Jump to content

Game Writer Question


Acid88

Recommended Posts

Hey, I was wondering if anyone in the game industry could give me some advice. I'm a college student with an associate's degree, and my goal is to become a game writer (cut scenes, characters, story, game manuals, etc.). I have to decide on a major as soon as possible, but I'm not sure which major will give me the best shot at writing for games.

 

I hesitate to get an English degree, because I can still work on my writing skills, and get my writing published without an ENGL major. I'm also not interested in many of the normal jobs associated with English (English professor, etc.), and I don't want a masters in English which is usually necessary to get a good job when majoring in ENGL.

 

I've heard about writers in the game industry who need to multitask, such as write and work on game design, etc. So perhaps a major in Computer Science? If anyone has any insight I would greatly appreciate it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Individuals obtain mastery over written expression through practice.

 

So... write a ****load of stuff. Write everyday. You are a writer if you are writing. If you don't write, you are not a writer.

 

Write short stories. Write plays. Write screenplays. Write game narrative content for a mod team. Write non-fiction. Write journalistic pieces. Write speeches for politicians or corporate figures. Write for the college newspaper. Write for pay if you can and for free if you can't. Write forum posts. Experiment with different styles. Learn all of the rules so that you can break the rules when appropriate.

 

Consider your degree options in terms of utility. Most degrees provide little real-world value unless you obtain a degree that establishes some low-level form of credentials or credibility.

 

Seeking a degree in liberal arts disciplines such as English or history will compel you to become more familiar with the associated subject matters; however, you can compel yourself to obtain the same degree of familiarity without external pressure.

 

A computer science degree will provide the most utility when it comes time for you to apply for game development jobs.

 

Try to get published. Start with small market literary publications. Search the web for potential markets.

 

Find websites like this: Short Story markets and submit your material to the various places.

 

You'll get probably 1000 rejections for every acceptance, even if you are competent. Ignore that because it's irrelevant, all you are trying to do is build momentum at this point.

 

Definitely write or design something for a mod team, preferably one that actually releases something.

 

Combine released mod work with published written work with a comp sci degree and you will turn yourself into a saleable entity. Add in some experience doing QA and you will be in really good shape.

Thanks for the awesome avatar Jorian!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, I was wondering if anyone in the game industry could give me some advice. I'm a college student with an associate's degree, and my goal is to become a game writer (cut scenes, characters, story, game manuals, etc.). I have to decide on a major as soon as possible, but I'm not sure which major will give me the best shot at writing for games.

 

I hesitate to get an English degree, because I can still work on my writing skills, and get my writing published without an ENGL major. I'm also not interested in many of the normal jobs associated with English (English professor, etc.), and I don't want a masters in English which is usually necessary to get a good job when majoring in ENGL.

 

I've heard about writers in the game industry who need to multitask, such as write and work on game design, etc. So perhaps a major in Computer Science? If anyone has any insight I would greatly appreciate it.

 

You're instinct is correct, in my opinion - do not worry about the English degree. Your major itself probably won't help you much. What will help is the things you learn from college and that you have the degree at all. Use your electives and your free time to build up your value as a game writer. Use your degree to keep food on the table.

 

Getting a job directly as a game writer is highly unlikely. So have your degree be something both relevant to the game industry and that can also pay the bills while you do projects on the side and/or push your way in. Computer Science is a great choice if you enjoy that field. (My degree is in environmental engineering; I have yet to even get to design a sewer level. :shifty:) Pursuing a job in technical writing could be a good avenue. If you're interesting in writing cut scenes, some film classes would be very relevant.

 

I'd also suggest putting your quest to become a game writer on the back burner. Find other things you like to do and get a job developing games in any capacity. Bide your time and look for opportunities.

 

I agree with Monty's advice as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Read and study games.

 

What kind of games do you want to write? Play and study those.

What are they doing right?

Wrong?

How can you improve on that?

How can you improve on that improvement?

Where are game stories going?

