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How To Land A Video Game Writing Job

Julia McCoy
Friday, 30th Jun 2023
Julia McCoy
5 min read · Jan 11 2022
gaming writing jobs

Gaming writing is not just about words, it’s about creating worlds.

Video game writing jobs are a perfect path for those that have a knack for storytelling and love of video games.

In this article you will learn what game writing is all about and how it works in the video game industry.

We will provide tips on breaking into video game writing and how to craft compelling scripts for games like Dragon Age or Call of Duty.

We’ll also discuss some frequent mistakes novice game writers make, too.

So let’s level up!

Table of Contents:

What is a Gaming Writer?

If you’re a hardcore gamer, you’ve probably drooled over the mind-blowing storylines and kickass dialogues that make your favorite games so addictive. But have you ever wondered who’s the genius behind these captivating narratives? 

Enter the game writer — the unsung hero of the gaming world.

A game writer is basically the master storyteller of the gaming universe. They whip up plots, create characters, and craft dialogue that brings video games to life.

Game writers do more than just compose stories; they must comprehend game mechanics, work together with developers and artists, and occasionally aid in marketing for the game.

In a nutshell, they’re the ones responsible for creating a mind-blowing narrative experience that players can’t get enough of.

Now, you might not notice the work of a game writer while you’re busy slaying dragons or saving the world, but trust me, their words are what make your gaming experience epic. 

From epic quests in fantasy realms to heart-pounding mysteries or tear-jerking journeys – all these stories come from the brilliant minds of game writers.

What You Need to Be a Good Gaming Writer

Beyond writing chops, what else do you need to be a successful game writer?

Don’t get me wrong: A well-crafted storyline can turn even the simplest gameplay into an unforgettable experience. Think about those mind-blowing moments from your favorite video games – chances are, they were brought to life through the power of kickass writing.

However, to become a rockstar game writer, you need more than just mad writing skills — although those are definitely important. You also need to have a real enthusiasm for gaming and stay on top of the various genres and developments in the industry.

Finally, to stay competitive, you should have a thorough understanding of scripting languages such as Python and Lua to facilitate successful collaboration with game developers. This way, you can collaborate effectively during the game development process.

Gaming Writing Jobs: What Do Game Writers Do?

If you’re a word nerd who loves gaming, a career as a game writer might be your ultimate quest.

But hold on, it’s not just one job title in this pixelated universe.

The world of game writing is like a virtual playground, with different roles that level up the storytelling in video games.

What does a game writer do? Let’s dive into some of these titles:

  • Game Writer: The mastermind behind the game’s overall story and characters.
  • Dialogue Writer: The writer responsible for crafting witty one-liners and epic conversations.
  • Narrative Designer: The architect who designs the structure and flow of the game’s story.
  • World Builder: The creative genius who brings the game’s universe to life through detailed descriptions and lore.
  • Localization Writer: The linguist who translates the game’s text into different languages, making it accessible to players worldwide.

An example of written dialogue in the popular PC game Stardew Valley via ModDB

These are the most common gaming writing jobs today. There are even more specialized positions like the video game scriptwriter who focuses on scripting events, and the quest designer who creates specific tasks for players to undertake during gameplay.

One particular role that’s gaining popularity in this field is the video game guide writer.

A video game guide writer, also known as a strategy guide author or gaming blogger, is responsible for creating content that helps players navigate through their favorite video games. Strategy guides can include walkthroughs, tips and tricks, character analyses, lore exploration, and more.

A video game walkthrough guide by Nintendo Life

Becoming a gaming blogger will be a lot easier with the right tool. Learn how to generate high-quality AI content for your video game blog with our AI writer, Content at Scale.

Whichever role piques your interest, if you’re aiming to make it in the gaming biz, then you need an aptitude for writing, a solid comprehension of narrative strategies, plus knowledge of how video games work.

Types of Gaming Writing Jobs

  • Narrative design: These badasses craft the big picture storylines and plot structures within games, making sure everything fits together like a perfect puzzle. They’re like the architects of the gaming world.
  • Dialogue writing: These wordsmiths specialize in creating killer character interactions within games. They’re the ones responsible for those unforgettable one-liners.
  • Creative direction: In bigger projects or studios, you might find creative directors overseeing the overall storytelling vision across multiple games. They’re like the bosses of the game-writing world.
  • Lore creation: Some writers focus on building expansive backstories (lore) for fictional universes within games. They’re the ones who add depth and richness to the game worlds you love.

