, and tips for staying safe when gaming. Hear what they had to say below, and at the Xbox Ambassadors blog.

selenadeonx poses in a hoodie and Xbox wireless headset, looking at the camera.

 “I have a checklist that I go over before each stream. I ensure materials with personally identifiable information are stored somewhere safe and away from my camera. My line of thinking is ‘If I can see it, you can see it.’ If [I have] apps [turned on that] create on-screen notifications, I turn those to ‘Do Not Disturb’… Being a woman online, especially a Black woman tends to have its stressors… I’ve learned that people tend to just do things to get a reaction from you. The best method is honestly not to engage with people like that. Block and report!” – selenadeon5x

“Gaming has helped me connect to other Black gamers in meaningful ways. Having a community of people that have similar experiences and upbringings who can support and encourage each other.” – BLACKB0MBER

BLACKB0MBER looks at the camera, wearing a black jacket and t-shirt.

Xbox Community Designs Now Available as Dynamic Backgrounds 

You asked, we made it happen! All our community artwork is now available as dynamic backgrounds on console. Dominique Ramsey’s Black History Month 2024 Xbox Sphere is available today – follow these steps to apply it:

  • Press the Xbox button on your controller to open the guide.
  • Select Profile & system > Settings > General > Personalisation > My background > Dynamic backgrounds.

You can choose between Games, Xbox, or Abstract dynamic backgrounds. Choose the background art that you want with the A button.


Join Team Xbox as we elevate Black voices and games in celebration of Black History Month!

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