HOW TO LAND A GAME WRITING JOB WITH THESE 4 KEY SKILLS
As the gaming industry continues its impressive growth, video games are evolving to become more realistic and immersive than ever before. This evolution necessitates the crafting of more complex storylines and plots. In addition, the soaring popularity of mobile gaming is expected to significantly increase the demand for talented writers who can create captivating stories and engaging dialogue specifically tailored for platforms like iOS and Android.
Video game writing can be a highly lucrative and fulfilling career for those who possess the necessary talents and determination to thrive in this dynamic field. To aid aspiring writers in their quest, we've meticulously compiled a series of tips on how to craft compelling scripts for popular games such as Dragon Age or Call of Duty.
Breaking Into the Gaming Industry As a Writer: Is It a Valuable Career?
From the classic charm of Super Mario Brothers to the gripping narratives of The Last of Us and the expansive world of Horizon Zero Dawn, the realm of video game writing is incredibly diverse. As a game writer, you are tasked with the crucial role of creating rich and varied content that breathes life into the gaming experience.
Video game writing encompasses a broad spectrum of written content related to video games. This includes, but is not limited to, creating informative video game guides, detailed walk-throughs, immersive game narratives, persuasive sales copies, and much more.
Additionally, you might find yourself tasked with crafting insightful posts on sector trends and events, in-depth articles about games and their creators, compelling media scripts, and other texts that resonate with a gaming audience.
The video gaming industry is a burgeoning field with ample opportunities for skilled writers. According to the latest statistics from Statista, the year 2023 saw the release of over 9 thousand video games. Furthermore, approximately 44,690 US citizens are currently employed in roles related to video game writing, showcasing the significant employment prospects in this sector.
Despite the buzz surrounding AI in the video gaming space, the role of a game writer remains irreplaceable, as the human touch is essential for crafting narratives that are coherent, engaging, and in line with the game's original vision. A video game writer's role is integral to ensuring that the narrative seamlessly intertwines with the rest of the team's work. Ultimately, game writing is an art that transcends mere word assembly; it's about weaving stories that resonate with players on a deeper level.
Let's delve into the essential technical skills and soft skills that are indispensable for every game writer, along with actionable tips on skill development to level up in your career.
How Much Do Video Game Writers Get Paid
The financial rewards for video game writers can be quite substantial. According to data from Salary.com, the annual salary range for video game writers typically falls between $71,006 and $85,162. Meanwhile, freelance writers in the video game sector can expect to earn between $20–50 per hour, as reported by ZipRecruiter.
Your income potential in this field is influenced by a variety of factors, including your level of experience, the depth of your skillset, the number of hours you dedicate to your work, and your geographical location. Notably, if you are a prominent figure working on high-profile projects, your earnings could significantly exceed these averages.
Game Writer Preferred Skills and Qualifications
While having a solid foundation in writing is crucial, game writing demands a unique combination of soft and hard skills that extend beyond the realms of traditional writing and storytelling. So, where should one start on this journey?
#1. Strong Writing and Editing Skills
To excel in game writing, strong writing and proofreading skills are essential. This includes:
- Developing flexible and innovative storylines with various points of expression, entry, and progression.
- Ensuring narrative consistency and tone are maintained throughout the game.
- Characterization skills are crucial. A skilled game writer should establish tones and character voices that align with the story world and reflect the characters' backgrounds, agendas, and personalities.
- Writing clear and concise content for in-game applications, including menus and system interfaces.
- Diligent reviewing and editing to align your work with established standards for grammar, spelling, and other conventions.
Creativity and imagination are key to transforming any given setting into a believable story or world. Paying attention to detail is also vital, as players often notice even minor aspects of their gaming environment.
#2. Reading and Research Skills
For game writers, conducting research to ensure scripts are realistic, engaging, and entertaining is crucial. For example, when writing a script for a war-themed game, researching military tactics and weapons enhances authenticity and engagement.
#3. Collaboration Skills
Game creation is a collaborative process. As a writer, you'll work closely with team members like game designers, artists, programmers, producers, and audio engineers. It's important to know how to collaborate, receive feedback, and communicate complex narrative ideas to different departments and partners.
#4. Basic Game Development Skills
Understanding game development basics is beneficial. While deep technical knowledge isn't expected, familiarity with the mechanics and features of the game you're working on will enhance your storytelling and collaboration with developers.
How to Level Up in Video Game Writing
- Study Game Narrative: Dive into different game genres and immerse yourself in their narratives. Examine how stories unfold, their pacing, and the incorporation of both major and minor elements. This analysis aids in understanding the art of crafting narratives that engage and captivate players.
- Read Extensively: Reading is a cornerstone of becoming a proficient writer, whether it’s fiction or literature about writing. Engage actively with your reading. Reflect on what resonates with you and how those elements can be integrated into your video game writing.
- Regular Writing Practice: Allocate specific times for writing game-related content, such as dialogues, character backstories, or game concepts. Broaden your writing scope beyond video games. For example, describe a barn from the viewpoint of a farmer, then create a story about the farmer coping with the loss of his cherished horse, remembering its life journey. Aim for concise texts, up to 300 words. Seek feedback on your writing, exploring the emotional depth and clarity of your characters and contexts.
- Play Games: Engage with a variety of games to broaden your understanding. Observe and analyze writing styles and techniques used in successful games, focusing on dialogues, world-building, and character development. Note what's effective and what could be improved. Reflect on how certain games captivate you and how you might enhance others.
- Develop Your Writing Style: Specialize in genres like epic fantasy adventures, horror mysteries, or introspective indie games. Your unique voice should dictate the tone and mood. Experiment with dialogue and narrative styles, and continually refine your game writing approach.
- Embrace Constructive Feedback: Receiving criticism can be tough but view it as a growth opportunity. Participate in writing groups or online communities to share your work and receive input from others. This feedback is invaluable for honing your skills.
- Stay Updated with Industry Trends and Tools: The video gaming sector is constantly evolving. Keeping abreast of industry trends and new tools is key to staying relevant and successful in game writing.
- Active Community Participation: Engage in gaming communities like NeoGAF, the *gamehers, GameFAQs, MMORPG.com, and Reddit. Attend industry conferences such as GGaide, the Bilbao International Games Conference, Playtopia, Copenhagen Gaming Week, the New York Game Awards, and the London Games Festival. Follow influential game writers and developers like Adam Dolin, Bonnie Burton, Pauliina Tornqvist, Amir Satvat, and Bill Young on social media for insights and trends.
- Educational Resources: Utilize available courses, books, and online resources to gain knowledge and skills in game writing. Educational platforms offering tailored courses and workshops are particularly beneficial.