Host, Xbox's Major Nelson
VP, Technical Director at The Coalition
Principal Hardware Designer, Xbox
NARRATOR: Games in this podcast range from everyone to mature.
LARRY HYRB: Hi, it's Larry Hryb, Xbox's Major Nelson. Welcome to the official podcast. It's June 1, Pride Month. Rebecca, Jeff, good to see you guys. How are you all doing today?
REBECCA GORDIUS: Doing good. I love Pride Month. Just-- honestly, all of these different cultural moments-- it's a great time to celebrate and listen and learn. So yeah, I'm excited for what we have coming up. Jeff, how are you doing?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: I'm doing great. I'm just glad to see Larry-- we're right after Memorial Day, and Larry's wearing white immediately. You're on it.
LARRY HYRB: Well-- [LAUGHS] I have to tell you, Jeff, I did have some family business I had to come back East for. Actually, that's why I'm in a different location right now. I'm doing this. I'm up in Massachusetts, visiting family and taking care of some business.
So it's 85 out here, and it's great. I know, Rebecca, it's warm down there. I know you like the weather, Jeff, so we're good on that.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: That's good. That's good you--
REBECCA GORDIUS: Would you like the weather report? Yeah.
LARRY HYRB: But no, so it's great. I'm on the road right now and enjoying the enjoying the heat out here and the humidity. But no, it's good.
We want to get this show in because, as you said as we started at the top of the show, it's Pride Month, June 1 Xbox and Microsoft do a lot of things around Pride. We're going to talk about that.
You guys each have an interview coming up very shortly. Rebecca, you talked to Kate Rayner up at The Coalition. And that was a great conversation, wasn't it?
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah. I was honestly-- and I told her this-- looking forward to chatting with her all week. So Kate is Vice President and Technical Director over at The Coalition. So she already has a really cool job.
But then she's also helping create safe spaces and fostering the LGBTQA+ community within The Coalition and Xbox. And she's just honestly a really inspiring person, so I was really honored to chat with her.
LARRY HYRB: We'll do that in a minute. Then right after that, we have Jeff talking with Elliot Hsu, who's the designer of the Pride controller. Jeff, this is the first time we've ever-- we've done some controllers in the past, but this is the first time we're making it available, right?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, this is a story about us hearing the feedback from last year and before that, and then actually bringing you what you asked for, which is the ability to both acquire this controller and also customize it to your own personal taste. And also, just before we go too far, it's 55 and sunny. I know you were dying for me to feed in here. That's what summer in Seattle looks like-- 55 and sunny. It's actually great, so I'll take it.
LARRY HYRB: But the most important thing is that we're playing games. We're going to talk a little bit about what games we're playing since we last chatted with you. What a show last week. People really liked the Reggie interview and all the other interviews, so it was a great show. But we're back for Pride. Jeff, I have to ask you, what are you playing?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Well, you know what I love-- is when there's an intersection between Hollywood and games. It's always been a natural thing. But I think we see it more than ever.
On Friday, I was in LA. We did a really cool Stranger Things thing. And there's Stranger Things content that is in Far Cry 6, which you may have missed during a busy time. And it's pretty cool. And then this weekend, I ended up seeing Top Gun Maverick. There's Top Gun Maverick content--
LARRY HYRB: Oh, you went to the movies?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: I went to the movies masked up. I'm very-- I don't want to get sick. Fortunately-- well, that's too soon to tell. I went yesterday.
LARRY HYRB: Things were looking good.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: But then I came home and I downloaded-- well, Microsoft Flight Simulator has a free Top Gun Maverick update. It has the same music as in the movie, which is really cool. So in the movie, obviously, you'd expect F-18 Hornets--
LARRY HYRB: No spoilers. No spoilers, Jeff.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: There's planes in Top Gun. I've ruined it. I've ruined it. So in the movie, there is a certain mission that Tom Cruise and his entire team has to fly. And you actually get to replicate a lot of that training, which is really cool.
But then at the very beginning of the movie-- because it's 35 years since the last Top Gun movie-- he's become a test pilot, basically. And he's testing out this really futuristic plane. And you actually get to fly that plane also. It's called the Dark Star, I want to say. And it's a hypersonic jet, where if you do it right, you can fly from California to Florida in 35 minutes-- so really strong tailwinds.
And it's actually a very challenging thing to be able to do it. I was able to get up to about Mach 3 and then the plane broke apart.
LARRY HYRB: You can listen to York from the team last week. You talked about it and now Jeff said it. And I know a lot of people have had a chance to play it by now, but it's definitely a nice-- it's a great add-on available.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, having seen the movie, and then coming back and immediately getting to try that stuff is just, in a manner of speaking-- is really fun. And so again, I highly recommend you check it out.
LARRY HYRB: Rebecca, have you gone to the movies lately? Are you going to go see Top Gun? I don't know if you're a Top Gun person. Tell us.
