SISTER, SISTER: Former Locals Abigail and Rachel Rindo Make It Big in Video Game Industry
two former Eau Clairians now work on the world’s most popular video games
Video games have always sparked intrigue and discourse, and in recent years, have notably jumped in popularity across the globe. The International Trade Administration estimates that the global video game industry was valued at about $159.3 billion in 2020, with 2.7 billion gamers worldwide. An estimated about 75% of U.S. households include at least one gamer. But have you ever thought about the people behind these famous games?
Two Eau Claire natives, sisters Abigail and Rachel Rindo, have been working in the video game industry for a combined 17 years and now work for some of the biggest names in the business.
Abigail Rindo is the narrative design director at King, the company behind popular mobile game franchises such as Candy Crush, Farm Heroes, and more. Abigail's biggest current project is as a creative lead on Candy Crush Saga, where she helps inspire teams to create amazing experiences for players. This can include anything from creating new music, designing new features, writing scripts for animation, or partnering with iconic franchises like Sonic the Hedgehog and bringing them to the game.
“There’s kind of a joke in the narrative design world that we’re kind of like the Chief Coherence Officers because we just try to make sure that everything fits well together and that players understand the games through the narrative,” Abigail explained. “I think that’s a pretty good description of what we do.”
Currently living near Stockholm, Sweden, for her role at King, Abigail never expected to have a career in video games. Her first role in the gaming world was at a Madison-based gaming company called Perblue, where she started off in marketing but quickly expanded to art, writing, and design, eventually becoming Creative Director. During that journey, she has worked on over 40 game titles in various roles.
“Even though I hopped around a lot beforehand, once I got into games it was like, ‘Wow, I really don’t want to do anything else,’ ” Abigail said. “I just love it. It's been a pretty wild journey, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with Rachel during part of that.”
Rachel Rindo started working remotely in Seattle as a senior writer for Treyarch last July. Treyarch is most well-known for creating the first-person shooter game, Call of Duty: Black Ops. As a writer, Rachel and her team write any information or storytelling devices that convey a game’s narrative. Rachel has the most experience in narrative dialogue.
“I never thought that working on video games was a possibility even after Abigail broke into the industry, but I absolutely loved the narrative design of Dragon Age 2 and Fable 2. I realized that the concept of a narrative backbone is really integral to a well-made game,” Rachel said.
Rachel struggled with dyslexia growing up but feels she has learned the most about writing since she started doing so professionally. “I may not have always gotten what the structure was to tell the story but I’ve always kind of understood what makes people tick and so that actually lends itself to being able to write dialogue effectively,” she said.
Though she couldn’t divulge too much about her current project at Treyarch, Rachel shared that she is currently immersing herself in the world of Zombies.
You may be thinking to yourself, where have I heard the name Rindo before? The sisters’ father, Mike Rindo, had a long career as a news anchor at both WQOW-TV and WEAU-TV in Eau Claire before becoming UW-Eau Claire’s assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations, retiring in 2020.
Due to their dad’s job, the family moved around a lot when Abigail and Rachel were younger, but they lived in Eau Claire three separate times – when they were first born, through middle school and high school, and when the two attended UW-Eau Claire. Their parents, Mike and Pam, still live in the area and though the sisters only make out it to Eau Claire around once a year (less during a worldwide pandemic), they attribute much of their successes to being raised in Eau Claire.
“I think Rachel and I had the benefit of having a pretty creative upbringing and I think Eau Claire actually provided that,” Abigail said. “I think when you're in a place that’s brutally cold enough that you have to find ways to be imaginative, you have to, otherwise things can feel pretty bleak.”
She recalled the duo inventing games and creating their own worlds through their imagination, even building giant versions of Mouse Trap in their family basement.
“I always see the good in people first,” Rachel added. “Eau Claire is one of those communities where there is a lot of trusts and there is optimism when it comes to your neighbors. So giving people the benefit of the doubt is one of those things that I feel like I gleaned from growing up in Eau Claire.”
Though the journey was long – and far from over – Abigail and Rachel want to encourage others to chase their passion, even if it feels unrealistic. Abigail is currently working on publishing a book about how she got into her career with the hopes that others will gain something from her experiences, too.