How does one get into the business of writing stories for video games?
July 8, 2009 12:26 AM Subscribe
Tell me what I need to do, or which bums I need to kiss, to write a storyline for a video game.
posted by metalheart to media & arts (15 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I love to write, and I am actually pretty good at it. (Yes, more than just my mother, friends and pets have given me reason to believe this, so no worries there.) I also happen to be interested in usability issues and video games, and so I find video game writing fun. The challenge of making an interactive tale somehow sensibly structured and usable for the player is enjoyable to me. I like having to think about what players might do that isn't intended (i.e., them trying to "cheat" the game or find holes in the story). It would be great to write somehow in the gaming industry, even though I know most things are highly competitive and may have poor payment for the amount of work one does. I don't care, honestly.
The thing is, I don't really see a clash for good writing in this field, not always, so I'm unsure of how to get into it. I play a lot of games, and I'll go out on a limb here and say that it seems like only a handful of companies and titles really give much thought to stories and plot lines (e.g., Portal, Bioshock, Braid). There's such a focus on gameplay and visuals at the moment that the writing is unfortunately overlooked sometimes; I think what often happens is the developers write the stories. (It shows.) So, is there even a way to get into this?
I'm specifically interested in stories in first person shooter games, as well as in adventure puzzle games, like the Myst or The Longest Journey series. RPGs can be nice, but the big titles are fairly formulaic ("Our town needs you! Please go collect these items to save the day and go on to the next quest!"), so I'm not sure how much real, creative work would be in that. I love the creativity found in many indie games, so that's a possible outlet, but I'm concerned about just jumping into that culture, as indie games sometimes have a tendency to never be finished. I think I'd rather be involved with an established company, but I can be talked out of that if given enough reason.
So yes, just out of personal interest, I'm curious what the hive mind knows about professional game writing and how one might go about getting involved, particularly on a freelance or contractual basis. I'll take a guess that ass kissing and elbow rubbing comes in somewhere and that it would help to have previous experience of varying kinds. Any information would be greatly appreciated!