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PAX West Matt Booty Recap

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Summary

  • Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty was Storytime’s keynote speaker at PAX West last weekend, hosting Britney Brombacher from What’s Good Games.
  • During the panel, Matt talked about his time in the games industry, how others can get started, and shared ideas about where games are headed.
  • You can watch the full archived version of the conversation here.

Since joining Microsoft in 2010 to help lead the internal game development teams, Matt Booty has overseen some of Xbox’s biggest moments in gaming over the past decade, including playing a key role in the acquisition Minecraft in 2014. Matt was Storytime’s keynote speaker at PAX West 2022 this past weekend, where he shared details about his 30 years in the gaming industry, from pinball and arcade to Xbox. During the 50-minute session, Matt shared his wisdom on breaking into the industry, offered some thoughts on where gaming is headed, and weighed in on who would win in a battle between Master Chief and Mortal Kombat Scorpion.

The whole session is archived herebut for your convenience I am sharing a few clips to choose from below:

On the subject of culture change in the industry: “We want the people who make games to be the same as the people who play them”

About the increasing complexity of games and the expectations associated with them:You used to ship a game, a little disc would come out and it would go, that was it. Now, more content is expected… and it’s expected to grow. But someone has to build this stuff.”

Why are so many games delayed?: “Some of the processes we have in place are not keeping up with how fast we can create content. One of them is testing… Every time something new comes into a big game, the whole game needs to be tested from front to back, side to side.”

Editor’s note: After the keynote, I sat down with Matt, who clarified his comments about the use of AI in quality testing: “Digital tools have always been at the core of the evolution of video games. Our goal is to give our teams more time to be creative and get things done quickly. AI testing is not about replacing test and QA teams, but about allowing them to focus their skills on the complex nuances of design while automation takes care of testing at scale. Our testing and quality teams are a valuable part of the development process, and much of the AI ​​experimentation is done by the testing teams themselves, saving others from having to spend time on repetitive tasks like finding texture seams in large open-world games or finding loopholes within the collision.”

HThe new specialization of gaming roles has opened up more opportunities for people to join the industry: “There are so many ways to get into games that weren’t there back in Space Invader.”

The way we make games is evolving: “Our Perfect Dark team in Santa Monica, The Initiative, we’ve just entered into a big partnership with Crystal Dynamics, and I read online, ‘this must mean there’s a problem’—it’s the exact opposite. You have this veteran team at Crystal Dynamics, a big AAA team of over 100 people that is becoming available – of course we want to work with them.”

Passing the torch to the next generation of game creators: “Gaming has gotten to the point where we almost have an obligation to use the medium properly… we have the opportunity to tell life-changing stories.”

Thanks again Britney for such an insightful conversation with Matt last weekend at PAX West. You can watch the whole thing recorded stream here.

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