“Lara Croft and video game writer Rhianna Pratchett share more than a few traits. The hero of the Tomb Raider series and the writer of video game stories are both strong women with “daddy issues,” Pratchett jokes. Her father was Terry Pratchett, the author of 41 Discworld fantasy novels and the writer of 70 books that sold more than 85 million copies. That’s a heavy legacy to compete with.
Rhianna also picked up the ability to write, starting her career in video game journalism. She then shifted into writing scripts for games, starting with Beyond Divinity, a fantasy role-playing game from 2002. Her career took off when she wrote the story for Heavenly Sword, which starred the female character Nariko. She later moved on to the Overlord series and Mirror’s Edge. She was the lead writer on the widely acclaimed Tomb Raider reboot in 2013 and on the 2015 sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider. Rhianna also writes comic books (notablyMirror’s Edge for DC Comics and Tomb Raider for Dark Horse), film, and TV.
She has written scripts for companies such as Sony, Electronic Arts, Sega 2K Games, Ubisoft, Codemasters, and Square Enix. She’s also one of the most influential and recognized women in games. Pratchett is giving a talk at the DICE Summit, the elite game industry event in Las Vegas this week. We caught up with her for a preview of her talk and an in-depth interview on the subject of gaming’s strong female characters, which are increasingly getting center stage in titles such as the Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed, FIFA Soccer, The Last of Us, The Walking Dead, and even Call of Duty.
Pratchett grew up with strong women characters such as Sarah Connor (played by actress Linda Hamilton) of The Terminator film, Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) from theAlien series, and Alex in the Half-Life video game. She went on to create memorable characters such as Nariko in Heavenly Sword, Faith in Mirror’s Edge, and the reinvented Lara Croft, who Pratchett said felt like her “destiny.”
But as for diversity in games and the industry, she said, “We’re way behind our audience when it comes to diversity.” She added, “We are seeing more women characters, if last year’s E3 is anything to go by. But I don’t want the industry to stop there.”
Right now, she’s working on scribing duties for Warner Bros. and has several film projects and a TV series in the works. [Below] is an edited transcript of our interview…”