Where did they come from?

 

+1 to that.

 

+1 to what Kevin and Monty said earlier as well. It isn't so much an individual degree that will get you in. Your portfolio, personality, and skillset are what I think most companies look at.

 

I made sure to get a trade under my belt right after high school and oddly enough it has paid off every year. You'd be amazed how much something like welding, carpentry, and working on cars and motorcycles can help shape your brain when it comes to building levels. It also helps having a reliable fall-back crutch should everything else hit the fan.

 

In my undergrad, I started out in computer science but quickly realized straight coding wasn't my thing. Pick your passion when it comes to a major in college and the money will follow. If you are passionate and honestly enjoy programming, go Computer Science. Honestly, as a designer it helps to know the fundamentals of coding logic, digital logic design, and some basic programming languages for the gameplay scripting side of things, but you don't need a full CS degree. I ended up switching over to Digital Art and Philosophy as a double major. I took as many History, Philosophy, and Art electives as I could, including taking care of my language elective by studying Spanish in Costa Rica for a summer.

 

After undergrad, I went to the Guildhall at Southern Methodist University. I could have possibly gotten a job by grinding away at web tutorials and making my own levels and campaigns in various editors, but the Guildhall was like boot camp for game design. We honestly spent some weeks from 9am to 1am working on game projects. It isn't a program for academically lazy. People failed out in the first 3 months because they didn't take it seriously enough and did not have the writing and scripting fundamentals strong enough to get passing grades. You won't be guaranteed a job by going to a game school, but if you attend one with a great reputation and work your butt off, you'll have a whole arsenal of tools at your disposal to build a great portfolio.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I was going to school for GA&D up until recently and a lot of us asked this same question to speakers and instructors. Most said the same thing that the General said. They would look over a portfolio before a degree. I want to be a level designer, so I went out and bought games that had the tools or were releasing them. Guess it would work the same way for the cut scenes and such. Using flash or making cut scenes for games you already have would be good practice for your writing skills, just my opinion. :shifty:

gtdarktrooper.png
Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the wanted ads Ive seen, when companies hire people specificly for writing, they are looking for people who have written for film and television. So you would have to break into two different bussinesses that are notoriously hard to get into to land the job you want.

DISCLAIMER: Do not take what I write seriously unless it is clearly and in no uncertain terms, declared by me to be meant in a serious and non-humoristic manner. If there is no clear indication, asume the post is written in jest. This notification is meant very seriously and its purpouse is to avoid misunderstandings and the consequences thereof. Furthermore; I can not be held accountable for anything I write on these forums since the idea of taking serious responsability for my unserious actions, is an oxymoron in itself.

 

Important: as the following sentence contains many naughty words I warn you not to read it under any circumstances; botty, knickers, wee, erogenous zone, psychiatrist, clitoris, stockings, bosom, poetry reading, dentist, fellatio and the department of agriculture.

 

"I suppose outright stupidity and complete lack of taste could also be considered points of view. "

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow. I just have to say a big thank you to the Obsidian team for taking the time to answer questions on the forums. I rarely see developers who are willing to take the effort to do so.

 

There's one thing I should add.

 

One should not think I want to be a game writer. Instead, your thoughts should be more like I want to be a writer.

 

Why generalize? There are many different mediums out there, and a diverse skill set allows you to roll and change with the times. In a creative profession - be it - artist or writer, you need to be adaptable. Like Monty stated, write short stories, write plays, write screenplays...everything. Each will allow you to develop your writing skills more than if you just stuck to one medium (at least in the beginning).

 

The game industry is a hot topic these days. Everyone thinks they want to work in the industry...but do they really understand what it's like? Playing games and creating games are very very different experiences. If you focus solely on being a "game writer" - what happens if you find out that you don't enjoy it?

 

Enjoy life, and pursue a degree in what stirs your interests. If it is Anthropology or Astrophysics (my first major) ... then go for it!! Don't worry about taking something because you think it will lead to a job - you'll end up miserable. A writer must have a passion for learning...and the more interests, knowledge, and life experiences you can draw on when you write, the better!

