No fear of programming

Fotos: Regula Bearth © ZHdK

Student portrait Natasha Sebben

For Natasha Sebben, game design first and foremost means telling stories. The game design student also lets her players be tested by an artificial intelligence.

FREDERIC POPPENHÄGER

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Frederic Poppenhäger: Why did you decide to study game design?
Natasha Sebben: I enjoy telling and experiencing stories. The medium of games allows me to do this in different ways. I am fascinated by the interdisciplinary nature of game development: from storytelling through programming to sound design, it’s all there. I see a lot of potential in this mixture. I am also interested in the field of serious and applied games, especially the use of games in a psychotherapeutic context.

Have your studies lived up to your expectations?
I have learned a lot in the past semesters. Programming, for example, hardly scares me any more. Game design is a generalist programme. We are trained to be all-rounders and thus gain insights into the most diverse areas.

What are your current projects?
I am currently working on “My Burning Mind.” The game tells the story of Maggie, an 80-year-old woman who was abused as a child. The players help Maggie to come to terms with her past. While working on “My Burning Mind,” I am intensively dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and indirect player control.

Whom would you like to swap roles with for six months?
With Sabine Rückert. She is a court and crime reporter as well as deputy editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” and works in fields that I find incredibly exciting. Nevertheless, I know I wouldn’t last longer than six months in such a career.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?
I would like to establish a game studio here in Switzerland. Ideally with a focus on storytelling, and as interdisciplinary as possible. I might do an internship before that, preferably at ZA/UM, who developed “Disco Elysium,” my favourite game.

Further student portraits published in Zett
Frederic Poppenhäger (frederic.poppenhaeger@zhdk.ch) is responsible for communications at the Department of Design at ZHdK.
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