Tip Tuesday Round Up: Video games special5 min read
A weekly round up of writing advice and inspiration
“The difficulty all has to do with the fact that you’re writing a story completely out of order. You have very little awareness of what the gameplay leading up to it and coming out of it is going to be. There aren’t even levels yet. You’re writing scenes that are planted in the middle of this completely unknown ether.”
Glixel interviews the cream of video games’ directors and writers on how video game narrative has evolved from strength to strength over the past few years, as well as the difficulties posed by the enormity of video game scripts and endlessness of dialogue trees!
“Video games have risen to become one of the core pillars in contemporary fiction. They now wield, as per Brande’s definition, tremendous influence. The ethical, social and material standards they promote are, if anything, more tangible than those found in literature, film and television; in a video game, these are the hard parameters which establish how (and if) we may choose to act.”
As usual, Gamasutra has some fantastic insight into writing for video games – in this article, addressing the clash between violence and story. Taking Tomb Raider as a recent example, they warn that sometimes forcing violent scenes can interfere with a realistic and consistent portrayal of your established characters.
“Gradual and highly choreographed revelation is a key component of all narrative media, but somehow games often fail at this. Input systems, like plot points, can be fed slowly and carefully – they can become an element of the drama. It’s really interesting how, when television programmes have learned from, or set out to critique video games, they have portrayed game conventions as problematic.”
All mediums have lessons to teach one another when it comes to how to tell a good story – cinema from comics, books from RPGs, and in this case, The Guardian make a case for the lessons video games can learn from televison writing, including character growth, planning your story arcs, and how to write a great opening.
“It shocks me that for the majority of the gaming audience today, it’s simply not enough to have agency within the well-refined path of a linear narrative. Most want to point to a mountain in the distance and say, “I’m going to go there now”. But what if I told you that eventually you will go there, but only when you’re ready for it, not on a whim? If that’s what it takes for me to stay immersed within a gaming world rather than see various NPCs glitch through it, sign me up.”
But is the recent trend for story-rich video games about to change? Gamespew challenges a recent report that Ubisoft plans to use less narration in its upcoming games, making the case that if video games want to keep up with their counterparts in books and movies, they need to maintain the kind of depth that often only a good narrative can provide.
“Going into the video game field made me excited about writing again. I credit working in gaming for getting me back on my feet with my writing.”
And to finish, a little exception from the rest: a writer who moved from video game design to novels. Marie Liu discusses how she first entered the world of working in video games, and how they inspired her to move into the realm of fantasy writing.
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