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BW English, economics major spins stories for millions around the world

Erin Amschlinger '14 crafts narratives and creates characters with massive global appeal, but you won't find her stories in the pages of a book.

Amschlinger and her ArenaNet colleagues celebrate a game expansion
Erin Amschlinger '14 (center) and her ArenaNet colleagues celebrate a Guild Wars 2 game expansion.

The dream job writing for the ArenaNet Game Studio came calling in early 2020. Baldwin Wallace University graduate Erin Amschlinger '14 arrived in Seattle to start her new career adventure just weeks before the city went on COVID-19 lockdown.

"Don't recommend it," the Rocky River, Ohio, native recalls of her move across the country just as a global pandemic turned the world upside down.

But four and a half years later, Amschlinger is thriving as a senior writer and narrative designer for the company's popular MMORPG, Guild Wars 2.

For the uninitiated, dictionary.com defines an MMORPG or "massively multiplayer online role-playing game" as "any story-driven online video game in which a player, taking on the persona of a character in a virtual or fantasy world, interacts with a large number of other players."

Writing Guild Wars 2

Erin AmschlingerGuild Wars 2 boasts 16 million players around the world.

"I've written for and held lead roles on various expansions and live releases for the game, including the two most recent expansions, 'End of Dragons' and 'Secrets of the Obscure,'" Amschlinger says.

In a 2022 interview with South Korean game publisher NCSoft, Amschlinger described her approach to creating the fantasies. "When creating stories for a game, I try to hone in on those core, human components of who we are as people and what we care about, rather than relying on stereotypes of what 'woman are like' or what 'someone of Asian descent is like.'

"I believe that by treating each character as a unique individual with their own experiences, hopes and fears, we can create a game world with characters that various players empathize with."

Snowy owl alter ego

Amschlinger’s alter ego in Guild Wars 2, Chef Eerin

Amschlinger's alter ego in Guild Wars 2, Chef Eerin

Her likeness is also immortalized in the game.

"My likeness appears as Chef Eerin, a Tengu NPC [non-player character]," Amschlinger explains. "The Tengu are a race of bird people in the game. I believe my character is modeled after a snowy owl."

Amschlinger has also appeared as a featured developer on the GW2 live stream "Guild Chat," which is streamed on Twitch and YouTube.

From BW to working writer

Amschlinger discusses the "End of Dragons" expansion during the Game Guild Chat
Amschlinger discusses the "End of Dragons" expansion during the Game Guild Chat.

When she first graduated from BW, Amschlinger put her creative writing talent to work creating humorous greeting cards for the Westlake, Ohio-based American Greetings.

While she worked for the company, she also completed the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television's Professional Program in Writing for Television in 2018 before heading west to take the job at ArenaNet.

The cum laude BW economics and English: creative writing double major made the most of her time at BW.

Her varied experiences included an ASIANetwork research trip to China as a Foundation Research Fellow, multiple works published in BW's literary journal, The Mill, and a summer as an economic development intern at The Cleveland Foundation, where she got to put her Spanish language skills to work.

BW faculty mentors

But she says it was the BW English and creative writing courses that developed a "strong foundation" for her career path.

"Among many standout professors in the department, my English advisor, Dr. [Denise] Kohn, and my creative writing mentors, Michael Garriga and Sharon Kubasak, taught me the fundamentals of poetry, prose writing and literary theory," she fondly recalls. "I've drawn from their writing mentorship throughout my career and continue to do so in my current role."

Sharing her story

Writing for Games presentation title slide

Today, she generously visits (via Zoom) with BW Professor Les Hunter's video game writing class, "ENG 278 Video Games: Writing and Rhetoric," sharing the writer's perspective of the game expansion process with a presentation titled "Writing for Games: An Inside Look at the Seedy Underbelly of Game Development."

Hunter says, "Erin has been both extremely successful and also really kind and thoughtful with our students. She has offered to meet with students individually to talk about the industry."

Currently, Amschlinger is serving as the lead writer on "a project that is in the middle of production." Game fans will just have to wait to find out more.

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