Vivek Chakraverty
  • Vivek Chakraverty

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Do you want to learn more about the black art of story and narrative development for video games? Then you have to first choose the format. You can learn about the craft of how to create the narrative of historical and contemporary games as online courses, books, and eBooks. There are even a few workshops you can attend on the same. You can choose to attend such a seminar in person or be a part of it online.

Featured Image Courtesy- mohamed hassan form PxHere

In this context, you should note that the art and craft of narrative development for video are still in its infancy. As a result of this new factor, it is both cool and rare. That also makes suitable training in the field harder to come by. In such a scenario, books are the best means for learning the ropes of story and narrative development in games.

In today’s post, we suggest the top 3 books that no narrative developer can ignore if he intends to write a video game. These books are:

  1. Video Game Storytelling: What Every Developer Needs to Know about Narrative Techniques

The days of saving princesses and slaying pixelated demons are long past us. I mean, they are still there but no more as the whole of the game. Today the gamer has become discerning and needs to be sucked into the game world through a deep, exciting, and fulfilling narrative.

This is the go-to book title for the emerging generation of game storytellers who want to do the story and narrative development for games. You get to know the basics of creating characters, plots, and, indeed, a whole game world in a way that will simply entice the player.

Book Coverage

enjoying books

To be honest, there is no single game story development technique that is not explored in this book on story and narrative development for video games. It teaches you how to make a player very much a part of the game and not a viewer of cut-scenes.

This book explores in-depth the topic of communicating your vision for a game with the broader development team. It should be mentioned that this aspect of the text is more in tune with larger organizations than most other titles on the topic.

The book has been authored by industry veteran Evan Skolnick who has significant contributions to Marvel and Star Wars games. He brings his two decades of experience and instills it in a very readable 210 pages. With it, aspiring narrative designers get initiated in a framework they can use to make their own game stories.

Many game writers consider this title to be the finest of its kind on the subject. It is the perfect start for someone who has just started on his video game narrative design journey.

  1. The Game Narrative Toolbox

This is the title to turn to if you are looking for a system that would guide you through creating game narratives. The book excels in its concept of flowing like a long and lively river. The book will hold your hand through the entire process of developing game narratives. Right from conception to developing the characters to creating the game world, it is comprehensive and thorough. It gives you a working knowledge game narrative structure. It even covers the part where you try to implement the result of the previous exercises. The book lends itself easily to sequential reading.  Orderly reading is a rewarding and pleasing experience with this book.

Book Coverage

This book stands out thanks to the development of the player’s character arc. The effects of character arcs extend to players as well and not just the story. The title suggests concrete ways to achieve this, like acquiring proper skills. Not only that, the book mentors you on the kind of life outlook you need to have to make such transformational story and narrative development for video games possible.

Thanks to the unique benefits of the format, the standard delineation between player and character is blurred in games. And you get to learn to explore this through the book. That is reason enough to get hold of the title.

4 seasoned game writers who are well versed in not only game narratives but with fiction and stories, in general, have contributed to making it a must-read. An unmissable title for the college student of narrative design.

  1. The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers

As a narrative designer, you must have a considerable amount of respect for fiction, for the art of storytelling. This is a great resource to ensure that your traditional narrative story processes are sound and ready to go. When the book first came out, the whole concept was still in its infancy. Today it has become a loved and treasured learning resource for anyone who wants to tell a good story.

The present edition is in its third version.  The first edition was one-third of this edition in terms of pages. Even if you are writing a biography or a personal story, you can be better at your job.

Book Coverage

The famous motif identified by Joseph Campbell forms the basis of this book. However, the writer, in this case, goes far more in-depth in terms of concepts. It is also useful for writers who are not even following the hero’s journey structure. It is helpful even if you wish to follow the three-act model or even Aristotle’s observations.

One should take a particular note on the treatment given to the concept of polarity by the author. This polarity technique is of great use if you really want to engage the reader.

The insights and cross cultu8ral references serve to make reading the book a rich and rewarding experience. They are eminently useful as well.

However, this is not the perfect start to the beginning of your narrative analysis work. But it is nevertheless one which you can’t do without while telling a story with a significant effect on the reader or, in our case, the player.

Final Thoughts

These were the top 3 titles I think you MUST acquaint yourself with if you want to excel at game story writing. Stay tuned to my blog for more tips and suggestions by subscribing to our newsletter!

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