You Can Play the Game, But Can You Make the Game?: Observations and Tips from 25+ Years of Building Games

Distinguished Computer Science Alumni Lecture
Speaker Name
Shannon Loftis
VP, World’s Edge Studio, Xbox Games Studios, Microsoft
Date and Time
The talk will be virtual on Zoom.
The Zoom link will be emailed to the Duke CS department, or contact Jennifer Schmidt (jschmidt at to request it.

Game development is one of the most multifunctional industries in the world, and it’s growing more rapidly than any other form of consumer entertainment. From concept to sunset, any given game may require the skills of coders, artists, musicians, actors, writers, designers, producers, IT, operations, customer service, technical support, and, yes, marketers. Game team sizes range from 1 to thousands. Total gaming audience size will exceed 2 billion unique people this year, and global revenue is predicted to exceed $200b by 2023.

Why, though? What is it about screen-based games that attracts people, and how did we get here? Where might we go, and how can you join?

Loftis will discuss her 25+ year journey as a game developer, including a bit of gaming history, trend observations, hard-knock lessons and suggestions for ways to get into the industry and make it yours.

Short Biography

Shannon Loftis is the VP/studio head for World’s Edge, the Microsoft studio dedicated to all things Age of Empires. Shannon has been with Microsoft since 1993, making games for the vast majority of that time.  Loftis has been credited with contributions to more than 50 games, platforms and devices, ranging from Solitaire by Microsoft to Kinect Adventures to Tell Me Why and Flight Simulator: 2020 edition, as well as all current Age of Empires games. Loftis co-founded the industry-wide Women in Games organization in 1999. Currently, Loftis also serves on the boards of directors for the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) and the International Game Developers Association Foundation (IGDAF).


This talk by Duke alum Shannon Loftis is jointly hosted by the Duke Game Lab, Duke Computational Media, Arts & Cultures (CMAC), Duke Information Science + Studies (ISS), and the Duke Department of Computer Science.

Jun Yang