Gaming Writing: Your Pathway to the Video Game Industry


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

If you love video games and have a knack for storytelling, this might be your ideal job.

In this blog, we’ll investigate the captivating realm of gaming writing and storytelling.

You will learn what game writing is all about and how it works in the video game industry.

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

And to help you avoid common pitfalls, we’ll discuss some frequent mistakes novice game writers make, too. 

So let’s level up!

Table of Contents:

What is Gaming Writing?

If you’ve ever been completely immersed in a video game, enamored by its characters and story, then that’s the power of game writing.

Game writing isn’t just about devising lines for characters; it’s about creating a vivid realm where players can become immersed.

The narrative, lore, and character backstories are all woven together to create a compelling gaming experience.

The Purpose of Game Writing

At its core, game writing serves one purpose: to engage players on a deeper level.

It’s what transforms simple games into memorable experiences that stay with us long after we put down the controller or keyboard.

That said, game writing differs significantly from traditional storytelling.

In books or movies, the audience passively consumes content, but video games offer interactive narratives where player choices can shape outcomes and events within the game world.

POV differences between literature, cinema, and gaming

Image from Hitbox Team

A well-written video game script adds depth and richness to gameplay, making virtual worlds feel alive and real — full of intrigue and possibilities waiting for players to explore and discover.

Beyond providing context for gameplay mechanics or objectives, good game writing helps foster emotional connections between players and characters.

How Does Game Writing Work?

The process of game writing is a fascinating blend of creativity, technical prowess, and strategic thinking.

It’s not only about writing captivating dialogue or fascinating tales but also comprehending the game mechanics.

You need to have a solid grasp of game design principles as well as an appreciation for gameplay dynamics and player psychology.

Creating an engaging, interactive experience for players is the heart of game writing.

Understanding Your Medium

One crucial aspect of game writing is recognizing that games are interactive mediums.

This means your narrative needs to be flexible enough to accommodate player choices while still maintaining its overall structure and integrity.

Crafting Characters and Dialogue

A significant part of game writing involves developing characters and their dialogue.

The aim is not just to make personalities intriguing but also to guarantee they fit in the world you’ve built for them.

Finally, crafting video game dialogue is also about building different options for where the player can take the story. In some games, choosing different responses during interactions with characters can result in vastly different story outcomes.

An example of a video game dialogue tree from Wikipedia

Narrative Design and World Building

These are critical aspects where narrative designers contribute significantly to shaping the gaming universe.

Narrative design and world-building will eventually influence how players interact with it.

Team Collab

Game writers often work closely with game designers to integrate narrative elements into gameplay mechanics. This could involve devising clever ways for non-player characters (NPCs) to reveal plot points through their actions or designing quests that further develop character arcs.

Pacing

In traditional storytelling formats like books or films, the pacing is controlled by the author/director.

However, in video games — where players dictate progress — this control shifts considerably.

Types of Writing Jobs in the Gaming Industry

What does a game writer do?

The term “game writer” can refer to various positions, including narrative designers and level designers.

The role of a narrative designer is often misunderstood due to its broad scope across different companies.

In some organizations, writers double as narrative designers, intricately weaving storylines into gameplay. In others, the narrative design might be handled separately by another team member who focuses solely on how stories are communicated to players.

Narrative Designers vs. Game Writers

While both roles contribute significantly towards creating immersive gaming experiences like the Dragon Age or Tomb Raider series, they differ slightly in their responsibilities.

Game writers primarily oversee scriptwriting involving character development and plot progression.

Meanwhile, narrative designers decide how these scripts will be integrated into gameplay so that it resonates with players effectively. Hence, they work at the intersection of writing and design.

Beyond traditional story creation, there’s an array of specialized tasks that fall under game writing too.

Level Designers

Level designers are responsible for creating various stages or levels that players navigate through in a game. They design environments, create challenges, place enemies or obstacles, and ensure that each level aligns with the overall storyline crafted by game writers.

