The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences is awarding Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer with its annually given lifetime achievement award.
Spencer is being recognized for a long career in the games industry across business, creative, and engineering teams. AIAS president Meggan Scavvio wrote that Spencer " has demonstrated both passion and leadership throughout his entire career at Microsoft. He’s responsible for countless impactful and pivotal initiatives that have reverberated throughout the entire gaming industry."
Chatting with Axios, some of Spencer's oldest colleagues recalled his positive attitude being a fixture at the company as far back as 1988. His early days at the company involved work on CD-ROM encyclopedias. Lisa Brummel, who was his manager in the years after, recalled that he was an exceptionally "good listener."
Spencer also spoke candidly about Microsoft's own battles with endemic sexism at the company--something that manifested first in 2016 with scantily-clad dancers at a Game Developers Conference party, then expanded further in 2019 when employees spoke up as a group about sexist comments and mistreatment.
He described that moment as "painful" and explained he worked afterward to make himself more available with team Q&As and gathering "honest" employee feedback.
Spencer's award will be presented by Bethesda Game Studios' Todd Howard, who himself earned a lifetime achievement award at the 2016 Game Developers Choice Awards. (Disclaimer: GDC and the Game Developers Choice Awards are sibling organizations of Game Developer).