Writer/Gamer Q&A: Kelsie Hahn

Next up on our contributor Q&A series is Kelsie Hahn, the talented writer behind “Donkey Kong Country D’eux,” which brought us into an aftermath, of sorts, of the troubled relationship between Diddy and Dixie Kong.

Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in BarrelhouseNANO FictionThe Southeast Reviewmatchbook, and others, and her prose chapbook Responsibility is forthcoming from Lit House Press. She can be found online or on Twitter.

Cartridge Lit: What games are you playing right now, if any?

Hahn: I’ve been co-oping War in the North with my husband. Spore Creature is my nightly wind-down game, and I’m occasionally playing Path of Exile online with friends, but my computer struggles a bit keeping up. We play a lot of used games, so I’m usually a few years behind on releases.

Cartridge Lit: What was your first video game system? Did you love it or hate it or feel something completely different about it?

Hahn: My parents bought an Atari when they were newly married, so my older brother and I always had video games around. After NES came out, we were a loyal Nintendo family. I had a love-hate relationship in that I enjoyed the games, but I was a sore loser and always thought I should be better than I was actually performing. That, plus a temper and my brother’s needling, made for a tumultuous combination. 

Cartridge Lit: Most nostalgia-laden memory from your video game history?

Hahn: Can I say all of college? My roommates and love interests were all big gamers, so a lot of my favorite memories from college center around gaming. Marathoning Ocarina of Time every semester, voice acting the dialogue of Final Fantasy VII and Fire Emblem, creating Sim breeding programs. Gaming was a very social event for us, and we just nerded it up.

Cartridge Lit: Care to list your top five games?

Hahn: Donkey Kong Country 2, Ocarina of Time, Fable, The Sims 2, EarthBound. Basically all the games I’ve played more than once (or the equivalent of more than once, in the case of The Sims 2). 

Cartridge Lit: How has your writing life interacted with your gamer life? Has one inspired or influenced the other?

Hahn: Gaming has been a great procrastination tool, of course. But in terms of craft, gaming forces me to think about characterization. What motivates characters, what do they value, and how is that information revealed? Both gamers and readers will feel a similar sense of frustration if a character is doing or saying things that feel contradictory or convenient, in service of a required plot rather than an organic choice. Particularly as I’ve been working on longer works, I want character choices to feel real, believable, and consequential to the story.

Cartridge Lit: Any tips for how others out there can balance a writer’s life and a gamer’s life?

Hahn: It’s no different than balancing writing with anything else, really. Consider your priorities, and then consider what you can steal for your writing from those times when you’re not actually writing. 

Cartridge Lit: What novel would you like to see turned into a game? What genre would it be? How would it play?

Hahn: Pride and Prejudice as a first-person shooter, where the characters call out witty barbs instead of firing bullets. Characters re-spawn by weeping softly in the cloak room.

Cartridge Lit: If someone made a game about your life, what genre would it be? How would it play?

Hahn: A quirky RPG. Cute sprites with a morbid sense of humor. A less smart and self-aware version of EarthBound, perhaps.