Xbox/Halo exec, CSU alumna discusses video gaming March 31

The Colorado State University alumna who leads the popular Halo video game franchise will return to campus March 31 to talk about “Video gaming: Empowering creativity with technology.”

Bonnie Ross is corporate vice president at Xbox and head of 343 Industries, the studio that oversees the Halo video games. Fortune magazine called her one of the 10 most powerful women in video games in 2014.

Bonnie_Ross“After my talks, I have a ton of women and girls come up to me and say, ‘I didn’t know you could do this,’” Ross says, referring to speeches she has given at events focused on women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Ross will speak as part of the Department of Journalism and Media Communication’s Geoffrey W. Holmes Distinguished Lecture Series from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, in the Behavioral Sciences Building, Room 131. Her lecture is free and open to the public.

The topics of melding art with technology and getting more women into tech-related fields are among her personal passions.

“We have an issue that starts in high school and college,” she says. “You can’t recruit them if they’re not there. How do we make technology and engineering the fields that both men and women want to pursue?”

Jan Nerger, dean of CSU’s College of Natural Sciences, where Ross studied computer science and physics, agrees.

HaloBloombergCover“It’s a huge priority in our college, recruiting and retaining more women in the STEM disciplines,” she says. “Someone like Bonnie is such a wonderful role model for how women can be successful in these fields.”

“It’s a common challenge, especially with women in STEM fields, not being able to see what you can do with that education,” Ross says. “If you become a doctor, you know you’re going to end up with a stethoscope around your neck. In engineering, you don’t always see how to apply it. It’s not an obvious endgame.”

At CSU, Ross eventually switched from engineering to a fledgling technical writing track in CSU’s journalism department.

“She tied together an innovative collection of courses, including computer programming, physics and math,” says Greg Luft, head of the Department of Journalism and Media Communication, who recalls having Ross in one of his classes. “She did that 10 years ahead of the Information Science and Technology academic minor, which was created to help students like Bonnie blend programs in journalism and media communication, computer science, computer information systems, business and psychology. She was well ahead of her time.”

During her two-day visit, Ross plans to take a campus tour, visit classes in the College of Liberal Arts and College of Natural Sciences, and meet with faculty, students and administrators in both colleges.