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Lay off, uberfans: Julie Larson-Green is qualified to hold the reins on Xbox

Julie Larson_Green is qualified header

“Too bad she’s too old, would’ve been cuter 20 years ago.”

“Just another empty skirt that wants to be macho.”

“I can’t help wondering if she’s getting the job because Microsoft think we’ll be more likely to swallow all their bullshit if it’s being presented by a pair of tits.”

These, and dozens of other similarly vile comments can be found literring the Internet following the news that Julie Larson-Green will be the new head honcho in Microsoft’s Xbox division. This makes Larson-Green arguably the highest placed woman in the gaming industry. It has also made her the target of unfair criticism that makes the entire gaming community look like the immature misogynists. So status quo for gaming, unfortunately. 

The position Larson-Green now occupies was only recently created as part of Microsoft’s restructuring, but it essentially replaces the role Xbox head Don Mattrick held before leaving, and more. The Internet did not react well. Especially the men.

Sure, you could chalk it up it to a few vocal trolls. They are the digital equivalent of a shoe bomber on a plane: All it takes is one to ruin it for everyone. But the consistency of these types of comment highlights the continued misogyny within the industry, which regrettably comes as no surprise.

Julie Larson_Green is qualified bayonetta 2 wii u
Bayonetta 2 for the Wii U

A recent LAN party ironically combated misogyny by not allowing women to attend. Even squeaky-clean Nintendo is getting in on the act with sexed-up female protagonists (see right). Not that you’ll find many women in games to begin with. Despite the fact that women make up 45-percent of the gaming audience, of the 669 games released in 2012 that featured a primary protagonist of an assigned gender, only 24 were female. 

So when Microsoft replaced the king of Xbox with a queen, it’s no surprise that this generally dismissive attitude towards women in gaming came bubbling to the surface. But fuming commenters are overlooking Larson-Green’s impressive resume, and the larger issue of what Microsoft’s restructuring means for the Xbox One.

Larson-Green not only replaces Don Mattrick, she’ll have a lot more on her plate than he ever did. As head of the Devices and Studios Engineering Group, she’s in charge of all games, music, video, and other entertainment experiences. She took the position after being co-leader of Windows, and before that working on several iterations of Microsoft’s Office.

Go ahead and worry that she represents the old guard of Microsoft where new blood may be needed. But don’t attack her gender.

Her career at Microsoft began with programming, but she gravitated toward helping to redesign and improve user interfaces. The new “ribbon” interface in Office 2007 was her project, and she won awards within the company for implementing it. She also helped to plan out the launch of Windows 7, an OS that was generally considered a much-needed success after the failure of Windows Vista. Charismatic and quick witted, Larson-Green has gained a good deal of support as a possible successor to Steve Ballmer. Her specialty has been in creating better ways for users to interact with Microsoft’s products. With the Xbox One being designed as an all-in-one entertainment system, choosing someone to head it up that has a proven track record of making a better experience for users seems like a smart move on Microsoft’s part.

Granted, Larson-Green does not have a background in gaming. If there is a legitimate cause for criticism from gamers, it’s that. But she has been with Microsoft for nearly 20 years, rising through the ranks in what has consistently proven to be an industry dominated by men. Say what you will about the company itself, but it is still one of the biggest companies in the world, and her time there has been productive.

In other words, give her a chance, denizens of the Internet. No more of these:

“Does she have an Xbox One Spycam too? Wouldn’t mind watching her!”

Feel free to criticize her lack of gaming experience. Go ahead and worry that she represents the old guard of Microsoft where new blood may be needed. But don’t attack her gender. You’re better than that, Internet. OK, maybe not, but we should all try to be.

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