A short while ago I received a noticed that Jane Whittaker has joined XR Games, and after doing a little more looking, I realized that this is rather a big deal. Its not something I write often here, but I think this story deserves a read.
Jane Whittaker has a great list of achievement under his belt, having worked on Alien vs Predator, Goldeneye and its spin-off, wrote code for The Sims, Dungeon Keeper, Theme Park and more while he is at Electronic Arts, jumping to Microsoft to serve as a long-term board advisor, technical advisor on the XBox, and help developed various Microsoft Flight Simulator expansions. In total, he has contributed to over 100 titles, but unfortunately behind the curtain is one difficult journey that disallow him to talk about his work opening.
Jane Whittaker was born as a conjoined twin with a very rare mix of male and female body parts, preventing him from being able to classify as either gender properly by Medical professionals. In the early 80s, he and his sister endured over 40 operations to separate them, and to cope with the surgeries, Jane turned to making games. Fortunately his father sees his potential early enough, and encourage him to sell his games. The move is a success, and making game soon turns bigger than just a coping mechanism.
Soon after the surgery, he went on to make more titles , and when he graduated at 16, he was personally approached by Atari boss Sam Tramiel and his father Jack, founder of Commodre.
Unfortunately the story takes a darker turn, as there were issue with his name, because his christened name is Jane. He was told that if he use a male name on titles, especially a macho shooting game it was thought that a female name would downgrade the brand. So he decided to have him credited as Andrew Whittaker to go around the issue. Eventually his true name was discovered, and he starts receiving death threats, and letters were sent to Atari claiming that he has to be exterminated.
The incidents still occur today, albeit (I guess) it is better than before. The happenings forced him to go low profile, and while he has been pushing to the companies that he is ready to stop hiding behind the persona of Andrew Whittaker, the companies resisted to let him use his real name on the games.
There are much more to the story, and I will suggest you to head over to this link to find out more.
So back to the story, it was recently announced that Jane Whittaker’s latest move is joining up with XR Games, who make mobile and arcade VR games for licensed Intellectual Properties. XR Games was launched last year by Bobby Thandi, XR Games’ CoFounder and CEO, assembled the launch team in 2017. They worked together at parent company Dubit on projects for DreamWorks, Mattel, Disney, BBC, PBS KIDS, and other leading companies.
Jane Whittaker joins XR Games as “Chief Hopping Officer”, a title that was coined initially by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to “spotlight his wide ranging expertise and ability to simultaneously hop between roles in a corporate environment”. He is not a newcomer to VR too, having managed the VR team at Atari, developing titles such as the VR version of Alien vs Predator for the Atari Jaguar as well.
I firmly believe as the technology matures, virtual reality is going to be a tidal wave that sweeps through the entertainment industry. XR Games is positioning itself to ride the crest of that wave with incredibly innovative products and approaches set to revolutionise VR. It’s an exciting time to be a member of the XR team” enthused Jane.
Jane is also a member of the advisory team at VC investor, Global Merces Media Ventures (GMMV), and was introduced to XR Games through the investment process. Adam Schoff, GMMV Chief Investment Officer, commented “Pairing our board advisor Jane with Bobby will help spearhead the development and growth of XR Games. As a fund, we choose to invest where we believe we can add the most strategic advantage. We are confident that having Jane lead our investment in XR Games will be of great benefit to XR and investors alike.”
It is rather great to have such a heavyweight icon being involved in the VR industry. It is also great to see that XR Games is so accepting of Jane and is also helping him to be open and transparent now, and that they are helping him to shed a light on diversity issues. With their ideology being so aligned, hopefully this benefits both XR Games and Jane Whittaker himself, as well as the industry to a new greater height.