I think it’s time to call in the cops. That new upstart creative genre of writing for video games is making sleeping impossible as they continue to party. Sounds like an amateurish attempt to craft an exciting lede for this article on best video game writing? Well, it is more valid than you think!
Its 11 PM in the night and the whole neighborhood had finally withdrawn itself for the day. People were happy with the conventional mediums of creative expression and sort of knew what to expect. A good video game story came to the scene with its speakers playing at atrociously loud volumes—the loud and proud upstart. But before you call in literary law enforcement, consider the following key differentiators of the best video game writing. It sure is loud, but the speakers in the car are playing perfect music. Feel the same about writing techniques for video games? Then, by all means, dive in!
Games are a part of today’s life
Most probably in the course of growing up almost all of us have played video games. With the great advances in computing power, games are resembling real life more than ever. And the trend is all set to continue as 3D models become more nuanced and human-like. But in order to truly entertain people, it is necessary to attract audiences with a little bit of something extra- a story. Some game genres are definitely more inclined towards great stories than others.
With the increased computer horsepower available to gamers together with the need for variety and engagement, stories are striking big. Not only stories, but great and enjoyable characters are also super-important too. However, a discussion of the craft of stories is beyond the scope of a single blog post. However, we will touch upon it in a future post. The point is just because you are a good writer, or a creative person does not necessarily make you a great prospective game writer. This article provides you some vital clues that will help you ensure that you are able to express your creativity and vision properly as video games too!
How best video game writing is different
When a game writer sits down writing a video game, he or she has to deal with several challenges that a practitioner of traditional creative expression would never have to consider. The addition of interactivity in the equation makes the task hard. This addition of interactivity includes greater self-determination on the part of the player. What that means is that in this medium, players have a more significant role in how the very narrative is played out.
To illustrate what we mean, let’s have a look at the following diagram:
Games are unique but are closer to the movies than anything else.
The point is games are closer to movies than the traditional narrative mediums of novels, stories, and plays. It deviates from videos, too, to a large extent, thanks to the participating form of storytelling that it enables. That is not to say that there were not any attempts to make the reader feel more involved and have a role in the narrative. There were a few novels meant for young adults that tried to experiment with a structure like:
If you think the character should do ABC go to page XYZ
It would be a mistake to think that a good screenwriter would necessarily make a good game writer. This failure is more often than not due to:
- The inability of the writer to give up narrative control or
- The writer can’t adapt to the teamwork mechanism necessary for successful games.
So, if you are a novelist or screenplay writer thinking of branching into game writing, it would be helpful to keep that in mind!
The What’s and Why’s of What to Do
The screenwriter writing for the big or small screen needs only to tell what happened. The game writer has to let the player know about what he has to do next and why he must do it. If the player at a point in the game does not know what he has to do next, it is perhaps the most significant lapse the game writer can make. The fact that the viewer is the player and is active if not the leading participant in the narrative unraveling makes the task of the writer so much more difficult. The participating element of games means that they have the freedom to choose what they want to do or say. Game writers must tell their story while respecting this ability to make a choice.
Design+ Story = Narrative
Let me introduce another term or rather person- the narrative designer. The narrative designer is separate from the simple story writer. The difference is that he has to integrate the story as an element in the overall design of the game. It would help a narrative designer’s purposes a whole lot if he or she were familiar with level design and/or scripting. The narrative design combines both storytelling or game writing as well as designing games. Rather than thinking it as the combination of the two fields, it would help to think narrative design as the place where game design and game writing overlap. The narrative designer tells a great story through the mechanics of a game.
If you are the type to like to be at the thick of things and do cutting edge work in your field, game writing and game narrative development are sure to excite you. What are you waiting for, hop into the car as we hit another neighborhood with our cool music!
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