Today, we are answering more reader questions. An anonymous reader writes:
After you sent over the Game Writer's Guide I looked up a few Narrative Designer openings (I wasn't even aware that a game writer is called a "narrative designer"). I have no clue if I'm even qualified for this position!
And here's a related question from reader Nguyen:
What are the different writing positions in game development and what do they do exactly? This question has me puzzled mainly due to how similar the titles appear. Could you give a simple breakdown of the writing job titles that everyone should know about? That alone would be incredibly helpful.
Job titles make no sense
Here is the list of job titles that Nguyen sent over. It's a crazy list! What do these people do?
- story writer
- scenario writer
- scenario supervisor
- scenario concept
- narrative designer
- event writer
- event/quest planner
- scenario quest writer
??? Say what?
Some of these titles were even new to ME, and I've been doing this for a while.
So I did what I always do when I'm confused - I Googled. And I went down a few rabbit holes. And I realized that, in many cases, it's just a language or cultural difference. For example, "scenario writer" seems to be a common job title for writers in Japan. (I've never seen the term used in a US studio.)
The truth is, job terms vary from developer to developer. The industry is still maturing, and we are still making up a lot of this as we go along.
The games industry is making things up as it goes along
So much of game development has emerged from a scrappy, Muppet Show mentality - "we don't know what we're doing, exactly, but we'll figure it out." And that same DIY mentality applies to things like job listings as well.
This is very different than how things are in film & TV, where job titles REALLY matter and are tied directly to industry-defined financial rewards. I remember having a conversation with my agent once about a job negotiation, and she was very concerned about how I was going to be listed in the credits. I remember thinking, "Does it really matter?"
(Yes, it does matter, but maybe not as much as she thought it did.)
Forget the job title, and focus on the job description instead
The key to making sense of all this is to ingore the job title and go right to the job description. What do they want you to be able to do? What skills do you need? What tasks will you be tackling on a day-to-day basis? THAT'S the information you really need.
Hope this helped. A lot of game development really does just involve figuring things out as you go along. It's OK not to know. Just jump in, and trust that you will figure things out as you go.
Once you get used to a certain level of chaos, you realize how much fun it can be.
Hope this helped. See you next week!
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Susan’s first job as a game writer was for “a slumber party game - for girls!” She’s gone on to work on over 25 projects, including award-winning titles in the BioShock, Far Cry and Tomb Raider franchises. Titles in her portfolio have sold over 30 million copies and generated over $500 million in sales. She is an adjunct professor at UT Austin, where she teaches a course on writing for games. A long time ago, she founded the Game Narrative Summit at GDC. Now, she partners with studios, publishers, and writers to help teams ship great games with great stories. She is dedicated to supporting creatives in the games industry so that they can do their best work.