Interviews

#GirlsBehindTheGames Spotlight: Samantha Lienhard

The #GirlsBehindTheGames Twitter campaign continues to grow in strength and numbers as women from around the world give their stories and words of advice to others interested in the game industry.

MonsterVine’s very own Samantha Lienhard took some time this weekend to reflect on her journey so far, her future goals, and how nobody should give up on their dreams:

How/when did you get interested in video games? What are some of your favorites?

I’ve been interested in video games for as long as I can remember. I was a little kid when my parents handed me the Nintendo 64 controller so I could try Mario Kart 64 and Super Mario 64 myself instead of just watching, and from there I slowly started playing more games on my own. When I got a little older, my mom gave me her copy of Final Fantasy IX to try, and that started my love of JRPGs.

Some of my favorite games are Tales of Symphonia, the Ace Attorney series, Banjo-Kazooie, Wild Arms 3, Persona 5, the Silent Hill series, Psychonauts, Steins;Gate, and To the Moon.

How did you get involved with MonsterVine?

When I started looking for work as a freelance writer, it seemed natural to make use of my interest in video games. One thing I realized I could do was write game reviews for more than just my blog. At the same time, MonsterVine was looking for more freelance reviewers, and they hired me. That was a couple years ago, and we’ve been working together ever since.

What projects are you currently working on?

One of my most recent releases is a romantic comedy visual novel called Ascendant Hearts, developed by Visualnoveler. It’s the third project I’ve completed with Visualnoveler, and our next game is a JRPG-inspired action RPG called Destiny Chronicles. Destiny Chronicles is in the early stages of development, but we have the general plot outlined.

I also recently finished a visual novel for Genius Inc., another galge/bishojo visual novel. This one is about a young man who ends up sharing a cottage with three girls who are only part human. I’m currently working on the script for my second visual novel with Genius Inc., this time dealing with devils. It might seem ironic that I’ve been writing this particular style of visual novel (I worked on a couple of otome games, but only as a ghostwriter), but it seems to be working.

Moving on, I worked as a writer and editor for an action RPG called Parachronism: Order of Chaos, developed by Ninja Vault, which should be released once the team works out some issues with the character art. I’m also currently working as a writer for an action RPG called Sovereign Story, developed by Avalon Games.

Finally, I’ve just recently started work on a mystery/thriller game and a horror game, neither of which I can say much about at the moment.

Do you have any inspirations in the game industry?

I’m not sure I have any specific inspirations I can name in terms of other writers/developers, but my favorite games tend to inspire me. If a story really resonates with me, I want to create those same feelings for someone else.

What’s your favorite aspect of the game industry? Your least favorite?

I love creating stories, so my favorite aspect of working in the game industry is planning out stories and bringing them to life.

My least favorite part is how the market sometimes drives games to adopt similar styles or follow mainstream trends—I have some niche genre tastes, so this often affects me as a consumer, as well. It’s easier for indie games to avoid that, though. It seems to me that whenever one style of game falls from mainstream popularity, indie devs rise up to fill the void.

What is that one dream you continue to chase?

My ultimate dream is to be in a position where my work is primarily focused on creative writing, both my novels and game scripts. I’d also like to have created at least one turn-based RPG. It’s kind of funny; I consider that to be my favorite genre, but I have yet to write for one.

I also hope to one day write novel tie-ins for video games. That would be pretty cool.

How do you feel about the #GirlsBehindTheGames campaign?

I think it’s always a great idea to highlight people working on video games and give them a chance to promote their work, especially when it’s not the people that immediately jump to mind.

What advice would you give to women who want to work in the game industry?

My advice to women who want to work in the game industry, or anyone who wants to work in the game industry, is to never give up. Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do it, and don’t be disheartened when you see the hiring requirements from big companies.

And don’t let anyone tell you you’re working on the “wrong” games, either. Want to create something in a niche genre? Go for it. Want to work on something that other people don’t understand? Give it a try.

Above all, build experience. I started out with a text-based demo I worked on myself and a rev-share job. They might have been small projects, but they gave me things to cite when talking to other developers.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I covered most of my thoughts in my previous answer, so I’ll just end by inviting everyone to visit my website if you want to see more of my video game thoughts or learn about my projects.

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