So in line with all this Hepler Hate, I just felt the absurd need to think out loud. Bear with me please.
Does one have to like games to write for games? No.
But will the outcome be good? I don’t know.
That’s the thing. I think it’s mostly difficult for someone who doesn’t love a certain medium to be able to do their best at it. It is possible to write for games without liking games but you have to, at the very least, like what you’re doing.
Creative endeavors are mostly personal. You’re giving birth to a strange entity and you present it to the world in the hopes that they will understand it and love it as much as you do. And writing, for whatever medium, is still a creative endeavor.
Things change depending on requirements of the higher-ups (you know, the ones paying for your creativity) and then you will have to revise, change the style, change the characters to come to a pleasant compromise. You still need to get paid after all.
You can’t do all these things without liking what you do.
This isn’t a reaction to what Hepler said or how the Internet responded but considering that I’m now sort of writing for a game, a simple one but a game nonetheless, this issue hits home.
It is true that writing for games is completely different from let’s say writing for a TV show or a movie. The treatment is completely different and I learned that the hard way. However, the technique is something that you can learn. The story, the dreams that you weave remains constant wherever you are.
Stephen King said in his book On Writing, ‘If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.’Â This is true. This is true because how else are you going to get the necessary tools to write if your vocabulary is limited to grade school textbooks?
So how about if you want to write for games? Is it still true? Is it completely necessary for you to like playing games for you to write for it?
Let’s first answer the question what do you get from playing games. Well… you get gaming skills, you get exposure to different gameplay techniques, you get to have fun.
But does it improve your capability as a writer for games? Maybe.
You get to see how gameplay interacts with the story and that will certainly help you craft better dialogue choices. However, your skill as a writer is still by and large, improved by the appropriate toolset: vocabulary, grammar and an insatiable hunger for the unknown.
You get to understand more about how a normal person may interact with characters by playing lots of games. This is something that books, movies and TV shows do not have and this is what makes games occupy a completely different standard.
So let’s go back, do you have to like playing games for you to write for games? No, but it’s certainly going to be help.
Okay I’m done.[Original post from: His Geeky Girlfriend: Writing for Games and Actually Liking Games]
I noticed the way I write about games changed when I became a part of the gaming industry. I used to bash games as a player. Now I become somewhat affected after reading bad reviews of our games (especially for projects that got delayed because everyone wanted something else for the game). Hahahaha! I hope there will come a time when I will be able to take negative criticism with a grain of salt and be able to distance myself from the games we make. For now, my tone of writing takes into consideration the developers themselves instead of just writing about my own dis/pleasure.
That just proves that sometimes we need a good shake or a paradigm shift to truly appreciate aspects of the game industry that we normally bash or complain about
This is an interesting topic, especially since the person in question works for one of the most treasured development teams of our time. I don’t agree that Hepler should burn at the stake for her methodologies, but I do believe that she should take her role a little more seriously. I myself am a writer first and a game designer second, but I value both disciplines equally; after all, I’m making a game and not a novel/movie.
It’s true that design is not required when it comes to narrative development in games, but I hope she remembers that she’s making a game. It wouldn’t hurt to take some time and actually understand how games work; the psychology of play, emotional engineering and the like. Game development is not all about art and code, after all; most of the time, on a writing position, it involves a lot of psychology and understanding of how players function and interact with your mechanics and narrative.
I praised Dragon Age 2 for its exciting storyline (I even wrote a lengthy review of it here in Back2Gaming), but at the end of it all, the narrative still feels very detached from the gameplay. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was married into the systems like how other games did it? Looking into games like Bioshock and Heavy Rain would give one a clear idea of what I mean.
In summary, she did her job, and she did it well. But that’s just it: she simply did her job and kept to her post without exploring the possibilities of going further and providing her end users with a more engaging experience. I hope this entire experience motivates her to actually consider exploring other ways of presenting her majestic worlds to other players.
Most of the time mechanics and story do not really come hand in hand. And this is were ideas from writers and game designers clash. Writing for games is one thing, and I think when writing for a game, the writer must have a passion for games, or has played video games, or has a favorite video game. I think you can’t write a story and set the atmosphere of a game if you have little idea how you want your game to look like. And this is where today’s developers stumble — they focus so much on one element that they forget that they’re creating an interactive experience.