Friday, April 15, 2022

Game Writing Job Hunt Misconceptions

In this video, game writer Sande Chen lists the top 5 game writing job hunt misconceptions she found during her research on job seekers wanting to break into the video game industry.

Here is my presentation at the 2021 Southern Interactive Entertainment and Game Expo (SIEGE), the largest video game trade show in the South.

In 2020 and 2021, I interviewed job seekers who were actively applying to jobs and internships in the video game industry. They came from all walks of life. Some were students. Some were changing directions from careers they no longer wanted. Some were in related careers like social media management or comedy writing. I found out that all had learned about the stiff competition there was for entry level narrative jobs in the video game industry. 

They wanted to know what it was that hiring managers, recruiters, lead writers and narrative designers were looking for in candidates and their portfolios.  I did too.

So, I contacted hiring managers, human resources specialists, lead writers and narrative designers to find out what I could and the result is my webinar Game Writing Portfolio Superstar, which will be held on April 30, 2022, from 1 - 2 PM Eastern time.

Tickets are on sale now. Don't be passed over. Learn what you need to do to get ahead.

the deets!
Date: April 30, 2022
Time: 1:00 PM Eastern time

Sande Chen is a writer and game designer with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Her writing credits include Independent Games Festival winner Terminus and the PC RPG of the Year, The Witcher, for which she was nominated for a Writers Guild Award in Videogame Writing. She is the co-author of Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform, a founding member of the IGDA Game Design SIG, and an expert in the field of educational game design.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Save the Date: Webinars Coming

I just joined Instagram for the first time this week and discovered the drawing that accompanied my quarantine essay, "Dear Daughter," was posted there. The autobiographical essay was the first memoir type of writing that I had ever published and it was later included in Covid-19 memory projects and in ArtsWestchester's exhibition, "Together apART: Creating During Covid."  During the pandemic, I discovered what it was like to be considered an artist.

I had also reconnected with Cori Myers (or Gameinatrix) from Gamer Girls Radio (GGR), the longest running all-female gaming podcast in existence.   

I learned after-the-fact that I had been included in GGR's March 2021 spotlight of Amazing Asian Women in Tech, Gaming, and Streaming. Thank you!

At the same time, I've been interviewing hiring managers and updating my webinar on game writing portfolios. What I've learned is that hirers are eager to discover that next great writer and find that diamond in the rough. In my webinar, I'll tell you how to make sure they notice you.

Save the Date!  Saturday, April 30 will be the next webinar date.

If you're applying to game writing jobs, you want your writing portfolio to stand out. Let your game writing portfolio rise to the top!

In May, I'll debut a brand new webinar dedicated to demystifying the writing test. 

Sande Chen is a writer and game designer with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Her writing credits include Independent Games Festival winner Terminus and the PC RPG of the Year, The Witcher, for which she was nominated for a Writers Guild Award in Videogame Writing. She is the co-author of Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform, a founding member of the IGDA Game Design SIG, and an expert in the field of educational game design.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Social Interaction, Zoom, and Early Learning

In this article, game designer Sande Chen reports on research findings regarding remote learning during the pandemic.

As the parent of little ones and an expert in educational games, I welcomed the opportunity to hear the latest research from Patricia K. Kuhl, the Bezos Family Foundation Endowed Chair for Early Childhood Learning, about the effects of remote learning on children. Her research on the "social brain," the neural network that allows us to interpret social cues, reinforces the need for social interaction in education, something I have stressed in my presentations about the design of early education apps.

As early as 2003, Kuhl and her graduate students showed that 9 to 10.5 month old babies could show the same level of learning as those immersed in the culture with just 12 sessions of live instruction in a foreign language.  But change that instruction to a screen and an up-close recording of the session, and the babies showed no improvement, despite the intense interest in the screen. Sadly, passive entertainment on a screen was not an answer.

