Can you share with us your journey into narrative development?
I was kind of dragged into it by game writer friends! My entire writing career started in 2003
and was based around comics – starting with G.I. Joe. I lived in Seattle, and a lot of my
comic writer friends were also working in games. This was a booming time in Seattle
gaming to say the least, and my pals kept trying to get me to join them.
Here’s the thing: I do not fall into the category of “hardcore gamer” by any stretch of the
imagination, so I didn’t want to be perceived as insincere. Also, I figured I probably didn’t
know enough about anything to even have a shot.
This completely idiotic way of thinking means that I turned down at least two gigs that would
have been excellent on my resume now. We live and we learn. I think it turned out okay...
My first proper game job was canceled on the first day! After that, I picked up a couple of
gigs here and there, but I wasn’t sure if this was going to spark. I stayed focused on comics.
I ended up working for WotC as the lead writer on a card game called Kaijudo. I was on that
game from the start and spent a good couple of years on it. That was a very helpful
experience in learning more about different types of engagement, dealing with power sets
and skills, working in a stat-based system, things of that nature.
In 2016, my friend Brannon Boren became the Game Design Director on Britney Spears:
American Dream, a Glu Mobile game in the vein of the insanely successful Kim Kardashian
game. They needed a writer, I was between gigs, and I famously love music and pop
culture. The timing was perfect.
Brannon was an excellent mentor, and I was a quick learner. I ended up writing 95% of that
entire 5-Star AAA mobile game, pushing all-new content every week, and I am immensely
proud of it to this day.
That’s when it locked in for me, and I fell in love with the danger of letting someone have
agency in your story. You don’t get that in comics.
When I saw how deep the interactions could go, and how one choice could generate a huge
development that still needs to dovetail back to the main story...that was it, let’s go! I didn’t
see endless rabbit holes of to-do work for the writer – I saw opportunities.
Learning how game narrative works taught me to properly appreciate it as a player. It
certainly helped get me into more gaming overall and understand how my skills work within
the space. I’ve also learned a lot from my maniac expert friends and *ahem* Atomic Arcade
design team colleagues who know every game, console, and gamer soda promotion that
After leading the story team for the short-lived Nicki Minaj game that followed Britney, I
worked on early versions of voice-first choice-based games for Volley and Amazon. Then, I
got a call from NBCUniversal asking if I’d like to interview for a story editor gig for their new mobile game. I flew down and back to L.A. in one day, and a month later I was living in
Once again, pop culture paid off: I became the story editor for SERIES, which featured 10+
established NBCU IPs, from Sixteen Candles to Saved By The Bell to Law & Order and
Xena, in a choice-based free-to-play mobile game. I was the single editorial point of contact
on the NBCU side, with 40+ writers funneling through me at our highest velocity. It was
incredibly ambitious and insanely complicated. Spoiler: it didn’t last long.
NBCU also put me to work writing on multiple Jurassic games, which was so much fun. My
favorite part was getting to write the “Return to Jurassic Park” DLC that had Jeff Goldblum,
Sam Neill, and Laura Dern returning to do the voice work. Life, uh, found a way.
I ended up at Amazon, where I worked on something that I can’t even describe to you
without getting in trouble. I am allowed to say that I wrote quite a few jokes for that Amazon
home robot. So that’s “robot joke writer” off the bucket list.
And then came the call from Atomic Arcade, asking the question I’d been waiting over a
decade to hear: Would you like to come back to G.I. Joe?
As the games Sr Narrative Designer where have you and the Atomic team drawn
inspiration from for the GI Joe Snake Eyes game?
Since you’ll surely be talking to the other designers, I’m going to speak to the story side of
There was a story in place when I got here; it’s evolved in many ways, but it was a strong
foundation to start with.
When Ames (GI Joe Snake Eyes Creative Director) explained it the first time, I thought he was pranking me. There were more than
a few ideas and characters that came from my writing in the comics! It was really validating
and a very pleasant surprise, because I wasn’t expecting that at all.
But what I really loved was how they imagined a version of G.I. Joe that embraces so many
different aspects of the brand. Not just my stuff, not just one particular comic or movie or
cartoon - EVERYTHING is fair game for inspiration!
I think the fans who really know the franchise are going to be shocked when they see all the
toys we’re playing with here...but don’t worry, they’ll still be the characters that you know
What are some of your favorite narrative moments in the GI Joe universe?
I like the smaller moments, especially at the peak of Larry Hama’s work on the Marvel book.
So much character, so much complexity to this children’s game of soldiers and spies!
One favorite moment is when Cobra tricked the Joes into helping them create Cobra Island.
This is 75 cents worth (!!!) of entertainment for 12-year-old Brandon: Cobra pushed them into it, bringing things in the Gulf of Mexico to a point where the crew of
the Flagg was loading a nuke onto Ace’s Skystriker, and he was coming to terms with the
fact that he’d never dropped one.
At the last second, Doc (a pacifist!) maths out the explosive equivalent of a nuclear blast, so
they swap the nuke for a massive multi-bomb loadout. Boom boom boom, no excess
radiation! That’s what G.I. Joe does best: they figure out a way.
Unfortunately, the explosion aggravates a fault line and raises a land mass that Cobra
plants a flag on and declares a sovereign nation. That’s what Cobra does best: they ruin
Joe or Cobra?
I’ll fight for freedom wherever there’s...Trouble Bubbles. Sorry, I’m team Cobra until the
Joes can promise me my own Flight Pod.
Following that up, what GI Joe character would you be if you could be anyone?
I’m gonna switch sides and say Snow Job. I love cold and snowy weather, so I think I could
handle that gig.
What are some of the things (no spoilers) in the new GI Joe Snake Eyes game you
are most excited about?
My favorite thing about this game is our shared – and openly stated! – commitment to
making a GREAT piece of G.I. Joe media. I don’t think I have to convince anyone that I’m a
true believer in G.I. Joe, but I’ll happily vouch for every person working on this project.
We’re not just trying to make a good game – we’re trying to make the most exciting and fully realized embodiment of G.I. Joe that the world has ever seen!