REBECCA GORDIUS: I actually haven't even seen the original movie. So I will probably watch that one first and then go to the movies. It seems like a good one to do with my dad for Father's Day in a few weeks, when I'm home.
LARRY HYRB: Well done.
REBECCA GORDIUS: But yeah, so I actually haven't watched any movies. But I did watch-- the new Ob-Wan Kenobi series came out--
LARRY HYRB: How was it? I did two.
REBECCA GORDIUS: --episodes. Oh yeah? So spoiler-free review of the first two episodes-- I love Ewan McGregor in this role. And it was cool that they had a preview-- or sorry, not a preview, a recap-- for people who are totally new to the series. So if you haven't watched the prequels or all the Star Wars movies, I think it'd still be enjoyable.
I do feel like Disney has a certain flavor that they've been putting on all of their new material, with just-- a little bit of cheesy humor. I don't know, I'm wondering how a 10-year-old girl can magically outrun so many adult men. I don't know--
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: I saw that too.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Leah is exceptionally fast. But anyway, overall, it was good. I'm just happy to have something new and Star Wars related in my life. And again, love Ewan McGregor in the role. He's so fantastic. Yeah, what did you guys think? Did you watch it?
LARRY HYRB: Well, I think Jeff said he did not watch it. I watched both episodes, and I enjoyed it as well. I didn't know if I was going to make it through the first one, but they hooked me, and it was great to see that storyline going. There's some moments in there which-- I'm like, oh, it feels a little like filler.
But overall, as children of Star Wars-- and I think it was-- check me on this, Jeff, because I know you always will-- wasn't it the 45th anniversary of the original Star Wars this past week?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, yeah. May 20-something 1977 is--
REBECCA GORDIUS: Oh, that's why.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: --when it first came out. Yeah.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, that was the connection--
REBECCA GORDIUS: --or something going on last week?
LARRY HYRB: Yep. In California at Anaheim, there was the Star Wars convention.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Oh, that's right. Yeah. Stein was there, and a few other folks.
LARRY HYRB: Was he?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, Stein was there and some creators that we work with because they went from that, and they came up to the Stranger Things thing we were doing in LA Live, which was really cool. By the way, this season-- season four-- I've watched the first four episodes. I think six are currently available, and the last two will be in July. So much more intense than--
LARRY HYRB: What year does it take place in? I haven't watched it yet.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Takes place in 1986 now. So it's been slowly moving up. I think the first--
LARRY HYRB: Which is when Top Gun came out, right?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: --or '83. It is. And in fact, there is a scene where someone has a Tom Cruise poster on their wall. I think they have a Top Gun poster on their wall-- definitely points to it. But yeah, there's always this vibe-- and what it seems like, and what they seem to be drawing from pop culture.
And there's definitely a lot of Nightmare on Elm Street things-- that it just feels like this year. Way more gory, way more intense. Hope you like spiders. I'm totally digging it. But the lights were on in the house that whole night after we finished watching the first few episodes because everyone was like, I'm not ready to go to bed now.
REBECCA GORDIUS: That sounds good, like a scarier version, yeah. Over the weekend-- mostly, Memorial Day weekend-- there's always so much going on with friends. But I did squeeze in a little bit of game time. So I started Lost in Random, which-- I have to say, I'm a big Tim Burton movie fan, and this felt very, very much just like a Tim Burton movie, but an animated game.
LARRY HYRB: I agree with you. I started playing it a couple of weeks ago. And it's got the same stylings and some of the puzzles. This is the one with the dice, right?
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah, with the dice. And even the-- I don't know. There are just all these little details. So you're controlling this girl named Even, who's looking for her sister Odd. And even as I'm just walking through the house-- and you can interact-- you can read or view the posters on the wall.
Even just the descriptions of like, oh, this was our Great Aunt Cordelia, who could play every single music instrument, and Uncle Jinx, and everything feels very macabre and eerie and Tim Burtony. And so I'm really enjoying this so far. But yeah, I haven't gotten too far in the gameplay. I've only I've only gotten about an hour in so far.
LARRY HYRB: That's about as far as I'm in, yeah.
REBECCA GORDIUS: But so far I really like it. Yeah, I really like it. So I'll report back soon.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, I talked about that a couple of weeks ago. I was streaming it because it's available on xCloud. That was one of the ones I was doing. And it's definitely-- to your point, Rebecca, it just feels so Tim Burton-- the sets, the characters, the writing. The whole thing is really nice.
Check it out. It's on Game Pass. I would recommend that. So anyway, well, that's what we're playing. We should probably stop here and roll into the interviews. So why don't we go ahead and do that?
And then I wasn't doing any interviews this week. You guys did all the hard work. Rebecca, as we said earlier, you talked to Kate Rayner, the VP and technical director of The Coalition, which is the studio behind Gears. We're going to hear about her and what she's doing to sponsor Pride Month here at Microsoft and inside Xbox.
