The Maxis senior VP gets the rapid-fire question treatment

FAQ: Lucy Bradshaw

[Develop’s archive of FAQ interviewees can be found here]

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lucy Bradshaw and I’m the senior vice president of the Maxis label within Electronic Arts.

What are you working on right now, and what stage is the project at?
Well, truthfully, I actually run the entire label. I run the Sims line. We’ve recently announced SimCity, and we’re releasing it ten years since the first truly Maxis-made SimCity.

What was the first job you ever had in the games business?
Oh, I answered phones at LucasArts. I ultimately ended up running their development division, which was a huge blast.

I was there when the company just started thinking, ‘hmm, there’s this Star Wars thing that maybe we should we make games about’.

What was the first game you worked on?
Ohh. It was LucasArts’ The Secret of Monkey Island 2, I think.

And the first game you played?
Hmm. I remember that the first game that inspired me to get into this was Civilization and SimCity – all the RTS games that I still love today really.

Nowadays I’m just a sucker for tower defense games. Just give me any of them. I’ll be gone for hours.

What is your favourite game of all time, and for what reason?
You know, you do go back to the game that first sucked you in, so I’d have to say Civ 2.

How many hours a week do you spend playing video games?
Oh gosh. Well I have two teenage daughters, one of whom is going through college. I’m so incredibly busy and these days it’s all about playing on my iPhone in the pockets of time I have in-between things.

Actually, I play on my iPhone and iPad in bed all the time – I think I might be developing carpal tunnel syndrome from holding my iPad so much, but don’t tell Apple that.

What do you enjoy most about working in the games business?
I find it so creatively challenging; I always have. This is an industry where I’m always thinking on my toes, because so much changes in every cycle.

The platform changes, the business model changes, the needs of gamers changes, people change, how you talk to them change.

I’m now thinking about things with the aim to engage with customers in a real 24-seven cycle. It’s just quite thrilling. Keeping up with everything is thrilling, especially trying to figure out how to engage with new waves of different types of customers.

What areas of the industry do you think needs more investment?
Because games are now are so inextricably linked with platforms and with how you engage, I think what needs most investment is user experience.

We have UI designers and artists, and they are awesome, but when you think that developers now need to be following this thread from point-of-purchase all the way to update packages – there are so many points in that line that need more investment.

As devices take us to places like the television this is going to be even more important. I mean, look at how bad ‘TV guide’ interfaces are; that’s the opposite of what games need to do.

What disappoints you about the industry?
I think sometimes we, well, it’s like movies, in a way. You have one local nexus and everyone drills in on that same thing and it has all got a little less innovative in some ways. I suppose the risk is higher these days to innovate.

What do you enjoy the most about the games industry?
Easy. It’s a place where you find these collaborations that can bring such joy to so many people.

What do you do in your spare time that isn’t related to games?
Well, I bike, I hike and I actually love camping and fishing. I do find myself, every now and then, eager to get away from it all.

What is your favourite movie and book?
Oh well that changes all the time. My favourite film is The Fifth Element, there’s just something wonderful about it. I read recently The Road. I guess I wanted to be so down that I could barely get up in the morning. It is so stark, but it’s brilliant.

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