What is the most lucrative video game segment to write for? By far, it’s social/casual gaming, as shown in the graph below:

Source: PwC Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2022-2026

How to Get Started with Gaming Writing

Writing a video game story can be an exciting process. Here are some steps and tips to help you write a compelling video game story:

Define your game’s genre and setting: Determine the genre of your game, such as fantasy, science fiction, or historical. Choose a setting that complements the genre and provides a rich backdrop for your story.

Create a protagonist: Develop a main character for your game, someone with whom players can identify and become emotionally invested. Consider their background, personality, motivations, and goals.

Establish the conflict: Every good story needs conflict. Define the main conflict or challenge your protagonist will face in the game. It could be a personal struggle, a villainous antagonist, or a world-threatening event.

Plan the story arc: Outline the main plot points and key events that will drive your story forward. Consider the beginning, middle, and end of your game’s narrative. Ensure that the story has a clear structure, with rising action, climax, and resolution.

Design supporting characters: Create a cast of supporting characters who will interact with the protagonist and help or hinder their progress. Give each character distinct personalities and motivations to make them memorable.

Develop the game world: Flesh out the details of the game world, including its history, culture, and lore. Design locations, factions, and organizations that add depth to the setting and provide opportunities for the story to unfold.

Incorporate player agency: Video games often allow players to make choices and affect the outcome of the story. Consider incorporating branching paths, multiple endings, or meaningful choices that impact the narrative. This adds replay value and engagement for players.

Balance gameplay and storytelling: Remember that a video game story should be integrated with gameplay mechanics. Find ways to merge story elements with the gameplay experience, such as through cutscenes, dialogue, or environmental storytelling.

Write engaging dialogue: Crafting compelling dialogue is essential for character development and immersion. Ensure that the dialogue reflects each character’s voice, advances the plot, and provides relevant information or emotional impact.

Iterate and playtest: As you write the story, continually iterate, refine, and playtest your game. Gather feedback from players and make necessary adjustments to improve the pacing, character development, and overall experience.

Remember that writing a video game story is a collaborative process, involving designers, programmers, and artists. Remain open to feedback and be willing to adapt your story as the game’s development progresses. With creativity, attention to detail, and a strong narrative structure, you can create a captivating video game story.

If you’re new to game writing or are slogging through writer’s block, ChatGPT is a great tool for helping you build your game story.

Here I asked ChatGPT to make a list of 10 unique weapons for a fantasy game.

 

And here’s ChatGPT’s response when I asked it to write a description of a mysterious location for a horror game:

 

ChatGPT even created a step-by-step guide for completing a quest in a role-playing game:

 

ChatGPT has emerged as a powerful tool that can help game writers create unforgettable gaming experiences — from character creation to immersive world-building. Sign up for GPT-3.5 (free) or GPT-4 (paid) once you start applying for video game writer jobs. It can help you prep for your job interview too!

How Do I Get a Job in Game Writing?

Your next question is probably going to be “How do I get a job in gaming writing?”

Video game writer jobs require more than a mere knack for forming sentences.

First and foremost, you need writing skills. This might seem obvious, but it’s worth emphasizing — your dialogue needs to be crisp, your descriptions vivid, and your narrative compelling.

Next up is an understanding of storytelling techniques. Video games are all about immersion — they’re interactive stories that players can influence. Familiarize yourself with story structures and character development.

You also need a deep knowledge of the gaming industry. Play different genres of games to understand their storytelling styles. Read game reviews and follow gaming news on platforms like Blizzard, PlayStation, IGN, and Kotaku.

Good video game writers should have strong critical thinking skills too. Games often involve complex systems that writers need to understand in order to create engaging narratives around them.

Last but definitely not least: creativity. As a video game writer, you’ll be tasked with creating unique worlds full of interesting characters — so let those creative juices flow.

Having a thorough understanding of game development tools is essential for any serious game writer. Gaining know-how in applications such as Unity or Unreal Engine can offer a peek into the creation of games and what type of stories they feature.

Want to land video game writer jobs? Develop your skills in storytelling, video game industry knowledge, and creativity. Check out these tips. #GameWritingJobs #GamingIndustry Click to Tweet

How Much Does a Gamer Writer Get Paid?

