Video game writing

Video game writing is the art and craft of writing scripts for video games. Similar to screenwriting, it is typically a freelance profession.[1] It includes many differences from writing for film, due to the non-linear and interactive nature of most video games, and the necessity to work closely with video game designers and voice actors. There are many differing types of text in video games in comparison to stage shows or movies, including written text, foreign or made-up languages, and often situation-based information. Especially when developing Triple A games, more than one writer will be required to create the game, split into different roles.[1]

Writers

People who write video games are part of the design team, during pre-production,[2] and creates the main plot of a video game but can also focus on the dialogue, the character creation and development or the worldbuilding.[3] During the game development process, the design may change and a video game writer can also be asked to fix the eventual narrative issues.[4]

The importance of the plot can be minimized by some video game designers, for instance Harvey Smith of Arkane Studios claimed that "The world is very important. The characters are very important. The plot? It can be thrown away. Because each gamer will build his own story.".[5] Moreover, according to academic and video game designer Ian Bogost video games can be much more than narrative media, by puting together, in a non-linear structure, elements of everyday life, as in What Remains of Edith Finch.[6]

One issue specific to the medium is that priority is given to interactive play mechanics over narrative[7][8][9] which could lead to Ludonarrative dissonance : a situation when ludic and narrative elements are opposed to each other as Far Cry 2 director, Clint Hocking defined the concept in his blog.[10][11][12]

Also as video games are more recent than other media, video game writing is still a field to be conquered.[13]

There is no specific training to video game writing and some video game writers – such as Tim Schafer and Sam Barlow – are also in charge of other game development tasks. In the video game industry, it is also one area where some women are very famous such as Roberta Williams and Jane Jensen.

Types

Video game writing differs from writing for arts, due to the non-linear and interactive nature of most video games, and the necessity to work closely with video game designers and voice actors. There are many differing types of text in video games in comparison to stage shows or movies, including written text, foreign or made-up languages, and often situation-based information. Subsequently, more than one writer will often be used to create the game, split into different roles,[1] with more specific job titles that can range from being a traditional writer, developing an overview of the story and how it reacts to the player, or creating a translation or localization.

Pitch writing

A pitch writer specializes in writing pitches for video games to publishers.[14] They create collaborative pitch documents within a game studio that often contain design mockups or art concepts.[14] The main parts of a pitch document, in order from first to last, are the executive summary, audience analysis, story, competition analysis, market analysis, gameplay, and budget and schedule.[14]

Narrative design

Narrative designer is a hybrid role of video game design and writing that creates not only the story, but also how it is communicated to players and how the game mechanics work to reinforce that story.[14] Bioware writer David Gaider described the role as "the person who shapes the game’s narrative, as well as the one who writes all the words."[1]

Script work

Script writing

The script writer focuses on the dialogue said by characters and the voice over. The script's dialogue can be written in flowcharts to illustrate the various dialogue resulting from both decision and indecision.[15] Generally, a script writer is less involved with the video game's mechanics, and is tasked with writing and working with voice actors.[1]

Script doctoring

Similarly to screenplay script doctors, video game writers can be brought in to assist with writing-related tasks. However, the term is more vague than in screenplays due to the wide variety of potential tasks needed.[14]

