Xbox’s Amanda Lui Is Bringing Girl Power to Gaming — Here's How She Landed on the Brand's Content Strategy Team

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Meet Amanda Lui—a Senior Business Planner on the Xbox Game Pass Content Strategy Team. When it comes to gaming, she came to work and play, because when she isn’t advocating for women to break into gaming, she’s testing the latest games in-office and playing her cult-favorites at home. Here, the University of Washington alumna breaks down how she went from Finance major, to Nordstrom corporate strategist, to landing her dream job at Xbox.

Amanda’s College & Major

AMANDA LUI: I’m super local and went to the University of Washington—go Dawgs! I majored in Business, with concentrations in Finance and International Business. I really didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up and thought this could help reasonably keep my options open.”

HER CAMPUS: Our readers are intern queens on their campuses. Where did you intern in college to set yourself up for success at Xbox?

AL: I had a random smattering of internships since I wanted to see what was out there. I interned at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, at the University of Washington’s International Relations department, at a marketing agency in Beijing, and worked at EXPRESS—the clothing store—for a summer. I very much had the approach of if it looks interesting, I’ll try it out. Each internship has provided experiences that I’ve used and valued later on in my career, so go on and be the queen of whatever internship your heart desires.

HC: After you graduated, what was your first job out of college? Was it a dream gig or just something to get you started?

AL: My first job out of college was because of a marketing class my junior year. ‘Marketing 445’ paired students with local, minority-owned businesses on a consulting project. I completely fell in love with getting to know people, solving problems, and helping businesses understand what’s happening and why it’s happening. I never knew that consulting was a profession, but I fell in love with it. So I decided to apply for jobs [in consulting] my senior year and landed a job with Deloitte Consulting as a Business Analyst right out of school. I’m grateful that I took that class.

HC: So you must’ve ultimately opted to leave your consulting job. How did you end up on the Xbox team?

AL: I did a couple of years at Deloitte Consulting and the experience and skills I was able to build were extremely valuable. However, the road warrior life is hard and I wanted to look for something where I didn’t have to travel as much. (Trust me, I was also shocked about wanting to travel less). An opportunity opened up at Nordstrom in their Corporate Strategy group and I decided to jump over there. The people were amazing, the projects were interesting, and yes, I now have more shoes than I probably should. Xbox then reached out about a job and I thought let me give this a shot, let me see what happens. Gaming seemed exciting and interesting, so I decided to come to Xbox and I have absolutely loved it ever since.

HC: So you started on the Xbox Live team, but you’re on the Xbox Game Pass side of things now. Can you tell me about that transition?

AL: I started on the Xbox Live Gold business, where I helped design global promotions for retail locations worldwide. In 2017, we launched Xbox Game Pass and saw great feedback from fans and growth in that side of the business, so I came over to the Xbox Game Pass content strategy team to help out.”

HC: Before Xbox Game Pass, having access to over 100 games through a video game subscription service was pretty much unheard of. What was it like to spearhead that launch at an iconic company like Microsoft?

AL: It’s exciting! Xbox Game Pass provides access to so many different types of games and we’ve found that people are trying games they normally wouldn’t have played. After joining Xbox Game Pass, we are seeing members play 30% more genres!

Related: She Came to Play

HC: So you mentioned you’re now on the Content Strategy Team for Xbox Game Pass? What’s the crux of your position?

AL: I’m a Senior Business Planner on the Xbox Game Pass Content Strategy team which means I’m part of the process for bringing new titles to the service. I work with game publishers to develop marketing programs to help people discover their game and to strengthen the community around it. I also run the Games with Gold and Free Play Days programs.

HC: You clearly live and breathe Xbox. What’s it like to work for a brand that you’ve been so loyal to for so long?

AL: It’s surreal to work on a brand that’s touched so many people. I often hear stories about how Xbox has helped friends stay in touch, resulted in someone meeting their significant other, or otherwise brought them joy. It’s very humbling to know how far-reaching this brand is and how many great memories are formed while gaming together." 

