Guerrilla Spotlight: Ben Schroder

Guerrilla; 13 April 2016

Ben Final

"It feels like we’re working on something special here."

Ben Schroder is a writer for Horizon Zero Dawn on Guerrilla’s Amsterdam team.

As an industry veteran of sixteen years, he has written both for and about games over the course of his career. We talked to Ben about his inspirations, his work at Guerrilla, and his love for the city of Amsterdam.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself!

I joined Guerrilla in summer 2015 as a writer on Horizon Zero Dawn. My interests include 80s European comics, the period when Ridge Racer was obsessed with Dutch techno, sunsets and reload animations – so obviously Guerrilla was a perfect fit.

How did you get into game development?

I moved across the world 16 years ago with a folder of game designs and sketches, thinking I could get hired as a designer, and landed a QA gig instead. Everything since has been serendipity, and the chance to learn more about games and games development. Also, a lot of writing.

Why did you settle on writing for games?

I grew up in a videogame family, so I never really saw games as being escapist. They were a way to connect with creators I hadn’t met, but who would share or shape my interests. They let me see things differently, and they might even say something to me about my life. Pretty much every game is a little miracle full of human touches, and I can’t shut up about that stuff. 

What is it you do at Guerrilla?

I work on dialogue and world flavor for Horizon Zero Dawn, with an eye to encouraging those moments I was talking about. It feels like the right game at the right time for Guerrilla – it’s imaginative, gorgeous and brave, and it has a great lead who’s part of a strong and relatable story arc. It’s a game about feelings and hunting robot dinosaurs.

Do you feel there’s room to add your personal touch at Guerrilla?

Guerrilla is a very vision-led studio – if you can make a decent case for something, at the very least it gets heard out. There are a lot of talented people here, and a lot of big, big ideas. It’s challenging, but it also means that when you say “For this guy I was thinking about the glaciologist’s dream in Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World”, nobody’s eyes immediately go blank.

What brought you to Guerrilla?

To me, Guerrilla meant top-of-class art and production design. It also meant the cherry blossoms on Vekta, the chunk-chunk of an StA-52, the Warzone on Corinth Crossing where you’re trying to understand what your female team captain is shouting in Italian. So I wanted to write between the bullets in that space, make it relatable, shout “HEY THIS FUTURE WORLD REALLY IS SOMETHING” over the gunfire. As it turns out I’ve missed my chance with Killzone (for now!), but I’ve taken the same mindset into Horizon Zero Dawn. The fact that the studio is located in Amsterdam is a big plus for me.

What do you love about Amsterdam?

The music clubs and secret cinemas, the pinball halls and used book markets, the cafes, the museums, the architecture like a cheerier Bloodborne, the morning light like a Vermeer, the wild parrots in the Vondelpark!

Would you say the city is also a source of inspiration for you?

Absolutely-- being surrounded by culture feeds creativity, energises you to find new ways of looking at things. That carries into Guerrilla too: we’ve become a melting pot of nationalities, studio histories, experiences and educations. It feels like we’re working on something special here.

And did I mention the wild parrots?

Thanks for your time, Ben!

You’re welcome.

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