Open worldliness in our games has become an underlying theme in the early years of this millennium. Especially when we look at the libraries of our PS3s and Xbox 360s, it’s sometimes difficult to find AAA titles that are linear, narrative heavy experiences. Narrative has stopped being a thing fed to us, and something we have to go and get ourselves.
When we look back at last gen in the coming years, we will have many franchises to thank for the increasing push for exploration both in a physical sense and a storytelling sense. Of them, only one looks, feels, and sounds like Assassin’s Creed. This sort of unmistakable character is a difficult note to hit in a world where our industry is growing into one of the most competitive on the planet, but no one will ever look at a picture of a man clad in white and armed to the teeth without thinking of the franchise. But we can’t appreciate AC’s branding and presence without also appreciating one of the series’ biggest captains, Jade Raymond.
Chances are you already know Jade Raymond. After getting her Bachelors in computer science in ‘98, and spending time at Sony as a programmer, she would produce her first game, The Sims Online, for EA. After a brief stint as an on screen personality with the Electric Playground, Jade would find her home at Ubisoft, and proceed to be one of the mega publisher’s brightest assets, one of the real driving forces behind the company’s great footing in today’s marketplace.
She draws a lot of attention for this and many other reasons, and it’s been a fit of growing pains for the gaming community to truly respect her brilliant work in the way it should be respected. But good looking women can’t be in a leadership role in the development process of a decidedly masculine series of games without becoming a target of testosterone death rays, as sad as that reality is. She rarely brings it up herself, but a google search of her name won’t leave you wanting for a glimpse of this twisted perspective.
Jade has real chops, and the tropical depression of controversy that surrounds her is completely based on a heavily male-leaning market not being able to react like adults when someone they don’t accept is doing things they don’t expect them to do. She could wear a bag over her head and have her voice auto-tuned and people will still make her out to be some sort of corporate mouthpiece that got where she was because she knew someone. How do you win over a crowd like that?
You make the some of the best selling games in the past decade, thats how. And you show up to talk about how proud you are of the product every chance you can. You become the Cliffy B or Peter Molyneux of your franchise, because you deserve to. You accept that you’re a rare breed in the industry; that, looks aside, you’re still one of very few women in such a high position as far as game design is concerned, let alone the design of a AAA action game. You do so with silent grace and purpose, and work as hard (or harder) than your contemporaries.
You know, you be Jade Raymond.