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The Inventory interviews Jane Jensen

Conducted by Dimitris Manos - November 2003
The rather lengthy interview consists of four parts:

I am fifteen years old and I am going back to my home holding in my hands a copy of The Beast Within, which I just bought from the local computer hardware and software store. Just looking at the mystifying cover of the box makes me eager to run back instead of walking so that I can play the game sooner. More than one month later I have finished this amazing interactive experience and the world will never be the same anymore. I liked adventures till that point, but after The Beast Within adventures became a way of life. All the rest of the genres seemed pale in comparison.

Jane has of course produced more titles than The Beast Within, and one thing they all have in common is that they all are top class products! She has also proven that no matter how the game is graphically presented (2D, 3D or FMV) a grand storyline and an exciting gameplay are enough to uplift any game in the 'first rate' category. She has recently started her own company, called Oberon Media and she is currently working on a new adventure that is going to be published by The Adventure Company, a co-operation that was made possible through the help of our host site, Just Adventure.

I think it was prudent to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of our magazine by featuring an interview with the main reason of its existence! So the master storyteller of computer games makes The Invenory's Lounge shine more than it has ever done before, with an interview covering Jane Jensen's glorious past, her bright looking future and her opinions on adventure games in general.


The Inventory: I am sure that most of our readers know who you are already, but for those who do not could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Jane: I started in the gaming industry with Sierra Online in 1989. I worked on a number of adventure games at Sierra including King's QuestVI, working with Roberta Williams, and later creating my own series, Gabriel Knight. I've also been a programmer (in the 'old days') and, more recently, have had several novels published. I live in Seattle with my husband and step-daughter.

The Inventory: You started your career as a computer programmer. It is known that if someone is not an experienced writer most game developing companies will not even consider him/her for writing the story of one of their games. How did the transition from Jane Jensen the computer programmer to Jane Jensen the storyteller occur? How did you convince Ken Williams (Sierra founder) that apart from a programmer you are a great storyteller as well?
Jane: I was actually hired on at Sierra for their writer's block, a group of writers hired to help the established designers write dialogue, do game manuals, and so on. When I applied there, I sent in a short story and it was the short story that got me hired. So I guess you could say Sierra never saw me as a programmer, even though my previous job was as an engineer at Hewlett-Packard.

The Inventory: It is obvious that you are a person who is very much interested in history, religion and the paranormal. What part of history is your favourite to study? Are you religious yourself? And do you believe in supernatural phenomena?
Jane: In  history, I find all eras interesting, though I'm particularly compelled by the Victorian age in every way. I am not religious. I have a fascination with the trappings of belief and in comparative religions, but I'm not religious myself. Do I believe in supernatural phenomenon? Somedays I do and somedays I don't. I've never experienced anything truly bizarre but I've heard some very compelling first-hand stories. Yes, I believe there's more to the world than we currently understand.

The Inventory: The Gabriel Knight games have a large number of fans around the world. Do people ever recognise you on the street and stop you to congratulate you on your work?
Jane: No. (smiley) My face is not well known. If I'm at a gaming function, such as a conference, people will recognize the name.


Last update: October 24, 2007

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