Industry practice

Similar to screenwriting, it is typically a freelance profession.[1] Writing roles may also be filled by other members of the development team.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gaider, David (August 15, 2016). "Do you want to write video games? 28 An industry veteran explains the difficulty in getting the position everyone wants". Polygon. Archived from the original on April 26, 2017. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  2. ^ How To Become A Video Game Writer, interview with Darby McDevitt, posted on Game industry career guide
  3. ^ The Gamasutra 20: Top Game Writers, by Bonnie Ruberg on Gamasutra
  4. ^ Building a Narrative That’s Explosive, by Chris Suellentrop, published on The New York Times March 19, 2013
  5. ^ (in French)Dans un jeu vidéo, « le joueur s’inventera toujours sa propre histoire » by Corentin Lamy , published 27 december 2016 on Le Monde website
  6. ^ Video Games Are Better Without Stories by Ian Bogost, published in April 2017, in The Atlantic.
  7. ^ What In The World Do Video Game Writers Do? The Minds Behind Some Of Last Year's Biggest Games Explain., by Phil Owen
  8. ^ Your Game Dialogue Is Bad And You Should Feel Bad published 13 October 2011
  9. ^ for instance the poor-quality of most video games ending : That’s It? Graphics Improve But Video Game Endings Still Come Up Short, by Stephen Totilo
  10. ^ Hocking, Clint, "Ludonarrative Dissonance in Bioshock", clicknothing.typepad.com
  11. ^ Makedonski, Brett, Ludonarrative dissonance: The roadblock to realism
  12. ^ Sawrey, Matt, Ludonarrative Dissonance: we still need to learn from Hocking
  13. ^ Bad lines by Clint Hocking, published 9 february 2012 on the Edge website
  14. ^ a b c d e Despain, Wendy, ed. (2008). Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing. Wellesley, Mass.: A.K. Peters. pp. 21–22, 55, 165. ISBN 1439875383. OCLC 814380325.
  15. ^ "Flowchart a video game script". Storm The Castle. Archived from the original on 2017-09-22. Retrieved 2017-09-25.
Allen Stroud

Allen Stroud is a Senior Lecturer at Coventry University, where he teaches on the BA (Hons) Media and Communications degree. Previously he was the Course Leader for Film and Television Production and the Creative Writing for Publication degrees at Bucks New University. He is the editor of the British Fantasy Society Journal. He also composes instrumental music; however, Stroud is best known for his sci-fi fantasy novels and video game writing. He is the 2017 and 2018 chair of Fantasycon, the annual convention of the British Fantasy Society, which hosts the British Fantasy Awards.

In 2017, Stroud completed a PH. D. at the University of Winchester entitled An Investigation and Application of Writing Structures and World Development Techniques in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Amy Hennig

Amy Hennig (born August 19, 1964) is an American video game director and script writer, formerly for the video game company Naughty Dog. She began her work in the industry on the Nintendo Entertainment System, with her design debut on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System game Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City. She later went to work for Crystal Dynamics, working primarily on the Legacy of Kain series (which she considers her greatest achievement). With Naughty Dog, her work has been on two primary series: Jak and Daxter and Uncharted.

Hennig believes that the creative direction of a script holds more importance than the graphics of the game. She has been called one of the most influential women in the video game industry by Edge magazine.

Annie VanderMeer

Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda (also credited as Annie VanderMeer, Annie Carlson, Annie VanderMeer Carlson, and Anne VanderMeer) is an American video game designer specializing in role-playing video games, best known for her writing work on the 2008's Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir and her design work on the 2012's Guild Wars 2, and DoubleBear Productions' Dead State and PANIC at Multiverse High! She is the wife of game designer Brian Mitsoda.

Dave Ellis (game designer)

Dave Ellis (born 1965) is an author, video game writer and video game designer. He is also an avid classic arcade game collector and was a columnist for Gameroom Magazine.

Dead Head Fred

Dead Head Fred (Japanese: デッドヘッドフレッド ~首なし探偵の悪夢~, Hepburn: Deddo Heddo Fureddo ~Kubinashi Tantei no Akumu~) is a horror comedy action-adventure video game for the PlayStation Portable, developed by Vicious Cycle Software and published by D3 Publisher. It was released in North America on August 28, 2007 and is powered by Vicious Cycle's proprietary Vicious Engine. It features a premise that is a combination of 1940s-style noir and contemporary horror, dubbed "twisted noir" by the design team.

The game is a single-player experience whose title character, Fred Neuman, is a private investigator with the ability to switch heads. Fred has recently been murdered and decapitated, and has few memories of the events leading to his death. The plot follows Fred as he pieces together the clues of his murder and tries to get revenge on the man who killed him. Unlike many action game heroes, Fred has no conventional weapons—he relies solely on the powers available to him from the severed heads of fallen enemies.

