Womenize! Wednesday Weekly is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Rosa Dachtler, Narrative Designer at Arkane Studios. Read more about Rosa in this interview:

Hi Rosa! You are a Narrative Designer at Arkane Studios. The work of a narrative designer can be quite different depending on the company. What are some areas you personally have worked on during your career?

Narrative design is defined differently everywhere, that much is true. In my experience, no matter the project, it translates to: do whatever must be done to give the player an engaging narrative experience. On some projects, this means writing reference documents for level artists and hoping they’re useful. On others, it means writing scripts, directing VO, implementing files and fixing bugs. On all of them, it means constantly adapting to the changing state of the game and the needs of the team.

There are two parts that feel especially fulfilling. One is writing content that goes into the game, whether it’s a conversation between characters or an item description. It’s creative and productive and it feels fantastic. The other part is fixing things that are broken; making sure every detail is just right, from the grammar in the subtitles to the logic controlling conditional content. I find problem-solving deeply satisfying, which is just as well – it’s a critical and time-consuming part of this job.

You hold a Bachelor of Music and previously worked as an Audio Designer at Electronic Arts, before you changed positions and became a narrative designer. What led you to this rather unusual positional change?

Story was my first love as a player, but sound design was my first love as a developer. My favorite thing about games is that they can take you places, and sound is an incredibly powerful part of that. It wasn’t until I started working with VO – and, by extension, writers – that I considered changing direction. My studio at the time was starting a new narrative team and I couldn’t resist jumping in.

As it turns out, working in the audio team was the perfect training for the weird and wonderful world of game narrative, and I strongly encourage all narrative and audio folks out there to find friends on each other’s side of the tracks. You’re stronger together, I promise.

Story-driven games have come a long way, but there is always room for improvement. Is there any area in narrative design that you hope will get more attention in the future, or maybe some “narrative design pet peeve” you wish would stop?

Bearing in mind that my experience is primarily in AAA, my hope is that we improve our processes. Successful storytelling depends on the entire dev team incorporating narrative into their own work. Since cohesion is so important, the strength of your team’s collaboration will have a huge impact on final quality.

It’s easy (and free) to talk about how important a story is. It’s straightforward (and costly) to hire a full narrative team. Neither of these are enough anymore, if they ever were. The tough and necessary work, which requires not just time and money but a rethinking of your processes and technical toolsets, is making sure the team you’ve hired can do their jobs efficiently.

As you said, story in games has come a long way. The next bottleneck on this road, in my view, is process.

Thank you for your time, Rosa!

Rosa’s Links: Twitter | Website | Arkane Studios Website

WWW Feature by Anne Zarnecke