Girl Power 2

Girl Power 2
Meet Denise Fulton

N. Evan Van Zelfden | 20 Jun 2006 08:00
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It's not entrepreneurial, but it has its advantages. "If you're first-party, you're negotiating with a publisher who has a vested stake in your growth. As an independent developer, you spend a lot of time trying to find publishers who want to come work with you. Then, once you have a publishing deal, it's all about managing perceptions - pretending things are going swimmingly, even if there are problems. I think being first-party is a nicer way to play the game. Maybe you don't have the biggest cut of the pie in the long-run, but you have a better chance of making quality products, I think. There are very few third-party developers who can take the time to make something that they can be really proud of.

"At Midway Austin, quality is the biggest thing we're striving for, because that's what people take pride in. That's why they're here."

Playing to Win
As a company. Midway has told analysts they are betting on next-gen consoles, saying that during a console transition a publisher can leap from a lower tier to a higher one.

Midway has spoken widely about placing a bet on next-gen consoles, and the leap-frogging a publisher can do during a console transition. "I think Midway is poised to do that. I genuinely do," Fulton says. "I've drunk the kool-aid. I buy it."

"And they're not skimping on quality," Fulton reports. "They mean it when they say, 'Look, the only way we're going to win is by making the right kind of games.'" That means giving developers the time, money and resources to make them great. Fulton adds, "And that's pretty cool. You don't see it very often."

With Great Power
"I've always felt responsible," Fulton says. "I tend to take ownership of things just because it's my nature to do so." That tendency has increased since becoming a studio head. "It's this weird two-edged sword, because on the one hand, to succeed, I need to delegate really, really effectively.

"[But] ultimately, my head's on the line if everything goes wrong. So I have to keep an eye out, and make sure things don't go wrong. [But] I trust the people I work with. I really view it as a team effort," Fulton says. "Ultimately, it's the guys down the hall who are making the games happen."

Almost Famous
With all the attention Fulton receives, does she want to be a rockstar? "Not me, man." She says, explaining, "I recognize the need for rockstars, I just don't want to be one. I want to be the person behind-the-scenes; that's my ideal role. I don't ever want to be famous."

Fulton explains that having to represent the studio in public is a new role. "I'll do what it takes to make our studio succeed." But that doesn't mean she has to become a public figure, especially when others at the studio are better suited to that role.

For example, Harvey Smith, Midway Austin's Creative Director, recently appeared on an MTV special along side Will Wright, David Jaffe and Cliff Bleszinski.

"I'm excited about the games we're working on," Fulton segues. "And I enjoy the people I work with. You know, I've had great work relationships in my life ... and that's what matters in the long run."

Creativity by Numbers
"Very little that I do is creative, vis-à-vis the products," says Fulton. "When I'm in creative meetings, I tend to keep an eye towards how the execs, or our customers, are going to respond - rather than focusing on my own ideas. I'll offer a suggestion occasionally, but it can be dangerous.

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