It's no surprise then that even anecdotally, parents felt that their children were not learning as well over Zoom. My preschooler has had her remote learning days and it must pale in comparison to having classmates and play time. Kuhl's data showed a learning loss across the board during pandemic Zoom instruction.

However, a bright spot occurred with a change in methodology. In Kuhl's latest study, kindergarteners were each sent a kit of materials to use with a Zoom class focused more on fun activities and social interaction. The kids were engaged when told to find and hold up a blue egg, which revealed a little toy inside. The children learned to read, but also learned each other's names and looked forward to class. Clearly, even if it can be harder to implement, game-based learning can greatly improve the efficacy of remote learning.

Sande Chen is a NYC-based writer and game designer whose work has spanned over 20 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She is the co-author of the book, Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform. As a serious games consultant, she helps companies harness the power of video games for non-entertainment purposes.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Interview with Joanna Giordano, Career Coach

As I mentioned before, I'm now offering online workshops on game writing tests and portfolio preparation.  I get my information by talking to industry hirers, recruiters, and human resources.  

To give you a glimpse into the human resources mindset, here's a short interview with Joanna Giordano, your "friend in HR," as she likes to call herself.  

She's also a career coach who can give you candid resume reviews, job search strategy consultations, and resume writing lessons. She specializes in helping people with long career gaps, career pivoters, early career job seekers wondering how to get experience when all jobs require experience, and those with diverse backgrounds who need to tell a story about transferable skills.

Question: Should we be doing anything different to prepare for Zoom interviews than what we would do for in-person or phone? 

Joanna:  You get the advantage of knowing your environment ahead of time, which is good because hopefully you will feel comfortable. Watch your lighting and camera angle. Best to face a window or diffused light. Put the computer (not phone if possible) on some books so the angle is more eye-level. We don’t want to look up your nose. Be sure you are looking at the camera and not a different screen. Pay attention to your background! 

Question: What can you do about gaps in work experience or lack of credits? Some people have worked on games that have never shipped.

Joanna:  Focus on spinning facts in a positive light. Even if your have not shipped or scored a credit, you still worked, learned, delivered something most likely. Gaps can be zoomed out artfully by giving a season or year instead of exact date or month. Your experiences can go out of order if it serves to highlight the most relevant experience to be top most instead of the most recent. Include experience that was not paid if it is relevant or serves to help fill in. Volunteering, studying, etc. If you have nothing, then start immediately and add to your resume immediately. 

Question: In your opinion, what are things that need to be addressed and taken away immediately? 

Joanna: No photos, addresses, tiny fonts, block text, second pages. 

BioJoanna has worked for over 10 years in corporate HR in recruiting and talent acquisition operations. She has seen thousands of resumes and has unique knowledge about both the human and machine side of the selection process. She believes if you’re going to play the game, you should know the rules. Her webinars have drawn hundreds from an international audience. The mission is to make this common knowledge more accessible to alleviate the frustration felt by job seekers. No one likes writing a resume, but it remains a necessary evil for the foreseeable future. Applying is not a black hole, it’s a black box.

If you'd like to get help from Joanna Giordano, you can find her on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Flavored by Authenticity: How Personal Experiences Amplify Narrative

Matthew Farber, Juliana Loh, Kimberly Unger, and I headlined the Georgia Game Developers Association CIMFest last year with this powerful panel exploring how personal experiences empower narrative writing. Especially enlightening was the conversation on how personal experiences do not necessarily equate trauma but can instead be more uplifting and positive.  

Keynote Panel: Flavored by Authenticity: How Personal Experiences Amplify Narrative 

Digital storytelling is a currently evolving medium and the push-and-pull nature of player interaction in video games provides an opportunity for the inclusion of personal touchstones in order to more deeply connect with and engage a broad audience. Over the past decade, there has been an increase in the examination of personal narrative elements as methods of engagement in teaching and community building, most notably by contributing a level of accessible authenticity. 

