It's surprising that certain people in the games industry don't like talking about themselves. I never thought that Jade Raymond would be one of those people, but during her panel "Creating Blockbuster IP for Generation C” she let us know how shy she actually is in talking about herself.
"I'm a little bit nervous ... they told me that what you guys would like to hear about is actually Jade Raymond," Raymond said. " I'm used to talking about my games. I don't usually get up onstage and talk about myself. I'm going to try and do that in a way that doesn't bore you."
Of course, the audience ate it up because she's charming as hell. She had her heart set on getting into the game industry when she was 14 years old, and she started out by playing every game she could get her hands on. That led to her getting a job at Sony, and then moving on to Ubisoft where she now runs their Toronto development studio.
First of all, she wanted to let us all know what it's like being a woman in games, because she gets asked that question all the time. According to Jade, "It rocks." Eventually people may be able to move past the, "Whoa! There's a woman in games!" issue, but for now she likes it, because it makes her akin to a unicorn. You know, because they're rare.
She went on to explain what it's like developing blockbuster IPs, and how her team approaches that task. Here are some points she made. Fledgling game developers, take note:
- "Social and mobile is colliding. We have an opportunity to be like the Borg. There's this all-powerful cloud that is connected to infinite computing power. Real-time sensors are blanketing the earth. Games are a mass-market industry now."
- "We're not selling games to nerds in their basements anymore. We're selling games to people that don't even identify themselves as gamers. They are playing games to stay socially relevant."
- "Why do people play games? To learn. They practice and play to learn. We’ve known this and we’ve been building this into our games forever."
- "Games are multiplayer again. I love Settlers of Catan. Most importantly because it incorporates the social mechanic. You don’t know how humans are going ot react and what moves they’re going to do. Humans are much more fun to play with than AI, and I’m excited that we’re getting back to incorporating social into games."
- She pointed out how Star Trek was brought back from the brink by fans. Fan writers and power of fans are strong, and these days properties like Star Wars are owned by the fans. Will Wright spent a lot of time looking at what players were doing, and looking at fan stories.
- On starting a new studio and a new IP: "Why did we start a new studio amidst the chaos of a burning tanker? Because it's a great time to start a studio. There are so many changes and opportunities and it is a great time to start with a clean slate. A new IP is an evolution not a revolution.
- On Assassin's Creed: "We spent a year of preproduction not just thinking about how to make a great game and try to make innovative gameplay, but I also realized how rare it is to have an opportunity to create a new franchise from scratch."
- "Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small franchises." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
- She talked about handing over creative ownership to the fans not just other teams. "The future isn’t just about all of these new platforms, it’s about going to a service. Having 60 story arcs, not just 8 and I think to do that successfully you have to rely on fans."
- "Gen y and gen x creatives want you to keep your game relevant but you kind of feel that they need to understand better what the kids want. By working with fans you will keep your games relevant. It's like hiring hipster dudes without having to."
- "If they feel like they own it, they will want to share it with their friends. Fans and communities are our most important marketing platforms these days."
- On Assassin's Creed, we were focused on handing over the franchise to professionals. Now, with our new IP, we have a franchise that is ready to be handed over to the fans.
- "Games are just so much a water cooler topic, they are becoming the water cooler itself. WoW is the new golf, Call of Duty is the new bowling, our new IP could become the neighborhood bar ... the place where the conversation takes place."
- On an evolution in thinking: "Instead of a game being the next entertainment event, I would lke our next IP to be the next widely enjoyed pastime."