In Defense of Jade Raymond, Producer for Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed
If you’ve seen almost any interview or live demo for the upcoming game Assassin’s Creed, you’ve most likely seen the smiling face of the game’s producer, Jade Raymond. Yesterday in fact, G4TV’s Attack of the Show had the lovely Ms. Raymond in their studio talking about the game, which threw me off a little bit. I watch the show regularly, and whenever they get a developer in the studio, normally they just discuss the technical aspects of the game in what sounds like a pre-scripted breakdown of it. When Raymond was on however, she seemed more enthusiastic than the co-host interviewing her, Kevin Pereira. It was a little different and relieving in a way to see her joking around about different parts of the game and just generally having a good time.
But that also got me thinking about some of the mild controversy that surrounds her status as the main spokeswoman for the game. These days, every time her name is mentioned, it seems to draw two reactions from the gaming crowd: either “BLARG! she’s stupid! lols” or “ZOMG!!! she is teh h0tness!!!” To translate it into proper English, some people seem to think she’s getting all this attention because of her good looks and should be sharing the spotlight equally with her fellow developers; or they think the other side should shut up because it’s rare that anyone working in the game business gets this much attention, and besides she’s cute. I don’t blame the people questioning her position as the main spokeswoman for the game really; they’ve got a valid point. A game of this high caliber includes dozens of developers and creative designers, so why aren’t they given their fair share of the spotlight? But should Ubisoft really be pushing her out into center stage just based on her looks?
Personally, I don’t think it’s as simple as that, but even if it was, so what? This isn’t a new business practice, and it’s not exclusive to the entertainment industry. Wander into any fast food place and you’re likely to see a bubbly, blond teenage girl working the front counter, while a guy sits tucked away in the back behind the grill. The way I see it, if you’ve got someone working for your company who is already enthusiastic, well-spoken, and easy on the eyes, it’d be irresponsible not to put them front and center. Seriously, that’s just good PR.
Besides which, all major game releases seem to have one person given almost total share of the spotlight. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else give an interview on Gears of War except for Cliffy B. And why not? He always seems truly excited about the game whenever he talks about it. With Assassin’s Creed, your options here are having a warm, friendly woman tell you about the game or a random programmer telling you the exact same information. People also seem to forget, she’s the producer, and that’s a big job. Part of the reason she shows up at most public events for Assassin’s Creed is because it’s part of her job. At this past summer’s PAX, half of the industry people there were either PR reps or producers. Producers help tie all the elements together, so they tend to know all aspects of a game equally. And let’s not forget she graduated with a degree in computer science and started out as a programmer for Sony several years ago. Add to this the fact that she has experience in television as the host of G4′s The Electric Playground, and you’ve got a person who already sounds like a perfect spokesperson just on paper.
Maybe it’s just me not understanding what the big deal is. Personally, I’ve probably seen creative director, Patrice Desilets, discuss the game just as much as Raymond. I think it’s just the people who go a little overboard in praising her good looks that make people upset over her popularity. Frankly, it’s become more than a little creepy in certain instances (and this is coming from a guy who actively looks for excuses to post pictures of attractive women). At any rate, I’m just glad to see someone in the gaming industry getting this much attention, regardless of the reasons.
(Thanks to G4TV for the video!)