As someone who likes to put on his imaginary pretend writer cap from time to time, I’m always interested in the subject of writing when it comes to video games. On the whole, the practice seems so different than what I’m used to that I find it fascinating. In a recent article on Polygon, author Austin Grossman talks about what video games taught him about writing — lessons that he took to pen the bestselling supervillain novel Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Grossman has some interesting things to say about the writing process for video games, which he witnessed firsthand when working on titles like System Shock, Deus Ex and most recently, Dishonored. The biggest lessons that video game writing taught were that stories don’t have to go in a straight line, nobody necessarily wants to read your prose and that people won’t respect what you do. One of my favorite bits:
You learn to be inventive. After all, players are using everything on the screen to form an idea of what they’re doing and why. You learn to sneak story in at the margins. Leave it lying in dusty corners and layered into other parts of the world, embedded into combat mechanics and level geometry and audio cues, or leave half-cues for players to fill in. To this day, I can’t tell a story straight through — Soon I Will Be Invincible and You zoom back and forth from the past and the present.
If you’re interested at all in how video game writing works, or if you just like reading smart things by good writers in general, I’d suggest checking it out.
Source – Polygon
Image – Shodan by Jim Hatama