Writing stories is what I am

Writing stories is what I am

03/15/2023 - 10:50

Linda Effinger obtained her master's degree in Game Technology in 2022 and now teaches Narrative Innovation at Breda University of Applied Sciences.
  • Stories

Once upon a time there was a girl from Leipzig who experienced her teenage years at an international school in Mexico. One day she travelled to Breda to join one of the best study programmes in the world of gaming (...)

This is hardly an innovative start, so maybe I should ask you to write a narrative about this yourself. What would your story be about? ‘The storyline would definitely unfold around my international background, around self-directedness, and critical thinking,’ Linda Effinger says after some thinking.

Linda studied Creative Media and Game Technologies at Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUas) and obtained her master’s degree in Game Technology in 2022. In January 2023, she started as a lecturer at BUas. I would really like to hear from Linda how she experienced the Master Game Technology, let's see if we can bring those two storylines together.

What about your international background?

‘My parents definitely play an important role in my story so far and I am still very grateful for that. After primary school in Leipzig we moved to Mexico, because of my dad’s work. I studied at an International Private School. This boosted my global mindset, and it was there where I met the first Dutch people,’ Linda laughs. ‘I wouldn’t have been here – at BUas – if my parents had not been so globally oriented, open-minded and supportive. I mean, I didn’t choose a traditional study path or career. They left me completely free to do so.’

‘Since childhood, I have been writing stories. But that’s not a job, is it? A friend of mine got all into gaming and then I thought that could be something! Storytelling in games, I can do that! I did some research, and I ended up in Breda. It was quite thrilling, I mean, I wasn’t doing things with games or something, I was writing stories. And I thought I could use that for game development. My theory is that my drive to create opportunities caused me to be admitted to the programme.’

Why a master's degree in Game Technology?

‘To be honest? I didn’t want to leave this university! I do like the vibe here. And I couldn't see myself getting started in the games industry, but the main reason for choosing the master’s is because it’s a research-heavy programme. You learn how to do academic research. For me, that was a new skill I wanted to pick up. You get a chance to research something that has never been researched by anyone before. That is incredibly satisfying.’

‘As a lecturer I’m focusing on Narrative Design. I encourage students to build a narrative in a different way. I’d like to encourage Narrative Innovation. Stories are often built in standard patterns. Why is that? What choices do you make in the construction of your narrative and why? In my master’s I went through a PhD study that dealt with these questions and I asked myself, do these questions still apply? You know, if something exists for a few years in the gaming world, it is ancient,’ Linda smiles.

‘Storytelling in gaming is not only the writing, it is everything, the camera’s perspective, visual artefacts. What about vocalisation for instance, that’s all about the choice of how to tell the story. What’s the consequence of giving information or holding it back? I created an analytical tool to go through all these questions, it is a simplified version of the outcome of the underlying PhD research. Translated into the language developers can work with.’

What makes you a critical thinker?

‘Last month, I attended Paul Hughes' keynote at our Education Day. He is a born storyteller, I like that. Nevertheless, I wondered, are you just saying things or what? Is this your opinion? Can you back it up with any evidence? It was inspiring, for sure, but I was especially inspired to start looking for underlying research on the topic of community building – right away the next morning. That’s me.’ Smiles. ‘And that’s what the master’s programme is about. It’s about finding evidence to support your drives; that makes you a critical thinker!’

‘Writing stories is what I am. So BUas is my plan B – kidding – I love it! I’m lucky, working three days a week for BUas and spending two days on writing. I wrote my first book during my first year of studies at BUas. It took me one year to write Skyline Dancing and another year to find a publisher. I remember thinking I need this book out of my house, off my laptop, otherwise I keep going back to it! I had already put so much work into it that I definitely wanted to finish it! Actually, that's the thing with all my projects. No lack of inspiration at all, lack of project management maybe,’ Linda says smiling. ‘I’ll manage, but I’m too enthusiastic about too many things.’

‘The master’s has taught me to be more focused. You zoom in on one tiny little thing of your interest. That is the strength of the programme though, I mean, it is personalised. The only 'constraint' is that you have to do a research project. Pick whatever gets your heart pumping the most, whatever inspires you the most. And Bring it Further. The master’s programme is a good programme, but not for everybody. It teaches you to be a researcher, a developer, not a maker. You really must love questioning, figuring out, finding evidence, and describing the process.’

Some good advice?

‘In this industry, everyone is incredibly passionate. You love doing it and the more you like it, the more dangerous it is. It is tough, working long days, sleeping in the office, it is not always a friendly environment to work in. My advice? Keep your eyes wide open! Work on a critical mindset. I always say to myself, keep questioning the motivations of the people who are telling me this!’

Want to know more about the Master Game Technology? Go to our website: https://www.buas.nl/en/programmes/master-game-technology


Interview: Maaike Dukker-’t Hart