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The exciting world of the computer game writer.


ILOVE writing. The fact that endless journeys await, formless in the ether, needing only skilful imagination and something to write on to bring them into being never fails to thrill me.

Interactive narrative has the potential to drive story, and our experience of it, in new and exciting directions.

Many would say games are already doing just that but the reality is while some offer us heady glimpses of what can be (take a bow, you Biowares and Naughty Dogs) mediocrity still abounds.

Games narrative is still often viewed as the poor stepchild of other, more embedded forms of art and entertainment.

Much has been written on this but the core of the issue lies within two simple linked facts: Writing is simple, but not easy. Anyone can create a story, script and characters.

Sometimes things work out. Often they don't.

Professional games writers are like professional chefs in that we take the ingredients provided (in this case by the game design document) and carefully construct a compelling narrative world to support and enhance the game play experience; to do this well takes time, skill and experience.

Writing is fun.

Creating stories, characters and dialogue is fun, dammit!

So much fun that design teams sometimes don't bring in a writer at all, preferring to do the work themselves (because anyone can write).

Other times they only hire one once they've come up with 'the basics'.

Not allowing a professional writer to have creative input early on can be risky. Saying that, things are slowly getting better, skilled writers are being brought in more often to help handle a game's narrative and the role we play is evolving.

It'll be exciting to see where the journey takes us in the next few years.

Marek Walton is a director of Newcastle games company The Mustard Corporation
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 3, 2010
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