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Game Design and Creative Writing

Image courtesy of <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Interior_360_view_of_a_gaming_PC_%E2%80%93_1_of_2.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons / Maximilian Schönherr</a>  / <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0" target="_blank">CC BY-SA</a>. Modified by O's List.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Maximilian Schönherr / CC BY-SA. Modified by O's List.

Games are having their biggest moment today, with many families working and learning from home in a post COVID world. The sales and engagement of video games, online games and board games are soaring in 2020. Think Animal Crossing, Fortnite, Monopoly, Pandemic … the list is endless.

The common feature across the disparate genres of game is the ability of a game to draw in the players and make the game an immersive experience. While this is especially true of a video game, it also holds true for board games. Game immersion, engagement and multiplayer ability is what drives game sales.

A dream job for many people is to be a game designer. So, how do you get to be a game designer? Do you have to be an ace programmer? While the popular idea is that video game or entertainment studios only hire computer programmers and every employee is an ace coder, game studios and board game makers often hire employees with different skill sets to build their games.

Today, our post is about breaking into game design as a writer. Every game needs a writer or teams of writers. Let’s take a look at how writers contribute to game design:

World Building

World building is one of the important aspects of game design where creative writing is often required. The more immersive the world, the more engaged and connected the players feel. That sense of immersion comes from building a world that can transport the player, a world that can connect with the gamers. World building is about designing the situation of the game, establishing a motif, a central theme, and designing the details that make up the experience of the game. It is both an art and a science. It requires strong creative writing skills, understanding of building and writing sequences, psychology of gameplay and users, attention to detail and discipline.

Creating Storylines

Most games need a central story that speaks to a player. Depending on the age and the content of the game, the storylines can be very varied. However, a storyline is key in keeping the interest of a player. Creating engaging storylines is not easy. Just like a book, every game has a beginning, middle and end and many layers in between them. Some games have multiple endings which makes for a multi threaded and more complex storyline. Writing a good storyline begins with the world building, character creation, interaction and a narrative flow. Creating storylines often needs strong reading and writing skills.

Character Development

Every player is a character. Every action is a character driven interaction with other characters or with the game world. A writer designs the main character for single player game, multiple main characters for multiplayer games, auxiliary characters and imbues all the characters with different attributes and personalities. Writing for a game is like writing a book and needs a lot of the same skills. Character development is not just confined to video games. Board games also need character development. A great example of a board games with good character development is Clue.

Dialog Flow and Interactions

Dialog in a game helps characters interact with each other, moves the story along a direction and helps plug in any pauses in the story. Dialogs can be fun, educational, helpful or just be the way characters interact with each other beyond the gameplay. The dialog flow is dependent on the game and the audience. Writing appropriate and engaging dialogs requires a lot of creativity and understanding of the audience.

Interested in video or board games and a strong creative writer? You may consider a career in game design! It’s creative and a rigorous job at the same time. Strong creative writers are valued for their writing skills and are an important part of the creative team at a game design company.