"In my position, you have to be careful," Fulton explains, "Because people take you more seriously and more literally than they should. So I'm very cautious about making suggestions. It's really important that the team knows they're just suggestions.
"There are other areas in which I can get more creative." Fulton finds that running a studio in itself is creative. "Figuring out SKU plans, budgets, personnel plans, that's fun to me - like puzzle solving"
Management: An Art Form
"I really think management is an art form," Fulton states. "I'm endlessly fascinated by the way people interact, and how they work together, and how personalities shape the culture, and how values shape the culture. I think all of that is fascinating."
A large part of Fulton's job is to convey directives from corporate, e.g. "we have to ship this product a quarter earlier," or "marketing thinks this feature is really important," etc.
"A lot of my job," Fulton says, "involves communicating information from outside of the studio in a way that people here can understand it and become invested in the outcome. That takes a lot of finesse."
Whenever there is management in a creative industry, the question of artistic control arises. "There are a million people in this industry who think of themselves as creative executives," Fulton elaborates. "They always know what's right, creatively, and feel comfortable mandating changes. And I think that's dangerous.
"I'd much rather think of myself as a creative auditor, or creative coordinator. I have a genuine appreciation for games. I play them all the time, and I love all sorts of other media as well. This gives me the context to evaluate where we're going, and, hopefully, spot missteps. In the end however, it's more important that I trust the creative people I've brought in to make the right decisions."
Make Great Games
In the end, Fulton offers one defining statement: "I don't want to be recognized for being one of the few women in the game industry. I want to be recognized for the great games we make." And when you consider the skill and loyalty of those around Denise Fulton, there is every indication that is exactly what will happen.
N. Evan Van Zelfden expects great things for the future of games. Games are the greatest art form to date, he asserts. This is why he plays games, writes about them, and continues to work in the industry of games.