And then Elliot Hsu is going to come on with you, Jeff, and you guys are going to show off the brand-new Pride controller, which is available for purchase-- the first time ever. So let's take a look.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Please welcome to the show Kate Rayner, the VP and technical director at the Coalition. Thank you so much for joining us today.
KATE RAYNER: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.
REBECCA GORDIUS: I have to say, I absolutely love what you're wearing also. The bright pink blazer is such a statement and it's fantastic. [LAUGHS]
KATE RAYNER: Well, I figured since it's Pride and the theme for the podcast today, I would really show my colors today.
REBECCA GORDIUS: I love it. It makes me want to go shopping. Anyway, sorry, so let's dive into it. Can you tell me a little bit about your role at the Coalition and just your background in gaming?
KATE RAYNER: Sure. So I am the Vice President, Technical Director at the Coalition, which is one of our Xbox Game Studios. I'm also an exec co-sponsor of our Women in Gaming Group at The Coalition, and the Rainbow Coalition, our LGBTQA+ employee resource group. And I'm also on the board of Women in Gaming, International.
I've been with Microsoft for 10 years, and I've been making video games since the late '90S. So don't do the math on that. I've been doing it for a long time.
And here I oversee the engineering of the Gears of War franchise, and I work with an amazing, talented, and diverse team. Gears-- the most recent version, Gears 5, we featured a female protagonist. We had Pride banners and LGBTQ themed personalization items that we added to it. Recently, I worked on The Matrix Awakens.
I'm a huge fan of the Wachowski sisters, and so being able to be involved in that next gen video game demo was really a highlight. So yeah, that's me at Microsoft. I really just partner with Xbox and industry to evolve game development for all game developers.
REBECCA GORDIUS: That's lovely. Can you tell me a little bit more about your role with the Women in Gaming and the Rainbow Coalition? I've talked to a few folks, like Asians on Xbox, and the Women in Gaming Xbox org. But I just love the work that folks are doing at different companies to make folks feel included. So if you don't mind?
KATE RAYNER: Yeah, sure. So with these groups, it's really about uplifting and raising the voices, and ensuring there's an open, welcoming community for women and LGBTQI+ individuals within the studio. This group is also a sounding board for our studio, in terms of how our culture, the diversity, our hiring practices-- and also in the games we make-- giving feedback to ensure that what we're doing is representative, authentic, and inclusive.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Oh, I love that. Honestly, everyone can talk about diversity and representation as much as they want. But what it comes down to is having those voices and those kinds of resources within the company and listening to them, right?
Even for-- last month was Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. And so there were all these surveys that went out to the Asians at Xbox group around which games we should be highlighting and things like that. So yeah, I just love to meet other people who are making folks feel welcome in their places at work.
KATE RAYNER: Thank you.
REBECCA GORDIUS: But yeah, so like I said, last month was Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and this month is Pride Month. And it's honestly such an honor to be talking to you. If you don't mind, I'd love to hear about your experiences. Last year you came out as transgender publicly.
And first I just wanted to say, I actually remember reading your note on Twitter and being happy for you from a distance. I think it's such a beautiful moment, when people can be really proud of who they are. And it takes so much courage.
And then tell me if I am interpreting this correctly, but I saw a lot of our teammates share some support and messages of just really being happy for you in this moment. So do you mind just letting us know, how was that experience for you?
KATE RAYNER: Sure. It's quite a journey, so I won't go into all the details of it. But I am a transgender woman. I've known this since a very young age.
But I grew up in the '80s and '90s, and there was no positive representation that I saw of gay people, let alone transgender women. And there was a lot of fear and phobia. And I internalized that fear and kept myself hidden for decades.
But where I did express myself was in online spaces and in video games, starting with text-based RPG adventures, Rogue like games like NetHacks, games like World of Warcraft and Second Life and The Sims. These are games where I can choose my gender and I can explore my identity in a safe space.
So I was really fascinated by virtual worlds, and that was really my entry into video game development. Around 10 years ago, I came to a point where I couldn't continue the path that I was on. I was covering who I was and I could no longer pretend to be something I was not.
I'd seen more acceptance and changes in the parts of the world where I live, but also in Xbox that signaled that coming out while still doing what I love was a possibility. So most importantly, I started doing the work to untangle years of repressing who I was.
So as you noted, I came out. I actually came out a few years ago to my closest circle of friends and then at Xbox in early 2021. And it really was life-saving, not having to cover who I was, and being able to continue to do what I love while bringing my full self to work.
