Exclusive piece written by Marie Lu
I’ve always played video games since I was small, and I’ve always loved to draw, but I never thought about working in the gaming industry until I stumbled into it almost by chance. I thought I was going to graduate college and head off to law school. Still, my heart wasn’t in it, and a few days before graduation, I found myself wandering aimlessly across campus and feeling very sorry for myself.
As I passed a kiosk, I glanced up and caught sight of a flyer that said: “Do you like to play video games? Do you like to draw?”
Um, yes, I do, I said to myself, and read the rest of the flyer. It was from Disney Interactive Studios, the game division of Disney, and they were looking for eight interns to join them for a paid, six-month Think Tank program. The job? Come up with new video game ideas.
I ran back to my dorm, pieced together a portfolio of all of my past artwork, and submitted them to the program. By some stroke of fate and luck, I got in.
What followed was one of the best six months of my life. I loved working at Disney. I loved my fellow interns, all creative and ambitious young people passionate about their jobs. Almost everything I learned about games, creativity, and the art of creating fun, I learned during this job.
Warcross contains many of my memories from both playing and working on games. The epic Mario Kart round that Emika’s teammates play? That’s based on an exact game my fellow interns played. (We actually had a Mario Kart wrestling belt that each of us would try to win every evening after work.) Emika’s SEGA T-shirt and love for Sonic 2? An homage to the first video game I ever played. The Leeroy Jenkins reference? Something I first learned from my intern friends. And the way that Warcross turns Emika Chen’s life upside down? A reflection of how entering the gaming industry changed my life forever for the better.
I approached designing the Warcross game itself as if I’d just been given complete freedom and an infinite budget to create a game. That’s the beauty of writing about a game: there are no bugs, no technical limitations, and no bureaucracy to get in the way. How fun is that? Warcross is part League of Legends, part Quidditch, and part Mario Kart. It’s a wild mish-mash of everything I’ve ever wanted to throw into a game.
My goal is for this book to be as fun for a non-gamer as it might be for a gamer. It’s a story about technology, the future, and a girl who fights to rise above the cards she’s dealt in life. It’s absolutely my favorite story that I’ve ever written. I hope you enjoy it!