By Michael Mendis
Gamers and game developers are typically thought of as being male; most video games are marketed toward men, after all, and many of the most prominent faces in the industry are men as well. But women are a growing presence in gaming these days, and few game developers (male or female) have seen as much success as Jade Raymond.
Jade Raymond was born in Montreal in 1975 and graduated from McGill University in 1998 with a degree in computer science. Once finished with schooling, she headed straight into the game industry to work on developing games. Her first games she worked on were not particularly glamorous; she started her career at Sony programming Jeopardy games. Having proved she could handle less exciting work, though, she started making her mark by forming the first Research & Development team at Sony Online. After that she found work at EA, where she contributed to The Sims Online, one of EA’s most successful titles in those days. Then, in 2004, she moved back to her hometown of Montreal where she joined Ubisoft, and was the producer of the franchise that would cement her legacy in gaming: Assassin’s Creed.
Assassin’s Creed, a completely new game on new hardware (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), was a hit; gamers appreciated its innovative combination of stealth, platforming, and swordplay, as well as the fascinating time period in which much of the game took place (Crusade-era Middle East). Raymond advanced to the role of executive producer for the sequel, Assassin’s Creed II, which was even more successful and established the series as Ubisoft’s next big franchise; she then also served in the same role on the PSP title Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines. While her involvement in the franchise ended after that, the series she and her team at Ubisoft Montreal created has continued to grow, with a plethora of new titles released over the years and a major motion picture now being made.
After her work with the AC franchise was done, she continued her work at Ubisoft as executive director, helping bring other Ubisoft games to completion, including Watch_Dogs, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot.
In October 2014 Raymond parted ways with Ubisoft, and in June 2015 she announced that she was back with EA. She founded a new studio for EA in Montreal called Motive Studios, which is cultivating new IP as well as helping with some of the Star Wars projects that EA has in the works (including another Battlefront game from DICE, and the largely unknown Star Wars title being made by Amy Hennig’s team at Visceral Games).
Jade Raymond has left her influential mark everywhere she has gone in the gaming industry, cultivating a wide variety of development teams and helping them put together many successful and critically acclaimed games. And while she would rightly be considered a veteran game developer due to her almost two decades in the industry, she’s still only 40 years old; the impact she has on gaming will continue to grow for a long time.