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July 30, 2010 Comments Off on Industry Interview: A Talk with Tess Treadwell from Obsidian Views: 7452 Industry, Videogames

Industry Interview: A Talk with Tess Treadwell from Obsidian

While the rest of the media focuses its attention on gays in the military, highlights the more important issue: gays in the gaming industry. GN was lucky enough to obtain an interview with Tess Treadwell, lesbian extraordinaire and associate producer at Obsidian Entertainment. Tess was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule working on freakin’ Fallout: New Vegas (!!!) to answer our questions. *Spoiler alert* She’s pretty awesome!

Centre: Tess Treadwell

Gay-Nerds: What’s the first video game you ever played?

Tess: My memory fails me, but I’m inclined to say it probably fit on 8″ floppy disks. The NES debuted the year I was born (’83), so it could also have been any of the 8-bit pantheon of childhood classics.

GN: What game(s) are you currently playing?

Tess: Recently finished FFXIII, and I’m about to dive into God of War III (yes, I’m very late to the party). Really looking forward to it, though! FFXIII was gorgeous and everything, but I’m ready for a fucking bloodbath. I also play Left4Dead 2 with some fellow Obsidianites every week as a bonding/survival training exercise.

GN: What are your hobbies/interests outside of video games?

Tess: I like to drive my car very, very fast, usually next to cars that are also going very, very fast. Aside from that, I occasionally practice martial arts, chase girls who haven’t the slightest interest in me, and read (my favorite authors are China Mieville and Alexandre Dumas).  I’m also an active flag-waving member of the queer community, so if there’s a rally nearby, I’m probably there!

GN: If you could turn any character (video game, comic book, etc.) gay, who would it be?

Tess: As far as I’m concerned, Fang (FFXIII) is a fantastic butch and Vanille is her femme, so we’ve got that covered. 😉  Probably Jill Valentine from Resident Evil, because I think it’d be a great part of her character, while not her defining characteristic – and I think the reveal, her “coming out,” would be an interesting revelation in such a revered franchise. Aside from that, Uncharted 2 had such awesome banter that if Chloe were gay, I can’t imagine what the writers would have come up with but I’m sure my mind would have exploded.

GN: If you could choose any franchise to have Obsidian develop for, what franchise would you pick?

Tess: I would love love love to make a Parasite Eve game.  It’s long overdue on consoles, and I think we’d be a great fit as a developer. Great story, lots of RPG elements, lots of guns. Squeenix, if you’re reading this… let’s make this beautiful love-child happen. It’d be rad. Call me.

GN: How do you feel about motion controls?

Tess: I’m definitely not in the target market, in the same way that I don’t have any interest in instrument peripheral games or 3D gaming. I don’t mind a minor amount of wrist movement – Twilight Princess on the Wii felt about right – but anything more and you’ve lost me. Maybe I’m just lazy?

GN: Game development is one of the holy grails of nerdery. How did you get into it?

Tess: I started out poking around in hex files for PC games, working as a translator on fan patches for Japanese and Korean games, pretty minor stuff as a hobby. As a university student, I played Natural Selection (Half-Life total conversion mod) obsessively and got on the QA team, which was probably the tipping point; once I got my degree, I landed a job with an MMO publisher as a community manager, and was eventually shanghai’d into becoming a producer. And here we are!

GN: What’s involved with being a game producer?

Tess: The easiest way for me to explain it is that our project director (in this case, Josh Sawyer) has a vision for the game, and we (the producers) are responsible for making sure it happens on time, on budget, and as close to his vision as possible. There’s a lot of organizing, scheduling, communication, documentation. And about a hojillion other things.

GN: What’s it like being a lesbian developer in a male-dominated industry?

Tess: From my experience the industry is generally young and open-minded; your personality as a colleague and your skillset as an employee matters much more than who you fall for. I’ve always been out at Obsidian, and it’s 100% been a non-issue. I think it does put me in an interesting position for exploring certain topics like gender roles in games, sexualization of female characters, portrayal of homosexuality, etc., which I plan to do in my blog.

GN scientists calculate that this equates to one billion hours of awesome.

GN: Last question: How awesome is Fallout: New Vegas going to be when it’s released in the Fall?

Tess: The awesomeness of Fallout: New Vegas can only be expressed by the ridiculous number of hours people are going to sink into it!

> You can learn more about Tess by going to her personal website and blog or by following her on Twitter.

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