Rhianna Pratchett
Rhianna Pratchett before her talk at Inspirefest 2017. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Rhianna Pratchett: From newbie to the ‘rock star’ of video game writing

20 Jul 2017

Rhianna Pratchett has established herself as one of the few ‘rock stars’ of video game writing, but it hasn’t always been so straightforward.

The gaming industry has experienced a cataclysmic shift over the past two decades, moving from a niche market to one of the most profitable forms of entertainment on the planet.

And with this came a massive change in the production of video games, particularly when it comes to the people who actually write the storylines, creating the worlds that millions of people around the world immerse themselves in.

Future Human

That is the job of Rhianna Pratchett who, at Inspirefest 2017, was joined on stage by another gaming powerhouse, in the form of Brenda Romero, to discuss what it is actually like to work as a storyteller in the industry.

Pratchett was the lead writer on the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise for a number of years, taking the series from one that was considered a boy’s fantasy, to one that made the character of Lara Croft seem more real, acting as a role model to young women.

Despite this, Pratchett admitted that even now – a recent winner of the Writers Guild of America Award for Achievement in Videogame Writing – she is still coming to terms with success.

“You always have this part of you that still feels like the newbie starting out in the industry,” she said.

“So I still feel kind of new and [like I’m] learning, especially as a woman in games but even narrative, which has been so maligned in the past.”

Advice for newcomers

As she said in an interview with Siliconrepublic.com prior to her Inspirefest appearance, her experience of the gaming industry – and, in particular, writing – has changed dramatically since she started off as a gaming journalist back in 1998.

This job, as it turned out, was instrumental in her going on to become a gaming writer as it gave her “invaluable” access to the process.

A prospective writer might find their big break at a conference, Pratchett added, as there are an increasing number of major gaming events across the world, not just E3.

“They’re a great way to meet developers and see show floors to see what big developers and indie developers are doing,” she said.

“I got work by just rocking up to developers whose games I liked and who knew I liked their games and asking would they like some narrative help. If I can do it, they can.”

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Ultra Early Bird Tickets for Inspirefest 2018 will be on sale soon. Sign up here to be the first to know when!

Colm Gorey
By Colm Gorey

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic. He joined in January 2014 and covered AI, IoT, science and anything that will get us to Mars quicker. When not trying to get his hands on the latest gaming release, he can be found lost in a sea of Wikipedia articles on obscure historic battles and countries that don't exist any more, or watching classic Simpsons episodes far too many times to count.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading