Jade Raymond: ‘It feels like it’s the indie games that get to experiment with big issues’ like religionPaul Yan August 14, 2012 - 1:17 am
News: Ubisoft Toronto boss Jade Raymond says that tackling certain topics like religion is “tricky.” She feels like only indie games can deal with sensitive things like that, but when it comes to “environmentalism,” there’s no problem.
Jade Raymond, the boss of big game studio Ubisoft Toronto, has said before that she thinks video games need to “grow up” and explore more mature, meaningful ideas and themes. But when it comes to things like religion, Raymond seems a bit uncertain and feels that only indie games can tackle sensitive/controversial topics.
When asked about making a game that “questions religion,” Raymond told OXM in an interview:
“It’s tricky, I don’t know. At Ubisoft we have studios all over the world, and there’s a very fine line between what you think is interesting and what someone else may think is not respectful – you don’t want to offend anyone. … I think games would be a great way for someone trying to understand [religion] to experiment with these things. I think it would be fun in certain circumstances, with the reincarnation for example, but yes, it’s very touchy.”
Raymond goes on to say that “That’s the thing about games – you can do things in film and you’re not interacting, but for some reason because the player is engaged in video games it is much closer. It feels like it’s the indie games that get to experiment with big issues like that.”
I don’t know why she feels that way in regards to the last bit, but maybe it’s because she thinks indie games are less scrutinized compared to the bigger-budget games that more people tend to play? Or maybe it’s because big game companies are more interested in making money, and one of the ways to make sure that happens is to not upset customers with controversial/sensitive topics? Or perhaps it’s because indie devs have more creative freedom and aren’t afraid of making games that are more about message or emotion rather than pure, widely appealing entertainment?
Whatever it is, Raymond’s sentinment is a bit frustrating since it seemingly reinforces the notion that big, blockbuster games won’t go beyond shooting people in the face with chainsaw guns, even though there’s all this talk about the video game industry needing to “mature.”
But, hey, apparently things that deal with “environmentalism” is all find and dandy. “That one doesn’t feel so touchy because we can make a statement, we can simulate stuff and say ‘this is what’s going on,’” continued Raymond. “We could make a game about that topic very easily and still make it a big success. Others, I agree, would be better to try in indie games and maybe the statement or experience can be better expressed that way.”
She goes on to say that some experiences are better suited as an episodic series, and that each episode could explore certain topics like, say, an elderly person having trouble walking. However, “You don’t want a whole game like that, it’s maybe not enough to sustain a game.”
There’s at least one guy out there that’s very disappointed to hear that.