Book review: Writing for Video Games

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I recently finished reading this book by Steve Ince and want to share some thoughts about it.

Let’s start saying I was quite off-target: the book “is aimed at writers who have experience in other fields and wish to develop their skills in a new way […]”; if you are part of the intended audience, your experience might be different.

The book is divided into four parts: Overview, Writing and the Development Process, You as a Games Writer, Appendices.

Personally, I don’t like the first part at all: I understand that the average writer may not be a hardcore gamer, but I think it should be safe to assume that people who are considering a career in game writing have played games to some extent. There are like 15 pages about game genres; although they do offer tips on where and how a writer would be needed, they are quite basic (and boring if you ever played games).

The second part (the core of the book, from page 45 to 129) is much more interesting and revolves around interactive narrative, characters and dialogues, as well as more technical topics like logic, voice over scripts and so on. When I started reading this book, I was in the middle of studying ink scripting language for a project of mine, the examples were useful to think about conditions. Moreover, pages 115-120 are about localisation.

The third part is focused on how to identify clients and market oneself, with some handy tips, like reading reviews of story-driven games to see which choices are better received.

Lastly, the fourth part presents an example of design documentation and is the one I enjoyed the most (honestly, I was expecting more of this kind of content). There are also a reading list and a glossary at the end.

All in all I think it is an enjoyable read, but it really depends on your expectations (mine were not fully met).

Stay tuned for more reviews!

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