The response was really unexpected. I really didn't know how that would go. But the support I felt from the gaming community was really fantastic. And it really let me see that perhaps there was an opportunity for me to have impact, and to be that visible person that I didn't see when I was growing up. And so I'm really, really honored to be able to be on the podcast today and talk about Pride.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah, I love that so much. Just honestly, you are truly inspiring. It's really wonderful that-- I think that Xbox is-- for all that we say we want to have this welcoming community, we want to encourage a good community, we really need to reflect that within ourselves also. And so that comes down to making our teammates feel supported and welcome. And I'm really proud to work on a team where people feel like they can bring their true selves to work.
But going back to the gaming community-- so I think I read a stat recently that most gamers feel like their identity in games is a better reflection of themselves than their real-world identity, which is true. This is a very superficial example, but when I was a kid, I would choose to have blue hair in games because that was what I wanted to be, but my conservative mother would never let me have that. How do you feel about identity and games?
KATE RAYNER: Yeah, actually, I'm thinking about dyeing my hair for Pride Month.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Love it.
KATE RAYNER: That's definitely resonating with me. So I think for me, that definitely reflects my experience-- being able to explore my identity in a safe way, but also be able to be in communities that are supporting and accepting within gaming. For Xbox, it's really a chance for us to be truly intersectional by celebrating the vast arrays of people and identities that make up the vibrant Xbox LGBTQIA+ global gaming community. And so we work on creating safe spaces, where all LGBTQI+ people can belong, and everyone is invited to play as their authentic self-- and to have a community that welcomes self-expression.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah. And can you tell me a little bit more about how Xbox is celebrating Pride Month, and how the community could get involved?
KATE RAYNER: Sure. There's a lot. There's a lot of things going on, and so it's really exciting. So there is, in addition to the Pride Xbox controller, which we're going to talk about in a little bit, we're celebrating Pride Month in a number of ways. And that all starts with giving back to the community.
Microsoft is continuing a longstanding support of LGBTQI+ organizations. Over the last year, Microsoft has donated over $8 million to organizations that support LGBTQI+ communities. In addition, we're contributing an additional $170,000 to different LGBTQI+ organizations-- OutRight Action International, African Rainbow Family, Fulcrum UA, National Center for Transgender Equality, Mermaids, The Lavender Project-- really, all to help in the fight for LGBTQI+ equity and equality.
Now players who want to contribute and be part of this can donate their Microsoft rewards points from Xbox, from playing games. You can earn them, and then you can donate these, in the US, to Mermaids, OutRight Action International, and the National Center for Transgender Equality. And you can also donate to Mermaids in the UK from the UK marketplace.
REBECCA GORDIUS: That's a lot.
KATE RAYNER: That's a lot there. I just want to take a second and just talk about how important this is to me and how impactful. The donations and the communities that are picked or chosen by the LGBTQI+ community within Microsoft-- and really, these are nonprofits that have real impact. I especially love that we have Fulcrum UA, which is helping LGBTQI+ people in the Ukraine. And National Center and Lavender Rights are specifically focused in addressing transgender rights.
So that's a huge part of the Pride campaign. But of course, there's also the games. So we're focusing on spotlighting a number of Xbox and Windows games that reflect the experiences and resonate with LGBTQI+ communities.
So this includes queer creators, games with LGBTQI+ lead characters, games with relationship options, inclusive character creation options. Examples are Unsighted, which is available on Xbox Game Pass, No Longer Home, Tiny Tina's Wonderland, Dead By Daylight, and Tell Me Why. Now, Tell Me Why is actually going to be free to download and play all through the month of June.
REBECCA GORDIUS: That's wonderful.
KATE RAYNER: Yeah, it's really an amazing game. And it features the first transgender playable character in gaming. And it shows a lived experience that's often underrepresented in media and entertainment, as we know.
The Xbox Publishing Group is accompanying that with donations of $25,000 to each-- Transgender Law Center and Trans Lifeline. These are two nonprofits that offer resources to support trans, non-binary, and genderqueer people.
REBECCA GORDIUS: That's a lot. But I think one thing I just want to go back to that you mentioned is the Microsoft rewards. So within the Xbox Wire post, we should have a link. But it's the easiest way for people to donate without actually taking money out of their pocket.
People are earning rewards just by playing games, by using Microsoft products. And so it's honestly the easiest way to just help contribute to groups that are really making an impact within the LGBTQIA+ community.
KATE RAYNER: Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. There's also a number of live streams that are going to be going on throughout the month. On June 23RD, there is going to be a Tell Me Why fundraising live stream through Trans Lifeline.
And then through the Xbox Twitch channel throughout the month, there's going to be live streaming of different LGBTQI+ creators, developers, and non-profits, a whole bunch of really cool streamers. So definitely check out the Xbox Twitch channel this month.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Honestly, the number of ways that Xbox is supporting Pride Month is fantastic. But I think it's not just a moment of celebration-- it's also about hearing voices, getting involved, and supporting organizations. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, what does Pride mean to you? How important is this month?
