Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Would You Want To Be A Game Writer?

Perusing the internet this morning, I found this item on GameDev from a young man looking to get into the business of being a video game writer. More specifically the creative aspect of making a story, writing dialogue, developing characters, etc. not the technical code monkey work. It popped up as a “top” thread so I was interested to see the responses. There have been two so far: one asking if this young man’s school offers creative writing courses. The other from a moderator that gave him the cold hard truth: You suck at writing so that probably isn’t the career for you, linked a few articles on bad writing, and go get a degree in writing because holy crap you’ll need it.

I won’t lie, I laughed. Because who really wants to be a game writer? It sucks. My experiences talking to developers and the lackies behind the scene has shown me how little impact writers have on the final story. Just like the movie industry, the producers control the product. While there are companies like GearBox and RockStar that have encouraged the creative freedom of their staff, those are one in a million companies. You have to conform your vision and words to the company that you work for. EA, Ubisoft, Nintendo, they all have a vision, a brand. When you think of Nintendo you think of Mario. When you think of EA you think of sport franchises and giant douches. Okay maybe that’s just me, but the point is, you end up compromising your creative freedom by being a game writer. This fantasy realm that you can create your own video game isn’t as glamorous as people make it out to be. It’s a business just like everything else.

But if you’re serious about being a writer, then I would follow Tom Sloper’s third piece of advice: “Write a lot. Write some more White a lore more. Write well. Get some credits for your writing, in any kind of media you can.”

It’s one thing to write for a game company, it’s another to be a writer. If you want to have that type of job, you need to constantly write every day, every hour, every minute, and never stop. And the only way you are going to get noticed by any industry is to constantly write.

It’s difficult. As much as I love having this blog, there are so many times where I kick myself at how terrible I write. And I think of myself as a decent writer. This format of writing is much more casual then what I’m accustomed to, but it’s a blog. The reason the blog exists is to be informal. This isn’t the right outlet for my doctoral thesis or a term paper. But I do feel that it has helped me to elevate my thinking processes and allowed for my creativity to flourish. Fan fictions can do this as well.

So if there is any advice that I can give to those who are interested in being creative writers for video games it would be this: take writing classes at a local college, and don’t stop writing. Whatever comes to your brain, just write it down. You will be amazed at how many ideas will pop into your head if you don’t stop writing.

Now if you want to be a blogger, well I can’t help you. All of the good ideas are already out there. So pick a topic that you love and give yourself a deadline to stay active: a month, 6 months, a year, etc. Having a goal will keep you motivated to see the project to the end.

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