Aspiring game designers looking to break into the industry should work on tabletop roleplaying games in order to learn about writing. That’s according to BioWare senior writer Jennifer Hepler who wrote plots for Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
“If you don’t have a pressing need to make money, do a little time working for tabletop roleplaying games. It’s fairly easy to break in, because they pay peanuts, but you learn a ton about game design from working with dice systems.” she told the BioWare Blog, adding that it looks good when applying for jobs in the games industry.
“And since most videogame designers (certainly of RPGs) are huge tabletop game geeks, it’s a great credit to have when applying for jobs. Most people in the tabletop field end up drifting into videogames eventually, since you can live on what they pay you, so you’ll also make contacts who can end up being helpful down the line.” said the Dragon Age writer.
Hepler also described how she and her husband – Mass Effect writer Chris Hepler – broke into the games industry and even had a stint in Hollywood.
“My entry into games came in college when I met my now-husband and was introduced to Vampire and Shadowrun.” she said.
“Having spent my high school years writing and trying to sell short stories, I immediately thought about trying to do some professional writing for RPGs, and by the time we graduated college, Chris Hepler (now a writer on Mass Effect) and I had written several books for Shadowrun, Earthdawn and Paranoia.”
“We then took a detour in Hollywood for a few years, but it was a very natural gravitation back toward games which brought us to GDC to meet Bioware. After six years in Hollywood, when we were still calling “extras” “NPCs,” we figured maybe we were in the wrong field.” Hepler added.
Read the full interview with BioWare senior writer Jennifer Hepler here, in which she also details what her job involves.
What are your thoughts on the idea of using tabletop RPGs as a base for getting into the games industry?
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