Phil Spencer Calls On Game Companies And Creators To Not Divide Players

The 12th annual New York Game Award awarded Elden Ring its prestigious Game of the Year award for 2022, with hosts Reggie Fils-Aimé, Harold Goldberg, and Makeda Byfield handing out awards in multiple other categories that don't matter as much. And to close out the ceremony, the NY Game Awards honored Xbox chief Phil Spencer with the Andrew Yoon Memorial Legend Award, which is only given to individuals who make immense contributions to gaming.

Starting his speech, Phil honored previous award winners Hideo Kojima, Tom Shafer, John Romero, and Jerry Lawson, winners of the 2020 and 2021 awards, as they weren't able to physically accept their statues thanks to the pandemic. He then launched into a heartwarming tale of how he used to only get one or two games a year as a child, recounting how he decided which games to play based on the box art alone and how much joy they invariably brought him (confirming he was way better at picking games through box art than I was).

"Today, there are so many games, more than ever before, available to more players than ever before," said Spencer. "But also, it can feel like there is more despair in the world, a steady stream of bad news with the ongoing leap-frogging from crisis to crisis, it feels to me that that joy I experienced as a child has become much more elusive for us all to find–more of a guilty pleasure. It feels like today, seeking joy is an act of defiance.

"Yet today, as creators, as leaders, as world builders, our greatest responsibility is to inspire and invite joy. Each one of the hundreds of titles that players have at their fingertips today and tomorrow is a calling card for joy. Halo, God of War, Vampire Survivors, Peppa Pig – big games, small games, mobile games indie games – each one is designed to deliver an infusion of joy in the midst of our lives, to give us so much joy people want to talk about it, to share it."

Spencer said it was brave for creators to release games in an era "of criticism and cancelation," while players were equally brave simply making time to play in order to "rest and rejuvenate their lives."

He also called upon business leaders to "have the courage to protect and nurture this collective joy […] To seek and surround ourselves with a multitude of perspectives. To honor our differences across experiences and geographies, and to practice empathy when intentionally listening to others. We turn away from dividing players and creators, and instead towards each other, as we advance and amplify joy together."

Prior to his speech, Spencer received a montage of kind words from creatives and employees, including Reggie, Bethesda head Todd Howard, and Psychonauts creator Tim Shafer, who shared an amusing story of how Spencer immediately liked and responded to a Twitter post he wrote about Judas Priest.

"Phil Spencer is an unapologetic metalhead," Shafer said, "which is all you need to know about him."

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