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3rd Party Studio Support Specialist

Hi, everyone! Wynn here again. Welcome back to another Xbox Insider Team interview. Today we’re sitting down to talk with Shawn—a 3rd Party Studio Support Specialist on our team.

How’re we doing today, Shawn?

Feeling good Wynn. Excited for the interview.

Excellent! Let’s dive right in. Give the audience a little backstory.

Let’s see. I mean. I’ve been playing games my entire life. My parents got me started with an Apple //e where I was playing the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy text adventure.

Wow. That’s pretty OG.

Yeah, I had the monitors that were only green interface and everything.

I missed that initial wave of early computer gaming. The closest thing I have now are some Apple II floppies for a game called Nox Archaist that was made as if it was an old Apple II game.

It was a great system to start off on. I’ve moved through pretty much all of the systems over the years, but I think my favorite is still the Sega Genesis.

Ahh, you were the Sega kid on your block.

Absolutely. I did what Ninten-kids-don’t.

Haha. I think that joke still lands 30 years later.

The Genesis was just so cool. The games, the SoundBlaster, just a lot of cool tech. I still have my 32X and CD attachments hooked up.

The true Voltron of home consoles.

Exactly! It was brilliant. But I had pretty much every system up until the original Xbox launched. I remember going into my local GameStop and seeing the advertisements for Halo. I pre-ordered it, the console, and a memory unit on the spot.

Oh, so you were like, all in all in.

100%. I loved the original Xbox, the Duke, everything, and I’ve never really looked back. Been fully immersed in the ecosystem ever since. It’s funny. That trip to GameStop sort of kicked off my main professional career down the line.

Pray tell.

Well, I hung around that GameStop a lot just talking games, and at some point, the manager kind of looked at me and goes, “You kind of like already work here. Do you wanna actually work here and get paid?”

I started the next week.

I had a pretty similar onboarding to my GameStop career. I kept coming in all summer and when they finally had a position the manager asked me, “Tell me 5 games coming out this year,” and I told him the next five games. Hired on the spot.

Yeah, I ended up staying with GameStop for about four years. Slowly grinding myself up the ladder until I got to Store Manager. But I was looking around trying to figure out what’s next and I really like the idea of like “taking the show on the road”. So, I hit up some of the Xbox field reps and figured out which companies had Microsoft contracts.

I knew a few of the field reps back at my store too. They always seemed like they enjoyed the job.

It was a super fun gig. When I first started, they didn’t have a Microsoft position available, so I ended up doing brief stints selling tablets in Best Buy and dog food inside of PetSmart. But when an Xbox gig eventually opened up, I got to do a big Super Bowl event literally at the Super Bowl.

So, the wait was worth it, then?

Definitely. The job itself was great too. I’d drive around to all the GameStop’s, Fry’s, and Best Buy’s in my area and just make sure Xbox was being represented properly. When the Microsoft Stores opened, I would stop by there as well just to chat with everyone. Which is actually how I got my first role at Microsoft. I was chatting with the Store Manager, and he mentioned a new position was coming out called “Gaming Expert”. It’s like, of course, I’m going to apply for that.

Oh, I remember when Gaming Experts became a thing in stores. Really cool for community events.

Yeah, some of the tournaments we ran were a lot of fun. League of Legends, Gears, Halo. Lots of great memories from my time there. I rode that position until the stores closed in 2020.

Ahh, so you moved over to DSS along with Evie and Vanessa?

Yup! I was mostly focused on the education side of things, and then was one of the 10 lucky former retail employees selected for the Xbox CSM position.

It seems like those original 10 CSMs were a super tight knit group.

We kinda got put in the crucible a little bit, so we were brought together as we all made the move from retail to corporate life. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite things about my time since I joined Xbox. Seeing how all of us have grown—and continue to grow—in our various roles. It’s been personally really inspiring, and I’m really grateful to have worked with all of them.

That’s so heartwarming, man. I love it.

My next question was going to be about your favorite moment in time since joining, but I guess that about covers it.

