Womenize! Wednesday Weekly is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Alice Rendell, Senior Narrative Designer at Massive Entertainment. Read more about Alice in this interview:
Hi Alice! You are a Senior Narrative Designer at Massive Entertainment. Having worked both as a Narrative Designer as well as a Game Designer in the past, what is it that drives your passion for storytelling in video games?
I really believe that games are able to tell unique stories because we can use gameplay and systems to elevate the narrative experience, which is something that just isn’t possible in more traditional storytelling forms like film and TV. I personally love exploring how gameplay can evoke emotions, the way a character moves through the world can be loaded with just as much narrative as a cutscene (sometimes more so). The different ways we can use gameplay to tell stories is something that truly excites me. I don’t believe games have reached their full potential yet on how to do this, and that is something I definitely want to be a part of.
For a blogpost on Massive’s website you have talked about your experience working on indie as well as AAA productions, going into some of the “AAA myths” some people might have. Could you share the most common statements and your personal experience with them?
The main comment I hear when talking about AAA games is the idea that as a developer, you have to compromise your creativity, either due to large team sizes or because of a more corporate structure. My experience has been the opposite. For the indie games I worked on, we very often didn’t have time, tools or resources to create what we wanted to, and compromises on design and narrative were constantly being made. That of course still happens with AAA games, but as there are far more resources available I find that I am able to push the vision of what we can do because we have the team and the tools to support it. I personally find this allows me to be more creative, as I really get to do a deep-dive into the best way to tell stories in the game as opposed to spending the majority of my energy thinking of workarounds.
You are also vocal about mental health issues such as burnout, something you have dealt with in the past as well. Speaking from your own experience, what has helped you recover and how could other members of the industry lower the risk of experiencing a burnout themselves?
The problem with burnout is that the stress levels in your system are so high that you end up running on adrenaline for months at a time, which actually makes you feel like you are on top of everything. I didn’t realize anything was wrong until I started getting chest pains, and at that point it was too late and I was already burnt-out. There is a burnout evaluation test online which is good to take every couple of months, regardless of how stressed you think you are, because sometimes burnout can creep up on you with realizing it.
The biggest help for me coming back to work after burnout was being able to set strict boundaries for myself. My perfectionist nature mixed with my passion means I have a tendency to take on too much, and say yes to everything regardless of how busy I am. It was important for my recovery that I listened to my gut and say no when I felt like something would overload me. Also reminding myself that my work doesn’t need to be perfect 100% of the time; pretty damn good is also entirely acceptable!
Thank you for your time Alice!
WWW Feature by Anne Zarnecke