Video game writing

Video game writing is the art and craft of writing scripts for video games. Similar to screenwriting, it is typically a freelance profession. It includes many differences from writing for film, due to the non-linear and interactive nature of most video games, and the necessity to work closely with video game designers and voice actors. There are many differing types of text in video games in comparison to stage shows or movies, including written text, foreign or made-up languages, and often situation-based information. Especially when developing Triple A games, more than one writer will be required to create the game, split into different roles.

People who write video games are part of the design team, during pre-production, and creates the main plot of a video game but can also focus on the dialogue, the character creation and development or the worldbuilding.

During the game development process, the design may change and a video game writer can also be asked to fix the eventual narrative issues.

The importance of the plot can be minimized by some video game designers, for instance Harvey Smith of Arkane Studios claimed that “The world is very important. The characters are very important. The plot? It can be thrown away. Because each gamer will build his own story.“. Moreover, according to academic and video game designer Ian Bogost video games can be much more than narrative media, by putting together, in a non-linear structure, elements of everyday life, as in What Remains of Edith Finch.

One issue specific to the medium is that priority is given to interactive play mechanics over narrative which could lead to Ludonarrative dissonance: a situation when ludic and narrative elements are opposed to each other, as Far Cry 2 director Clint Hocking defined the concept in his blog.

Also as video games are more recent than other media, video game writing is still a field to be conquered.

There is no specific training to video game writing and some video game writers – such as Tim Schafer and Sam Barlow – are also in charge of other game development tasks. In the video game industry, it is also one area where some women are very famous such as Roberta Williams and Jane Jensen.

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