38 Studios: An Interview with Jennifer MacLean, VP of Business Development
by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
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by Jennifer MacLean, Vice President of Business Development for 38
Every other week, it seems like the public relations team at 38 Studios
that another top tier personality has been recruited to work on their
upcoming massively multiplayer game and online entertainment
experience. The most recent staffing addition to the 38 Studios
business team is Jennifer MacLean, who has taken the role of Vice
President of Business Development. Even with all of the new work on her
plate, Jennifer took a moment to answers a few questions about her
previous experience in the industry and what she will bring to the 38
Vice President of Business Development
Ten Ton Hammer: How did
the offer from 38 Studios originally come up? Did you go to them or did
they come to you?
first met the 38 Studios team as part of my work at Comcast, back in
the fall of 2006. As we continued our discussions, I became
more and more impressed with their product vision and team.
We had a few conversations and realized there might be a great way for
me to be more involved in the success of 38 Studios.
Ten Ton Hammer: Why did
you end up joining the 38 Studios crew? What potential did you see in
their upcoming products that made their offer attractive?
biggest reason I wanted to work for 38 was the team. I'm so
excited about working with the crew; they've put together such an
amazing collection of talent. When you combine the people
with the vision they have for the Online Entertainment Experience, as
well as the progress they've made in making that vision a reality, I
knew 38 Studios would be a great place to work. Bottom line,
every time I spoke with someone at 38 Studios, heard them speak, or
even read about them, I would wish I was working there!
Ten Ton Hammer: Next
Generation named you one of the 100 most influential women in the
gaming industry. How are you going to translate your previous
experience to your upcoming work at 38 Studios and their online
long background in games; I started as a playtester 15 years ago at
Microprose, I worked on games at AOL when online games really
caught on, and I've been working on multi-platform entertainment
experiences (including games and other types of entertainment content)
at Comcast. Thanks to that experience, I've been working at
the intersection of games, online content, and traditional
entertainment like movies and TV for some time now, and have learned a
fair amount about what makes these products successful. Since
I've worked on core and casual product lines as well, with a variety of
billing models and business and partner relationships, I'm looking
forward to helping 38 Studios deliver a great gaming
entertainment experience to as many people as possible-and
doing it in a way that makes the most sense for the business and our
customers so that we can create many more in the future.
(I have to be true to my Business Development role!)
Ten Ton Hammer: How
familiar are you with massively multiplayer games? Do you have a
favorite game that you play?
philosophy is, I'll play anything if it's good. Right now I'm
playing Mass Effect, as well as an occasional Poker night, and if I
have a short block of time, I'll pull up a casual games site.
My biggest challenge is finding enough time for all of the games I want
to play. I've played WoW, of course, but my favorite MMOG
experience was with the original Everquest.
I was a barbarian shaman, and I still remember my first woolly mammoth
kill, and how proud I was when I got to be high enough to cast Spirit
of Wolf and could SOW people. I love the hybrid character
classes; I like casting, but I'm also a wannabe-tank, which gets me
into trouble if I play a pure spellcaster. The hybrids may be
more difficult, but I enjoy being a jack of all trades in an MMOG --
and in real life.
The 38 Studios Logo
Ten Ton Hammer: Will your
upcoming position on the IGDA Board of Directors conflict with your
work at 38 Studios? Or will it be helpful in the long run?
the IGDA Board has already been helpful. Through my position on the
board, I've gotten to know some incredibly talented people who have
become friends in addition to colleagues. Moving from a big
company like Comcast to a young video game studio is a pretty big
switch, and it's great to know that I can call on my fellow board
members to help me make the adjustment to full-time game development as
part of an independent company and share some of their experiences as
game developers. Being in the IGDA also gives me a
way to help highlight some of the outstanding policies and processes 38
Studios uses; since the IGDA focuses on issues like Credit Standards
and Quality of Life, for example, I can bring best practices from our
studio to others and bring back knowledge to 38 Studios.
Ten Ton Hammer: Before
joining AOL and Comcast, you worked at Microprose and were credited
with several influential titles including Master of Orion and
Civilization. How much input did you have on these games, and how has
your work at Microprose influenced your career?
playtester at Microprose, so the input I had really depended on the
development teams. Some teams sought out lots of feedback,
and others saw testing as a barrier to release. The pinnacle
of my experience at Microprose was Civilization
II, with Brian Reynolds and Sid Meier, and that's the team
from which I learned the most. We played versions of Civ II
over a year before it was released, and the game quality really shows
the effort. In addition to being a great
game that I still play, however, the most important lesson
from working on Civ II that I learned was how to lead a diverse team so
that everyone made the product better and loved what they were
doing. Brian and Sid not only welcomed opinions from everyone
on the game team, no matter their title and position, they sought
them out. Knowing that I would be listened to by some of the
most talented people in the industry was pretty heady stuff for a
22-year-old. Brian and Sid taught me a lot of
lessons about game development, but the most important thing I learned
on Civ II was the importance of creating and leading a great team, with
excellence and involvement at every level, and I've used that in every
job I've had.
Ten Ton Hammer: What sort
of role do you hope to play in the development of 38 Studios' Online
Entertainment Experience? How are you going to make this product stand
out from the rest of the massively multiplayer games?
things I love about 38 Studios is that there are no "suits."
I'm not going to be just a biz dev guy; I'm
encouraged and expected to know the genre, know the game, and help make
it the very best entertainment possible.
There have been some great MMOG experiences, but the genre is
still in its infancy, and there's a lot of room for
innovation. We have a great opportunity to learn from the
success and failures of our peers -- not only in the MMOG space but in
all forms of entertainment -- and create an amazing online
entertainment experience that innovates and pushes the
industry as a whole. I want to create the kind of experience
people talk about not only the night after it happens, but five or ten
years after it happens -- and fortunately, I've found an entire company
of people who feel the same way.
Ten Ton Hammer: Is there
anything else you'd like to tell the Ten Ton Hammer readers and 38
giving too much away . . . every time I leave the studio, I
leave with a huge grin on my face and a feeling of "I can't WAIT to
play that!" It's a tease to speak about the game in any way
right now, but it will be well worth the wait for the players.
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