• How Would You Like to Write for a Video Game?

    December 22, 2008 by

    If you’re a gamer, how many times have you sat down and read the bio of one of the characters you wanted to use? Did you ever wonder who wrote the back stories for characters like Sonic the Hedgehog, Lara Croft, or Super Mario Brothers? Did you ever think you’d like to be one of the people who wrote the story lines for video games like Resident Evil or the Final Fantasy series? Well, guess what … if you’re a writing major, that idea isn’t as far out as you might think.
    Interactive-media writer, Carol Handler Miller, tells writers and aspiring writers how to expand their professional horizons in a really cool way. In her article for the December 2008 issue of The Writer magazine, Miller explains the job and advises on how to break into the industry.

    So, what do interactive-media writers do? Depending on a writer’s experience and skill set, he could find himself doing one of the following:

    • creating dialogue scripts
    • creating original characters
    • writing dialogue (this is great for anyone with a screenwriting background)
    • writing “cut scenes” – “film-like sequences that open or close a game and that are also used as important transitions.”
    • working on “design documents” – “detailed documents that describe every aspect of a gam’es characters.”

    Interactive-media writers with a lot of experience may work in conjunction with a project’s designer to “create the overall story world for a game and work out major challenges the players will have to overcome in order to succeed at the game,” Miller says.
    Regular video games aren’t the only kind that need skilled writers. Alternate Reality Games (ARG) are dramas (The Truth About Marika) played out in real time. Writers “may create faux Web sites and blogs, phone messages, press releases, and TV commercials, all in the voice of the game’s fictional characters or entities.”
    Another genre that might be of interest is educational and training games. A writer could be asked to “help incorporate educational or informational material into a game format.”
    Now that a video game writer’s possible responsibilities have been explained, how does a college student or recent college graduate find a way into the industry?

    • Look into formal and informal education – community colleges and universities, not surprisingly, offer video-game development classes.
    • Network – the International Game Developers Association has an online group especially for writers.
    • Create a portfolio – writing samples and a “prototype” you created (with help from others for the animation, programming and audio aspects of the game) are important to have available.
    • Parlay existing skills – screenwriting, journalism or writing for children can all come in handy.
    • Research the employers – This is important in any industry because ultimately, writer and employer have to be a good fit for each other.

    Most interactive-media writers work freelance because staff jobs are uncommon and usually go to more experienced people with skills in producing or designing as well as writing.
    It’s not an easy career field to get into but any college student or recent college graduate who’s looking for a fun, creative, totally cool internship or entry-level job, might want to look into becoming an interactive-media writer.

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