If you’re interested in gaming writing jobs, you’re probably wondering how much money you can make and if video game writing can be a lucrative career.

Salaries for video game writing jobs are quite varied, and a number of elements can influence your salary.

  • Experience is the biggest factor in determining how much a game writer gets paid.
  • If you’re a newbie, you might start at the lower end of the pay scale, but if you’re a seasoned pro, you can command some serious cash.
  • The type of project you’re working on also matters. 
  • Are you creating a game for an independent studio or a major publisher? The difference could mean thousands of dollars in your pocket.
  • The pay scale also varies depending on hours worked per week and whether they’re employed full-time at a company or work as freelance writers.

The typical pay for video game writing jobs is about $61,000 a year, according to Glassdoor. But if you’re a big shot working on high-profile projects, you could be earning $100,000 or more annually.

Meanwhile, freelance writers in the video game industry earn anywhere between $20 and $50 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter.

Breaking Down Game Writer Salaries by Job Title

  • Creative Directors: Leaders who oversee entire creative teams including writers usually make six figures or more, based on info from Glassdoor.
  • Narrative Designers: These folks usually make between $60,000 and $80,000 per year, according to ZipRecruiter’s data.
  • Scriptwriters and Dialogue Writers: Video game scriptwriters usually fall into the same wage brackets as narrative designers, but their earning potential shoots up when they gain experience or work with top-notch studios.

Maximizing Your Earning Potential as a Game Writer

To make money as a game writer, you must continually refine your abilities and be mindful of what’s happening in both writing and gaming.

Participating in workshops can help you level up your abilities.

Networking at events like the Game Developers Conference is also key to succeeding in video game writing jobs. You’ll learn a ton and meet influential people who can hook you up with better-paying gigs down the line.

And don’t forget the power of negotiation. Knowing your worth and haggling for a fair rate is crucial for a successful career in any field, especially one as competitive and dynamic as game writing.

Remember, every dollar counts on your journey to becoming a top-tier game writer in the virtual realm.

How to Become a Game Writer

For those with a passion for video games and storytelling, becoming a game writer may be the perfect job.

First things first: sharpen your writing skills. Take creative writing classes, enroll in online courses like Coursera’s Creative Writing Specialization, or just practice on your own time. Strong writing abilities are the foundation of this profession.

Next up is understanding the gaming industry. Play different genres of games to grasp various narrative styles and gameplay mechanics. Dive into books like Blood, Sweat, and Pixels for insights into the development process behind legendary titles.

When you’re ready to break into the industry, start writing small stories for indie games or create mods for existing ones to level up your portfolio.

Join communities like the International Game Developers Association to unlock networking opportunities.

And remember: persistence pays off. It might take some time before landing that dream job at Bethesda or Naughty Dog but don’t give up.

Ready to dive into the video game industry? Learn how to become a game writer and land your dream gig. #GameWritingJobs #GamingIndustry Click to Tweet

Frequently Asked Queestions

How much does a gamer writer get paid? 

As of June 2023, the average hourly pay for a video game writer in the United States is $38.77 an hour, but it can vary depending on experience and location.

How do you get a job writing for video games?

  • Get your high school diploma.
  • Play video games.
  • Practice coding.
  • Build a killer portfolio.
  • Publish your writing.
  • Establish your credibility.
  • Apply for jobs.

Game Developer Jobs is an excellent place to find listings for gaming writing jobs. You could also consider setting up your own blog where you review games or write strategy guides to help build your portfolio before applying for formal employment opportunities.

Are game writers in demand?

With the demand for narrative-driven games on the rise, there has never been a better time to become a video game writer!

What are game story writers called?

A narrative designer is a hybrid role of video game design and writing that creates not only the story but also how the game mechanics work to reinforce that story.

Conclusion

If you’re into gaming and want a cool job, consider becoming a game writer. They’re the masterminds behind immersive narratives and killer dialogue.

With gaming writing jobs, you can make serious money doing what you love most – playing and discussing your favorite video games!

To succeed in video game writing jobs, you’ll need killer storytelling skills, creativity, and the ability to collaborate with the development team. Bonus points if you know a thing or two about game design!

Written by Julia McCoy

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