Video Game Journalists

Video game journalism, another significant part of this domain, offers opportunities for those passionate about the video game industry.

Video game journalism involves the coverage of various aspects of gaming, including game reviews, industry news, interviews, features, and opinion pieces. Video game journalists work in a similar fashion to journalists in other fields — gathering information, conducting research, and producing content to inform and engage their audience.

Video game journalists typically work for media outlets dedicated to gaming, such as websites, magazines, newspapers, or online platforms. They may also contribute to podcasts, YouTube channels, and other forms of digital media. Some specialize in specific areas such as game reviews, e-sports coverage, or industry analysis, while others cover a broader range of topics.

The role of video game journalists includes:

  • Game reviews: Assessing and providing critical analysis of video games, evaluating their gameplay, graphics, sound, story, and overall experience. Reviews often help players make informed decisions about purchasing or playing a game.
  • News coverage: Reporting on the latest developments and happenings in the gaming industry, including announcements, releases, updates, controversies, and events.
  • Interviews: Conducting interviews with game developers, designers, voice actors, and other industry professionals to gain insights into their work, creative process, and perspectives.
  • Features and opinion pieces: Writing in-depth articles and opinion pieces that explore various aspects of gaming, such as trends, cultural impact, social issues, game design, and the evolving nature of the industry.
  • Industry analysis: Examining market trends, sales figures, financial performance, and the impact of technology on the gaming industry.

Video game journalism plays a crucial role in providing information, fostering discussion, and shaping public perception of video games and the industry. It serves as a bridge between game developers and the players, offering insights, critiques, and recommendations. The field continues to evolve as gaming becomes more mainstream and diverse, with journalists adapting to new technologies and platforms to deliver content to their audience.

Looking to get into gaming writing and video game journalism? Consider an AI writer like Content at Scale to help you publish a higher volume of high-quality blogs for faster results.

So if you’re looking forward to turning your passion for gaming into a career opportunity – whether it’s crafting compelling plots or analyzing intricate mechanics behind popular titles – remember: there’s more than one way to write about video games!

As of May 2023, gaming writing jobs pay an average of $76,313 per year

How Do I Get Into Gaming Writing?

If you love video games and have a knack for storytelling, then writing jobs in the video game industry might be ideal for you.

Creating believable characters, crafting compelling dialogue, devising unexpected plot turns, and even creating the mythology of a game’s world are all important elements for successful gaming writing.

Develop Your Skills

To become a gaming writing superstar, sharpen your creative writing and storytelling skills.

Take courses on platforms like Coursera or attend workshops at local community centers to level up.

Create a Compelling Portfolio

A killer portfolio that showcases your creativity and ability to write engaging content is a must-have for narrative designers.

Include scripts for short films or plays, articles about gaming culture, or even fan fiction based on popular games. Just make sure each piece screams your unique voice.

Dive into Game Design

Being a great storyteller is cool, but understanding game design will give you a leg up on the competition.

Knowing how games are designed helps you create narratives that blend seamlessly with gameplay mechanics instead of causing chaos. Talk to game designers in online forums and read gaming news and reviews on platforms like Blizzard and PlayStation to expand your knowledge.

Networking Is Key

In the game industry, who you know matters. Rub elbows at events like the Game Developers Conference (GDC), join online communities for game development, or connect on LinkedIn. These networks could open doors to your ideal job.

Don’t let the difficulty of landing a job in the game industry deter you. Keep honing your skills until the opportunity finally comes knocking.

The 7 Stages of Game Development

Gaming Writing Tips

Crafting an interactive world for players to explore and immerse in is a key element of scriptwriting for gaming. It requires understanding the game mechanics and how they influence the story.

Interactive narrative design plays a crucial role in this process.

1. Understand Your Game Mechanics

Your story should complement the gameplay. Understanding your game’s mechanics will help you write scenarios that enhance the player experience rather than hinder it.

2. Create Engaging Characters

A compelling character can make or break your game. Develop characters with depth and personality to keep players engaged throughout their journey.

