Girl Power 2

Girl Power 2
Meet Denise Fulton

N. Evan Van Zelfden | 20 Jun 2006 08:00
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Fulton moved out to Seattle, and entered the game industry. "Once I got in Microsoft, I found that I really liked it. I liked the environment, I like the structure, I liked the opportunities."

From there, Fulton went on to work at Dreamworks Interactive, at EA for a number of years, and most recently at Ion Storm. "I worked on different types of games. I've worked on kids' games, sports games, mature titles," Fulton says, adding, "I like the industry more and more the longer I'm in it."

Doing Destiny
"I think you do what you're meant to do, ultimately," Fulton says. "Like me, I've always had a bent toward management and organization. And when left to my own devices, I just kind of do that instinctively. I'm a big believer in the adage that 'real managers are born, not made.'

"I think you have the instincts for it, or you don't. You can learn some of it, but most of it is just innate." Which is not to say that people always end up doing what they're meant to, "But I think if people really look at themselves in the face, they can recognize what they find easy, and what they don't."

Fulton also uses this as a filter for others, particularly those looking at management or production positions. "A lot of programmers and artists reach a point in their careers where they decide they want to get into management," Fulton explains, "because they see it as a path into a more responsible or higher-paying position.

"I just look at them and ask, 'Do you like spending your days in meetings, and doing lots of documentation? Do you like organization and budgets?' Because if you don't, you're going to hate it."

Stepping Up
Fulton's previous experience was in production. Most recently, she functioned as Executive Producer at Ion Storm. Since joining Midway Studios-Austin as studio head, Fulton has had time to reflect on some of the differences between being a producer and being an executive.

"I have to be a lot more disciplined about trusting the people I work with to do their jobs, and not diving into the details too much and getting in their way," Fulton explains. "I have to be careful to keep my perspective. It's a matter of keeping that right balance - identifying problems, but not being the one to solve them all the time.

"As a producer," Fulton recalls, "I had to get down in the trenches, roll up my sleeves, and do work on the project. If I did that here, it would actually be detrimental to the overall health of the studio.

"Now, I mostly sit in on reviews. I know what's going on with the projects, because I'm kept up to date by the studio directors. But I have enough distance from the projects that I can ask meaningful questions."

Fulton's strength is in building teams. "What I'm best at is finding and coalescing groups of people so that they work together effectively," she says. "And I learned early on, you can always find someone who's way better at things than you are, in any single area. So, what I do is try to find those people and put them together so they interact in interesting ways. Because, you know, Harvey Smith is a better designer than I'll ever be. Brett Close is a better producer than I'll ever be. Tim Little knows the tech ... What I can do is identify them and help them work together more effectively. At the highest level, that's what my job is about."

What Can I Say?
"I've always been first-party," Fulton admits. "I'm a publisher girl, what can I say?"

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