Well, if you want a more discrete example, I have another tear-jerker from my time in retail. We did those League tournaments every weekend for like 18 months, right? Well, at one of the first ones, we have this son and dad come in a join a team. They were playing well together and doing like post-match analysis. The next day after the tournament, the dad comes back in and starts thanking us profusely for the opportunity. Apparently, his relationship with his son hadn’t been the best the last few years and the son wanted to come to the tournament. It was the first time they had connected like that in a long time. After that, I think they showed up every week until we stopped hosting them in-store.

Dude. That’s incredible. I’m about to tear up over here.

Stuff like that really solidified to me that we were doing good work in the stores, and that I wanted to continue in that sort of field where I could have that impact.

I had a few of those like “Oh, this is why we do this,” moments at retail as well. Some of them I still use to guide me today.

Speaking of, and this might be a bit of a whiplash segue, do you have a game that’s had that sort of foundational impact in your life?

Haha. No, perfect transition!

When I was younger it was easily all about Sonic. Even to this day, Sonic & Knuckles is just one of my favorite games of all time.

You can tell you were primarily a Genesis kid. I think you’re the first one who has mentioned Sonic.

I played Mario too! But something about the speed of the game and just the vibe I guess appealed to me more.

I grew up totally on the SNES but one thing that’s undoubtedly better on Genesis is the music. Like, Lava Reef Zone of Sonic & Knuckles 3 is one of my favorite tracks from that era. It’s up there with Down the Tubes from Earthworm Jim for me as just a showcase of the Genesis’s style and power.

Are you a purely retro guy or do you have any recent favorites?

Oh, my current gen pick is the Borderlands series. It doesn’t matter how many remasters, remakes, bundles, or whatever they have, I’m getting it. I don’t know what it is about watching multi-colored guns explode out of enemies, but I just cannot get enough.

Well, pivoting back to music for a moment, do you have a particular album or track that you jam out to?

I kinda go through phases of music where I’ll listen to like a lot of classic rock, or like right now a lot of EDM/techno influenced stuff. So, my favorite I’ve had on repeat lately has been Woman Worldwide by this group called Justice.

Oh yeah. I really like † by Justice. Their song “Let There Be Light” is phenomenal.

I’ve been partial to Heavy Metal x DVNO currently. The drop is sick. So yeah, that’s my current pick. But I can always listen to my all-time favs like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Gorillaz as well.

Fersure. Any favorite movies or shows?

I’m into more of the sci-fi angle, so I’ll throw on X-Files in the background sometimes. But, for a show or movie that I can just always watch no matter what, that would be Futurama and The Fifth Element.

Excellent choices. The Fifth Element is such a blast. Like that movie should absolutely not exist or have the star power it does, but I’m glad it does.

Right? The practical effects they were doing in the 90s on that are so mind blowing.

Top 10 movie easily.

It’s a movie that’s held up well too.

Let’s move outside of the realm of entertainment. What’re your hobbies that don’t include electricity?

One word: Dodgeball.

Like, if you can dodge a wrench?

The very one. It’s just been a passion of mine for a long time. I also collect all kinds of weird like non-official pressed coinage. So, like those flattened pennies, car wash coins, casino coins. Stuff like that.

I have a small coin collection too. I have every US penny back to like 1944 or something like that. All just entirely found through getting change. Never went out and actually “hunted” or anything.

Wow! That’s pretty sick.

Thanks! Well cool man. We’re about ready to wrap up.

I meant to ask earlier. I know you work on a lot of hush-hush projects, but is there anything you’re working on currently you can share with the Community?

Yeah, nothing directly that’s not under NDA unfortunately. But I hope that everyone has been enjoying the Partner Previews we’ve been doing. Lots of really cool stuff to come there.

Dude, the trailer for The Alters was SO sick from earlier this month.

Any last thoughts for the Xbox Insiders?

Mainly, just that I hope everyone is stoked for what’s coming in the future. Like, I think about when I first started out gaming and how almost secretive it was. Now, video games are the highest grossing industry in the world, and it’s completely pervaded pop-culture. The next few years are going to be incredible. Get ready for the ride.

That’s what we like to hear. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, Shawn.


Xbox Insiders, be sure to be on the lookout for more content all throughout February including more interviews from the team, a trip down memory lane, and so much more. All of our 10th Anniversary content can be found on our Hub Page.

Until next time! Wy\nn/