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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How Does One Learn To Write Video Games?

Many of my friends, students and readers end up writing on projects other than movies. Video Games are one example. Games, although built by software engineers, also need very non-technical dialogue, characterization, and non-linear plotting from someone who has experience with such things. However, when they ask me how to get into the world of games, or how to learn how to write one, I have to tell them I honestly don't know.

So my question for my readers is this. How does one learn to write the "story" for a video game? More specifically, what are the best articles, books, and online resources for learning how to write screenplays for video games?


Please post answers in the comments or email me a genrehacks@gmail.com.

Thanks!

- Sean Hood


1 comment:

Charles Mabe said...

Hiya. I'm a huge fan of writing in video games, and there really is a lot to talk about concerning the subject. Honestly, I don't have the patience to talk about the entire subject here.

First, I guess, there seems to be two ways to do it: the Western way and the Japanese way. the Western way, ideally, still functions much like it were written from a screenplay. The Japanese way is generally about going from goal point to goal point. However, since Japanese games still interject a story about you being the hero taking on the bad guys, it will turn out that the Japanese stories take the laziest way out possible by just having the hero just happen to run into the bad guys in time to stop them. Whether it's Sonic Unleashed, Pokémon, or Kingdom Hearts, Japanese games are pretty much about collecting a set of macguffins or restoring the peace at one equal place at a time in order while randomly running into and stopping the bad guys for no reason.

So since the West is known for having a long history of things like major art, philosophy, and civil rights movements, and we're the ones who developed the functioning screenplay, most of us serious writers or critics in the West would have some kind of bias towards Western writing.

The problem is that the Japanese style of writing in games technically works for the medium-- I just don't think it should be encouraged. I think it kinda teaches people not to think or to be educated or to care.

When all is said and done though, video game stories can be lightweight and still be great. Most gaming audiences really don't care about game stories, but the ones that I find shine generally have plenty of cinematic scenes and parts that are written similar to a screenplay. I just think games are a lot more flexible and forgiving because their stories aren't the only driving factor in the medium that the audience is there for.

Of course, if you only care about marketing success and not taste, art, education, and effort, video games are still pretty forgiving with their stories.