PAX Aus 2016 – Story Time With Major Nelson

Probably the biggest attendee at PAX Aus this year was the Director of Programming for Microsoft himself, Larry Hryb, or better known by his Xbox Live gamertag, Major Nelson.

The Major wasn’t just there to walk the show floor, although we can confirm he absolutely did (see saw him with our own eyes!). Larry hosted a one-man panel titled ‘Story Time With Major Nelson’ where he shared with a packed theater some of his most memorable stories over the course of his career.

As someone that wasn’t super familiar with Major Nelson’s position at Xbox or his history in the world of tech, I looked forward to learning a little more about the man that had shaped such a large portion of the Xbox 360’s success. Through a few other members of the OK Games team that were fans of Nelson, I knew that he hosted a popular podcast, Major Nelson Radio — a nod to his early days where he worked at a radio station.

While he did indeed share some great stories about his journey from disk jockey to gaming icon, Larry’s talk quickly took on a more motivational focus. Throughout his talk, he shared some of the most popular questions he always gets asked, one of which was of course “How do I get your job?”.


Our own Adam Martin takes a selfie with Major Nelson on the PAX Aus show floor.

The advice he had to give was simple but undoubtedly had proven to be effective. He talked about the importance of simply saying ‘yes’ to new things and where they can lead you. As well as why you should always try to keep yourself out of your comfort zone. During his time working in radio, he talked about how he made it his job to learn as much about the business as he could. No matter the job or problem, he would always volunteer to try and solve it.

By exploring new opportunities at every turn, it was this approach that led to him to start streaming the radio station online. Thus gaining the attention of Microsoft who quickly offered him a position heading up MSN Music and eventually joining the Xbox Team. Even after finding success working his dream job, he gave examples of how simply saying ‘yes’ could lead to the craziest experiences. Such as an invite to judge a Rock Band competition in Iraq, which lead to an opportunity to hit golf balls at Saddam Hussein’s palace.

I left Major Nelson’s talk feeling quite inspired which I hadn’t expected at all. I think anybody regardless of what gaming platform they play on or what industry they work in could stand to benefit from watching it. Do yourself a favour and watch a recording of the talk here (skip to 27:00).