Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir is quite charming. She has that cool Icelandic accent, produces excellent games, has traveled Thailand extensively, and raises environmental awareness through The Future is Ours. Oh yeah, she’s also the senior producer of the FIFA franchise at Electronic Arts. Prior to working on FIFA, she was senior producer for Star Wars: Battlefront. She also served as producer for CCP on the EVE Online franchise and Ubisoft on Tom Clancy’s The Division.
At DICE Europe 2017, Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir will be talking about the importance of diversity and inclusion in both videogames themselves and the gaming industry. To generate interest in her DICE Europe 2017 session, I had a conversation with Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir on behalf of the (excellent) Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Here are some clips from the interview.
On the importance of diversity:
Diversity is important in games as it is with any other media. As human beings, we engage with content that resonates with us — content that makes us feel invited and included. For the past 15 to 20 years or so in the games business, we’ve mostly seen the representation of a particular masculine protagonist in games. We’ve seen less diversity in terms of people of color and less gender diversity, although some franchises, such as the SIMS have stood out as inclusive in terms of gender, sexual orientation and race. This has started to change over the past few years. There’s work to be done still, but it’s moving in the right direction.
Looking at the movie industry, as an example, movies that have a broad representation of cast appeal to a broad audience. I don’t believe that’s any sort of rocket science. I believe very strongly that games have the same correlation. In games, we have a chicken-and-egg problem. We’ve narrowly defined the core gamer as an 18- to 25-year old male and have a wealth of content that appeals to that particular audience. Historically, other groups have felt less invited and less included by that content.
On how videogame companies can achieve diversity:
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Here’s a chat I had with Hendrik Lesser, CEO and founder of remote control productions (RCP). For those of you not familiar with RCP, it’s an international videogame production house that holds offices in Germany, Finland, and Romania. Prior to starting RCP, Hendrik Lesser was known for his time at Rockstar Games. At DICE Europe 2017, he’ll be talking about the various public subsidies available to game creators. It was a fascinating talk that covered a brief history of European videogame culture, the challenges of creating games in a diverse continent, and the various types of support governments offer game makers. Here are some excerpts from my conversation with Hendrik Lesser.
On what prompted European governments to view games differently:
I think it started as far back as Grand Theft Auto 3. I would argue that it was primarily two countries that spearheaded this — France and the UK. France because they also had a different relation to modern art, especially in the space of comic books. They were more open to games because it reminded them of comics. In the UK, games like GTA3 pushed the boundaries of what was regarded as culture. Then there were the Nordic countries, which understood the business opportunities for young people in the future.
On the advantages and challenges of making games in a diverse continent:
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Hermen Hulst is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Guerrilla Games. The company is best known for the Killzone series of first-person shooters for Sony PlayStation consoles. Those games have enjoyed a solid following and critical acclaim. In 2017, Guerrilla hit a new level with Horizon Zero Dawn. An open-world action-RPG with a lush setting, the game was a radical departure from the grim-and-gritty shooters Guerrilla was known for. Many consider it one of 2017’s best games.
At DICE Europe 2017, Hermen Hulst will be talking about Guerrilla’s evolution and the challenges he faced preparing the company for Horizon Zero Dawn. Here’s an excerpt from my chat with Heremen Hulst.
In the keynote I’ll be talking about how long this process has been. During the Killzone 3 days, we already started wondering about doing something new. “Is the time there now? Can our creatives do their best work within the same franchise? Is there enough room for wild design ideas?” We actually made the decisions to start investigating new roots towards the end of Killzone 3. That’s when we started the internal pitching processes of new ideas. So we’ve been working on this thing for six-and-a-half, seven years. That’s a very long time.
There were such a wide range of changes. For one, we had always focused on games in a particular genre — the first-person shooter genre. With that comes a certain set of expertise, which you would expect from a studio that operates within that genre. So when you move into a different genre, you’re looking for new areas of expertise. We moved from first-person shooter to open-world action-RPG, so we had to build out our narrative capability. The requirements in that new genre are much higher in narration then they are in the fps world.
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Here’s a chat I had with the absolutely delightful Mary DeMarle, narrative director of Eidos Montreal. She’ll be speaking at DICE Europe 2017 about maintaining motivation and innovation during long game development cycles. We talked about the challenges of reviving the Deus Ex franchise — bringing one of the most lauded IPs in PC gaming to a new audience more than a decade after the original release. Aside from talking to Mary DeMarle about Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, I had an excellent time enjoying her company. She was charming and fun. Yeah, yeah, I know you want to hear more about the game stuff, so here’s an excerpt from my interview with Mary DeMarle.
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WWE faction The New Day rocked WrestleMania 33 with an assist from the legendary Final Fantasy videogame series. Serving as the hosts for WWE’s biggest event of the year, the team came out dressed as characters from Final Fantasy’s job system. Xavier Woods was dressed as a monk, Big E was decked out like a samurai, and Kofi Kingston made for a dashing red mage. The team even had a pushcart (filled with New Day ice cream, naturally) adorned with chocobos and moogles. Check out the clip below to see New Day’s spectacular WrestleMania 33 entrance.
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March is going to a be a glorious month for nerds and people with nerdish tendencies. There are so many wonderful things to look forward to — potentially fantastic movies, a new videogame console, and an all-new, all-different television series from Marvel. While I’m still adjusting to life in America after a month in Asia, these things will certainly make the transition easier. Let’s take a look at all the brilliant nerd stuff coming in March 2017.
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A few weeks ago, I had an extremely animated chat with Streamline Studios CEO and cofounder Alex Fernandez. Obviously, we spoke about his company, which develops original games and assists on some major franchises (Street Fighter, BioShock, Saints Row, and more). The conversation became loaded when Alex Fernandez wanted to discuss politics. He released a video statement (embedded below) speaking out against United States President Donald Trump’s immigration policy. As Alex Fernandez is a Latino-American that operates a business with offices in America, Europe, and Asia (in Malaysia, a primarily Muslim country), he had strong opinions on the matter. Here’s some of what he had to say.
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Here’s a DICE 2017 chat I had with Jason Rubin, head of content for Oculus VR. Some of you will remember Jason Rubin as the cofounder of Naughty Dog, while those of you that follow the videogame industry closely will recall some controversial statements he made at previous DICE Summit events. In the chat below, he discusses what he said at DICE 10 years ago, how his views have developed over the years, and the tremendous potential of VR gaming. Here’s a clip from my conversation with Jason Rubin.
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Pop star Ariana Grande has teamed up with Square Enix for a special appearance in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. In addition to appearing in the game during a mid-January event, the diminutive superstar with a larger-than-life voice has cut a remix of her song “Touch It” for the game. For those of you unfamiliar with Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, it’s a free-to-play RPG for Android and iOS devices. It uses a simple interface and old-school turn-based mechanics, similar to Brave Frontier.
Fans of Ariana Grande are surely familiar with her predilection for wearing bunny ears. On her Instagram account, she showed off some pixel art from her appearance in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius in all her bunny-eared glory. Check out the short video she posted below.
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Here’s a chat I had with Bonnie Ross, corporate vice president at Microsoft and head of 343 Industries. The piece was for the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences to promote Bonnie Ross’ upcoming talk at DICE 2017. She’ll be heading up a session called “Stewards of a Sci-Fi Universe.” The talk will cover how game creators and their communities can work together to preserve cherished sci-fi properties.
As Bonnie Ross is a huge fan of Star Trek, I was curious to hear her thoughts on how to work with longtime fans of a franchise that have…strong feelings about new takes on the property. While I love the new Star Trek movies, I know many longtime fans that loathe them. Here’s what she had to say.
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