The Perils Of Writing Video Games

Rhianna Pratchett is best known around these parts as someone who writes video games, but what does that actually entail? It sure is different to sitting down and writing, say, a screenplay, or novel.

In a long post over on The Escapist's forums, Pratchett has gone into fascinating detail on her past as a games writer, reminding us all that just because someone's credit says "writer" on it doesn't mean they've written the whole game. Sometimes they have! Sometimes they've simply been one of too many cooks in the kitchen.

Nor does it mean they've even had a hand in shaping the game or its inhabitants. Seriously, if you've ever thought any kind of writing-related aspect of a game isn't up to scratch, whether it be background, plot or dialogue, the post is worth reading. It's kind of of sad, actually, hearing how negligent some developers are of the need for a strong narrative spine in a game.


Post [The Escapist]

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In her second paragraph she basically states that games writing is different from most other mediums in that she doesn't get to come up with her own ideas, at least at the conceptual level.

I don't know where she's getting that from. I can say this much: the majority of hollywood movies aren't specs. A lot of indies aren't specs. Most writers working on film are taking stories, or at least general concepts, brought to them by studios or directors, etc., and turning them into screenplays. This notion that gaming is somehow different because the developers are the ones with the idea for the game, and the writer has to work around that, is false. That's a common thing in other mediums as well.

Really just novels, where the writing is entirely the work of 1 person, start to finish, are different.