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Joystiq interviews Vivendi's Nichol Bradford


Yesterday Nichol Bradford, global director of Vivendi games, made an impassioned speech for education about games and the games industry at the publisher's rant. Her main idea was to establish a speaker's bureau to teach people about what goes on and what it takes to be part of the games industry. Although she ended up being upstaged by the infamous "Wii is two duct taped Gamecubes" comment, after the publishers rant she had an army of people looking to help out. We sat down with Nichol Bradford today to gauge what the outlook of her idea is the day after.

So, that was quite the speech yesterday. You rallied the troops. What do you hope to accomplish?

I want to establish this national speakers bureau so the next step is setting up the database, and getting the gaming community to register. Then going through the press. There will be a significant press push to get the website out into the public sphere.

What do you hope would be on this website?

Two pieces. One side is a searchable database where teachers, parents and groups can search by zip code to find someone in their area who can talk about careers in gaming. On the other side, I want an educational section that supports speakers and supports groups. There are so many different types of engineers, but the world has no idea. The gaming industry is getting very specialized on the creative side and on the design side. I envision an area that some very simple lesson plans are downloadable PDFs that people can pull as support materials.

When people go in now to schools or to the media and give speeches they are carving out some time for the game they are making. They leave with the inspiration, but schools don't have a way of following up. Best case is there is no individual followup and worst cast is a million emails from 13-year-olds. So what we would do is have a set of educational materials.

It's really supporting the speaker. Aligning supply with demand so that we can, in a systematic and deliberate way, reach the communities that we touch and we can take back the dialog about games from the politicians and the media that are getting quick hits.

So, we are present, we are helping, we are educating parents and kids. Outlining the career path. Next time someone is trying to get into a fight with gaming, it'll be parents who will tell politicians to sit down and shut up.

Isn't that the ESA's job?

No, because the ESA's job is to lobby. This is about a grass roots movement that is starting in the game industry. We're going to help ourselves. I've met a lot of people who are jaded. This is going to be a giant mitzvah. We're going to get as much out of it as the people on the other side of the equation. This is a grassroots movement of getting people out of their studios in a deliberate methodical manner where we do distribution of the work, give a bit and have a huge impact.

Leadership, leadership, leadership was the theme of the publishers rant yesterday. Is it really that big of a problem?

I think one of the things is that it is important to know about leadership. Leadership doesn't have a type. It doesn't come out of central casting. It's not the tall quarterback. Leadership is about standing up, having integrity. It's doing the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time. It's about being a good communicator, a good listener. I would propose the best leaders I've known have taken their egos out of it, rather than put their egos into it. I see that everyone in the industry has the ability to lead in their own sphere. My thing is believing that you are a leader and helping people make those steps. By filtering our people into the world, into communities and talk about this thing they love. I think we will reap huge benefits. And the excitement they feel about what they do.

What can gamers do to help the cause?

The readers can direct friends and family and associates to the resources. Gamers can take the materials. There isn't any reason they can't walk kids through the materials themselves. There's no reason a gamer can't learn more about the process in gaming and be an information guide for the people in their lives. We want to tell kids what they should be studying right now, anyone can connect the dots, it just takes paying attention and being willing.

When will these materials be ready?

My worst case goal is to have it up and running by next GDC (Feb. 2008). That's everything. That's the game development community signed up, consumers being aware of it. The hardest part is getting the database going. You saw, it took 20 minutes to collect the cards of the people that want to do this. As long as people are responsible about saying yes when they can't. Goodness gracious, I would love the whole IGDA (International Game Developers Association) body involved in this.

If you'd like to help develop the speaker's bureau contact:

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