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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


Primary7:01 - 21.7.2017

SCREEN AND ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY UNITES TO RESPOND TO BROADCASTERS’ CALL TO ABOLISH AUSTRALIAN KIDS’ TV Australia’s screen and entertainment industry has responded in a united front against calls made by commercial television broadcasters to abolish Australian children’s television quotas. In Sydney yesterday, at the parliamentary inquiry into the sustainability of the Australian film and television industry, the CEOs of Seven, Nine and Ten all made submissions to abolish Australian children’s television quotas.

Primary6:57 - 21.7.2017

Screen and Entertainment Industry unites to respond to broadcasters’ call to abolish Australian Kids’ TV https://t.co/qenhb9zxbQ

Commercial broadcasters under fire over children’s TV quotas https://t.co/eih5IcWVPU @Screen_Producerhttps://t.co/Fl4vH2ns9E

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Screenwest formally becomes an independent not-for-profit organisation https://t.co/qgcA7uBRLB

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Want to learn more about what it takes to get a play from page to stage? FAB opportunity coming up at Griffin!… https://t.co/dGERwbfgKb

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This is your last week to apply for our New Play Development Program, submissions close July 24.… https://t.co/0t5eKVUfRx

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Primary3:52 - 19.7.2017

Tune in now to listen to Shayne Armstrong on ABC Radio Brisbane as he chats with Kelly Higgins-Devine about the upcoming John Hinde Award and all things sci-fi! http://www.abc.net.au/radio/brisbane/live/

#Sydney, join our lively panel tonight for our next #NSWWriteNight! Tickets available here: https://t.co/GJNjHP9Dxv https://t.co/7pod0LufDm



Primary1:51 - 18.7.2017

Last chance to book tickets for tonight's NSW Write Night! Join our panel as they discuss the ups and downs of telling stories in an era of alt-right outrage and social media thuggery. Head to the AWG website for tickets: https://awg.com.au/view/event/write-night-taboo-or-not-taboo/

Primary0:38 - 17.7.2017

Tomorrow! Come join our lively panel of writers and agitators as they discuss the challenges of telling stories and kicking sacred cows in an era of alt-right outrage and social media thuggery. Tickets are on sale on the AWG website here: https://awg.com.au/view/event/write-night-taboo-or-not-taboo/

“Power of the writer has increased,” says former BBC TV boss. https://t.co/gwOWhAuitf

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Primary8:54 - 15.7.2017

An almost-full house of writers and designers here at @awg_1 @Rev_Film_Fest @Screenwest Writing for Interactivity… https://t.co/0s4oWh5kkN

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We're excited to announce that this event will now be live streamed tomorrow from 4pm Perth/6pm Sydney on the… https://t.co/Mydhuj5le6

Primary4:24 - 14.7.2017

We're excited to announce that tomorrow's sold out Navigating Interactive Writing event with Revelation Film Festival will also be live streamed on the Fielder Street Creative Facebook page. Join us tomorrow afternoon as Christy Dena and Leena van Deventer chat with Anthony Sweet about changing your mindset to level up your writing by including interactivity and reader agency into your stories! The live stream will be available from 4pm Perth / 6pm Sydney.

Primary4:01 - 14.7.2017

#Sydney, come join us in Redfern next Tuesday as our lively bunch of writers and agitators discuss the challenges of telling stories and kicking sacred cows in an era of alt-right outrage and social media thuggery! We'll be joined by Simon Hunt, Lily Shearer and Julie Kalceff with the panel moderated by Ian Simmons. Tickets still available on the AWG website.

"Don't get it right, get it written" - great advice from writer and script editor Karin Altmann at last night's @AWG_1 event

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Karin's #1️⃣: biggest muscle is your bum - don't get it write, get it written. THEN rewrite @AWG_1

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Useful to tape convos with editors, so when you throw up a defensive wall in the moment you can take the note later - Chris Corbett @AWG_1

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You're trying to steer the writer but there is wriggle room - Chris Corbett on the dynamic between writer and script editor @AWG_1

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Write the first draft like you're in love, and the second draft like you're in charge - Karin Altmann @AWG_1

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ICYMI: @LaMamaTheatre is celebrating its 50th anniversary. How different would Australian culture be without it?… https://t.co/uRo3oZGRVf

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Primary6:06 - 10.7.2017

#Perth, there are still tickets left to see Liz Doran chat with Pete Gleeson, writer and director of Hotel Coolgardie - The Film at Fielder Street Creative tonight! Free for AWG members and only $5 for non-members! We'd love to see you there to be part of the studio audience for our livestream.

