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The Importance Of Writing In Games, Part 3

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 07:00 AM

Ars Technica recently posted the third and final installment of a series looking at the importance of writing in computer games. The articles examine the lack of quality writing in many titles and the difficulty introduced by the interactive nature of games. The latest installment is an interview with veteran game writer Susan O'Connor.

Ars Technica: Many people tell me that they want to write for games, but it's one of the few careers in gaming that is still shrouded in mystery. How does one become a game writer? Is it a matter of knowing people, or is there an actual career path?

Susan O'Connor: It's still the Wild West in terms of finding a position. But that's true for most creative jobs, not just writing. Personal connections help. The good news is that people in the gaming industry are easy to approach. The IGDA has chapters in most major cities, and they hold regular social events. There's one thing that future game writers can do while they wait for their big break, and that is write. Because if a job opens up, the first thing the studio will want is writing samples. Not in a week, but in an hour. And that's samples, plural! So it's not a bad idea for would-be game writers to give themselves a few writing assignments.

When someone's just starting out, any kind of samples will do, but dramatic pieces are probably best—film or television specs. But—here's the trick—the writer has to be ready to show the developer how they would write for an interactive medium. So a TV spec won't be enough. Here's another idea. They can write a "missing level" for an existing video game. And frankly, a lot of games cut levels at the last minute, so it's easy to find candidates for that kind of project! Just be ready to do a fair amount of game design along with your writing. Good times.
Click over to the links below to read the rest of the interview and the first two installments of the series.
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