UPDATE: After this article was published, we had a wonderful conversation with Karen Traviss. Find out her personal and insightful response to us by checking out this article
It may come as a shock to discover that the lead writer behind Gears of War 3, Karen Traviss, hasn’t played the game she was instrumental in crafting. Having played the majority of Gears 3’s main campaign, the news surprises us as well, especially since it’s the most emotional, impactful, and cohesive storyline in the trilogy. But the writer behind such novels as Gears of War: Aspho Fields and Halo: Glasslands has her reasons.
First, let’s be clear: Karen Traviss has not played a single minute of Gears of War 3. Writers have slowly become a more valued part of the overall game development process, however, and Traviss has watched the developers at Epic Games play it.
One explanation for her lack of hands-on time comes from an interview with IncGamers, where Traviss jokes about being obsessive with the games she plays:
“I really would be like one of those Korean guys; they would have to wheel my corpse out of the room. I just don’t know when to stop with anything and I’m like that with my work.”
Having already put an obscene amount of time into Horde Mode 2.0, we understand that logic.
But a far more thorough — and sobering — reason comes courtesy of an interview Traviss conducted over a year ago with Newsarama, and clearly she has stuck to her guns. Traviss has amassed a portfolio of work in renowned universes like Star Wars and Halo, in addition to several Gears of War novels. She partially attributes her success to the necessity to prevent herself from becoming a “fan.”
“I can’t be a fan of something and write it as well, because I can’t approach it objectively – and that means I have to avoid so much as looking at any property now in case I get a call to do it. Which is sad, but necessary.”
Her sacrifice is your gain: Gears of War 3 noticeably benefits from her writing style. Here’s to hoping that someday she can play the fruits of her labor.