“Impacting Players Emotionally”: an Interview with Arnie Jorgensen of Banner Saga 2

“If we tell a good story and make people feel something because of that story, then we have done our job.”

Written by Drew Dixon / Published on July 17, 2015


Editor’s note: GameChurch.com exists to explore the spiritual, philosophical, and ethical side of videogames. We find games, the stories they tell, and the way they play, fascinating and we are curious about the people who make them. As a result, we recently decided to start asking game developers, what they hope their games communicate and why they make them. Unlike our previous interviews, these will be shorter and more narrowly focused on two questions: “what do you hope to communicate with your game?” and “why do you make games?” In our first interview, we chat with Arnie Jorgensen, Art Director of Banner Saga 2 and co-owner of Stoic Studio.


What makes Banner Saga 2 unique from the first game?

We are carrying the story of the first game over, which isn’t unique but a lot of people don’t know that. This time around, we are throwing a lot of energy into combat. Combat is going to be a lot more varied, it is going to have a much more cinematic feel to it. Also just througout the game, you are going to have a lot of different options. We are also changing the war system a little bit.

If you had to narrow it down to one thing, what do you hope players get out of playing Banner Saga 2?

I think the answer is the same as the first Banner Saga, we don’t want to change the emotionality of the story. If players are impacted emotionally with what they are playing through, then we have succeeded. This isn’t just a game about strategy or numbers or how you set up your characters—that stuff is part of the experience but the core of the game is about creating a compelling story. Our number one goal is impact players emotionally. If we tell a good story and make people feel something because of that story, then we have done our job.

How do keep that emotional response the focus of your development?

The game has to be impacted by your story, game stories don’t work the same way books do. A good game story changes and modifies based on your decisions. So for us, the story is integral to the gameplay, it flows out of the gameplay. Your decisions are integral to the story. I think it all comes together with the writing of Banner Saga 2. I am not the writer, but we have really worked hard to create a good written game.

Why do you make games?

I have been making games since I was like 6 or 8 and I used to make turn based strategy games and I am getting back to that, so it feel like I have come full circle. But I suppose its like skateboarding, you do it because you like it. I like making games. If I get old and can’t make games professionally any more, I am still going to be thinking up games. I can’t stop. It is hard to break down. I just really enjoy making games, I can’t stop making games. I am really thankful that this game was Kickstarted and we were able to leave our old companies and make our own game and start our own company. I am incredibly thankful that we did well enough on the first so that we can continue on making games. For me its just about doing well enough to keep making games.

About the Author:

Drew Dixon is editor-in-chief of Game Church. He also edits for Christ and Pop Culture and writes about videogames for Paste Magazine, Relevant Magazine, Bit Creature, and Think Christian.