KATE RAYNER: Yeah, Pride means a lot of things. It means a few things to me. It's really about celebrating and uplifting the LGBTQI+ community. It's about being visible and celebrating our diversity. It's being myself unapologetically, and being unafraid to express who I am and who I love.
But Pride is also a protest. It started as a riot, going back to Stonewall in 1969. It then became an annual march, a peaceful protest in support for gay rights. And then that's gone around the world. And now we call it Pride Month.
There has been a lot of progress in the last 53 years, but there's still a lot to march for. LGBTQI+ people continue to be actively discriminated against, without equal rights in so many different parts of the world. Being in this community-- sometimes feels like things are going backwards, which means it's more important than ever to uplift the voices of LGBTQI+ people to combat discrimination. Yeah, so when I think of Pride, I really think about both of those things.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah, absolutely. It's like you said-- things have come a long way, but there is still so much more that can be done. I remember back when I was 18, me and my friends joined this local Seattle Pride Parade march. And back then, it was one of my best friends who-- he was like, I don't have the right to get married to who I love.
Things have improved. But of course, there's always room for improvement, especially around the world. So yeah.
KATE RAYNER: Absolutely. We could have a really long conversation about this, but I don't think this is, perhaps, the right place about it. But I think really, it's about uplifting and focusing this community-- my community-- during the month of Pride. I'm really, really excited for all the things that Xbox is doing.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I have one final question. And just to tie it back to games, how do you feel about current LGBTQIA+ representation in games? What do you think could be improved? Or what kind of changes would you like to see?
KATE RAYNER: Well, there definitely has been progress. I'd say that progress has been a bit more prevalent in indie games than the AAA space. What I'd love to see is more authentic representation of LGBTQI+ identities in games, that don't just center on their identity, where they're deep, developed characters, and that's just part of who they are.
I think when it comes to online communities, "create a character" options that are inclusive of gender, the full spectrum, where you can really put your identity in that game and do it in an authentic way is really important. So I'd like to see more of that in any game that has "create a character" type features. If I think of some of the games that have come out, there's great examples, like some of the ones that we talked about earlier.
But historically, sometimes the communities that game developers are seeking to represent are not included in the development enough. And so in Microsoft, we have our Games for Everyone feedback crew, which has members of all of our different communities that can feedback and work with the game teams to ensure that the representation from those communities are involved in those games. And for third-party game developers, they can work with the communities that are on their team-- having more diverse individuals making these games, and then bringing them into the development process, will make games that are more inclusive of the very diverse gaming community that plays our games.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yes, OK, wise, wise words for game developers, honestly. Thank you so much for joining us. It was really lovely to hear your perspective and your experience. All month long, Xbox has celebrations going on. You can follow our social channels. I'd also love to give you a chance to plug your social, if you don't mind.
KATE RAYNER: Oh, sure. So on Twitter, I am @kate_jrayner. And my gamer tag is mollymillion732. So Molly million's a call-out to Neuromancer. So anyways, it's an obscure reference. So yeah, thank you.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Yeah, a lot to be excited for this Pride Month. So thank you again for joining us, Kate.
KATE RAYNER: All right. OK, thank you for having me.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Last year, Xbox produced a limited batch of Pride controllers and shared it with LGBTQIA players and creators around the world. Now while the response was very positive, many of you asked to make this design universally available.
Well, we heard you. And we're excited to make this year's Pride controller not just available, but customizable through Xbox Design Lab. How did this happen? Well, we're going to be talking to Elliot Hsu, the principal device designer who helped design this year's Pride controller.
And he's here now to tell us more about it. Elliot, thanks for joining us. Can you tell us about-- what does a principal designer do?
ELLIOT HSU: Well, it's pretty interesting, very fun. I love my job here. But yeah, every day is different challenges. Obviously, coming through the pandemic, having to work on hardware products, where we need to be hands-on, was quite difficult.
And then coming here into the hybrid world-- it's a new way of working, and very, very interesting balancing safety, getting people into the studio to be able to talk about our devices, touch and feel them. But yeah, every day is a new challenge. It's really rewarding, really fun.
But we get to be creative. We get to push engineering as hard as we can. So that's always fun.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Well, as far as creativity is concerned, I think you all outdid yourself here with this year's Pride controller. Can you talk about your role in bringing this to life?
ELLIOT HSU: Yes. So I'm the designer on the actual hardware of Xbox Design Lab. So in this particular case, the controller platform was done-- we have all the colors in Xbox Design Lab. This year, particularly for Pride, we wanted to release a product that went out to market.
And so my role here was working with Aleksey Fedorov, who is the head of our Pride campaign here at Microsoft, and with the LGBTQIA+ community within Microsoft, on creating a controller, an expression here, that represented the community, talked about the equality and the diversity of not just Microsoft, but for everyone-- and gaming community, and everyone across the world. So it really was a pride and joy.
