In 2017, I graduated from Leaves of Learning, a not-for-profit educational program, and was accepted at Champlain College's Game Studio where I earned a degree in Game Design with a minor in Interactive Narrative. During my four years at Champlain, I worked on a number of projects culminating in Through Rust We Are Returned where I served as Creative Director on a 19 person team. During my Junior year at Champlain, I spent a semester abroad in Montreal where I interned for Power Level Studios working on Soul Reaper (commercially released in 2020). In the Spring of 2021, I graduated summa cum laude, moved to California, and am excited to see where my career in games takes me next!
I'm Griffin Carlson: a recent graduate of the Game Design program at Champlain College.
I’m a Game/Narrative Designer who tells stories that engage society, history, and mythology. I have always been fascinated with role-playing and imaginary worlds. I now channel this passion into my work by developing immersive gameplay experiences which allow players to understand their world better through the lens of fantastic realities.
Experience and Education
My Story: All the Screen's A Stage
Throughout most of my high school years, I always thought I would end up majoring in theatre. I performed yearly in my school's Shakespeare plays and was heavily involved in extra-curricular acting programs and summer camps. Ultimately though, I discovered that my love of theatre was not calling me where I thought.
I grew up in a household saturated with games. My dad was a school teacher throughout my childhood who primarily used games to teach his curriculum. Because of this, I was around lots of historical, fantasy, and mythological tabletop games in my formative years. Specifically, I fell in love with first playing, and then game mastering, tabletop roleplaying games. It was here I began to write and develop my own stories and rules. I knew that I loved to perform and tell stories but still didn't understand how I would connect my scattered interests together.
As I got older, I played more video games and became incredibly influenced by game design YouTube channels like Extra Credits, which gave me the tools to view games analytically. Simultaneously, I became deeply formed by video games like Bioshock and Undertale which proved to me the possible depth of narratives in games.
As I continued to perform theatre, I found myself using my analytical, game design-influenced mind to deconstruct what it was I enjoyed about acting. Ultimately what I cared most about was the experience I had getting into the role of a character and the medium of theatre was not the only place I was finding this: I found myself also roleplaying in both tabletop and digital games.
This realization drove me to use my love of storytelling and games to strive towards creating immersive narratives that could allow players to find themselves lost in stories the same way I had been. Games are a safe space for so many people and by creating compelling stories I hope to allow people to not escape their lives but instead to explore and better understand their identities and others' lived experiences through the medium of play.
I also found that the cross-disciplinary nature of game development teams was the perfect balance between my love for individual storytelling and collaborative performance.
I can't imagine what my life would be like without roleplaying, storytelling, and games. Now, as a narrative designer, I hope I'll never have to.