The game received generally positive reviews, with reviewers mentioning its dark humor and noir-inspired motif as high points. It received criticism for its controls and lack of combat depth. In 2008, it won the Writers Guild of America's first-ever award for video game writing.

Erik Wolpaw

Erik Wolpaw is an American video game writer. He and Chet Faliszek wrote the pioneering video game website Old Man Murray. He subsequently worked for game developers Double Fine Productions and Valve, and is known for his work on video games including Psychonauts, Portal, and Portal 2.

Flint Dille

Flint Dille (born November 3, 1955) is an American screenwriter, game designer, and novelist. He is best known for his animated work on Transformers, G.I. Joe, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, and his game-writing, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, and Dead to Rights, as well as a non-fiction book written with John Zuur Platten, The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design .

List of awards and nominations received by The Simpsons

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom that debuted on December 17, 1989 on the Fox network. The show is the longest-running prime time scripted television series in the United States. It has won many different awards, including 33

Emmy awards, 30 Annie Awards, seven Environmental Media Awards, twelve Writers Guild of America Awards, six Genesis Awards, eight People's Choice Awards, three British Comedy Awards, among other awards. Episodes of the show have won 10 Emmys in the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming less than One Hour) category. However, The Simpsons has never been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, although the show was submitted in the category in 1993 and 1994. James L. Brooks, an executive producer on the show, won ten Emmys for The Simpsons as well as ten for other shows and holds the record for most Primetime Emmys won by a single person, with 20. The Simpsons was the first animated series to be given a Peabody Award, and in 2000 the Simpson family was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As of 2016, The Simpsons have received a total of 85 Emmy nominations.The Simpsons Movie, released in 2007, was nominated for several major awards, including a Golden Globe Award, while The Longest Daycare, a short film released in 2013, became the franchise's first production to be nominated for an Academy Award.

The Simpsons also holds two world records from the Guinness World Records: Longest-Running Primetime Animated Television Series and Most Guest Stars Featured in a Television Series.

Marianne Krawczyk

Marianne Krawczyk () is a screenwriter and video game writer. She wrote the screenplay for Appleseed Alpha (2014), based on the manga by Masamune Shirow and directed by Shinji Aramaki. She also is most known for writing all the God of War games. She won a BAFTA Game Award for Best Story and Character due to her writing work on God of War II (2007).

Nebula Award

The Nebula Awards annually recognize the best works of science fiction or fantasy published in the United States. The awards are organized and awarded by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), a nonprofit association of professional science fiction and fantasy writers. They were first given in 1966 at a ceremony created for the awards, and are given in four categories for different lengths of literary works. A fifth category for film and television episode scripts was given 1974–78 and 2000–09, and a sixth category for video game writing was begun in 2018. The rules governing the Nebula Awards have changed several times during the awards' history, most recently in 2010. The SFWA Nebula Conference, at which the awards are announced and presented, is held each spring in the United States. Locations vary from year to year.

The Nebula Awards are one of the best known and most prestigious science fiction and fantasy awards and have been called "the most important of the American science fiction awards". Winning works have been published in special collections, and winners and nominees are often noted as such on the books' cover. SFWA identifies the awards by the year of publication, that is, the year prior to the year in which the award is given.

For lists of winners and nominees for each Nebula category, see the list of categories below.

Screenwriting

Screenwriting, also called scriptwriting, is the art and craft of writing scripts for mass media such as feature films, television productions or video games. It is often a freelance profession.

Screenwriters are responsible for researching the story, developing the narrative, writing the script, screenplay, dialogues and delivering it, in the required format, to development executives. Screenwriters therefore have great influence over the creative direction and emotional impact of the screenplay and, arguably, of the finished film. Screenwriters either pitch original ideas to producers, in the hope that they will be optioned or sold; or are commissioned by a producer to create a screenplay from a concept, true story, existing screen work or literary work, such as a novel, poem, play, comic book, or short story.

