Who are you and what is your role at BioWare?
My name is Sylvia Feketekuty, and I’m a writer. I’m responsible for story, dialogue, and game-related text. (The latter might include anything from signs in the Citadel to weapon descriptions to news stories set in the Mass Effect universe.) My first big game at BioWare will be Mass Effect 3.
What is the best part about your job?
The best part of my job is that this is basically what I’ve wanted to do since I was five.
I always get a thrill from seeing something I’ve written brought to life better than I could ever imagine. That’s due to the hard work of our cinematic designers, audio artists, editors, voice actors, composers, and a lot of other departments. Everyone on these big creative projects tends to go on about how great it feels to work with dedicated, passionate people, but that’s because it’s so true. It’s hard to describe the energy when that collaborative process is in full swing, but there’s nothing else like it.
What does an average day look like for you?
It changes depending on what stage the project is in. Some of the things I’ve done during Mass Effect 3’s development: brainstorm story pitches, write dialogue, rewrite dialogue, look through high-level feedback, meet with level designers to iterate on that feedback, play test, pitch ideas to devs from other departments, hunt for bugs, tweak weapon-mod descriptions, try to fix my own bugs, etc…
Can you tell us about one of your proudest moments working in game development?
I’m proud to have been one of the writers on “Lair of the Shadow Broker,” a downloadable mission for Mass Effect 2. “Lair” was the best learning experience I could have asked for in terms of preparing to work on ME3, since it was a compressed work cycle with huge support from the rest of the team. Reading the feedback once it was released was another good learning experience. It was useful to see what resonated with different fans, what didn’t, and why they thought it didn’t.
What’s a geeky thing about you?
I play a lot of pen and paper role-playing games. I started back in college, and it probably helped get me my current job. Some of my favorite systems and settings are Call of Cthulhu (both Chaosium BRP and D20 Modern), Over the Edge, Paranoia, Spirit of the Century, Unknown Armies, and D&D’s Planescape. Shadowrun also has a special place in my heart as one of the first RPGs I ever played (and died horribly in).
I play a lot of board games, too. My current favorite is Cosmic Encounter, an amazing game with a 34-year history. I’ve also fallen in love again with a quick, dice-based game called Button Men. (For any other Button Men fans out there, you can find printable versions of the players online for free. How cool is that?)
Do you have any advice for those wishing to get into the video game industry?
Try creating a game of your own. There’s a lot of community-supported game-making software out there. Even if what you put together ends up small and basic, you’ll learn a lot about working in an interactive medium. It’ll really help you figure out where your strengths and interests lie. You’ll also have a lot of fun, too, between the bouts of frustration. Adjust what you have to, and don’t give up!
I’d also encourage people to read as much as possible. Research topics you find interesting. Pick up a classic. Open up a play, or a movie script, or a travelogue if you’ve never checked one out before. Reading widely helps you become more creatively well-rounded, and that’s a trait developers always love to see.
If you weren’t working in the industry, what would you be doing?
Trying to get into it.
What are you currently playing, reading, or listening to?
Playing: Dark Souls. Also finishing up Fallout: New Vegas’ Lonesome Road DLC.
Reading: “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus” by Rick Perlstein, and “The Incomplete Nifft” by Michael Shea.
Listening: I’ve been listening to an awful lot of the Electric Six lately.