Last week’s article from Next Generation explored the poor quality of game writing. While we focused on misplaced blame for this trend, we didn’t address the other side of the equation. If the quality of game writing rests squarely on the shoulders of game writers, where will the next generation of quality game writers come from?
While the article suggests that game developers should turn to experienced Hollywood writers, many don’t understand the gaming medium. One developer from Bioware said at GDC they’d had problems with writers from Hollywood, who didn’t “get” interactivity. They had to develop an elaborate training process to weed out bad habits. They’re not along in feeling burned by writers from Hollywood.
How about the Hollywood writers themselves? “It’s like writing another language,” said one Hollywood denizen, who had nonetheless been hired to write a game. Larry Brody, a TV veteran who runs a program for aspiring media writers, consulted me about interactive writing for a new class on new media. After the first class, he reported that none of his students seemed interested in games — they all wanted to write original content for the likes of YouTube. He concluded that the next generation of game writers would not, in fact, be coming out of Hollywood, but would instead be coming out of the game schools.
With Hollywood writers who don’t “get it” or just don’t care, game developers may have to look deep inside to improve the quality of their writing. But is there a happy medium? Are there Hollywood writers who know, love, and understand games? We‘d like to think so. Let us know what you think. Would you work with Hollywood writers or only with game writers? Why?
The previous line of dialog came from the PC RPG game “DragonWars.”
Today’s line: “Seriously though, you have been playing the game for a long time. Don’t you have anything else to do with your time?” Check the next post to find out where it came from!