Ally McLean

Ally McLean

  1. Could you tell us a bit about how you started out in the games industry?

My path into games was not exactly traditional. I got my first “real” consulting gig with a AAA studio through cosplay. Working in the cosplay space gave me invaluable experience and equipped me with the skills and contacts I needed to be considered for a job in the industry. It was also a lot more fun than doing another degree…

  1. What inspired you to join the industry? Was there a particular game you were obsessed with as a kid?

It actually took me a long time to really enjoy and appreciate games. I’m the youngest of three kids, with two older brothers who have both always been huge gamers. Gaming and gaming-knowledge was always a sort of social currency amongst my brothers and I, and I spent a lot of time trying to like the same games that they did – mostly shooters. When I got older I started to find games that told stories I could relate to more. I think my first playthrough of Mass Effect was one of those lightbulb moments – I wanted to have something, anything to do with this.

  1. What project(s) are you currently working on?

I’m currently a Producer at Hammerfall Publishing, where we’re working on Warhammer 40,000: Regicide.

  1. What particular types of games or aspects of interactive storytelling interest you?

I could write you an essay on this, but I’ll try to narrow it down!

I love RPGs. I love anything that presents you with a rich and complicated world and just says, “Explore!”. I’ve often turned to games for escapism, and the nature of interactivity allows you to experience a level of immersion that I personally have never experienced in other mediums. Games present you with a unique opportunity to connect and meld with a character and a world.

  1. Do you think approaches to interactive storytelling differ along gender lines? If so, how?

I don’t think approaches to any storytelling differ purely due to gender. Just as in film or literature, the way creatives tell stories is shaped by their human experience. That being said, I’m a big believer in the benefits of diverse teams. Having a development team with a broad range of perspectives benefits the project in an immeasurable number of ways.

  1. What are some of your favourite games created by a woman or featuring a female main character?

It might sound a bit cliche, but I really love Tomb Raider. The 2013 title was written by Rhianna Pratchett, and I think that her input showed in how Lara Croft is now a human being with thoughts, feelings and motivations of her own. Lara is an incredible role model, and I’ve loved experiencing her going through the growing pains of becoming the hardened, capable woman that she turns out to be. Both Tomb Raider and ROTTR are testaments to the fact that a “strong female character” can also be vulnerable, complex and relatable.

Bioware do a pretty phenomenal job of featuring complex women in their games. I’ve recently been re-playing Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Journey is also up there in my list of favourites, and given that Kellee Santiago is the President of TGC I think we can call that a female-driven title.

  1. Which upcoming games are you most looking forward to being released and why?

Let’s pretend that Mass Effect: Andromeda will actually come out this year for my wellbeing. I’m really excited to see more of the ME world and experience a whole new story. I think I’m equal parts excited as a fan and impressed a professional by the boldness of making this game. I hope it lives up to my expectations.

Is it okay if I’m still kind of looking forward to Fable Legends? Because I am. Maybe it’s the fog of nostalgia, but the design of the Fable games just makes me happy. For the first time ever I might actually get into a multi-player game.

  1. What are your tips for anyone wanting to break into the games industry?

I can only speak from my personal experience, so: Understand the value of hard work – If you’ve got big dreams, you’re going to have to put in the hours to realise them. Build something from scratch – for me, building my own brand was absolutely invaluable. It taught me to be proactive, creative and professional. Learn how to wear a lot of hats – I don’t know anybody in games who is only good at one thing. I feel a bit pompous giving any of this advice, though. There are so many accomplished industry veterans who are very open with their expertise and advice, and if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have stood a chance. I’m constantly impressed by how generous the industry is. People genuinely want each other to succeed, because it benefits us all for the industry to do well.

  1. Are there any Twitter feeds, websites, Facebook pages, forums etc you could recommend for people who are interested in games and interactive storytelling?

Generally speaking, I think it’s important to be across a lot of areas of the industry. I have a pretty busy lifestyle so I don’t spend a lot of time in forums and groups, but I do listen to/watch a lot of YouTube and audio or video content on the go. Game Hugs is a great new podcast focusing on games industry interviews, and Extra Credits is a super insightful YouTube channel that covers everything from why games are important to social difficulty curve.