The Sims started as a very architectural simulation, actually. It was about building houses. The Sims existed solely as a feedback mechanism to tell you how well you built your house.
The female leads at the time — Kana Ryan was one of them – suggested, “What if the Sims were more than that? What if it was about their stories? What if they had to get jobs, had families, had friends? How would that change the dynamic?” This completely changed the feel of the game, and turned it into what we know today. It’s the basis for what we’ve been building on all these years. The balance of the female leadership at the time brought in this totally different flavor that wasn’t part of the game originally.
You might say that Jill Murray has hit the big time in the game industry. She went from writing two YA novels about breakdancing teens, Break on Through and Rhythm and Blues, to writing for one of the biggest game franchises in the world in just a few short years. Last year, she co-wrote Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, the series first title to have a female protagonist, a handheld title that went on to be praised by critics and player alike more than the main numbered one, and even won a Writer’s Guild award. It even sold quite well, given that this time last year, Vita sales were in a slump. With these victories in hand, Murray was brought on to help write for this year’s Assassin’s Creed title, Black Flag, but most especially to write the first official DLC, “Freedom Cry“, set to release on December 17th in North America. With that done, she’s just settling into a new promotion with the company, as the narrative director for their newest studio, Ubisoft Quebec.
We chatted with Jill about all things Assassin’s Creed, women in games, and of course, her most recent promotion.
Paper Droids: You’ve written a couple of books, and for The Torontoist. How did you go from there to writing a game for a major studio?
Jill Murray: I actually started out in theatre school, and then in web development after that, and I sort of wound up writing novels in my spare time. I never really did journalism – I’m not sure where that assumption comes from, though I did do some blogging for the Torontoist, I wouldn’t say what I did for them was journalism. Basically what happened is at some point I started playing more video games, and I realized halfway through Mass Effect that someone was writing these. I’d never thought about that before, that video games could be a career for someone like me, so I started investigating and I was actually able to draw a connection between the books that I wrote, which are about breakdancing teenagers, and the game industry. I happened to luck out and meet the right people and they hired me.
Read the entire interview: http://www.paperdroids.com/2013/12/06/interview-jill-murray-narrative-director-ubisoft-quebec/
Standard first question: Why video games? What drew you to want to work in the industry — particularly in designing and producing capacities — in the first place?
Like most things in my life, it was a bit of a happy accident! Having a “career” wasn’t really a driver for me as a young person; I preferred to learn, explore and make things. So I spent most of my 20s in school and traveling around the world. It was only through my interest in Artificial Intelligence that I met people from the Games Industry — most notably Will Wright, who encouraged and inspired me to turn my interest in intelligent systems towards games.
What really drew me in, however, was the creative problem solving and collaboration required to make games. My titles have ranged from Designer to Executive Producer, but my day-to-day experience is always the same: working with creative people to bring something exciting and new to life. That’s what I live for.
P: share something about your background.
KW: I’ve been working at Microsoft for…forever (laughs). Almost 15 years. I came up through the art side. So before taking on the Executive Producer role at 343 Industries on Halo 4, I was the studio art director for Microsoft Game Studios. So I oversaw the art on many of our first-party, externally developed titles. I worked on a lot of racing games for a long time, and oversaw art direction for the racing studio. And then took on a broader studio role – on the publisher side — on Mass Effect, Crackdown, Gears of War, and also did a bit of work on Halo 3 as well.
Halo’s Executive Producer, Kiki Wolfkill Interview. Read the entire thing here and celebrate the release of Halo 4 today!
Great little Bonnie Ross intro. She is the general manager and studio head of 343 Studios, the Microsoft division that makes Halo. She is also one of the fabulous ladies speaking out against online harassment and sexism. (See previous articles!)
If you follow tabletop RPGs closely, you’ll already know who Amanda Valentine is. Her work as Development Editor and Project Manager on some of the most popular games over the past few years makes her one of the more important RPG professionals out there, and her impressive roster of collaborations includes Evil Hat, Margaret Weis Productions, Galileo Games, Bully Pulpit Games, and Crafty Games among the others.
Julia, the first female Starcraft 2 player to perform on the main stage (against Code S player Losira no less!) discusses her experiences with Starcraft, the Vancouver Starcraft 2 scene that supports her, how she joined Check6, and more.
GWH: So, for those that are unaware can you please introduce yourselves?
Gemma: Hey I’m Gemma (xGemGem) and I’ve been in the Halo scene since 2009. You may have seen me about at EGLs helping out rather than competing and just generally having a good time at events. EGL Blackpool will be only the second time I’ve competed at an event!
Tara: My names Tara (GiggleyFairy). I am 22 Years old and I am part of the girls team Athena :). You guys probably haven’t heard of me as I am quite new but I am sure you will see more of me and I will be at EGL7 Blackpool!
Jade: Hello I’m Jade, 19, from Blackpool, but most of you know me as ‘Jadezone’. My gamertag is terrible but my dear mother came up with it 6 years ago, so it will never change! Gaming has always been a huge part of my life ever since I was young, I couldn’t imagine what I’d be doing now if I didn’t have such a passion for it.
Rea: Hey I’m Rea (RaspyAxis) I am 28 and I’m from Hertfordshire (the quiet one). I have been to a couple of events to support my boyfriend Prisma7ic, so you may have seen me floating around.
An up-close and personal interview with Mrs. Violence
What pushed you to be a pro gamer and what is it like to be one?
I really just liked to compete. And when I found out about E-Sports, I couldn’t wait to hear more, and learn how to get involved. I picked up MLG a little later in the game – 2007 – but I’ve actually been around E-Sports since the age of 12. It’s an amazing experience, to say the least. I enjoy gaming to my fullest everyday and meeting all the personalities along the way.
rest of interview here [via]
At7addakers, please meet Frag Dolls’ Edelita Valdez. Lovely but dangerous, this virtual “femme fatale”,along with her teammatesis a known advocate of female gamers. She talks to our very own Ozimandus about the Frag Doll Cadette program, her most memorable gaming competition and her addiction to Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Today on Sup, Holmes? we have Christine Love, developer of Analogue: A Hate Story,Digital: A Love Story, the very EVO appropriate text-based fighting game Lake City Rumble II:The New Challengers, and many others. Christine designed a text-adventure which has become an underdog hit on Steam — quite an achievement in today’s graphics focused culture. I’d love to know how she pulled that off, and what her plans are for her next game. She’s also a big fighting game fan, so we’re sure to be talking about EVO, the FGC, and how the language of text adventures and fighters overlap.
Its quite a long video and her sound quality isn’t great, but there are some really interesting discussions. Also Christine Love is doing some pretty crazy things with computer games and she is doing it on her own terms, which is just beyond awesome!
I really do feel it’s time for our medium (computer games) to grow up. I think we don’t need to make the equivalent to a Michael Bay flick in order to sell five million copies. I think things can be exciting, have meaning and hit important topics, and I’m not the only one that thinks that. There are major franchises trying to have more meaning and be something more interesting.
Jade Raymond Interview [via]