Menu

Game Writers on Game Writing: Part One

For those of you considering what writing for a video game would be like, it might be best to hear from people who actually do it for a living. This first instalment will look at two different, experienced game writers from different backgrounds on how they believe writing for the video game medium is fundamentally different from film or television. However, as our guest contributors will explain, writing for games is merely the other side of the coin, with different obstacles to work around but with different tools to work with.

First up is Anne Toole, with a tonne of experience in both the television and video game industries her piece explains one of the most significant differences when writing for a video game, that the audience is constantly interacting with the narrative. This concept is often called ‘Player Agency’.

Story creation is more of a partnership between creator and player, rather than a dictatorship of the writer

"Unlike other media, a game's story ideally should move forward based on player action and decisions, rather than a dramatic scripted scene the player has no control over.  Often, this is where more traditional writers stumble.  

Furthermore, although there are plenty of linear games out there, games provide a unique opportunity to give players choice and branching narrative.  Thus, story creation is more of a partnership between creator and player, rather than a dictatorship of the writer.  While some writers might feel that they are abdicating their role by writing a game, in fact, you have more opportunity to get all your ideas on the page.  What would happen if Luke had joined Darth Vader? What if Darth Vader had lived?  Rather than writing only one ending, you can write them all.  The other stories you have in mind — and their interesting implications — still have a place and can be experienced… if the player chooses."

Find out more about Anne’s work here and her twitter @amely

Mez Breeze is a fantastic independent games developer and writer known for her intense and subversive games and digital art. Mez’s contribution goes into a little detail on what kind of things can be achieved within the medium of games.

Hi. I'm Mez Breeze, and I run Mez Breeze Design (which provides boutique digital design and consultancy services, including games). In the gaming sphere, I'm probably best known for writing subversive games alongside my fellow game developer buddy Andy Campbell (who runs Dreaming Methods). Andy and I regularly pool our collective talents to create art and literary games that challenge traditional definitions and can be considered subversive. Examples of our work include The Dead Tower#PRISOMCarnivast and Pluto (currently in development). 

In relation to writing for games, I've found that it's never as simple as just writing a game "script" or game "screenplay". In the games spaces I've worked on – whether that be Alternate Reality Games or in 3D spaces – the writing process is finely integrated from the outset, with both the game mechanics and the storyworld (or gameworld) being constructed alongside the writing. As a games writer, you write primarily to cater for interactivity and direct engagement, as well as accounting for other more traditional literary concerns (like structure, plot, narrative development and so on). 
As I've said in this article about game writing: "If you finely balance the writing alongside other subversive game variables/assets, you’ll create strong narrative(s) without sacrificing a player’s sense of agency (or reducing the likelihood of emergent gameplay instances), resulting in a world that successfully caters for a general sense of player fulfilment." I'm always extremely aware that the end result of what I'm writing is actually intended to be *played* as opposed to passively watched/absorbed, which allows a writer to work in some really lovely touches. For instance, in our #PRISOM game (a player is set loose in a Glass City/Prison under infinite surveillance) I thoroughly enjoyed constructing the 3 alternate endings: players encounter one of the three according to the choices they make in-game. I also found drafting the #Tips" screen text an absolute  blast  (which forms part of the Help Menu), as I managed to work in an ethical angle, some metacritique and also a well-known pop cultural reference – see if you can pick it – which reads:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Find more about Mez Breeze's work in the links above or her twitter @MezBreezeDesign

Huge thanks to Anne and Mez for their contribution, be sure to look out for part two coming out soon with other guest contributors.

Previous Article: The 100 Billion Dollar Industry: Why You Should Write For Games


Is Your Script Gender-Balanced? Try This Test https://t.co/tW1FgkKqAh

Listen back to brilliant writer and director Jada Alberts as she talks about storytelling, grief and #BrothersWreckhttps://t.co/yjmCFnUOYS

Retweeted by Aus Writers' Guild

Applications open for 2018 Natalie Miller Fellowship https://t.co/TVINITKh8o

2018 Patrick White Playwrights' Awards won by Kim Ho and Sue Smith https://t.co/JME0D6dww2 via @ABCNews

Entries across all Television and Online categories for the 8th @AACTA Awards are NOW OPEN! Visit… https://t.co/7M5djKbzIl

'When theatre works it’s so utterly, overwhelmingly surprising, and mostly because it’s in the flesh … It’s a livin… https://t.co/FyheJ74JYT

Retweeted by Aus Writers' Guild

Congratulations to Australian filmmaker Charles Williams on receiving the Short Film Palme D'Or for ALL THESE CREAT… https://t.co/GIRhqOXrQv

Retweeted by Aus Writers' Guild

Book a night of laughs and insights as @mrbenjaminlaw chats with TV screenwriter/producer Alexa Junge (Friends/Grac… https://t.co/wFl4XeRai4

Retweeted by Aus Writers' Guild

TV NERDS! Join me as I chat with TV screenwriter/producer Alexa Junge (Friends/Grace & Frankie/The West Wing/Big L… https://t.co/nRyDTeDuue

