#069: Chris Allen – Games writing, storytelling through role-play & “Aren’t we all writing fanfic, anyway?”
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Chris Allen has written, edited, and designed dozens of tabletop gaming products since 2005, including roleplaying games, board games, and miniatures games, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. He has contributed to major game lines such as the World of Darkness and Trinity Continuum, and worked on licensed tie-ins for a broad spectrum of properties including Starship Troopers, Babylon 5, and 2000AD.
His design work extends to live action roleplaying, where he served on the plot team for the major UK fest LARP, Empire, for several years. Chris is also a published short fiction author and is currently writing a tie-in novella for Trinity Continuum: Æon.
Chris believes that tabletop games, albeit played increasingly via virtual tabletops, provide an important creative outlet for their participants and a different method of interacting with the resulting in-the-moment fiction to that traditionally provided by other forms of story media.
Chris was born in Thailand, but these days lives in Bristol with his wife and two children.
In this episode, we go deep into:
- How Chris got started with roleplaying and how that led to storytelling and writing
- Transitioning to writing and publishing in the games industry
- Chris's background as an editor
- Writing for licensed properties, such as Starship Troopers and Babylon 5
- Working in someone else's sandpit
- The limitations of using stills from TV as artwork for licensed games
- Skirting burnout and reduced enjoyment for certain intellectual properties – draining the magic
- Coping with fan reactions
- Creating products to enable other people to create fanfiction and the layers of storytelling from game designer, to games master, to players, to game fiction
- Collaboration at the production end of games design
- Setting or mechanics first and how this varies
- The effect of being a gamer and a games writer and the feedback loop created
- The bleed effect when people get very into their characters
- Gamers intentionally seek out dark themes as a form of catharsis and the importance of consent and safety tools
- Writing for live action roleplaying games
- Chris's writing process for his fiction
- Chris answers a question from patron, Jo about managing his workload
Connect with Chris:
On Twitter: @Acrozatarim
His Very Angry Dogs game is streamed at https://www.twitch.tv/paleo_gaming/videos/all
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Intro vocals: Persephone Rose
Show theme: Karl Hughes
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