The writing industry has many outlets where writers can find work and express themselves, and it’s important for us to know the differences between all of these outlets. At some point in time writers who have established themselves in other media such as journalism, novel writing and general scriptwriting will consider the transition to this unique and popular media form known as game writing. However, many people are unaware of what exactly goes into game writing.
Give a variety of choices
Game writing is different compared to writing a script for a movie, a television show or even a comic book because the latter mediums are all linear in structure. Writing for a video game involves giving gamers who play the games a variety of choices while they invest themselves in the gameplay experience. The most basic rule for any game writer to follow would be to always give players choices. Players need to be given the freedom to experience the game’s story in any way they want to.
The players are interacting with the product and they expect to be entertained by the entire gaming experience. Game writers must understand and embrace what genre of game is being made by the development team. Game writers should get acquainted with a game genre or a combination of genres before moving forward and properly molding the game story. The amounts of choices that are at the player’s disposal determine how much fun he or she will gave playing the game.
Understand the genre
Players need to be given the freedom to experience the game’s story in any way they want to. The players are interacting with the product and they expect to be entertained by the entire gaming experience. Game writers must understand and embrace what genre of game is being made by the development team. Game writers should get acquainted with a game genre or a combination of genres before moving forward and properly molding the game story. The amounts of choices that are at the player’s disposal determine how much fun he or she will gave playing the game.
Form an immersive, interactive narrative experience
Game writing is a flexible, highly expressive medium that should remain subjective to players who watch the stories unfold. Game writers help game designers form an immersive, interactive narrative experience. It doesn’t matter how much dialogue you have, nor does it depend on how many characters you include in the story.
All facets of the game story must remain interesting from beginning to middle to end. Gameplay must always come first on the list of priorities for the game development team, but proper storytelling will complement the already unique gameplay mechanics the game has.
Choose your words carefully
Another basic rule is to write for the ear and not for the eye. Even though some lines may look great on paper, it doesn’t mean that those lines will translate well in a cut-scene during gameplay. Game writers must always keep in mind that they are only one part of the development team and that other team members will have their own input on how the game story should progress.
Before writing begins the major locations and levels of the game must be determined as well as the scope of how much use these places will have. Writers must delegate the roles and importance between all characters and how much they will impact the story. Every word a game writer puts down must be carefully chosen and every word must have purpose to accurately portray the characters, setting and plot.
Speak the language of a gamer
Game writers should be prepared to speak the language of a gamer and get familiar with the varying structures of the many gaming genres. Game writers will write stories for games that can either be First-Person Shooters, Real-Time Strategy Games, Role-Playing Games, Platforming, Puzzle, Racing and Fighting games.
Being a part of the game development team, game writers need to properly collaborate with the other members of the team. The game’s world is being built by the other members. Game writers won’t make the final decision as to which direction the game’s story will be taken.
Avoid the predictable
How do you develop important narratives in a unique playable way? Game writing is a complicated medium to develop because there are many variables to account for. Players tell the game’s story through their actions as they control their playable characters and move them past all sorts of obstacles. Players must be able to suspend their disbelief when they play. Don’t let the player narrate the story, but rather listen.
Game writers also need to avoid creating characters that fit stereotypes because nobody wants to play a character who is predictable and devoid of life. Game writers must also resist cliché and avoid amnesia. Don’t eliminate innocent characters just to give the player a reason to go on a quest for vengeance. The game character isn’t just traveling, but he or she is traveling to something significant and meaningful during gameplay.
Basic guidelines to construct a plot
- Every game story must have some sort of conflict. What are the circumstances revolving around the fight?
- A game story must also feature some stakes. What will be put on the line in this fight?
- Combining the conflict and the stakes we will have our main hero encounter a form of danger. What will put our hero at risk?
- As a result of the conflict and the stakes, we will generate tension in our story. What will be the general impact on all involved characters?
- Finally, we will need to know over what time period this conflict will occur. How much will time impact the plot?
Conflict is essential
When developing the story, game writers should be mindful of what the types of conflict and stakes are in the scope of a video game.
Examples of types of conflict
- The classic man versus man, or what is better known as the protagonist, the good guy, versus the antagonist, the bad guy.
- Man versus self is where the hero is at war with his own flaws, failures and phobias.
- Man versus past conflict where the hero is trying to escape the bad memories that he would want to forget. This conflict can be emotionally charged since the hero tries to develop some sort of amnesia but fails.Examples of types of stakes
Examples of types of stakes
- Wealth and poverty involves the hero trying to find a better life for himself in personal gain.
- Love and loss involves the hero either being able to reunite with the woman of his dreams or he will be faced with a mourning process.
Acquiring work in game writing
Most game writers have had humble beginnings when it comes to acquiring work in this field. You can’t just jump into the game writing field without having any experience. Most game writers start out as fans who write about the video game industry. It’s essential to network as much as possible with members of the video game industry.
You can go to gaming conventions, trade shows, meetup events, aside from online contact. Bring samples of your general writing work to let your contacts know what you have already done. Collect business cards and distribute your own. Keep in contact with potential employers even if it’s a light chat. Plus, have a genuine love and passion for game writing. Play video games and understand the medium of them before you start writing for them.
About the author:
Steven Vitte is a published author who has written articles on technology and healthcare. Vitte was also a blog correspondent for the Chillicothe Paints baseball organization for three years. Vitte currently runs two blogs in the Gaming Journalist Gazette and The Autistic Help, posting informative opinionated topics on gaming and the Autism Spectrum.