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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


Primary22:25 - 22.11.2017

Find the projects you're looking for at Pathways, the new 'go-to' for world class projects from Australia's premier screenwriters. REGISTER NOW!

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Australian Writers' Guild announces new online portal to showcase projects to producers https://t.co/skbw6lAeE0 @AWG_1

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Australian Film Television and Radio School launches Re: Frame training focused on innovation & building your business. Catch the live stream tomorrow with speakers Russel Howcroft, Richard Harris, Chloe Rickard, Kate Montague and Mike Jones. From 3pm Tuesday below:

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WA: Got an idea for a short film? In this short intensive course – 3 sessions over 3 weeks – you will work with a group of writers to take your story concept from seed to script. You will learn how to plot out your story, develop characters and write your first draft. Find out more below and book at awg.com.au

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Australian Writers’ Guild @AWG_1 launches new online portal for producers https://t.co/bD56NUneUj via @ArtsHub

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Primary22:18 - 15.11.2017

The Australian Writers’ Guild has announced the launch of a new online portal, Pathways Showcase – the new ‘go-to’ for producers looking for Australia’s hottest new scripts and premier screenwriters. Launched yesterday at SPA’s Screen Forever conference, the portal is already showcasing over 80 original projects and dozens of Australia’s best screenwriters.

AWG launches new online portal for producers | ScreenHub Australia https://t.co/ZXwvwd215h

Primary0:57 - 15.11.2017

Introducing PATHWAYS PRIME AND PATHWAYS SHOWCASE, the new 'go-to' for world-class projects from Australia's premier screenwriters, launched today at #ScreenForever. Industry professionals are invited to REGISTER NOW: awgpathways.com.au

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Join us tonight as we chat to Gregory Erdstein and Alice Foulcher, the creative team behind the indie hit That’s Not Me, which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February 2017 and played at Melbourne International Film Festival earlier this year.

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Join us as we chat to Gregory Erdstein and Alice Foulcher, the husband and wife creative team behind the indie hit That’s Not Me, which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February 2017 and played at Melbourne International Film Festival earlier this year.

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#Melbourne, want to learn more about what it takes to create a hit indie film in Australia? Join us tomorrow night as we chat to Gregory Erdstein and Alice Foulcher, the creators of That's Not Me, which premiered at Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February and played at Melbourne International Film Festival earlier this year to rave reviews! When: Wednesday 8 November 2017, from 6.45 pm Where: The Dan O'Connell Hotel, 225 Canning Street Carlton Tickets: $5 for members, $10 for non-members. RSVP online or pay at the door!

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The 2017 John Hinde Award for Excellence in Science-Fiction Writing was presented on Tuesday 31 October at Brisbane Powerhouse to C.S. McMullen for Awake (Unproduced category) and Cris Jones for The Death and Life of Otto Bloom (Produced category). Photos by Veronica Kopinski.

Primary0:04 - 1.11.2017

A society where sleep is optional and the rich work and play on a 24-hour cycle is the thrilling setting of the winning unproduced script in the 2017 John Hinde Award for Excellence in Science-Fiction Writing, presented last night in Brisbane to C.S. McMullen for her pilot script Awake. ‘As a writer whose first love has always been science-fiction, this award has incredible significance for me, and I am prouder of this than perhaps anything else I’ve won,’ said McMullen, currently in Los Angeles. ‘Thank you so much to the AWG, and the estate of the late John Hinde for this bequest. This is part of a golden age for Australian science-fiction, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.’

Primary23:51 - 31.10.2017

Primary23:31 - 31.10.2017

Cris Jones, the screenwriter and director behind the celebrated sci-fi mockumentary The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, was posthumously honoured with the Australian Writers’ Guild’s $10,000 John Hinde Award for Excellence in Science-Fiction Writing last night in Brisbane. Jones, who passed away in September, entered his debut feature film in the John Hinde Award produced category in July, almost a year after the film made its premiere and opened the 65th Melbourne International Film Festival to great applause. Read more:

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Help us keep the Make It Australian campaign on the agenda by sending a short email to your federal MP and Senators. Simply type in your postcode to find your MP, add your details and hit send! Click below to ask your local MP for their support for Australian stories on Australian screens #MakeItAustralian

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'The Australian screen industry can brace itself for yet another Canberra-led inquiry, this time from the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young today announced the committee will conduct an inquiry into the Economic and Cultural Value of Australian Content on Broadcast, Radio and Streaming Services'

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