Alexandra Lucas

Game Writer & Narrative Designer, Freelance

Alexandra M. Lucas is a freelance game writer and narrative designer. She won the GDC Game Narrative Review Platinum Award twice, and she has delivered gender studies presentations at GDC, PAX Dev, GeekGirlCon, DigiPen, Wellesley College, and the NEPCA Conference. In addition to speaking about career development at PAX Dev and GDC, Alexandra co-founded the game career consultancy SoYouWantToMake.Games. She wrote a chapter on Asari sexuality for Digital Love: Romance & Sexuality in Games (Taylor & Francis, 2017), a chapter about toxic masculinity in TV's new Golden Age for Pop Culture Matters (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019), and multiple entries for the Encyclopedia of Sexism in American Films (Akita International University, 2019).

Alexandra is co-chair of the IGDA Serious Games SIG, and she recently finalized a chapter on the evolution of Dragon Age relationship mechanics for Love and Affection in Games: A Design Primer (Taylor & Francis, anticipated 2020). Professionally, she has written for interactive novels, digital assistants, RTS mobile games, educational MMORPGs, and more.

Sessions

From the release of Dragon Age: Origins in 2009 through to the third and most recent major installment, 2014’s Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare’s medieval fantasy Dragon Age series has set a high standard for romance and affection in digital RPGs. Focusing on cultivating character depth, providing a variety of romance options, and replicating realistic friendships, Dragon Age helped establish expansive expectations for modern relationship-focused RPG players.

Through BioWare developers’ experimentation, iteration, and willingness to leave less effective mechanics behind, in-game relationships in the Dragon Age series evolved across the three main games to better mirror reality, promote diversity, and offer more compelling rewards for getting to know party companions, both romantically and platonically. Not only have these changes often enhanced relationship authenticity and promoted the engagement of many different types of players with the Dragon Age series, but they also have established a precedent for the expected romance options and social impact of future RPGs. In this presentation, narrative designer Lucas will discuss this evolution and some of the lessons that developers can take away from BioWare's example. This talk is based on a chapter that Lucas wrote for Love & Affection in Games: A Design Primer (Taylor & Francis, anticipated 2020).

Panelists: Alexandra Lucas, Ashley Ruhl, Heidi McDonald

The game industry is losing experienced workers to the scarcity of remote positions, as many would rather leave the industry than have to move every 1-3 years or live in expensive, crowded locales. By taking advantage of existing technology and slightly revising worker management techniques, it is absolutely possible to allow for more remote workers in the game industry.

When it comes to building a more inclusive industry, remote work enables skilled people with disabilities and caregiving responsibilities to remain in the industry. It also empowers marginalized team members to contribute without having to contend with cliques and undocumented microaggressions. By working with remote employees, companies can seek out the expertise of native speakers around the world without having to internationally relocate or contend with a country's visa and entrance policies.

The following is a list of common issues that companies cite as “reasons they won’t allow remote work” as well as proposed solutions we will share and discuss during the presentation:

  - They are convinced that the “Writers’ Room” collaboration can’t happen remotely. Due to widespread access to existing digital technology, they’re wrong. Just because “the way we’ve done it has always worked” does not mean it automatically won’t work any other way.

  - Issues with documentation. Working remotely improves documentation, as there are electronic paper trails in the form of emails, Slack messages, electronic chats, Basecamp/Trello updates, and follow-up notes from teleconferences.

  - Inadequate supervision. If a company has delegated onboarding, clear task expectations, and structured digital communication, remote work can be held to the same standards as in-house. The challenge is building discipline in current communication practices.

  - Company tools and security. All the panelists have installed company tools on their local machines with confirmed security measures. In other cases, it’s as simple as using cloud-based tools that are accessible via password.

  - The applicant is unproven as a remote worker. Even people who have worked remotely with success for years sometimes have an issue with a company being willing to trust that they are able to do their job remotely. And for people who want to work remotely but never have: how are they supposed to GET experience if nobody will give it to them? With deadlines and other clear milestones, it should be easy for anyone to prove their ability to telecommute, or show that they aren’t cut out for it.

  - “The culture suffers.” As the game industry matures, employees want separation between their work and their social life. The definition of studio culture needs to shift from “social compatibility” to “workplace compatibility”, and remote work can help that shift by enforcing standards in digital studio communication. Healthy digital communication can also empower workers who might not feel comfortable speaking up in physical spaces, creating more diversity of voices in the room. Time difference. Many remote workers are happy to adjust to a company’s core hours, while some companies are flexible enough to arrange an individualized work schedule.

Presenters: Toiya Kristen Finley, Rachel Presser, Alexandra Lucas, Michelle Clough

When we talk about networking, going to conferences, getting secret invites to parties, and joining groups online are some of the things we usually cover. But another major aspect of networking that we hardly ever discuss is speaking at conferences like ECGC.

Giving a lecture, taking part on a panel, leading a workshop—that’s all networking! Presenting at conferences is a great way to introduce yourself to large audiences, reveal your expertise to the industry, and convince people that you’re somebody to get to know and work with.

If you’ve ever thought about submitting talks to conferences, but you’re not sure if you’re ready, this panel is for you. We’ll cover

  • how you determine which conferences to pitch to,
  • how you know when you’re ready to pitch,
  • what to pitch,
  • how to pitch, and
  • how to brand yourself through your talks.