What does it entail to become a video game writer?
As someone who has played a lot of video games, the idea of writing them for a job might seem appealing. And in this day and age, video gamer writer is actually a legitimate job. But what does it involve? And where do you get started?
We are going to explore some of the key aspects of being a writer for video games over here. But before we even get started, did you know that video game writing might be a much bigger field than you even considered? A Video Game Script Writer is quite possibly the one you had in mind, but did you know there are a wide range of other options?
Let’s start by taking a glance at some of the many specializing aspects of game writing that you might be suited for:
- Creative Story Editor
- Video Game Guide Writer
- Video Game Reviewer
- Gaming News Writer
- Gaming Copyrighter
- Social Media Writer
That’s right. There are just so many ways that you can use your particular set of skills in the video game industry. So don’t let one closed door feel like it is the end of all opportunities.
It might just be another door opening to an aspect of the industry you had not yet considered.
What does a video game scriptwriter do?
A video game scriptwriter is the person who works to help develop the plot and script the dialogue for a specific video game. During the pre-production of the game, your role would likely involve working to design the story for the game. Your duties would include creating the characters as well as crafting the narrative for the game. You will do this in conversation with the programmers who have to add visuals to your words.
Game Industry Career Guide ran this helpful interview with Darby Mcdevitt who is a scriptwriter from the well-known Assassin’s Creed franchise but has also had his hand in a number of other unrelated projects. That alone might suggest that you might need to diversify your talent range so that video game writing is just one of a number of things you do.
How do you get into video game writing?
Darby Mcdevitt’s answer to this question is that he experienced it as a combination of hard graft and luck. One of the encouragements he gives to those starting out in the field is to write and write often. The more you are in the practice of giving time to honing your skill, the better you will likely become.
Someone who is good at writing will not necessarily be interested in or good at writing for video games. But someone who is not a good writer will definitely not suddenly be good at writing video games. So begin by spending time on your writing. Say “Yes!” to every writing task that you are offered and then seek out some more just so that you can constantly up your game.
Add to your skills when you can. Being a good writer is a prerequisite and obviously, that is something that can grow over time, but if you have some design and coding experience then you will more likely be able to slide into the world a lot more easily. If you can understand the different components that make up a video game then your writing will more easily connect well with the genre.
How to get employed as a Game Writer.
While it is not essential, game studios generally will be more interested in candidates who have a gaming degree or certificate from an accredited college or university. GameDesigning ranked the top 75 Video Game Design Schools and so if you are really serious, you may want to start here.
Modern-day gaming with its increasingly story-driven video games needs writing in a variety of different forms and genres. So it pays to be experimental in your writing. Increase the range of stories you are able to write and you suddenly become more valuable and employable.
We have already mentioned having other skills to accompany your writing, but if you’re heading into this field, then skills such as coding or design are two that will really give you a foot up. Not only because they will provide you with an alternative means of earning money while you are trying to establish yourself, but they will give you an eye into the world of game designers will be a huge benefit in the long run.
For small teams working on big projects, good writing is often not super high on their priority lists. Their main focus is often on the mechanics and the look of the game and so as someone who is offering story-writing services, you may find that there is space to submit yourself as a candidate for writing. Seizing opportunities to get your foot in the door anywhere in the industry may help you look for spaces like this to let your team know you have additional skills that the team is looking for.
If you have decided that being a game writer is what you want to do with your life, you might want to begin by making your own games. Start small and learn the skills and make a little game. This will help you to have a greater awareness of and appreciation for the skills of those who you hope to work alongside. It will also look really impressive on your resume. Jason Bay wrote an article for Game Industry Career Guide in which he introduces you to a number of free tools you can use when starting out.
What kind of personality and additional talents does it take to succeed as a Game Writer?
Passion for your work is a huge asset when becoming a game writer. To be able to take others on a journey in the world you are helping to create, you first need to really believe in it and it should excite you. A game writer cannot be someone who just phones in their work. Your passion will spill over to others and if you believe, the game is more likely to succeed.
To be a game writer, you need to be someone who works well in a team and is also able to take constructive criticism from others. There is a tension between being confident about the writing you produce and your opinions on how a project should proceed, and the awareness that you are in part responsible for one small piece of a larger goal.
You will need a measure of flexibility and adaptability as the ideas [and associated writing] will likely change and be redirected numerous times during the project as you all work together to try and produce the best game. Thus the ability to push through with thick skin and humility when called upon to rewrite and then possibly once again rewrite your rewrite will come in very useful. There is no space for ego in the game writing business, especially as someone starting out in this area. There will probably be moments where you will need to let go of ideas you are convinced are better for the sake of the team’s present direction.
What does the average day of a video game writer look like?
Video game production takes place in various stages. Depending on what stage the game is in, your role will be different and your workload may vary accordingly.
In the early pre-production stage of the game [conception], most of your time will be spent in a combination of being briefed by the game designers and engaging in reading doing research and note-taking for the project at hand. This is a process of figuring out together what type of game you are trying to create. To figure out the volume of writing that will be needed in terms of narrative and dialogue which will largely be dictated by how you are planning on telling the story and communicating the vision.
Once you move to the production phase of the game, your workload will likely increase dramatically. You will be writing and meeting with the mission designers daily to make sure there is a cohesion of ideas taking place. If the franchise is strongly narrative-driven then you will be expected to connect with the actors and directors as well to ensure everyone is on the same page.
As production heads towards an end, a lot of your work will be proofreading and tweaking as well as some playtesting to see how your team brings your ideas to life.
Stay ahead of the game
You are hoping to enter an industry that is constantly on the move and evolving. One way to keep yourself in the game is to read trade magazines and publications to keep an eye on games that are currently in development. Staying up to date with the official magazines for the big platforms – Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo – is a good way to be up to speed when it comes to current and forthcoming games.
You need to be ready to seize your opportunity. Getting your foot in the door is the hard part. Once you are in then your skills and growing reputation will be the factors that either make or break you.
Finally, play some games. At the end of the day, you will very likely connect with people all over the world who will play the games that you help create. This is an aspect you do not want to lose. The connectedness that playing gives you to the final product you will be working towards is invaluable. You are not so much trying to figure out how good or bad the games are, but you are looking to understand how each game works and what it is about them that keep players coming back for more.
You can do this. Now go for it and have fun!