Focussing on the independent videogames sector, this book provides readers with a vocabulary to articulate and build their games writing practice; whether studying games or coming to games from another storytelling discipline. Writing for Games offers resources for communication, collaboration, reflection, and advocacy, inviting the reader to situate their practice in a centuries-long heritage of storytelling, as well as considering the material affordances of videogames, and the practical realities of working in game development processes.
Structured into three parts, Theory considers the craft of both games and writing from a theoretical perspective, covering vocabulary for both game and story practices. Case Studies uses three case studies to explore the theory explored in Part 1. The Practical Workbook offers a series of provocations, tools and exercises that give the reader the means to refine and develop their writing, not just for now, but as a part of a life-long practice.
Writing for Games: Theory and Practice is an approachable and entry-level text for anyone interested in the craft of writing for videogames.
Hannah Nicklin is an award-winning narrative and game designer, writer, and academic who has been practising for nearly 15 years. She works hard to create playful experiences that see people and make people feel seen, and also argues for making games a more radical space through mentoring, advocacy, and redefining process. Trained as a playwright, Nicklin moved into interactive practices early on in her career and is now the CEO and studio lead at Danish indie studio Die Gute Fabrik, which most recently launched Mutazione in 2019.
Table of Contents
Who Am I, Anyway?
Who is This Book Aimed At?
Theory, Practice, and Implementation
Focusing on Indie Productions
Why Not Write About Writing for AAA?
Focusing on Writing
Games Are Not Special
Therefore, the Intention of the Book
How to Read My Perspective
PART 1: Theory
Chapter 1: Craft
Chapter 2: Vocabulary – Games
Chapter 3: Vocabulary – Story Structure
Chapter 4: Vocabulary – Story Components
Chapter 5: Games Writing as a Discipline
Chapter 6: Form-led Design
Chapter 7: A Note on Writing Comedy
Chapter 8: Further Reading
Chapter 9: A Note on Ethics
PART 2: Case Studies
Chapter 10: Introduction to the Case Studies
Chapter 11: Character and Dialogue in Life is Strange 2
Chapter 12: Ethics and Adaptation in 80 Days
Chapter 13: Format and the Heist in Last Stop
PART 3: A Practical Workbook
Chapter 14: Introduction to the Workbook
Chapter 15: Tools for Starting
Other Character-Creation Techniques
Place Design Sheets
Applied Use of Sheets – Story-Driven Puzzle Design
Puzzle Design Form
Chapter 16: Tools for Developing
Critical Response Theory
A Note on Playtesting
Developing Character – Dialogue
A Two-Day Dialogue Workshop
Developing Story – Structure
Learning to Edit
Diagnosing What’s Wrong
Advocacy, Diversity and Representation
Chapter 17: Tools for Collaboration: Design Documentation
What Happens When You Don’t Get What You Need?
Writing is Cheap
Developing Your Practice
Tools for Finishing
After Content Lock
Loc and VO
Cert, Marketing and PR
Select Glossary of Game Terms
Hannah Nicklin is an award-winning narrative and game designer, writer, and academic who has been practicing for nearly 15 years. She works hard to create playful experiences that see people, and make people feel seen, and also argues for making games a more radical space through mentoring, advocacy, and redefining process. Trained as a playwright, Hannah moved into interactive practices early on in her career and is now the CEO and Studio Lead at Danish indie studio Die Gute Fabrik, who most recently launched Mutazione in 2019. She has a PhD in games-influenced theatre and theatre-influenced games as anti-capitalist practice and spends her spare time racing bikes (the pedal kind). @hannahnicklin gutefabrik.com
"Hannah Nicklin's Writing for Games is an essential manual for anyone working on games, whether they are story-driven or not. It is a comprehensive overview of the process of writing for games, and what it actually means in context, how it is integrated in the process of production, and how it relates to writing for other media. As an interdisciplinary text, it is the perfect bridge for writers from other media into games; at the same time, it also helps game designers and developers understand how writing connects games to other disciplines and guides the reader to how to draw inspiration from them. Even if the reader does not intend to be a writer, Writing for Games is a very accessible text to understand the work of writers and narrative designers, providing detailed strategies to incorporate games and stories successfully. The advice and lessons all come from practice and first-hand knowledge, which ensures that the learnings are relevant to day-to-day practices of game development. All told with a very personable and approachable tone - a joy to read."
Clara Fernandez-Vara, Associate Arts Professor, New York University.