Interview

Jobs in Games: Ludia's Charles Taylor on how to get a job as a Narrative Designer

Jobs in Games: Ludia's Charles Taylor on how to get a job as a Narrative Designer

It takes a great number of individuals working together in various disciplines to make any commercial enterprise function.

The mobile games industry is certainly no exception, offering dynamic and diverse roles to thousands the world over.

As such, PocketGamer.biz has decided to celebrate this with a regular series of interviews where each week we chat to a mobile games industry professional from a different field - be it game design, art, or PR - to learn about how they bagged that job in games.

Obviously every career path is different, but the goal is to give a picture of the sorts of skills, qualifications and ambition one might need to find themselves in such a role - and how we can all learn from it.

This time, the spotlight is on Charles Taylor, Narrative Designer at Montreal mobile developer Ludia. You can learn more about how to get a job at Ludia specifically here.

PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a little about your current role and what it entails.

I’m a Narrative Designer on Dragons: Rise of Berk. I write scripts, conceptualise in-game assets and find organic ways to tie them to our features and updates.

My favourite aspect of my work is creating new dragons. I write most of the in-game promotional material for them, allowing me to communicate my vision directly to our players.

You could say I write commercial fan fiction.
Charles Taylor

I want them to be as excited as I am about the amazing work our visual artists do. Thanks to them, I get to see my ideas come to life. It’s very rewarding.

That being said, the most important part of the job is knowing the brand, as you’re the one making sure everything is lore-friendly. In that sense, I guess you could say I write commercial fan fiction.

How did you first get into this job?

I was working on Jurassic World: The Game as a Quality Assurance tester when a co-worker/friend hybrid, who happened to be the narrative designer for Jurassic World, took me under his wing.

We’d done some writing together before and he thought he saw something that could be harnessed. It wasn’t long before I got the job and took over Rise of Berk.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

Honestly, I never saw myself as a commercial writer.

This position really opened my eyes, and helped me establish a separate artistic identity from my personal work.

What did you study to get your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?

I would recommend Creative Writing. You should brush up on intermediate game design, but even then, know that you’ll have game designers who, in my experience, take great pride in their work.

A Ludia employee at work

Focus your efforts on knowing how to take their work and translate it to something that naturally fits with your brand and your story.

As far as my education goes, I was a line cook longer than I was ever a worker in the games industry. But I have been working creatively on the side longer than both.

Part of me wishes I had gone to school to jump start this career path sooner, but I have no real regrets about choosing the path I did.

Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?

Triple-A games take a long time. I know, it sounds obvious, but I had no idea just how long.

Absorb media. Watch TV and films. Read books. Play games.
Charles Taylor

As a cook, your life goes plate to plate; 20 minutes or less per cycle. Hopping from that to a development pipeline was shocking.

So I jumped into mobile games, since I could see myself maintaining sanity if I got to do something new every two years or so. And so far, it’s worked.

What other advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?

Absorb media. Watch TV and films. Read books. Play games. Laugh at memes. Get in on jokes.

Then, channel it all into something. Anything. Write a mission for a game about lint rollers fighting
cats for control of the galaxy. Find someone to learn from. Bonus points if you can look up to them.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a friend, idol, YouTuber, or book; just find someone or something that speaks your language and absorb everything you can from it.

Ludia encourages work and play

If you are dead set on a specific company, know their brands, know their products.

If you really want to strut your stuff when they get back to you, nothing will do that like giving them a script that already fits their game.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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