As someone who went to school to study the more traditional narrative mediums (screenplays, novels, print journalism), the industry of video game writing has always been a fascinating topic for me. Novelists, journalists and even screenwriters (well, the writer-directors) can craft their narratives with great authority, knowing that the product and reality that they want to present will usually be the one they write down.
With video game writers, however, the experience is never purely their own, as game writers often need to make their voices heard over dozens of other contributors, some of whom believe that a large axe is a valid substitution for character motivation (and they may be right!). Of course, should you be a part of a team where sensible plots are appreciated, trying to present a meaningful story alongside an enjoyable game is still a huge challenge that even the best development teams in the world struggle with.
But this industry is not all gloomy for aspiring game writers, as long as we have fantastic events like this year's Game Narrative Summit, taking place at GDC Online in Austin, Texas, from October 10-13. It's been recently announced that award-winning writer Neal Stephenson will keynote this year's Game Narrative Summit, with the summit itself featuring sessions and lectures from some huge industry names like Valve writers Eric Wolpaw, Marc Laidlaw, Chet Faliszek and Jay Pinkerton, as well as BioWare's Wynn McLaughlin, Blake Rebouche and Hall Hood, in addition to Telltale Games' Dave Grossman. To find out more about this growing narrative industry, I sat down with Game Narrative Summit Advisory Board member Tom Abernathy, who is also a narrative designer at Microsoft Studios (and formerly Pandemic Studios).