FREE EVENT: Join Christy Dena & Leena van Deventer July 15th for 'Navigating Interactive Writing' #RevFest @AWG_1https://t.co/rR8FLSIsj2

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#Perth don't miss out on hearing @doran_liz chat with @Hotel_C_Film writer & director Pete Gleeson tonight!… https://t.co/GTz4i8ozcP

Where Australia's great theatre artists trod the boards: 50 years of Melbourne's La Mama theatre https://t.co/0HIaXYTz3l @ConversationEDU

Primary2:36 - 10.7.2017

#Perth, don't miss this chance to be part of the livestream studio audience tonight as Liz Doran chats with writer & director Pete Gleeson about the process of creating this raw, humorous and sometimes shocking documentary. Tickets free for AWG members. 6.30 pm at Fielder Street Creative, Level 2/30 Fielder St, East Perth WA 6004. Tickets on AWG website.

Primary0:01 - 10.7.2017

Don't miss this chance to hear Chris Corbett and Karin Altmann take you through tips and tricks on re-writing projects for film and television. This Wednesday from 7pm at the Dan O'Connell Hotel, Carlton. Tickets available below:

All screenwriters should read this chat with John Logan https://t.co/SAUBYCE6th https://t.co/f0FsTy6R7W

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Primary2:22 - 7.7.2017

Writing for interactivity can present many challenges to the newcomer, and involves shedding a lot of what we’ve always been taught about storytelling. Are beginning, middle, and end, really essential? Do we need to move in straight lines anymore? Is conflict really essential? Join our guest of games and interactive writing as she leads you through the basics of changing your mindset to level up your writing by including interactivity and reader agency into your stories! With Christy Dena (QLD) and Leena van Deventer (VIC).

Primary2:06 - 7.7.2017

We all have a unique way of looking at the world and a unique way we experience and interpret events in our own lives. When we write professionally, we usually have to write characters we’ve never met – cops, specialists, serial killers – even aliens… so how do you find your voice within all these characters and worlds? Using The Kettering Incident Vicki Madden will talk through her life experiences that shaped Anna Macy and all the characters and themes from Kettering… When: Sunday 30 July 2017, 9am to 1.30 pm Where: Mercury Cinema, 13 Morphett St, Adelaide SA 5000 Tickets: $20 for members, $30 for non-members Presented by AWG and MRC.

Primary2:01 - 7.7.2017

Come be part of our studio audience as screenwriter Liz Doran chats with Pete Gleeson, the WA based Writer/Director of the raw, humorous and sometimes shocking documentary Hotel Coolgardie - The Film

Primary3:43 - 6.7.2017

Join our live studio audience tonight as screenwriter Liz Doran is ‘In Conversation with Pete Gleeson’. Gleeson is the WA based Writer/Director of the raw, humorous and sometimes shocking documentary, Hotel Coolgardie, which is currently enjoying a successful release in cinemas. Come along and be part of our studio audience for the livestream of this exclusive event!

Primary3:38 - 6.7.2017

You’ve finished your first draft. Now what? Alleviating the agony of the re-write. Chris Corbett and Karin Altmann will take you through some tips and tricks on re-writing your projects for film and television. The session will include managing notes – i.e. ‘I love you, you’re perfect, now change’; getting on top of structure, over-writing, under-writing, focused story-telling and managing point of view. Chris and Karin will share the knowledge they’ve acquired over the years as they deliver a candid account of how to survive as story-tellers and how – as script editors – they operate as midwives to your dreams.

Primary2:35 - 6.7.2017

Our next Victorian members night is coming up next week. Don't miss out on this great session with Chris Corbett and Karin Altmann as they take you through some tips and tricks on re-writing your projects for film and television. Where: The Dan O’Connell Hotel. 225 Canning Street, Carlton When: Wednesday 12 July 2017, 7 pm The session will include managing notes – i.e. ‘I love you, you’re perfect, now change’; getting on top of structure, over-writing, under-writing, focused story-telling and managing point of view. Chris and Karin will share the knowledge they’ve acquired over the years as they deliver a candid account of how to survive as story-tellers and how – as script editors – they operate as midwives to your dreams.

Primary0:24 - 5.7.2017

WA Friends! Last chance to book tickets to hear Please Like Me writer Liz Doran talk all things comedy tonight. Tickets free for AWG members. Where: Fielder Street Creative, 30 Fielder Street, East Perth, WA 6004 When: Tonight! Wednesday 5 July 2017, 6.30 pm Tickets: Free for members, $5 for non-members. Please book tickets to ensure you are on the door list on the night.

Primary23:25 - 4.7.2017

Meet the Makers with Roger Monk from Essential Media tomorrow night in Brisbane. Don’t miss this chance to meet and get invaluable advice from a screenwriter at the top of his game and at the top of the ladder when it comes to development for Essential Media in Queensland! #awgqld

Primary7:16 - 4.7.2017

Tune in tonight from 7pm AEST! Shayne Armstrong will chat to Melanie Tait about John Hinde Award and all things sci-fi!

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