Rhianna Pratchett is currently one of the most revered writers in video games. Having written for some of the biggest AAA titles such as Mirrors Edge, Thief and Bioshock Infinite, she is most well known for her work on the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise. The new games have been so popular due to their fantastic narrative that a new movie has been released that closely follows Rhianna’s original vision.
I was extremely lucky to get some time with Rhianna and discuss her life in video games from her early adventures on the ZX81 to her more recent deep dive into the myriad of indie games such as Papers Please and Dear Ester.
During my time with the hugely talented and insightful creator, we discussed the importance of bringing in ‘writers’ at the very beginning of a project, instead of leaving it to the last minute and drafting in a ‘narrative paramedic’ to attempt to fix a game’s story. On many occasions, the writer can do more than simply writing ‘the words’. By using a narrative expert, game developers can create deeper characters, develop new game mechanics (based on story arcs) and add meaning to levels and landscapes, through environmental storytelling.
As more and more games are focused on delivering a narrative experience than simply cycling through an endless ‘game loop’, the story is essential.
After writing for the most iconic character in video games I asked Rhianna ‘where next?’. Whilst she was more than happy to be creating new IP and content for the expanded universe, Rhianna expressed a desire not only to create a stand-alone game featuring Alyx from Half Life 2, but also the possibility of exploring the character of the female pirate Ellie Marley from the Monkey Island series.
Rhianna’s love of the Telltale games also saw her express a love of the Wolf Among Us series and would love to be part of the writing team at Telltale for future series of this beloved comic.
It was amazing to chat with such a video game icon as Rhianna Pratchatt and receive valuable insights about video games that are useful for both AAA studios and Indie developers alike. I look forward to seeing what stories she will weave in the future.