Women in Tabletop Gaming Month #21: Chaosium interviews KatyaThomas
Posted by Michael O'Brien on 26th Jun 2018
Lynne Hardy interviews assistant game developer Katya Thomas for Women in Tabletop Gaming Month
Serious ones first:
1. What is your background?
I left education fairly early at 17 after becoming very unwell, with only GCSEs and a diploma in Fine Art in my pocket. I always knew I’d to go into a creative field, but was never entirely sure which path I wanted to follow. I was lucky enough to fall into the games industry, which I found fit me well because I love contributing to projects and developing products to be the best they can be.
2. How long have you been gaming? What attracted you to it in the first place, and how were you introduced to it?
I like to say I was born into gaming! My father was an avid roleplayer, therefore a lot of the role models in my life growing up were gamers and still people I am very close to to this day. I’ve always enjoyed board games but not until recently had I begun venturing into RPGs. So far, I’ve found investigative RPGs, like Call of Cthulhu, have been my favorite because I really enjoy the player interaction and finding out information. Although I originally tried to rebel against my gaming destiny, it didn’t work—but I suppose it is in my blood!
3. How did you get into the gaming industry?
Although people might recognise me from working and demoing at the Chaosium booth at various UK conventions including UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet, after leaving school I started looking at internships to give my CV some oomph and hopefully land a job in the future. Fortunately, I was extremely lucky and someone at my roleplaying club that owned Wotan Games offered me a job as an intern. I stayed there for eight months gaining valuable knowledge of how to run a games company. At the beginning of this year, I started working for Modiphius as a playtester, later becoming an Assistant Developer. I currently work on their board games and war games, as well as assisting in the art direction for some of our RPGs.
4. What was the first gaming product you worked on, and in what capacity?
I worked on the playtest layout for a Glorantha-based skirmish game that's still in development and hopefully will see the light of day now that the new RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha is out. I then worked on a skirmish war game called War of the Nine Realms during my internship with Wotan Games, helping with development, proofreading, and the design of the board for the game.
5. What was the last gaming product you worked on, and in what capacity?
Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel—a remake of the ’80s original. As part of the development team, I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of input into the game’s evolution. Along with the other developers in the company, I worked on ensuring the core mechanics of the game work well and are streamlined, as well as balancing and creating the abilities of characters and writing new scenarios.
6. What has been the most challenging gaming product you’ve worked on, and why? (Alternatively, this could be the gaming product you’ve learned the most from working on)
Fallout: Wasteland Warfare for sure! It was my first experience with a game so technical, and war games had never been a gaming genre I’d dipped my toe into before. It also happened to be the first game product I worked on at Modiphius, so it felt like I’d jumped into the deep end. Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot about different war game systems, which has made working on other war games much easier because I’m now familiar with the basic mechanics. In fact, I’ve now been able to enjoy some popular war games, X-Wing being my favorite.
7. What has been the most enjoyable/rewarding gaming product you’ve worked on, and why?
Definitely Kung Fu Panda (on Kickstarter now!). We had a lot of creative freedom when working on this game, so had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for scenarios, introducing new characters, and working out cool mechanics. It was amazing being able to work on something so nostalgic for me—my inner child’s excitement has definitely come out a few times when we’ve been shown new minis or illustrations. I can also confidently say that it is extremely fun (if not slightly mad), which is pretty good going considering I’ve probably played it upwards of 300 times and still enjoy it!
And now for some more frivolous ones:
8. Just how large is your dice and/or stationary collection?
I only recently bought my first dice set, which makes me feel like a real gamer now. As far as my stationary addiction, it has gotten under control since I left school but I do relapse occasionally—especially when it comes to colorful pens and erasers that look like food.
9. What is your favourite gaming snack?
Chips and coke. (Separately of course—I’m not a monster).