Author Triona Campbell discusses eSports and her inspirations

Are you ready to play?

Video games matter.

In lockdown – like every parent on the planet – I saw first-hand how important video games were to my kids. It’s the place where they got to have agency and control. Where they connected with the friends they normally saw in school. It also became our family thing to do… Mario Kart, Splatoon, Minecraft, Roblox, Boomerang Fu, Tricky Towers, Animal Crossing…

That experience was my inspiration when producing the TV series GAMERMODE, Ireland’s first show on video games. Meeting the people creating VR classrooms and Minecraft in education. Chatting to gamers competing in eSports tournaments. Talking to players who find video games inclusive, as well as those running cyber-safety programs to keep kids and teens safe online. The best part… talking to young coders and game creators – the next generation of tech entrepreneurs about the future and where technology might lead us. I became hooked, and I started thinking –

What if you based a thriller in this world….

What if you had someone who grew up in a care facility and then went to work at a large tech giant run by an almost cult-like leader?

What if this too-big-to-fail company had a secret they didn’t want people to know…

What if they killed the whistle-blower to stop her from telling anyone?

What if her only family came looking for answers… and then revenge…

That’s how the A Game of Life or Death started for me. It became a story about what the future might be. The big questions we ask ourselves when we imagine the world of tomorrow. Asha’s character came first. Dark’s almost directly afterwards (and then he refused to leave). Their story became about hope. A message – that one person can make a difference even against almost impossible odds.

It was helped by so many people. The brilliant author and screenwriter Eoin McNamee, who told me to keep going after reading a few early chapters. Also, by the amazing author Louise O’Neill, who encouraged me and gave invaluable advice.

Super-agent Marianne Gunn O Connor (who knows just how much writing means to me) was then the one who then helped Dark, Asha, Ruby, Josh and Augie to find their forever home at Scholastic and with the team there (for which I am eternally grateful).

To anyone thinking of writing – do it. Much like in life, it is about showing up. Going to your desk for whatever amount of time you can regularly give (my time slot was often 5am before the school run).

Storytelling, for me, is about making that commitment. Then asking yourself about the worlds you want to explore and create. The people who will live there and the reader you hope will read it. It can be daunting. There are things that can help. Read as much as you can. Try to join a writer’s group or a book club of people who share your obsession (and who can become your tribe). But the most important thing – learn to enjoy the process of being alone with the words and the page. Try not to self-criticise. Have fun, and remember – a good piece of writing can change your life.

Triona Campbell, author of A Game of Life or Death
Triona Campbell, author of A Game of Life or Death

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