It's been something we've been wanting to do for a long time-- Aleksey and I and the Pride team have been working on Pride products since 2019, officially launching. But the pandemic hit. We were tight on resources and things.
And we still managed to do a lot of things. Like you had mentioned, Jeff, the Pride controller last year was a very, very limited-- not for sale. Obviously, the response was massive. And we heard you. We're listening, and we're here to give you the next generation of that.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Right. So when we heard everybody say, hey, this is something we would want to get, you could have, I think, probably just put that controller for sale. But you all went a step further, in terms of enabling customization. So could you talk about how everybody can make their Pride controller really theirs and unique to them?
ELLIOT HSU: Yeah. And that was twofold. One, as the LGBTQIA+ community evolves-- and we're continuing to learn and continuing to represent all the identities within the communities across the world, we've added more and more flags, more and more representation. So we couldn't just rip and replace last year's, put it in here, because there would be other communities that weren't represented.
So we really, this year, focused on getting all 34 communities represented on this controller. I have it here. This is the control. It's in your background, Jeff, but you can see it here, physically, in the flesh here.
And to your point, with regards to Design Lab, one of the things we've also heard is a lot of Pride products are limited run. They're just for June in the Western culture and only for that particular moment. But Pride is not a moment-- it's people's lives. Identity is something that's important. It's your life.
And so one of the mechanisms we have with Xbox Design Lab is one, we're able to offer this year-round. So this will be a permanent part of the collection for Xbox Design Lab, meaning no one has to go and rush to get this or feel like they were excluded from being able to get the Pride controller. You can get this at any time. It will be there.
The second piece is, with Design Lab-- what better way to talk about identities and talk about your particular personality except through customization? So you have this Pride top case and side caps. You have this body that has the 34 flags on there.
But then everything else around it-- the thumbsticks, the bumpers, the triggers, the back case-- you can customize that with all the colors in Xbox Design Lab, whether you want to represent your own personality, a particular flag that you have affinity to-- and just add that little extra touch to it that makes it yours. And that's one of the things when we were juggling all this-- is like, do we do this for retail, limited quantities, whatnot? Design Lab just seemed to be-- we wanted the perfect place to do it. It had the right story.
And then just allowing people to be able to have a piece of the design and be part of that process is also great. And of course, with all Design Lab, there is the ability to do engraving. So you can put that little message under there-- your gamer tag, whatever it is that you want to do, and really just become part of that design.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, I'm a big fan of adding the grips. So I know that's something that you can do on the handle part. But it's up to you-- add what you like.
ELLIOT HSU: Controller-specific is about allowing people to have a piece of Pride represented in a physical, tangible piece of hardware. I think it says a lot when a company's going to put forth the effort to release a product. And for us, not just a limited quantity, not just for this particular moment, but also leaving it out there so that it's a year-round thing, so everybody will get it. There will not be a supply shortage.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: OK, so we're here at the beginning of Pride, June 1-- Pride in the US. You've made a good point because different countries celebrate Pride at different parts of the year. But here in the US, generally, typical kickoff for Pride. When and how can interested people get a hold of this Pride controller?
ELLIOT HSU: Yeah, this will be available to the public on June 9, and will be available through Xbox Design Lab-- so xbox.com/xboxdesignlab. And you can find all that information as well on the Xbox Wire post.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: All right, last question. Any particular touches-- you're a designer, and so I think there's probably-- it's not just what jumps out at you, but the little things. Are there any little things about the Pride controller that you're particularly proud of-- you want to make sure people notice, once they get it into their hands?
ELLIOT HSU: Yeah, one thing was the complexities of this project. One, we wanted to be very careful, and this is why we worked with the LGBTQIA+ community within Microsoft, getting feedback and working with Aleksey in time with the Pride campaign. But every single flag of the 34 flags are represented on this top case. Some are a little bit further in the background, some are in the foreground, but you'll be able to find it-- every single one.
Funny back story with the design is-- there is no brand guideline for the Pride community. So Pride, you guys need a brand guideline. I think we've started that process here. But we had to get all these colors in. And I think we consolidated down to 21 different colors, but even that was quite a handful to be able to consolidate and get all correct here. But we're really proud of just really being able to represent everyone in this colorful and really intersectional way through the graphic.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Elliot Hsu, thanks again so much for sharing the journey of the Pride controller. Looking forward to seeing it really arrive at folks' hands later this month. And happy Pride.
ELLIOT HSU: Thank you. Yeah, happy Pride, everyone. I hope you guys get a chance to get your hands on one. And please post it, please share it. We'd love to see the customization, and personalization you guys all do. Thank you.
LARRY HYRB: Great job in the interviews, Jeff and Rebecca. Thank you very much. Pride Month-- we've got great Pride interviews. We were with some really, really fascinating people. And being able to talk about Pride and what it means to each individual, and being able to put it in to realize it within a product is also a lot of fun.
