Game Writer

  • Game Writer

Story has become an integral part of creating an exciting gameplay experience; to craft a rich, compelling narrative, game developers employ writers (in-house or freelance) to collaborate with the design team from concept to shipment. 


Duties

A game writer may work for a game developer on a contract basis, one project at a time, or can serve in a permanent position in a large company, participating in development at several subsidiary studios. This person will work on a small team with other writers under the direction of the senior game writer, lead game designer, and creative director. Working closely with the game design staff, game writers create story treatments and pitch scene ideas, write game dialogue, and consult with game artists to perfect character images and game environments. This team of storytellers is integral to the conception of the level design, all the way down to the type of weapons and vehicles at the player’s disposal. In some way, writers leave their mark on nearly every aspect of a game: the cinematic transition scenes, character development, plot, universe back story, right down to the color of the villain’s eyes. 

Like writing a novel or screenplay, the process of game writing is one of constant editing and revision. During production of the game, writers will make changes as requested by the game designers, rewrite lines during the voice-over recording session, and draft new copy for cinematics. Many companies also ask the writer to produce and edit marketing or packaging drafts. He or she may be involved in any or all creative copy. 

Skills & Education

A bachelor’s degree or equivalent professional experience is required for this position at most established game studios. An education in creative writing or script writing is ideal for a game writer. Courses concentrating on fiction, conventions of storytelling, literature, and narrative voice are especially useful.  Anyone with a portfolio of compelling writing samples, excellent editing skills, and a firm understanding of the foundations of story can pursue a career as a game writer. Typically this position will require at least two years of professional writing experience. The best preparation for this job is to study other games, analyze the narrative components, and be well-read. The larger your creative repertoire is, the more valuable and versatile you will be as a writer. 

What to Expect

This role demands someone with an expansive imagination who is able to work collaboratively and can meet deadlines. It won’t matter how talented you are if you cannot deliver copy on time. It is perfectly acceptable to apply to a studio cold by forwarding your résumé and portfolio, but don’t bother submitting a script or treatment with the hope of having your idea picked up. Most game developers do not accept unsolicited story submissions; studios hire employees, not ideas. If you have serious aspirations of becoming a game writer but cannot find an open position, try getting your foot in the door as an intern, game tester, or other entry-level position. Once you are inside, you have the opportunity to network and make your interest in advancement known. Successful game writers can progress from a small studio to working on AAA titles, or progress to senior game writer, game designer, or creative director

 

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