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EA’s Jade Raymond returns to Montreal to build on Star Wars video game empire

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Damon van der Linde

FINANCIAL POST

November 20, 2015

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DIVERSITY IN THE VIDEO GAMING INDUSTRY

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MONTREAL — Jade Raymond often tells people that making a great video game is a little like writing comedy.

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“You don’t always know — even if you’re Jerry Seinfeld — what jokes are going to be funny until you tell it to an audience,” the Montreal-born developer and producer said.

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“When you’re trying to create something new and different, you don’t always know if it’s going to be fun.”

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After returning to her hometown from Toronto to open up Electronic Art’s new subsidiary, Motive Studios, Raymond is gearing up for her first challenge, which could be described as astronomical: To create a fun, original game based on a franchise beloved by one of the biggest, diverse and finicky fan bases in the world — Star Wars.

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Raymond is building the studio from scratch, just as the franchise’s first movie sequel in 10 years, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, hits theatres next month in a widely anticipated release that has already smashed pre-sales records. To coincide with the debut, EA released a new game, Star Wars:

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Raymond is building the studio from scratch, just as the franchise’s first movie sequel in 10 years, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, hits theatres next month in a widely anticipated release that has already smashed pre-sales records. To coincide with the debut, EA released a new game, Star Wars: Battlefront, this week.

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Though details are few about the new Star Wars title Raymond will produce, expectations are huge. The release date is a closely held secret, but could coincide with one of the two new Star Wars films planned for the next few years.

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“Star Wars is a universe. It’s got so many things you can explore and branch off from”

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Raymond, 40, is just four months deep into setting up Motive Studios. She says most of that time has been spent hiring core staff.

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The new studio will join EA’s existing BioWare subsidiary at its office in downtown Montreal. It’s an open space, decorated with – what else – video game art, including Mass Effect’s space armour-clad Commander Shepard and other characters designed at the studio. The walls where the Motive staff will work are still a little bare, for now.

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In creating the team, Raymond says she has tried to hire talent that not only represents the gender and cultural diversity that exists among gamers, but also different levels of experience and education.

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“This is exactly what I love doing, which is the ability to build a new team. It’s really to find that talent from around the world with different experiences and to bring them together to collaborate,” Raymond said during an interview with the Financial Post after the MIGS15 conference, where she had earlier delivered the comedy comparison to a crowd of developers and enthusiasts.

 

 

          

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