Sekretagent Productions

Sekretagent is a production company based in Los Angeles, California, focused on providing content creation, screenwriting, development and production for both films and video games. Founded in 2001, the company has provided writing services for games such as Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, Assassin's Creed, and Army of Two. Since 2009, the company has also been operating as an ad agency alternative providing creative marketing consulting and commercial production.

The Simpsons Game

The Simpsons Game is an action platformer video game based on the animated television series The Simpsons and loosely on The Simpsons Movie, made for the Nintendo DS, Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. The game was developed, published, and distributed by Electronic Arts. It was released in North America in October 2007 and worldwide in November 2007. It features an original storyline written by The Simpsons writers Tim Long, Matt Selman, and Matt Warburton. In the self-referential plot, the family discovers that they are forced to participate in another The Simpsons video game. Similar to the show, the game pokes fun at popular culture, other video games, and Electronic Arts, its publisher.

The game follows the five Simpson family members—Homer, Marge (with Maggie), Bart, and Lisa—who learn they are part of a video game and are given superpowers to resolve several situations. Eventually, they must save their 8-bit predecessors from Will Wright, and the creator of their video game character selves, Matt Groening. The Simpson family travels to four scenarios in parodies of other games to collect key cards used to infiltrate their creator's mansion and ultimately to save their predecessors from destruction.

The game was met with mixed reception from video game critics. They praised its visuals and writing, which included many parodies of other video games, while they criticized its short length and poor camera system, which did not always function properly. The Simpsons Game received the Best Game Based on a Movie or TV Show award at the 2007 Spike Video Game Awards and was nominated for Best Video Game Writing at the 2007 Writers Guild of America Awards. As of January 31, 2008, four million copies of the game have been sold worldwide.

Writers Guild of America Award

The Writers Guild of America Awards for outstanding achievements in film, television, radio and video game (added in 2008) writing, including both fiction and non-fiction categories, have been presented annually by the Writers Guild of America, East and Writers Guild of America, West since 1949. In 2004, the awards show was broadcast on television for the first time.

Writers Guild of America Awards 2010

The 63rd Writers Guild of America Awards honored the best film, television, and videogame writers of 2010. Winners were announced on February 5, 2011.

Writers Guild of America Awards 2015

The 68th Writers Guild of America Awards honored the best in film, television, radio and video-game writing of 2015. Winners were announced on February 13, 2016 at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Los Angeles, California. The nominations for Television, New Media, Radio, News and Promotional Writing were announced on December 3, 2015, while, Theatrical and Documentary Screenplay were announced on January 6, 2016, and Video-game Writing was announced the following week. There were no nominees in the Television Graphic Art and Animation.

The show was hosted by Lisa Kudrow.

Writers Guild of America Awards 2016

The 69th Writers Guild of America Awards honor the best in film, television, radio and video-game writing of 2016. Winners were announced on February 19, 2017 at Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, California. The nominations for Television, New Media, Radio, News and Promotional Writing were announced on December 5, 2016, while, the Theatrical and Documentary Screenplay nominees were announced on January 4, 2017, and the Videogame Writing nominees was announced on January 12, 2017.The show was hosted by Patton Oswalt.

Writers Guild of America Awards 2017

The 70th Writers Guild of America Awards honored the best in film, television, radio and video-game writing of 2017. Winners were announced on February 11, 2018 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, California and the Edison Ballroom, New York City, New York. The nominations for Television, New Media, Radio, News and Promotional Writing were announced on December 7, 2017, the Theatrical and Documentary Screenplay nominees were announced on January 4, 2018, and the Videogame Writing nominees were announced on January 11, 2018.The West Coast show was hosted by Patton Oswalt and the East Coast show was hosted by Amber Ruffin.

Writers Guild of America Awards 2018

The 71st Writers Guild of America Awards honored the best in film, television, radio and video-game writing of 2018. Winners were announced on February 17, 2019 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, California and the Edison Ballroom, New York City, New York. The nominations for Television, New Media, Radio, News and Promotional Writing were announced on December 6, 2018. The Theatrical, Documentary Screenplay and Videogame Writing nominees were announced on January 7, 2019.

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