Katrina Garsten (nee Schnell) was formerly a Producer at Obsidian Entertainment and has been involved with game development since 2012. Previously, she worked as a Production Coordinator Intern on multiple titles in West Hollywood. In her free time, she loves reading comics, drawing, and playing survival horror games. She is originally from Milwaukee and will always call Wisconsin her home.
THIS PROFILE WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED MAY 2015
Name: Katrina Garsten (nee Schnell)
Years of experience: 3
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Shipped game titles:
Pillars of Eternity – 2015
Evil Within (Uncredited) – 2014
Tomb Raider (Uncredited) – 2013
Shatoetry – 2012
1. What are you currently reading and/or playing?
Reading – Y The Last Man, and way too many weekly comics
Playing – In honor of Silent Hills and its tragic cancellation, I’m currently replaying Silent Hill 1-4.
2. First time you knew you wanted to work in games was…?
When I was ten years old, I spent my free time drawing my own video game characters and writing stories for them. Ever since then, I’ve known that I wanted to be involved with game development.
3. What was your favorite mistake?
I was trying to figure out how to de-scale the office espresso machine. I pressed a button, and the espresso machine immediately started pouring water onto the counter and spreading out over the floor. I ran yelling to the QA lead, who was the only one who knew how to perform maintenance on the machine, and by the time we got back half the kitchen floor was flooded. Thankfully no one walked into the kitchen until after we finished mopping up the water. This was over a year ago, and I still won’t touch that stupid espresso machine for fear of causing another kitchen flood.
4. What was your favorite success?
I worked on a way to track time for my strike team’s bugs and tasks that was highly organized and easy to understand. I showed my boss at the time, and he sent an email to the other producers showing them my solution and saying how wonderful a job I had done. Hearing praise as a new employee is the best, and really motivated me to go above and beyond what is expected of me at work.
5. What’s the best advice you ever got?
My grandfather gave me advice when I was graduating college and deciding where to go next. He said to me: “You can do anything. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
This advice has stuck with me for everything I do. I take on extra work when I can because I enjoy constantly being challenged. If someone asks me “Are you sure you want to do this?” or “Are you sure this isn’t too difficult?” I always remain confident and say, “Just watch what I can do.”
6. Share one thing few know about you.
I play seven instruments! My favorite is my violin… and I’ve been playing it for 15 years.
7. What’s one thing or trend you’re most excited about in the industry?
Kickstarter is something that has made me excited to see what great games will be created from it in the future. While there are games that may not have hit their goals, you have games like Pillars of Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera that were only possible because of the backers. With Kickstarter and Pillars of Eternity, Obsidian Entertainment was saved. I see Kickstarter saving more companies in the future, and from it will emerge some wonderful games. Not only that, but Kickstarter makes it possible for people who may not be in the industry yet to fund projects and show everyone the games they create.
8. Anything else you want to add?
It may sound cliché, but in this industry, if you are given an opportunity, always take it. It may seem scary at first, but that’s natural. I moved to Los Angeles right after college in 2013 to work as an unpaid intern for a startup company. I even lived in the studio I worked at. Sure, it was rough because I wasn’t getting paid, but I was gaining experience, and from that role I branched out and was finally able to get the opportunity to work for Obsidian. You have to take risks and say yes to internships and small jobs, even if they are unpaid at the time. Show people what you’re capable of, enter the industry with your head held high, and you’ll succeed.
Update April 4, 2019!
Please note the interview is four years old and I’ve changed immensely since then – I’m now a Producer for Blizzard Entertainment Cinematics, and I also no longer agree with my comment about taking unpaid work 😬 Don’t do it!!
— Katrina Garsten (@kgarsten) April 4, 2019
Feel free to reblog with a link back to this post. If you are a lady dev who’d like to be profiled or would like to nominate one, please contact anne [at] igda [dot] org