Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Do You Really Want To Be A Creative Writer for Games?

I'm saving up my data plan so I can blog while I'm at PAX West (formly PAX Prime) this year. The schedule was released and it's full of developer panels from Ubisoft, SquareEnix, and Blizzard. I can't wait to share!

In the meantime, let's have a real talk about writing for video games. David Gaider has spent nearly 20 years at BioWare and has brought us story wonders such as Baldur's Gate II and KOTOR. He recently posted a lengthy blog on Medium.com explaining the ins and outs on what it's truly like to be a game writer.

"The story is not everything in a video game," he writes. "Maybe this causes you to clutch your pearls in shock, but it’s true. A game writer has to bow to the requirements of gameplay and level design, as well as to the limitations of both technology and the schedule. Just because I can imagine the story taking a turn into a giant castle doesn’t mean the art team wants to build said giant castle."

Gaider gives a fresh perspective on what writing can really be like. Unlike books or novels where you are the lone soldier, creating the story on your own terms, with video games it's all about collaboration. You're trying to fit the plot line to the vision of the director, producers, and graphic teams. Something that may sound incredibly grand for the story may not fit within the design of the world. Gaider gives a very detailed overview on what to expect if you truly want a creative writing career in video games. And there is an emphasis on "truly" because you may find through this path that you'd rather be a level designer, or focus on character dialogue - a different branch of the writing process that is equally as important (and offers more job stability) as story development.

I also love the tips that he gives in the post: practice and keep it simple. The KISS policy (Keep It Simple, Stupid) works wonders. A noise of commitment or a character action can speak so much louder then a line of dialogue. And his top thing to not do: Don't Send In Fan Fiction. No one cares and it doesn't showcase your unique talents as a writer. It's about being creative and not copy/pasting what's been done before.

Definitely worth a read for today.


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