3. Show, Don’t Tell

This age-old adage holds true even in video games. Use visual cues and environmental storytelling instead of relying solely on dialogue or text descriptions. Video game storytelling techniques are unique — embrace them.

4. Plan Your Plot Points

An engaging plot keeps players hooked. Map out major plot points early on but leave room for flexibility based on player choices if applicable.

5. Write Natural Dialogue

Gamers appreciate natural-sounding dialogue which means avoiding cliches and forced speech as much as possible. Writing dialogue for video games is an art in itself and can take time to master.

Common Mistakes in Game Writing

Game writing, like any other form of creative endeavor, has its pitfalls.

Newbies to the arena can frequently trip up on recurrent missteps that may impede their advancement.

Let’s take a look at some of these typical blunders and how you can avoid them.

Lack of Character Development

A well-rounded character is vital for an engaging game narrative.

New writers sometimes focus too much on plot progression and overlook character development, resulting in flat characters that fail to resonate with players.

Poor Dialogue Writing

Dialogue is essential for games as it can provide context, show character attributes, and propel the narrative.

Inexperienced game writers may write unnatural or expository dialogue that breaks immersion for players.

Image from Kotaku

Neglecting Player Agency

The unique aspect of video games as a storytelling medium is player agency — the ability for players to influence events within the game world.

Failing to consider this when crafting your narrative could lead to frustration from players who feel their choices don’t matter.

Narratives That Clash With Gameplay Mechanics

An understanding of gameplay mechanics is essential when writing for games because it directly influences how stories are told and experienced by players.

Newbie writers might not fully grasp this concept leading them into creating narratives that clash with gameplay elements rather than complementing them.

Telling Rather Than Showing

This classic writing mistake isn’t exclusive to novice game writers but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless.

Relying heavily on narration instead of allowing gamers to discover things through exploration can make your story less immersive.

Becoming Too Attached to Your Work

Last but certainly not least, becoming overly attached to your work makes it hard to accept criticism which is a necessary part of improving as a writer.

Remember, every writer makes mistakes, especially when you’re just starting out. The key is to learn from those missteps and use that experience to improve on future projects.

Gaming Writing is a Whole Other Creative World

The quality of writing in video games can greatly enhance the player’s immersive experience, adding depth to characters, engaging narratives, and thought-provoking themes. Whether it’s through compelling dialogue, rich lore, or captivating quests, the written content in games has the power to captivate and resonate with players, elevating their overall gameplay experience.

Moreover, the demand for skilled writers in the gaming industry continues to grow. As video games become increasingly complex and narrative-driven, there is a need for talented individuals who can craft engaging stories, develop well-rounded characters, and create immersive worlds.

Gaming writing holds a significant impact on gameplay and offers exciting job opportunities for those passionate about gaming and storytelling. Whether it’s as a game writer, narrative designer, quest designer, or game journalist, these roles allow individuals to combine their passion for gaming with their creative and writing abilities.

Furthermore, gaming writing extends beyond just video games. It encompasses a variety of mediums, such as novels, graphic novels, tabletop games, and transmedia projects. This broadens the scope of career possibilities for aspiring writers who want to delve into the gaming industry and explore different storytelling avenues.

With the continued growth and evolution of the gaming industry, the opportunities for gaming writers are boundless, inviting creative individuals to embark on a thrilling journey where their passion for gaming and storytelling can intertwine harmoniously.

Looking to get into gaming writing and video game journalism? Consider an AI writer like Content at Scale to help you publish more high-quality blogs for faster results.

Photo of author

About the author

Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an 8x author and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and presence that lasts online. As the VP of Marketing at Content at Scale, she helps marketers achieve insane ROI (3-10x their time back at 1/3rd the cost) in a new era of AI as a baseline for content production. She's been named in the top 30 of all content marketers worldwide, is the founder of Content Hacker, and recently exited her 100-person writing agency with a desire to help marketers, teams, and entrepreneurs find the keys of online success and revenue growth without breaking.

Join our list to see how to dominate any market, topic, or niche with content.