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Laralyn McWillams's Blog   Expert Blogs


Laralyn McWilliams (@Laralyn) has designed and helped build award-winning social, strategy, simulation, platform, brawler, FPS, and massively multiplayer online games for almost twenty-five years. She was creative director for the ground-breaking MMO Free Realms at Sony Online Entertainment, which the New York Times called “a triumph of the company’s own reinvention.” She was also lead designer for the critically acclaimed Full Spectrum Warrior, which was the most nominated game of E3 2003.

She was on Gamasutra's list of the Top Game Developers of 2014, and she shared the top spot in Massive Online Gaming’s 2010 list of the Top 20 Most Influential People in MMOs. She was also on Beckett’s list of the top women in MMOs for 2010, and one of Gamasutra’s 20 most influential women in games in 2008. She's currently Chief Creative Officer at Skydance Interactive.


Expert Blogs

Posted by Laralyn McWillams on Wed, 09 Aug 2017 10:16:00 EDT in
Diversity discussions often end up in debates over statistics, arguing whether data is valid without considering whether it's relevant†and applicable. Resist the urge to segment people into binary pools. We're all in the relevant statistical segment.

Posted by Laralyn McWillams on Mon, 09 Jan 2017 02:09:00 EST in Audio, Business/Marketing, Design, Programming, Production, Art
Thinking about what it means to be over fifty in game development prompted me to make a list of what I consider the twenty most important things I've learned over the years. All of these lessons came from making mistakes and learning from them.

Posted by Laralyn McWillams on Wed, 21 Dec 2016 11:56:00 EST in Business/Marketing, Design, Production
Being a developer is different now versus ten or even five years ago. Between angry mobs and bitter colleagues, it's easy to lose yourself to anger--to live in darkness. It's time for us to step back into the light. I believe that together, we can shine.

Posted by Laralyn McWillams on Mon, 30 Nov 2015 07:55:00 EST in Design
In March, 2013, I wrote The Metrics Arenít The Message here on Gamasutra. The years have brought change both to me and the topic, and it's time for a broader look. It's time to talk about how much we let fear steer our decisions. It's time to break free.

Posted by Laralyn McWillams on Mon, 28 Sep 2015 01:25:00 EDT in Design
Developers of single-player games spend time refining player input when it comes to game controls and almost no time creating methods for player input when it comes to emotional expression. Even single-player games should be a two-way conversation.

Iíve been a game developer for half my life. I realized recently that more than years have changed me: I became aware of how much Iíve changed because Iím a game developer. I became aware of just how narrowly we define what a game developer ďshould be."

Laralyn McWillams's Comments

Comment In: [News - 03/22/2018 - 03:37]

This seems like a strange ...

This seems like a strange comment to make on an article about my own talk... but I want to mention that my role on Pirates was just as external beta tester. I was not on the actual development team. Ditto for Daggerfall. My development credits for released titles start with ...

Comment In: [Blog - 08/09/2017 - 10:16]

No, I don 't need ...

No, I don 't need to answer those questions. r n r nWhat did/didn 't happen or should/shouldn 't have happened to the manifesto 's writer are irrelevant to this specific discussion. The topic here is very narrow: the fact that statistics about the percentage of women suitable for entering ...

Comment In: [Blog - 09/28/2015 - 01:25]

Yes--these are all good examples. ...

Yes--these are all good examples. I 'd forgotten about your ability to play emotes in Fable--which combined with the reactions of folks around you to create some pretty fun emergent play. It also felt great to pull out a trophy and wow an entire village

Comment In: [Blog - 06/03/2015 - 02:15]

Thanks for speaking up--one of ...

Thanks for speaking up--one of the points I was trying to make is that every voice matters, including yours right now. r n r nFrom my perspective, in the call to prayer example, it 's all about how they handle the people who don 't share their beliefs. Are they ...

Comment In: [Blog - 02/11/2015 - 03:39]

Most of the studies in ...

Most of the studies in the post look at hard data, such as the number of women in exec roles at a company compared to overall publicly-reported company revenue. That 's hardly based on informal interviews. Even the data about creativity is based on problem solving in preset research situations. ...

Comment In: [Blog - 12/19/2014 - 01:27]

Yes, extremely rare. Most I ...

Yes, extremely rare. Most I used to think ALL game companies put employees under both an IP ownership agreement meaning they own all your ideas and creations, often even those created away from work and a broad non-compete agreement during employment meaning you can 't publish anything game-related .