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Interview: Lyndsay McGaw
Subject The Sims 2 / Maxis
Interviewee Lyndsay McGaw
Details Lyndsay McGaw

This interview was held and sent to us by Luc Barthelet (Maxis).
Interview Date Tuesday 9 March 2004

1. Hello! What's your name and what do you do on The Sims 2?
My name is Lyndsay McGaw, also known as “L”, and I’m an Assistant Producer for The Sims 2. I am currently working on creating families, stories, and neighborhoods that will be included in the game. I’ve also done some work on the User Interface, text, and screenshots.

2. How did you become an Assistant Producer for The Sims 2?
I started out as a game tester for the The Sims Unleashed and The Sims Superstar. I fell in love with The Sims before I joined the testing team, so I had even more fun working on it. When we finished The Sims Superstar, an Assistant Producer position opened up on the team and I was offered the opportunity. My first game to work on as an Assistant Producer was The Sims Makin’ Magic and I really enjoyed it. It taught me a lot more about game production and development. The expansion pack team was fairly small, so I was able to contribute to many different aspects of the game from working with the testers to actually creating art for the walls and floors. Currently I am part of The Sims 2 team and after helping out in various aspects of the game, I have now settled into my niche of neighborhood work.

3. What's the best part of your job?
I think the best part of my job is taking screenshots and telling stories or when I meet someone who’s a fan of The Sims. I also love jumping into one of the houses I’m working on, playing with it, and seeing something new and unexpected happen. Watching the game evolve from start to finish is remarkable and new things pop up all the time.

4. Where do you get your ideas for your job?
Most of my ideas come from people I know. Either people I work with (the designers and developers are a wonderful source) or even my friends and family. Sometimes it’s been a book I recently read or a movie I saw that has sparked a good idea.

5. What's your favorite feature in the game so far?
I think everyone has said this, “I LOVE the new camera. I can get so close to my Sims it’s amazing.” Matched with the new story album, it let’s you take amazing pictures of your Sims which really help to flesh out any story you’re trying to tell. I used to enjoy building houses far more than telling stories with them, but the new camera feature makes a world of difference. I also really like the toddlers. They have the cutest animations and because they are so dependent on other Sims, I feel that they really make my families seem more connected.

6. What are your hobbies?
Mostly, I play games. I’m a big fan of Xbox and GameCube, and I love my GBA. All I’ve had in my GBA for months is The Sims Bustin’ Out (you’d think I’d get enough Sims at work). If I’m not playing a game, I’m probably watching Tivo. I think Tivo is pure genius, though I’m pretty sure my roommates would disagree. I’ll sit down and play the piano once in awhile too. As for anything actually athletic, I’ll water ski or scuba dive if the occasion calls for it.

7. What's the first computer game you ever played?
It was probably Oregon Trail in elementary school. I’m not sure how that little stagecoach was so entertaining, but I have very fond memories of it. I especially liked the hunting and being able to name my party members after people I knew.

8. If you could take 3 things with you to an island and had to stay there for the rest of your life, who would you take along?
Well, that would be tough. I would take a copy of the Count of Monte Cristo and my Tivo which means I’d have to include a TV so technically that’s 3 things… but with a good book and endless Buffy reruns, what else would I need?

9. What's it like working with Will Wright?
I haven’t had the opportunity to work closely with Will yet. He’s a very busy person. It’s obvious that he is amazingly smart and even though he’s been so successful, he’s still just a normal, nice guy.

10. Do you have any advice for people trying to get in to the game industry?
I don’t think I’d understand half of what I do today in production without having first been a tester. Take every opportunity you can to learn about all the different aspects of game development. There are so many different people and talents that go into making a game. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn from any one of them.

Be willing to find out about something you don’t know or be placed in a position you think you might not enjoy as much as something else. Keep imagining where you want to go, what you want to do, and you can make it happen. Overall, it’s a lot of hard work and long hours, but it really pays off when you get to see something you’ve worked on being talked about and enjoyed. Another added bonus is that you get to tell your friends and relatives you played games at work all day. :-)

11. Do you have any other parting words?
I think I’ve probably talked too much already. Keep Simming!

Lyndsay McGaw was interviewed by ChEeTaH.

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