HC: Gaming is obviously a HUGE part of your life, both professionally and personally. So I have to ask—are you the biggest gamer on your team?

AL: I thought I was NOT the biggest gamer on the team, but I have actually been told by my team members that I probably am. I love trying different types of games and getting other people in the office to play these games with me. I regularly instigate afternoon Overcooked! sessions in the office, which has resulted in us laughing so hard we cried when someone screamed, 'What’s wrong with you? Why would you hand a me a tomato when I asked for a lettuce?!' I’m currently playing Monster Hunter: World, The Division 2 (shout out to my clan, Funfetti), and Farm Together.

HC: In 10 years, do you see yourself still working at Xbox? Or is there potential to make another huge switch—similarly to when you left Nordstrom?

AL: I really don’t see myself making a big switch! I love working in gaming, which has honestly been a bit surprising to me. Gaming is the perfect blend of art and science – there’s data and industry trends, but there’s no formula for what makes a game fun. And at its heart, gaming is meant to be fun. I totally see myself being in gaming in 10 years.

HC: Everyone is going to want to know how you broke into this industry. When and how did you start gaming?

AL: When I applied for Xbox and started working here, I didn’t consider myself to be a gamer. But after sharing my stories with others here at work, apparently gaming has always been a part of my life. The a-ha moment was when I casually told someone about how when I was growing up, my family had an internal network set up so my brothers, my dad, and I could play Age of Empires and Rise of Nations against each other. My dad also loved building computers so we each had our own custom-built PC. We’d play Age of Empires against each other on the weekends and my brothers usually found some way to cheat or quickly pull ahead to the Industrial Age, so I would run into their room, yell at them, then run back to my room and frantically try to turn around a comeback. I thought I was just beating my little brothers and my dad at a PC game, but it turns out I was participating in a family LAN party. I’ve been gaming my entire life, but never classified it as gaming.

✨ HC Tip: A LAN party is basically a multiplayer party, where gamers play together on the same network. 

HC: So you’ve been gaming since you were just a kid. Outside of your obvious professional connection, what role does gaming play in your life today? How regularly are you picking up a controller?

AL: I play for my job, because I jokingly say, ‘I’m researching!’ but I do think it’s important for me to understand the experience someone else is having when they play a game. I play games for work but I also play games a lot for personal enjoyment. My youngest brother just moved to California and instead of FaceTiming him to ask How’s life going? How’s work going? we jump into an Xbox Live party chat and play The Division 2 together and I’ll sneak those questions in. It’s nice to have this shared social activity. Even my dog wants to play Xbox with me.

HC: I love that you have this underlying family connection that seems to drive your work. Do you and your siblings have a set list of games that you always play or do you use Xbox Game Pass pretty frequently yourself to explore new games?

AL: We love to use Xbox Game Pass because all three of us can instantly play any game that’s in the library. For example, State of Decay 2 came out and one of my siblings was super passionate about it—he was like ‘I want to play this zombie survival game! It’s like The Walking Dead!’ To which I’m like eh, I don’t know, this isn’t really my genre. But it’s in Xbox Game Pass, so we all started playing the game together, and I apparently really enjoy zombie survival games and debating, No, we should build our base this way! We should go scavenge for resources at the convenience store instead of at the houses! It’s been fun for us to easily play the same game and share games that we’re interested in with others.

HC: A lot of women gamed when they were younger, but have since lost touch. What’s your advice for women who are either getting back to their childhood gaming roots or picking up a controller for the very first time? Where and how should they get started?

AL: If you’re returning, welcome back! If you’re new, welcome! I find there are a lot of people who are intimidated by gaming because of their self-perceived ability. Don’t worry about your ability. Focus on what you think is fun. Who cares how fast you move or how precise you are? Gaming is about having FUN and not your ability, because that builds as you become more familiar with games.

If you need a console and like the convenience of digital games, we just launched the Xbox One S All-Digital edition which is available at a great price. Also if you haven't tried Xbox Game Pass before, you can get 3 months for $1 with this console, which means you can explore over 100 great quality games right out of the box. So that’s definitely a great place to start!”

