When it comes to game writing, there is A LOT of info out there on the interwebs. It's like a never-ending buffet.
You can't eat a whole buffet. (I mean, you can try, but it's not a good idea.) 🤢
So if you can't take it ALL in, and don't even want to, what should you do?
In other words, what game-writing resources are actually worth your time?
In this curated, less-is-more roundup, I share a short list of some of my favorites, along with a few hidden gems and recommendations from my friends.
For creative inspiration
First up: three of my favorite books. If we were seated on a plane together, and we got into a conversation about writing for games, I would definitely recommend these to you.
Surprisingly, none of them are specifically about writing for games - but they're all invaluable for game writers.
- The Art of Game Design, by Jesse Schell - it’s brilliant, the end. “It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again.” If you work with designers, get this book.
- Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud. If you've never read this book, lucky you: I wish I could relive the experience of reading it for the first time. I remember it set my hair on fire! Yes, it’s about comics, not games, but it’s full of insights that will get your gears turning about what’s possible in LOTS of different arenas. "You must read this book." - Neil Gaiman. Enough said.
- Finally, The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. It's the cure for writer's block. And like most cures, it hurts. But it works. You'll finish it in an hour, and then find yourself thinking about it for years to come.
(And yes, I've added some promising new game-writing books to my bookshelf. I’m looking forward to reading them - I’ll report back in a few months.)
Here are a few more resources.
For a look at the business
If you want to know what's happening with studios, publishers, and players, check out GDC's report, "The State Of The Industry, 2023." You can sign up for the full report - or just check out the highlights from the article. Here's one:
“Hybrid work schedules are on the rise, while remote work appears here to stay”
For nuts-and-bolts info
Speaking of pipelines, Shimon kindly shared this talk from New Zealand (!) GDC 2022, "Narrative Pipelines, From Conception to Release & Beyond." (Game writers are VERY INTERESTED in pipelines - for good reason.)
For narrative insights
And this GDC 2017 talk from Jon Ingold, an absolutely brilliant man: "Narrative Sorcery: Coherent Storytelling in an Open World." (You know you're a game-writing nerd when you read that title and think "Oo, that sounds like fun!")
Watch both of these older talks and see how our industry's thinking has evolved - and how some things have stayed the same.
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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. For several years, she was an adjunct professor at UT Austin, where she taught a course on writing for games. She eventually decided to commit to teaching online, where she could reach more writers. 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.