Does this sound familiar? At a presentation on the state of game writing at AGDC 2007, Austin Grossman concluded that “Game writers feel like people in other media are the real writers.” While many writers may indeed feel this way, they’re not alone. At one game company, I was one of three writers on staff. One day, a level designer introduced me to a fresh-faced recruit by saying, “This is Anne. She’s a real writer.” I laughed, taken aback that he would say such a thing, and said, “As opposed to those fake writers in the other room?”
Yes, we at the Writers Cabal do have credits and experience in television and film. Does that make us real writers? We’ve learned to master story like programmers do C++. We know that the Hero’s Journey is not a catch-all solution. We’ve studied character development, motivation, and dialog at the feet of established Hollywood creators. Does that make us real writers? Or does that make us merely suspect as game writers?
Yes, we at the Writers Cabal have written award-winning games. Does that make us real writers? We’ve designed content around gameplay, rewritten due to reductions in scope, and devised endless ways to say, “Good job, <playername>!” We’ve argued both sides of the player-as-player vs. player-as-character debate. We know the merits and drawbacks of linear vs. branching storylines. Does that make us real writers?
The answer is no. We’re much more than that. Because not all writers “get” games, but we do. We are real game writers. With our choice of media, we choose games, because we want the player to have fun and maybe learn something; we want to motivate the player to find out what happens next; and most of all, we want to kick ass and create compelling games. Who’s with us?