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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


Primary6:32 - 19.9.2017

'All over Australia, all over the industry, all over the age groups, sexes, aspirations and wider politics, the industry is on a campaigning roll' #MakeItAustralian

Make It Australian - fire, passion and good humour | ScreenHub Australia https://t.co/oJOWPmrXFv #MakeItAustralian

Thank you to all those involved in the #MakeItAustralian Perth Launch. Photos by Bianca Kartawiria. https://t.co/xJaqYOQAg8

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Wonderful speech for #MakeItAustralian from Shareena Clanton at the Melbourne launch. https://t.co/tFYnZRZAIU

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Primary1:21 - 19.9.2017

Primary0:55 - 19.9.2017

Parliamentary film and TV inquiry’s report will focus on jobs and growth https://t.co/g3zTx2QthO

Gillian Armstrong and Marta Dusseldorp on @Lateline last night on the launch of the #MakeItAustralian campaign https://t.co/OgCCpawhAx

Gillian Armstrong: We have hundreds of film schools and drama schools and a lot [of graduates] are going straight to Hollywood #lateline

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Gillian Armstrong: "Do we want our kids only finding out about the senior prom and maple syrup on pancakes? #lateline

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Gillian Armstrong: "I wouldn't be here without government controls and government funding and neither would Nicole Kidman." #lateline

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Director Gillian Armstrong: "We need protection of our talent -- but also, our stories are out culture." #lateline

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International tv and film streaming services are growing, but We can't lose Australian stories told by Australians… https://t.co/Q9kT8cQwHl

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If we want to live in a country with our own screen drama, we're going to have to fight for it #MakeItAustralian https://t.co/S0wkXI0Pds

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"Nothing changes without a fight" words of wisdom from Gillian Armstrong #MakeItAustralian

NOTHING CHANGES WITHOUT A FIGHT - Gillian Armstrong at #makeitaustralian rally demanding govt support for the Aussi… https://t.co/DByvYKHU8Y

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#makeitaustralian launch in Brisbane, supporting our stories on screen! https://t.co/a8Dtb2DEiL

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Seeing people that spoke like me was crucial growing up. As a film maker, I want to make stories for Australians.… https://t.co/jZUvm8hyZT

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Scott Hicks: put the quota on the new players. In the EU Netflix has to show 30% local content. @AWG_1 @withMEAA #MakeItAustralian

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Primary4:32 - 18.9.2017

Primary1:39 - 18.9.2017

Joining us tonight at the launch of the #MakeItAustralian campaign? Make sure you're up to date with the latest times and venues around the country: SYDNEY: 6pm, Event Cinemas George Street MELBOURNE: 3pm, ACMI PERTH: 4pm, Luna Cinemas, Oxford Street, Leederville ADELAIDE: 5pm, Media Resource Centre BRISBANE: 6pm, William Galloway Auditorium, QCU HOBART: 5.30pm, Fullers Bookshop

Primary23:44 - 17.9.2017

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Primary5:40 - 15.9.2017

Writers, performers, producers, directors and crew are joining forces to campaign for the future of the screen industry. The campaign will be launched on Monday 18 September at venues around the country. Join Australian Writers' Guild, Australian Directors' Guild, Screen Producers Australia and MEAA by registering yourself to attend the event near you. Events to be held across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Hobart, Perth and Adelaide. #MakeItAustralian

Primary0:07 - 15.9.2017

Entries for the 2018 NSW Premier's Literary Awards are open, including the 2018 Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting and the 2018 Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting. Entries close Friday 13 October 2017.

Primary0:11 - 13.9.2017

Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department are calling for Indigenous screen content makers from around the country who are passionate about environmental issues to apply for a special factual initiative – State of Alarm. Previous screen credits are not essential, but applicants are required to submit a pitch video outlining their concept.

Primary6:33 - 12.9.2017

Join us tomorrow night as we chat to one of the nations's best writers, Andrew Bovell. Andrew’s staggering body of work across film, theatre, and television, places him at the very pinnacle of our industry. Andrew is the critically acclaimed writer or co-writer of The Secret River, Lantana, Edge Of Darkness, The Book Of Revelation, Iris, Strictly Ballroom, and Who's Afraid of the Working Class? Andrew, in discussion with playwright and director Brett Cousins, will draw from his 30 years of writing experience, including his journey into the industry, his fight with crippling writers block, and advice on how to achieve excellence in your writing.

Primary1:06 - 12.9.2017

Bus Stop Films and Write Night (AWG) are hosting a free event aiming to help screenwriters craft authentic characters with a disability, confidently. To have a diverse film and TV landscape we need to give writers the tools and confidence to write diverse and authentic stories! Join us for an illuminating keynote by the Guardian's film critic, Luke Buckmaster on the representation of disability in Australian Cinema, followed by a panel discussion with esteemed filmmakers Daniel Monks, Emily Dash, disability arts veteran Alison Richardson and Creative Director of Robot Army Ryan Chamley . Hosted by Genevieve Clay-Smith, Co-Founder of Bus Stop Films and 2015 NSW Young Australian of the year.

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Primary23:36 - 10.9.2017

Want to learn from the best? Come along Wednesday night and spend an evening with Andrew Bovell, 13 September, 6.45pm, at the Dan O’Connell. Andrew, in discussion with playwright and director Brett Cousins, will draw from his 30 years of writing experience, including his journey into the industry, his fight with crippling writers’ block, and advice on how to achieve excellence in your writing.

Primary6:15 - 8.9.2017

Huddle against the darkness and gather around the fireside in one of Tasmania’s most historic (and haunted) hotels with three of Australia's most prominent genre writers (Vicki Madden, Shayne Armstrong and Shane Krause) and listen to tales that promise to send a chill up your spine and heed ominous words about how to create terrifying tales and sinister stories of your own. You'll uncover the secrets of how and why genre premises live or die in the national and international film and TV industry as well as how to set and write scenes that wreak maximum tension. There will be sweat-inducing tales from the industry to share and then – if you dare – stay the night in one of Tasmania's oldest and most haunted pubs. This unique overnight experience will begin at 4pm (just before twilight) where introductions will be made, followed by a pub meal before retiring to an open fire in an historic convict pub. Next morning (if there is one) there will be one on one meetings with our ghoulish guests to discuss your own project. When: 4pm Saturday 14 October to midday Sunday 15 October 2017 Where: The Ross Hotel, 35 Church Street, Ross, Tasmania (approximately an hour south of Launceston and 1.5 hours north of Hobart) The Tasmanian Genre Writing Retreat is supported by the Tasmanian Government through Screen Tasmania

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We've got your Friday listening sorted! OzPod has 34 of the best, brightest and most innovative names in podcasting in Australia and from around the world presenting a full day of panels, presentations and workshops. Listen along on ABC Extra or through the ABC listen app. For updates follow @OzPodConference on Twitter or join the conversation using #OzPod2017.

Primary5:14 - 7.9.2017

Only 8 hours left to register for the Tasmanian Gothic Short Script Challenge! Registered participants have just 48 hours to write an original horror script of 7 pages or less! The challenge is open to anyone, located anywhere in the world. This year again there are three prompts to be incorporated, making this a uniquely difficult competition that inspires highly original and idiosyncratic results! Registrations for the 2017 Tasmanian Gothic Short Script Challenge will close at 11 pm tonight (Australian Eastern Daylight Time).

Primary5:07 - 7.9.2017

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