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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


Before I write a word, I interview my characters, #Offspring creator @DebraOswald1 tells @AWG_1 dialogue on dialogue event

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And we're underway. Great cast of presenters at this @AWG_1 Write Night https://t.co/VBwUMr8ukN

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Getting ready for the next @AWG_1 Write Night. Dialogue on dialogue feat @DebraOswald1 Shane Krause, Rebecca Sommi-Fisher and Karel Segers

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DUBBO: Two Day Screenwriting Workshop with AFTRS lecturer, Holly Lyons You will learn the basic tools and fundamentals of screenwriting from an industry professional who currently lectures at a leading Sydney Film School. This course will focus on screenwriting for short films, but you will will receive skills and tools that can also be used for feature length films. When: April 8-9 2017, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm Where: Dubbo College South Campus, Boundary Road, Dubbo Lunch included For more information and tickets:

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Acclaimed screenwriter @johncollee shares his top ten writing tips. https://t.co/W1FbOh4M4K https://t.co/YU9qEAbM2Y

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"Novelists write nuance, screenwriters leave room for nuance" - Andrew Knight. @AWG_1 #awgpathways #BigDayIn

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That's a wrap guys from The Big Day In! Fantastic day! Thanks to all our speakers, attendees and helpers! #bigdayinhttps://t.co/DcNS2qRa1b

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Informative and entertaining session with Tim Pye, Alison Bell, Kelly Lefever, Carly Heaton,Mac Gudgeon. 'Script No… https://t.co/xuTYob5uFT

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Andrew Knight speaking to our very lucky Pathways writers. #bigdayin #awgpathways https://t.co/Mekz8IO7XW

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"Good writing is at the heart of high quality film and television" 🙌🏽 @AWG_1 #bigdayin #awgpathways https://t.co/tolcSeej92

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Hearing from @ABCTV fiction producer Brett Sleigh now at @AWG_1's #bigdayin and fangirling hard. Refreshing to hear… https://t.co/UYwHfbqJB0

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Brett Sleigh from @ABCTV delivering some great advice to our Pathways writers #AWGpathways #bigdayin https://t.co/hjJqpCyuta

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"For us it's all about supporting the writer" - loved hearing from Anna McLeish of Carver Films. #awgpathwayshttps://t.co/uVDyS1tJPG

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Anna McLeish from Carver Films talking sourcing and developing material with writers! Great session. #awgpathwayshttps://t.co/kDtM7NA2Xg

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"Your pitch needs to be based on a solid grounding of prep work so that it answers all client Qs before they ask them" - SL #bigdayin @AWG_1

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"You don't want your pitch to be all tip and no iceberg" - Stephen Luby from Ruby Entertainment on pitching at @AWG_1 #bigdayin #awgpathways

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Stephen Luby from Ruby Entertainment sharing the secrets of pitching with our VIC Pathways writers. @AWG_1https://t.co/Yf3mxLctqX

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Protecting and Promoting Writers’ Rights – on Screen, on Stage, on Air Like that. @AWG_1 #WritersRights #AustralianWritersGuild

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ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT TO GET YOUR AWGIE AWARD ENTRIES IN! Categories include: Children's Television, Interactive Media, Radio, Documentary, Theatre for Young Audiences, Serials, Miniseries and Telemovies, Feature Films and more! So if your work was performed, made available or finished principal photography or production in 2016, check out the guidelines for entry to see if you're eligible to enter.

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SA: Join us tonight in conversation with award winning screenwriter and playwright Andrew Bovell and AACTA Award nominated Actress Ningali Lawford-Wolf about their processes of working between the various mediums of Stage and Screen. WHEN: Tonight, 6 March, arrive at 6.30 pm for a 7 pm start. Buy your drinks from downstairs and meet us upstairs for the event – limited seating available so BOOK NOW! WHERE: The Crown & Sceptre Hotel, 308 King William Street, Adelaide. For more information and tickets:

Primary5:30 - 2.3.2017

VIC: War stories from the writing trenches – Andrew Knight in conversation with Jan Sardi Two of Australia’s most experienced and successful screenwriters share their passion for storytelling, the differences in writing for television and film, collaboration with other writers, directors and producers, and much more. WHEN: Wednesday 8 March 7 pm–8.30 pm WHERE: The function room, The Dan O’Connell Hotel, 225 Canning Street, Carlton 3503 (NB full disability access available) For more information and tickets:

Primary1:24 - 1.3.2017

SA: Join us for an evening in conversation with award winning screenwriter and playwright Andrew Bovell and AACTA Award nominated Actress Ningali Lawford-Wolf about their processes of working between the various mediums of Stage and Screen. WHEN: Monday 6 March, arrive at 6.30 pm for a 7 pm start. Buy your drinks from downstairs and meet us upstairs for the event – limited seating available so BOOK NOW! WHERE: The Crown & Sceptre Hotel, 308 King William Street, Adelaide. For more information and tickets:

Primary3:59 - 28.2.2017

Bidding now open for a chance to discuss your unproduced script, play or treatment Alana Valentine over coffee! #WriteNight

Primary3:58 - 28.2.2017

Primary2:04 - 28.2.2017

At last night's Write Night Networking Trivia!

Primary1:57 - 28.2.2017

International Awards season may be drawing to a close but AWGIE Awards season is just getting started. Make sure you don't miss out on entering the 50th Annual AWGIE Awards! Awards are presented across a diverse range of stage and screen writing categories, including film, television, documentary, theatre, radio and interactive media. Entries close Wednesday March 8!

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#Oscars day has arrived! Good luck to all the Australians up for Awards today, especially screenwriter Luke Davies up for Best Adapted Screenplay for Lion!

Primary23:03 - 21.2.2017

Big congrats to Stephen Carleton on his Matilda Awards win the other night!

Primary1:37 - 17.2.2017

And with a screenplay from an Australian writer, the film was able to keep that homegrown element. “I love that the film industry is an international collection of talent,” Davies says. “This year’s diverse selection of nominees speaks to the beautiful stories being told and the world’s appetite for meaningful cinema.”

Primary1:29 - 17.2.2017

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REMINDER! Australian Directors' Guild Awards submissions close tomorrow, 11 February! Find out more here:

Primary23:19 - 9.2.2017

Matt Ford, frontman of 90s rock band Machine Gun Fellatio and an AFI-nominated screenwriter, has won the Australian Writers’ Guild’s Prime Time Television Screenwriting Competition. Ford was awarded the top prize for his television project Shining Light, a drama about a newly ordained Catholic Priest who is no longer sure he believes in God. Prime Time comes with a $10,000 prize donated by Scripted Ink. and an invitation for Ford and the shortlist to join AWG’s prestigious Pathways Program, where their projects will be showcased to industry professionals and be in consideration for Scripted Ink. development funding.

Primary1:26 - 7.2.2017

Hurry - a few days left to enter the scholarship You will learn tools and processes used for writing and making games, including an introduction to Twine, the open-source program for creating interactive stories..

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The 50th Annual AWGIE Awards are now open for entries!

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