This keynote examines how personal narratives inform narrative and character design as a whole in a game or virtual setting, Join us for a look at moments in popular games informed by personal narrative, from the indie to the AAA level, and reflect on steps that might be taken in order to retain authenticity while avoiding the pitfalls that naturally come with the wholesale creation of fantastic and fictional spaces. 


Sande Chen

Profiled as one of the Game Industry's Top 100 Most Influential Women and a 2020 Women in Games Global Hall of Fame winner, Sande Chen is a writer and game designer with over 15 years of experience in the industry. Her writing credits include 1999 Independent Games Festival winner Terminus and the PC RPG of the Year, The Witcher, for which she was nominated for a 2007 Writers Guild Award in Videogame Writing. She is the co-author of Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform and was a contributor to Secrets of the Game Business, Writing For Video Game Genres, and Professional Techniques for Videogame Writing. She has been a speaker at numerous game-related conferences, including the Game Developers Conference, NY Comic Con, PAX East, and SXSW. She has been invited to the White House and represented the USA at the World Conference on Science Literacy. She also has a Grammy nomination.

Matthew Farber

Matthew Farber, Ed.D. is an assistant professor at the University of Northern Colorado, where he founded the Gaming SEL Lab. He has been invited to the White House, authored several books and papers, and is a frequent collaborator with UNESCO and Games for Change. His latest book is Gaming SEL: Games as Transformational to Social and Emotional Learning ( For more, please visit

Juliana Loh

Juliana Loh is an independent Producer/Artist whose background includes branded entertainment, UX and art direction. In addition to developing educational/gaming experiences, she has honed her artistic skills as a concept and gallery-showing artist while pioneering, empowering and supporting grassroots tech meetups and communities. Currently working as an instructor and immersive artist, she is keenly aware of how emerging technology is changing the way we relate to each other. She is currently designing story-based Pro-Kindness Workshops using VR360 based on user-centered design thinking.

Kimberly Unger 

Kimberly made her first videogame back when the 80-column card was the new hot thing and after 20+ years as a pro in that industry, the magic still hasn’t faded. Now she sources leading-edge content for Oculus, lectures on the intersection of art and code for UCSC in Games and Playable Media, wrangles a monthly column on science-fiction in videogames over at Amazing Stories and writes science fiction about how all these app-driven superpowers are going to change the human race. Her debut sci-fi novel, NUCLEATION is available now on Amazon and her next novel The Extractionist will be available in November of 2021. You can find her on Twitter at @Ing3nu or on her blog at


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Watch my interview on Negocios TV

What a thrill to do this interview with Bisila Bokoko on Negocios TV, a business channel. Bisila Bokoko herself is a truly awe-inspiring woman and she has helped female entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. We chatted about different topics regarding the video game industry including how to help women break into the game industry and the importance of female game players. 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Launch and Liftoff: Career Workshops in 2022!

 Hello! It's January 2022.  Though I haven't been updating the blog, that doesn't mean I wasn't presenting or doing interviews.  After SXSW and CIMFest, I participated in two MCM London Comic Con panels, "The Art of the Onomatopoeia" and "Creating Diverse Characters for Comics and More."  I presented at SIEGE and Serious Play Conferences and was interviewed by Women in Games and Negocios TV.

But on a personal note, I completed the LAUNCH1000 program, an intensive course on entrepreneurship.  You may have seen that I did a new, improved version of my webinar on game writing portfolios.

I plan to run more workshops in 2022 and as part of the workshop benefits, will invite all attendees to join in our own supportive community.  I've learned from film school that when we all help and support each other, we can all succeed together.

Within the community, I hope to inspire, spotlight resources. and bring guests from recruitment or HR to better inform us on how to prepare for the next exciting opportunity.

I'll be posting my interviews and conference appearances in the coming weeks as well as more career-focused content.

Happy New Year!

Hope to see you at the next workshop!

P.S. If you want to be notified about upcoming workshops, just drop me an e-mail and I'll let you know.