Retweeted by Aus Writers' Guild

Equity Foundation Diversity Showcase entries close midnight tonight https://t.co/ng6yVes7iO https://t.co/S3iKANTGog

Retweeted by Aus Writers' Guild


Primary1:58 - 16.5.2018

Griffith grad scripts Picnic at Hanging Rock remake https://t.co/1qkEIDbJ2x

Final deadline for Diversity Showcase is almost here! It's writers who need to apply by 18 May. For more:… https://t.co/7uTTpR4bFy

Retweeted by Aus Writers' Guild

Calling all writers, directors and performers! Applications for the Equity Foundation Diversity Showcase close Fr… https://t.co/Uy7vHoldqK

New episode out now! I sat down with the talented @brakes4unicorns to talk about writing, her career and of course… https://t.co/SjJTDUgwHB

Retweeted by Aus Writers' Guild

Do you work or have previously worked in the screen industry? We want to hear from you! https://t.co/XRO3aJicArhttps://t.co/lzyHsm5VaU

Retweeted by Aus Writers' Guild
Primary0:18 - 10.5.2018

Sydney Film Festival 2018 program on sale now! www.sff.org.au

With UK talking about Suicide in an episode on the soap @itvcorrie - it's important scriptwriters understand risks… https://t.co/mMogHSuM6N

Retweeted by Aus Writers' Guild
Primary2:07 - 4.5.2018

Primary23:35 - 29.4.2018

'The industry will be gutted': why Australian film and TV is fighting for its life

Primary6:08 - 23.4.2018

Applications are now open for Australia’s first Diversity Showcase. What’s it all about? Watch this video and find out! To apply, visit www.equityfoundation.org.au

Primary1:10 - 23.4.2018

Tell kids our stories, in our voice

Primary1:07 - 18.4.2018

Primary6:01 - 11.4.2018

Primary0:10 - 11.4.2018

Calling all writers, directors and performers! Your voice. Your stories. Join us for Australia’s first Diversity Showcase and help shape Australia’s future on screen. AWG and Scripted Ink are partnering with the Equity Foundation and the Equity Diversity Committee, with support from Screen Australia and our colleagues at Australian Directors' Guild, to run Australia’s first Diversity Showcase. Open to members AND non-members. Find out more about how to apply here:

Primary1:09 - 9.4.2018

Primary23:39 - 5.4.2018

Primary5:01 - 5.4.2018

Congratulations to Jacklyn Bassanelli, winner of the 2017 Laugh Out Loud Comedy Writing Competition with her script Preconception! Bassanelli wins the chance to pitch her new comedy script to ABC’s Head of Comedy, Rick Kalowski, and will also receive $5000 in funding from Scripted Ink. Described by the industry judging panel as ‘highly sophisticated and well executed’, Preconception follows a late-thirties jobbing actor with a weakness for booze and musicians who decides to look into her own fertility after being cast on screen with a teenage daughter.

Primary2:26 - 4.4.2018

A great interview with Scott Hicks last night, discussing the #MakeItAustralian campaign and Australia's rich and unique film and television industry. www.makeitaustralian.com

Primary2:18 - 3.4.2018

Primary0:07 - 3.4.2018

Tonight's the night! Join Briony Kidd and Sue Maslin at The Old Woolstore Hotel in Hobart from 5.30pm as they discuss feature film development and much more! Tickets available on AWG website.

Primary22:52 - 27.3.2018

What would Australian #TV look like without local content quotas? We want Australian stories told on Australian screens by us, to us, about us. More than 200 leading actors, directors, screenwriters, producers, editors, cinematographers and other screen workers have penned an open letter to federal parliamentarians calling for action to protect the industry. Will you join us? https://makeitaustralian.com/take-action/ #MakeItAustralian

Primary23:59 - 26.3.2018

Primary21:56 - 26.3.2018

'More than 200 screen industry figures have written an open letter to federal MPs warning that Australian story telling is at risk of being drowned out by overseas content. The latest initiative from the Make It Australian campaign is a direct response to fears the Turnbull government plans to slash the local content quotas for TV drama and children’s television, as advocated by the commercial free-to-air broadcasters.'

Primary21:54 - 26.3.2018

Tune in now to hear Tony Ayres discussing the #MakeItAustralian campaign and today's open letter to the government http://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/

Primary21:52 - 26.3.2018

'More than 250 high-profile film and television figures have signed an open letter pleading with the federal government to strengthen local content rules on the small screen and to increase tax breaks to attract overseas movie producers. "Our voices [are] in danger of being drowned out by a deluge of overseas content," it says. "And if our nation's stories aren't told, they die. And when they die, future generations won't know who we are and what makes us us."'

© Australian Writer's Guild 2018. All Rights Reserved.
ACN: 002 563 500

Privacy Policy

Level 4, 70 Pitt St, Sydney, NSW 2000
t: 02 9319 0339
f: 02 9223 8933
e: admin@awg.com.au