A video game writer might be your game’s secret weapon.
Game writers often get lost in the shuffle, overshadowed by their cousins, the game designers, artists, and programmers. A video game writer isn’t at the top of most producers’ shopping lists, nor does it make headlines. It’s not as sexy as a new 3D engine or a renderer that can draw thousands of animated characters in a microsecond.
But the truth is that video games are written in plot and character as well as code. Game writing tends to cause a lot fewer showstopper bugs during the course of game development. And good video game writing can make a big difference to the game experience.
But I already have five video game designers who want to write the game script.
Of course you do. But maybe you should take a peek at their writing skills and workload. A qualified third-party consultant can fix narrative problems before they show up in a top-ten list of awful video game plots — and can take a massive distraction off your crowded design schedule.
Let’s be honest: every game designer wants to be Martin Scorsese. But not many of them can say they have established a track record in writing fiction, earned an English degree, wrote the primary script for a game that won a Best of Show Addy award, are actively publishing and editing fiction, have completed film or graphic novel scripts in their portfolio, or have previously written for published video games. We can.
Can a video game writing consultant really make a difference to my game?
Here’s a game writing litmus test:
Pick any five video game reviews. Professional or amateur, doesn’t matter. Make sure they’re at least 500 words so you have a fair test.
Read through the reviews and put a tally mark on a sheet of paper every time the reviewers mention a story element like plot, character, setting, or cutscene. In a separate list, tally every time they mention a marketing bullet point like 3D accelerator support, above-average graphics, or stellar music or framerates.
Count up the results. What really matters to the consumer? How much do these two competing tallies impact your production budget? Our humble thesis is that game writing is incredibly cheap, especially compared to other possible expenditures.
We’re actually experienced game designers here, so we do more than just game writing, but we believe that the video game industry has frequently (but unintentionally) underdelivered on game writing assets that could have had tremendous benefit to the games it created.
How much does it cost?
A lot less than pretty much anything you can do to improve your game, honestly. A solid analysis of your game’s plot costs less than a half-day’s work from an entry-level programmer. The report contains constructive feedback and a complete list of suggested improvements.
Need dialog written? Got missions that don’t make any sense? Trying to figure out a satisfying conclusion to your video game epic? Talk to us.
We’re essentially emotional creatures.
When we go to see a movie, even an action movie, we’re seeking a compelling tale. A story that engages the senses and yet feels satisfying to the soul.
If cinematic storylines can be so moving despite their linearity, why is game writing so pale in comparison? Why do good 2D and 8-bit games capture the imagination, while bad 1080p video games feel like yardwork?
Why can’t video game writing linger in your memory like a classic movie?
At Game Writer Central, we believe it can.
Game Writer Central is a collection of tips, anecdotes, and resources for the working game writer. We’d love to hear from you. Drop us a comment, and weigh in with your writer-ly feedback and writing questions.
Or if you’re looking to do business, contact us with questions or request a free game writing assessment.
Avoid embarrassing errors in your core design elements like this one. Make sure your game writing is up to snuff.