Edited by Dracowyr
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Hello all, I'm also interested in a career in writing and hopefully breaking through into the video game industry.

 

Most you mentioned that other qualifications with IT would be desirable to get onto a development team at all. I'm looking to enlist in the Royal Australian Army specifically within the RA Sigs (Royal Australian Signals Corps) as an Information Systems Technician. This course involves 18 weeks of training in fundamentals of computing, fault-finding hardware and software problems and network operating systems. Subjects in these courses include installation of applications, peripheral devices, operating a help desk, data communications and operating a Field LAN Detachment.

Now, I'm aware some of that might not be useful in the gaming industry, but I'm curious as to whether its accepted as a qualification for the industry in general.

 

I was also hoping to work towards a degree in Creative Writing at a nearby University.

 

I'm just trying to get a path laid out and if a completed certificated as an Advanced 'Signaller' is worth it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's an interesting question. I agree it's great to see the devs actually responding.

 

My own reaction would be that games writing seems to fall into two disciplines. You have dialogue creation, which is often pedestrian, but in complex games needs to serve a variety of ethical viewpoints. Perhaps philosophy might help a bit, but doing verbal sketches of people you see might be more fun. I had a girlfriend who used to do motion sketches of people she saw whenever she had a free minute. Just line drawings. She said the key was to use impressions. So maye you could try 'sketching' people with one or two words or phrases. Just a thought.

 

The other discipline is story crafting, but increasingly this means allowing players some freedom. I don't know what makes a good story crafter. But they definitely exist.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
It's an interesting question. I agree it's great to see the devs actually responding.

 

My own reaction would be that games writing seems to fall into two disciplines. You have dialogue creation, which is often pedestrian, but in complex games needs to serve a variety of ethical viewpoints. Perhaps philosophy might help a bit, but doing verbal sketches of people you see might be more fun. I had a girlfriend who used to do motion sketches of people she saw whenever she had a free minute. Just line drawings. She said the key was to use impressions. So maye you could try 'sketching' people with one or two words or phrases. Just a thought.

 

The other discipline is story crafting, but increasingly this means allowing players some freedom. I don't know what makes a good story crafter. But they definitely exist.

 

I would imagine philosophy helping a lot, but i may have a bias towards the subject since i was close to finishing my degree in it. Simply put philosophy will help you look at things in different perspectives and help you to observe the world, including yourself, from a third party standpoint. This seems like it would be important in writing scripts because no matter how immersed into a game a player is, the bottom line is they are not in it. Some of the most compelling reads today are from philosophers. Besides as a fallback you can always study law, which is the route the majority of people who obtain these degrees go, mostly because all the big philosophy companies are just delusions, and because law schools like philosophers because they tend to be better at the interpretation of law.

 

The downside to philosophy is your degree is not as focused as other peoples, as a result you may have to defend your reasoning behind getting it to everyone from your parents to potential employers, but if statistics make you feel good i read somewhere a few months back that even during the current economic times people with a philosophy degree remain 95% employed.

 

Basically you'll learn to think a bit more outside the box then most people, and you will question everything from personal motives to economics. Then when you get hired for a company you might do well because you will have different views, know why you have these views, and will be able to convince other people of your views.

 

On a side note take my life lesson to heart, schools don't like it when you lay a teacher out, even when its self defense, this is why i was close to getting my degree.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On a side note take my life lesson to heart, schools don't like it when you lay a teacher out, even when its self defense, this is why i was close to getting my degree.

 

I assume you weren't at a ninja school then?

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On a side note take my life lesson to heart, schools don't like it when you lay a teacher out, even when its self defense, this is why i was close to getting my degree.

 

I assume you weren't at a ninja school then?

 

Safe assumption, in my defence i didnt mean to he caught me off guard. i was booted from ninja school when they found i became a rogue ninja in various mmos.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...