Ruben talks with Alanah Pearce about everything from her experience in the video games industry to her perfect pocket monster meal.
Hi there! Who are you, and what do you do?
Hi, I'm Alanah Pearce! I'm a video game writer and content creator. My day job is writing at Sony's Santa Monica Studio, and after work I run far too many podcasts (largely with other people in the games industry, though I do also have some comedy shows I produce with good friends), I make gaming content on YouTube, I voice act, and do a lot of Twitch streams for charity. I've been working in the games industry for 11 years now, and really can't imagine myself doing anything else.
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Right now I'm nursing a hangover because I went to see System of a Down last night, who have been one of my favourite bands since I was probably 10 years old or so. It was awesome, though I probably had a few too many beers. I'm just slowly trying to down coffee, and just ordered myself some pasta, because carbs on carbs seems to be my hangover cure. I also just edited the most recent version of one of my comedy shows - Idiots & A Broad - and have been organising this year's Video Game Accessibility Awards show, which I write and produce! After I down the pasta, I'll be recording some gameplay of Sifu - which I'm super excited about - to get the video up for the embargo, and then I might stream some Dying Light 2.
Give me a rundown of a day in the life of Alanah Pearce.
I try to be overly cautious about talking about what I do at Santa Monica Studio just to protect the secrecy of some of the process, but it's mostly meetings and writing. I get up as late as I possibly can, because I am a notoriously sleepy human, then have some breakfast and a coffee before jumping into the work day. Sometimes I'll do a podcast or an interview or a quick stream during my lunch break, and then after all of my Sony work is done for the day, I try to workout either in VR or at the gym before I jump into my after-hours job. Then there are podcasts, unboxings, streams, gameplay videos, reaction videos, and meetings for any of the other content I'm working on. I also make sure I write on personal projects a few times a week, but really I feel like my average day is just a wild juggling act of trying to get everything done.
A bit of a big one; How was it going from IGN to Rooster Teeth to video game writer for Santa Monica Studio? What was that experience like?
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I had already been working in games media for several years before I got a job at IGN, and I was only 21 at the time. When I started in games journalism, IGN or GameSpot were absolutely my end goals, so I really threw everything at getting there, and when I did, I learned a lot and grew a lot professionally, for sure. It eventually got to a point where I just didn't feel like I had much else to learn in games media, nor anything at IGN that I felt really challenged me anymore. So, I figured the next best step for me would be combining my love of writing and my love of video games into the creative version of that field, rather than the journalistic one.
Moving to Rooster Teeth was really in the pursuit of building up my creative writing portfolio, even though I did do a fair amount of "games journalism" style work there, too. We also did comedy sketches, and live action shows, and video games, and movies, and TV, and that's a very cool thing about working at Rooster Teeth - they just have so many creative outlets. My day-to-day wasn't remarkably different between IGN and Rooster Teeth, being that I was a writer/producer at both companies, but I definitely enjoyed the more creative aspects of the job.
While I was there, I also put time into consulting and writing on games outside of work, just in smaller ways, and ones that weren't really publicly visible. I was actively working towards getting a job writing a game full-time, and did apply for a few positions at different studios in that time that I didn't get. They always said I was close, but it's very hard to come by junior positions at any video game studio, so I'm sure I was losing out to people who had shipped more games. Santa Monica Studio was a case of perfect timing for me - as I was continuing to build up my resume, they needed a junior writer, so I went for it. I submitted all the samples I'd spent the last several years compiling, interviewed with what felt like a million people, and after about three months, they finally offered me the job!
It was a dream come true. Though also, probably surprisingly, not structurally remarkably different to the other companies I've worked at. Again, my job title is "writer", and it turns out that functions pretty much the same no matter where you work. I'm a huge God of War fan and I really love Santa Monica Studios' approach to storytelling so I couldn't be happier to be there, and honestly am also very happy to finally have a job where I do get to just write, and I don't have to be on camera. I get why other companies wanted me to be a host as well as a writer, and I made sure I was capable of doing that to try to be as employable as possible, and obviously it's something I'm happy to do in my spare time, but I find it to be pretty draining when it's something you're required to do for a paycheck.
Any tips for aspiring writers on how to get into the industry?
I got my start in games media and in games writing pretty similarly - a lot of work for free. With games media, I found small websites and volunteered to write for them for free. For this second stage of my career, I found small games on Kickstarter and offered to write for them for the experience, or participate in game jams. I feel like I work pretty hard to make sure I get the experience and am constantly chasing the goal, rather than sitting around and waiting for jobs to come to me, and I'd recommend that to any writers out there who have the financial luxury of being able to work for free. Of course that isn't possible for everyone, and you do have to be wary of people taking advantage of you, but when you don't have much of a portfolio or a resume it's certainly helpful!
"Where Titanfall 3". You recently tweeted this, tell me a bit about what you like about the franchise and why you're excited for a possible third instalment.
I tweeted asking where Titanfall 3 was because Respawn announced a whole slew of games they're working on and it did not include Titanfall 3, hahaha. I think Titanfall 2 has one of the best FPS campaigns ever made, and while realistically I know Titanfall 3 is Apex Legends, I hope they don't move away from single-player stories in that universe. I loved Jedi: Fallen Order, and just think Respawn are great at what they do in general.
Which is your favourite MCU-movie and why?
My favourite MCU movie is Winter Soldier! I pretty much love any movie where you know something is wrong, or off, but you don't know exactly what it is. I think Winter Soldier captures that sort of curious discomfort perfectly, though I have a hell of a lot of respect for the fact that Endgame even managed to exist at all. What a tremendous feat to have so many movies spanning so many years actually all lead to one place, and for it to have felt like a triumphant payoff.
What is your favourite Home and Away-episode? No but really, which show has got you hooked at the moment?
Hahahah, I went back to Australia for a few months last year and legitimately did watch Home and Away with my family over dinner every night. It was way, way worse than I remembered. Like, some truly terrible acting, but it's fun. So, probably unsurprisingly, I watch very little TV. Almost none - I just don't have the time. As soon is I finish my day job I'm working on my "night job", and it's really hard for me to justify sitting through any TV show when there are always so many things I could be working on, or at least games I could be playing, which feel more beneficial to me professionally. I wish I could snap out of that mindset and dig into some shows I've been meaning to watch forever - like Sopranos or The Wire - but I just always feel like I'm wasting time. The only time I'll get through TV is if I'm socialising, like if someone I'm physically with wants to watch something, then I will.
Last, but not least: If you had to eat a Pokémon, which would it be and why? What would be your choice of condiments, and what drink would you pick to go with it?
This is fucked up, what is wrong with you? Also, it's CLEARLY Appletun - that lil' guy basically looks like a pie, and I'm pretty sure the Pokédex entry said the skin on its back is tasty. Because I picture it being apple pie flavoured, I'm going to go with a nice cider, no sauce.