So thank you for that interview, Jeff. Thank you to Rebecca. I'm looking-- I've got my watch band on, so I'm feeling very pretty right now, if you noticed. But yeah, so that's what we have there. Jeff, we've got a little bit of news. Some of this is Pride news, so why don't we go ahead and do some of the--
LARRY HYRB: --and then we'll wrap up and let you on your way?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: A couple of quick hits, in addition to that Pride controller. Tell Me Why is going to be available, free to download for the entire month of June. And Tell Me Why will be donating to the Transgender Law Center and Trans Lifeline, that are two nonprofit organizations that offer resources and support to trans and non-binary and gender-queer people. As well as-- the Tell Me Why team-- Dontnod-- will be hosting livestreams as well.
Speaking of live streams, for the next couple of weeks, if you tune in to twitch.tv/xbox, we are inviting members of the LGBTQIA community to come and host and do takeovers, as we frequently do. So you get to meet some new people, some really great folks like i.M. Branded and Lainey Love and Nicotine. So yeah, make sure you come by over the next couple of weeks and welcome them to the Xbox community. They're already part of the Xbox community, but you may not have met them.
And then there is all sorts of in-game content in games like Halo Infinite. There's rainbow liveries within the Forza franchise. So if you tune into the games that continually update like that, there's a good chance you will see Pride content-- being able to fly the flag of your preference and/or represent over on your vehicle, in the case of Forza. And we have ever-popular Pride gear over on the Xbox Gear Shop, so make sure you check that out at gear.xbox.com. A couple of quick hits here--
LARRY HYRB: I haven't been over there in a while. I'm actually going over to take a look at it. They always do such a great job--
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: They refresh every season, yeah. So it's time for them-- they should really be the official gear outfitter of the Xbox Podcast, it feels like. I'm just--
LARRY HYRB: Well, I think they come on all together. Wow, look at this beautiful glass. Look at all this stuff over there. Yeah, we'll have James Monosmith on from the team to come on. He usually comes on and shows some stuff off. We'll have him on, maybe in the next month or so. So go ahead, Jeff.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Size large, James. Size large. All right, so real quickly, it's June. It's a new month-- gains with gold. So even Colony, which is a really cool. It was an RTS that I had, or a tower defense game that I ended up getting really into a year or two ago-- that is available now, as is the very famous Super Meat Boy.
And then in the second half of the month, look out for Project High Rise-- Architects Edition, and Raskulls-- that's S-K-U-L-L-S, not Little Rascals. Larry, don't get too excited.
LARRY HYRB: [HUMS RASCALS THEME]
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: See! I knew you had watched it. All right, and as we do every couple of weeks, the Xbox Game Pass team is always keeping ahead of us. And coming soon to Xbox Game Pass, a lot of really great games.
So we had announced this earlier-- partnership with Ubisoft Assassin's Creed Origins on Cloud Console and PC, and For Honor Marching Fire Edition on Cloud Console and PC. Those are coming here this month. So today, June 1, For Honor is available.
And on June 7, somebody awesome's birthday, Assassin's Creed Origins coming out. Also on June 7, a couple other games-- Chorus, which is an open-world starship RPG that I got very into earlier this year. Definitely worth taking a look at, and it's in Game Pass now-- or it will be on June 7.
And that one gets my "check it out" highest marks there because it just did a lot of things that I just don't see in that starship-- there we go, two thumbs up. If I had a third thumb-- yes, three thumbs up.
LARRY HYRB: Two thumbsticks up.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: There we go, yes. Oh, that's good. That's a good one, Larry. Yes, here's the third thumbstick for my elite controller that I took off. I just happened to have it right there-- three thumbsticks up.
Disc Room-- when I tweeted about these new updates, a couple of people told me to check out Disc Room. The year is 2089 and a giant disk has appeared in orbit of Jupiter. OK, that sounds interesting. I'll try that out. And then Spacelines from the Far Out--
LARRY HYRB: A disk like a Frisbee? A disk like a flying saucer?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Larry, no spoilers, Larry. You have to figure that out. And then also, just dialing back because this is a big one-- June 2, so probably right around the time you're hearing this, Ninja Gaiden, the Master Collection, that is all three game series from Ninja Gaiden, all previously released game modes, DLC, costumes, all in one set. The Ninja Gaiden series is amazing.
Did you know that was-- so when I got my original Xbox, I bought it with Ninja Gaiden-- the very first one of these. And it was just mind-blowing how awesome it was-- very hard game, that somehow I managed to beat-- at some point I clicked-- and I'm still proud--
LARRY HYRB: I'm trying to remember.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: What year would that have been?
LARRY HYRB: '04?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: 2003? Maybe--
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, because I remember it was right when I joined the Xbox team. And the program manager who was in the office next to me-- what was his name? Oh, I remember now.