HC: So what about someone like me? When I was younger I used to love expeditionary games where you’re trying to find or collect an object. Do you have any Xbox Game Pass recommendations for me?

AL: Sea of Thieves! Live out your inner pirate dreams, sail the seas, and collect treasure. You can play by yourself or form a crew with some friends. Another great ‘collecting’ game is Snake Pass. You’re an adorable cartoon snake named Noodle and need to move like a snake to collect different orbs in the level. If you’re up for a challenge, one of my favorite games of all time is Monster Hunter: World where you explore a beautiful environment with a cat sidekick and hunt gigantic monsters to build awesome armor sets.

HC: A lot of women feel like video gaming is an activity for their boyfriends, not for themselves. Why do you think there’s a male-dominated stigma around gaming?

AL: Pew Research Center data shows that 48% of gamers are women, yet only 6% self-identify as ‘gamers’. Why aren’t more women willing to call themselves gamers? I don’t know the answer... is it because they’re not playing on PC or console? Is it because they’re not playing large, established multiplayer games? Is it because they don’t identify with ‘gamer culture’? Is it because of the types of toys we’re exposed to as children? There is a perception that gaming is male dominated, but the reality is that gaming is for everyone.

HC: Exactly, the truth isn’t that it is male-dominated, it’s that it’s perceived as male-dominated.

AL: Yep! You never know who your opponent might be out there on the digital battlefield.

HC: And how does it feel to be this prominent female figure in the gaming industry, knowing that so many women are watching and turning to you?

AL: I feel very fortunate that there are other strong, powerful women in Xbox that I can look up to that have already forged a path—Helen Chiang of Minecraft. Sarah Bond who is head of Global Gaming Partnerships and Development. Bonnie Ross of Halo. I’m so excited to see more and more women join the gaming industry and how many great female leaders we’ll have in the next 10 years.

HC: We’ve talked about your advice for women who want to pick up a controller and start gaming. What’s your advice for those who are interested in working within the gaming industry?

AL: Don’t give up on yourself before you’ve even given it a shot. I often hear concerns of ‘I’m not a gamer’. If you’re playing Candy Crush, you’re a gamer. If you play Call of Duty, you’re a gamer. Make sure you don’t disqualify yourself because you think you’re ‘not a gamer’ because chances are you probably are.

Gaming companies need people who are informed about what’s going on in gaming, which you can easily learn through research or by reading Blood, Sweat, and Pixels. We need people with a variety of perspectives, we need different types of gamers, and we need different experience with gaming, because that is who our audience is. What’s your story and what skills do you bring? What makes you unique and what perspective do you have to offer?

HC: Do you know anyone who’s really thriving at Xbox now, but didn’t have a passion for gaming coming into the company initially?

AL: Christine McEnery leads core business planning for the entire Xbox subscriptions business (aka she’s a badass). She’s new to games and was sticking to single-player puzzle games when she first started at Xbox. Christine really wanted to explore more, but felt uncomfortable venturing into faster-paced, multiplayer games and was nervous about keeping up with the group. I invited her to play Sea of Thieves and Fortnite: Save the World and explained how game developers provide signals on what to do next and how to spot those signals. Christine’s told me that having a friend walk her through a game at her pace helped boost her confidence and she’s now much more comfortable trying multiplayer games.

HC: What advice do you have for women who are interested in working specifically at Xbox?

AL: For those still in college, Microsoft has a great internship program that offers positions in Xbox. In general, just like any other job: don’t be afraid to reach out to other women in the gaming industry to learn more about their path and experiences. Make sure you tell your story about why you’re interested in gaming, the skills you bring, and what you’re looking for. I can’t wait to see the impact you have on the gaming industry.

Related: Her Campus Co-Founder Annie Wang Wants Women to Grab a Controller and Break the Stigma Around Gaming

For more gaming inspo, check out She Came to Play, and get your Xbox One S All Digital Edition here.