About

I’m a game developer, narrative director, experience designer, and WGGB-nominated writer. I’ve mixed up interactivity and storytelling for a living for nearly three decades. I’ve worked in interactive television, education, puppet-making, larp, film, live events, and the video games industry.

Narrative Design

I’ve written and designed story for many different types of interactive media. My credits include narrative design, character creation, world design, dialogue, prose, and voice direction for PC, console, VR, AR, and mobile games.

I’ve worked on over 100 games, interactive events, and immersive experiences. Alongside co-founding Talespinners, I was shortlisted for a Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award as Story Lead on Frictional Games‘ horror title, Amnesia: Rebirth and was Narrative Director at Ubisoft Stockholm on a brand new cloud-based heavily procedural IP. I've worked in VR and AR on the latest platforms, and am currently Narrative Director at The Chinese Room.

I’ve also directed larps and live-action events for more than 30 years. I’m co-founder of Crooked House, an organisation legendary for its high concept larps and ridiculously over-the-top special effects and sets. This experience has become very relevant to the mainstream due to the renewed interest in VR, AR, and immersive events.

Games Programming

I’ve held a wealth of roles as a programmer, technical architect and CTO. I spent a long time running software teams creating interactive TV systems and produced over 40 educational games.

In 2009, I threw all that in to work in the mainstream games industry, where I’ve since worked as a programmer and designer for gameplay, systems and tools on a wide range of triple-A and indie titles across all sorts of platforms – including SOMA and the LittleBigPlanet and LEGO franchises.

Writing

My first full-length feature film, Fallen Soldiers, came out in July 2015. We made it for virtually no money, and with no time. Critics have said things like ‘a very clever piece of genre cinema that is not bound by its conventions’ (Film News) and ‘a great low budget horror movie, with some strong talent and clever ideas.’ (Starburst). I have two other screenplays currently in production for Signature Entertainment, the World War 2 adventure Fortunes of War and a new adaptation of Dumas’ The Three Musketeers.

My twisted children’s book Where’s My Shoggoth? is available in all good comic shops. It has been variously described as ‘a firmly recommended gift for anyone in life who has a taste for the bizarre’ (Starburst Magazine), ‘a book you’ll happily put on your child’s shelf alongside Winnie the Pooh & Dr. Seuss’ (Omnicomic), ‘perfect for the Lovecraft lover in your life’ (Ain’t It Cool News) and ‘just right to snuggle up with your budding young mythos investigator on a dark and stormy night’ (Wired), amongst many other accolades.

My novel-length interactive fiction title Pendragon Rising has sold tens of thousands of copies since its publication in 2016.

I’ve also worked as editor and writer-for-hire on projects ranging from novels to gameworld lore. I’m often asked to polish and copy-edit work, particularly when it comes to dialogue.

Talks

I’m happy to give talks anywhere (just try and stop me!) and have previously given talks at universities and at conferences such as GDC, Narrascope, AdventureX, Level Up, XpoNorth, and Nineworlds on:

  • Storytelling in VR
  • Making Horror: Getting Emotional in Interactive Media
  • How to Build a World
  • Telling Game Stories Without Words
  • Getting Into Games Writing
  • Be Lazy: How To Make Games Development Painless
  • Getting Into The Games Industry
  • How Not To Get A Job
  • Lessons From LARP
  • The Co-op Studio Model
  • The Anatomy Of A Triple-A Game Engine

Testimonials

Allan Plenderleith

Director, Splendy Games

It was a pleasure working with Ian on The Bunker, he has an expert eye for game design detail and an incredible talent for bringing real humanity to storylines. His logic in game narrative structure is flawless and he brought an amazing attention to detail to The Bunker, providing layer after layer of storytelling, making the game richer and more immersive.

Paul Connor

Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller’s Tales

Ian is an excellent programmer who was also a pleasure to work with. He is a very articulate speaker and clear thinker, with a great sense of code and API design – allowing him to stand out as a clear leadership figure within both the LEGO Systems group, and the company as a whole.

Olly Bennett

Managing Director, Cardboard Sword

Ian doesn’t just do the job you give him. He brings new ideas, new approaches and directions, and pulls, sculpts and batters your ideas until they look far shinier than they ever were – or would have been – without him. He is an excellent writer, coder, and logical mind that will help you and your project in far more ways than what is written on any contract or agreement.

Talk Feedback

I learned more from this panel than any other. The examples were fascinating and illustrative. Definitely felt like I was listening to expert advice, and I took a lot away that I can use when creating my own experiences. Thanks!

Talk Feedback

Solid (and funny!) talk by an entertaining speaker… Thoughtful examples that showed how elements of horror work in both digital and real world spaces.

Talk Feedback

Ian was an engrossing speaker; the accent and the humor, coupled with his experience, all made for a great presentation. The video clips really hammered home his messages too. In this era of “what’s your word count? My game is 400,000 words!”, it was nice to to be reminded to be selective with our language, and that sometimes less is more.

Talk Feedback

A great presentation… a fascinating talk, and a good representation of the different kinds of interactive fiction that are out there (e.g. LARP, which I didn’t see discussed in any other presentations)