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Bringing Game Development to the People: Kathryn Guess of Microsoft Game Stack

Kathryn Guess is a Product Manager for Microsoft, who built Game Stack and Azure PlayFab brands from the ground up. She joins the show this week to talk about how gaming isn’t the isolating experience one thinks it may be, and how gaming actually helps build communities and join people together — especially during the pandemic. She talks about the important and challenging issues in gaming regarding mental health and reporting domestic abuse, what the democratization of gaming means for both individuals and developers, and how gaming can contribute to a holistic lifestyle.


[2:41] In the past, game development has been accessible only to the wealthy. Game Stack is about making game development more available to the individual developer. Kathryn is bringing Game Development to the people and showing the world that gaming can be about connecting with your friends and family, and part of a holistic self-care routine.

[5:24] Kathryn discusses the “aha” moment when she got together with game developers and listened to their unique set of struggles.

[7:55] Game Stack Live can lead to preserving a culture and focusing on social justice in a way that is more about making a difference than just money. Kathryn speaks about how one game helped others connect through learning an indigenous language and cultural storytelling.

[10:25] We can transfer successful technology from gaming and carry it over into business development.

[18:21] Kathryn is a hard-core gamer herself. She gets up at 4:30 a.m. to play Overwatch every morning.

[22:07] Gaming is a great way to get people from all walks of life together and to find common ground. In this polarized climate, gaming welcomes people from all genders, classes, and races.

[24:23] Kathryn appreciates the good-natured teasing that you hear in the gaming world.

[31:13] How do we deal with domestic violence in gaming? Since you are so intimately in the lives and basically at home with the people you game with, can you report a concern? There isn’t a good answer yet, but Kathryn says there needs to be.

[34:55] There’s a whole movement for absurd games because developers are getting the tools they need.

[41:21] Kathryn discusses the astronomical increase in gaming during the pandemic, and created communities, and how Discord helps people stay in touch and find their own interest groups. For example, Veterans can connect with one another even during off gaming hours and feel less alone and more understood.


  • “Game Stack is about making game development more accessible to the individual developer.” — Kathryn
  • “Game Stack is all about bringing game development to the broader people.”
  • “Gaming isn’t just about shooting them up. It can be about connecting with friends and family and giving yourself some self-care.” — Kathryn
  • “I think people saw over the past year how gaming can help and contribute to a holistic lifestyle.” — Kathryn

Mentioned in This Episode:

Kathryn Guess

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