Once Upon a Pixel examines the increasing sophistication of storytelling and worldbuilding in modern video games. Drawing on some of gaming’s most popular titles, including Red Dead Redemption 2, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, and the long-running Metal Gear Solid series, it is a pioneering exploration into narrative in games from the perspective of the creative writer. With interviews and insights from across the industry, it provides a complete account of how Triple-A, independent, and even virtual reality games are changing the way we tell stories.
- A fresh perspective on video games as a whole new form of creative writing.
- Interviews with a range of leading industry figures, from critics to creators.
- Professional analysis of modern video game script excerpts.
- Insights into emerging technologies and the future of interactive storytelling.
Table of Contents
1 Interview with Walt Williams 1
2 Interview with Brooke Maggs 17
3 Something to Fight for: The Last of Us and the Language of Linear Games 29
4 Interview with Brendan Keogh 57
5 This is Snake: The Storytelling Legacy of the Metal Gear Series 71
6 Interview with Anna Anthropy 93
7 New Horizons: Open Worlds and Storyfeel 105
8 Interview with Damon Reece 123
9 Dear Reader: Virtual Reality and the Narrative Frontier 133
10 Interview with Lincoln Davis, Tam Armstrong, and Shauna Sperry 145
11 Interview with Tomasz Bednarz 157
12 Conclusion 167
Eddie Paterson is a senior lecturer in the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, where he teaches scriptwriting for performance, theatre, gaming and new media. He is the author of The Contemporary American Monologue (Bloomsbury, 2015) and Redactor (Whitmore, 2017). He has returned to gaming in recent years to discover that creative writing is challenging the relationship between gameplay and narrative design.
Timothy Williams is a writer and gamer. His Honours thesis explored authorship and player agency in Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. His writing focuses primarily on the intersection between narrative and play in writing for games. He is an independent games writer currently working on expanding the creative element of his thesis into a full-length title.
Will Cordner is a writer and gamer. He has an Honours degree in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne, for which his thesis examined the relationship between traditional and interactive storytelling in Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. He is excited to see how this relationship continues to develop in the future, and is eagerly anticipating The Last of Us Part II.