And he was a real huge Ninja Gaiden fan. And every afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00, he'd have competitions in there. And I failed miserably. I was terrible at it.
But I would go in there, and he was just amazing. And some of the people on the team were just doing it. So I have a fond memory of that game just from my early days at Xbox. It's a great game.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: So that was March of 2004. I think that's when I got my own Xbox. I had played Halo before that on other people's Xbox. But I remember getting that and just being completely blown away with that game.
So this has all three of them. I think there's a time where you-- these games go to crazy places. So I highly recommend you check it out. They are the vanguard of a third-person action game-- not an RPG, but a straight-up action game, in the vein of Devil May Cry or Bayonetta and stuff like that. And I would say Ninja Gaiden is right there, so you should check that out.
And last but not least, last Friday or over the weekend was Star Wars celebration and timing really well with Obi-Wan Kenobi. And on the game side, the big announcement was Star Wars Jedi, Survivor, which is the follow-up to Star Wars Jedi, Fallen Order, which introduced us to Cal Kestis. It had a soulsy game play--
LARRY HYRB: BD-1.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: BD-1 was awesome. I feel like we've seen BD-1 show up in an episode of Mandalorian, didn't we? Or I guess technically, The Book of Boba Fett-- we saw BD-1 show up.
But anyway, Star Wars Jedi, Survivor is coming out in 2023. I'm sure we'll learn a lot more. But the fact that what is one of the best Star Wars games ever made-- Fallen Order-- will be having a follow-up-- that's something to be very excited about.
LARRY HYRB: Did you finish that one, Rebecca? Did you play that one?
REBECCA GORDIUS: I didn't. I played a little bit of it, but yeah, I didn't finish it.
LARRY HYRB: You should go back and play it. To Jeff's point, that was an amazing game and amazing script. So when I went back and tried to do all the extra missions and all of that-- you feel so good playing that game, and I had a lot of fun with it. So I'm really excited about this one.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Yeah, I'm very excited to see how they handle-- because by the end of that game, you're a bad-ass. You have got a lot of abilities. There's a lot of things you can do with your light saber. You've upgraded your light saber multiple times and have multiple ones. It could split. Anyway, you could do really cool stuff. So I'm curious to see, how do they bring that into the next one? Does he lose his light saber? Does he have all his powers? Where do you go from here?
But it's made by Respawn. We trust those folks. It's going to be great.
LARRY HYRB: Yeah, and it's and it's being built for Series Xbox X and S. So it's going to be a pretty crazy experience, so I'm looking forward to that. So yeah, a lot of Star Wars news.
And I'm sure-- like you said, with the convention, I saw a lot of stuff coming out of there. We had the series release and the game information come out. And it's just been fun seeing all the photos coming out of the event, so that was fun, too.
So anyway, Let me just check my notes here, Jeff. I think you guys covered everything. It's great. I know this is a little bit of a different release because we're releasing this on a Wednesday-- or we released on a Wednesday, depending upon when you're listening to this-- just to kick off Pride Month.
Just a reminder that we do not have a show next week. Jeff, we're dark. Just so you know, that's what you say.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Ah, is that what they call it in the biz?
LARRY HYRB: That's what we call it in the biz.
REBECCA GORDIUS: Jeff loves learning about show business terms.
LARRY HYRB: He does. But we want to remind you to join us June 12 for the Xbox and Bethesda games showcase. We've got a great lineup of surprises planned for you. I will be in Melbourne, Australia at the FanFest down there.
I know that we had to sign up a few weeks ago. So I think it's all filled. I'm looking forward to meeting everybody down there. We've got an event going on in Spain, Toronto. Jeff and Rebecca, you'll be in LA, correct?
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: I will be there.
REBECCA GORDIUS: I'll actually be in Seattle. But--
LARRY HYRB: OK, so you're going to be here and we're all going elsewhere. So that's just the way it is. But I know you guys are going to be very excited-- so just go to youtube.com/xbox, twitch.tv/xbox. We're going to be streaming it everywhere-- Twitter or Facebook.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Larry, I can't wait for you to go and to tell us what the weather's like in Australia. I can't wait. We'll be able to do it. And then Rebecca, you can tell me what the weather's like in Seattle, and I'll tell you what the weather's like in LA. It's going to be completely different than what we--
LARRY HYRB: We are going to be coming back after the showcase for a special podcast episode, which I'll be joining remotely. You guys will both be in-studio. We'll have some special guests. So looking forward to getting back into the groove, with a lot of new things to talk about.
So until then, happy Pride Month if you're in the US, or wherever you are, if it's your Pride Month. Otherwise, you can celebrate it whenever you celebrate it. And we'll see you guys in a few weeks. And don't forget-- Sunday, June 12, the Xbox and Bethesda game showcase. We'll see you then. Bye-bye, everybody.
JEFF RUBENSTEIN: Bye.