Managing expectations: joining a game writing team

You’ve learned what it takes to work in a writing team. You’re full of ideas; you’re raring to go.  There’s just one problem.  You’re not the only one.  Maybe you’ve worked in a team before.  Maybe this is your first time.  Either way, joining a team differs each time you do it, because you will be working with different personalities, differing needs, and often different rules.  The secret to success is to manage expectations – your lead’s, your co-workers’, and your own. 

Upon joining a team, your first step should be to get a lay of the land by learning what is expected of you.  Whether you are freelance or working on staff, you will be working for someone, so now’s the time to ask your superior to clarify your role as the project moves forward. 

  • How do you prefer to write?  This question you can ask colleagues as well as your superiors.  Do not assume everyone writes the same way you do.  Some may prefer to start with a story premise and move forward.  Some may start with gameplay.  Others may start with theme.  Knowing how your superior likes to develop a story can prevent misunderstandings going forward. 
  • How open are you to suggestions or comments at this stage?
  • What is the vision for this project?
  • What support do you need from me?

While asking these questions up front should smooth your transition onto the team, keep in mind you should continue to ask these types of questions at each stage of the project.  Don’t ever stop asking “How am I doing?”  Honest answers to these questions will allow you to correct problems before they become too hard to handle.

The second step to joining a team requires letting others know what to expect from you.  You can answer some of the questions above, or come up with your own.  For example, once upon a time, a writer told his lead that he wasn’t good at pitching ideas orally and added, half-jokingly, that he was “never going to get better.”  This information helped his lead understand problems “in the room” and may have opened a door for this writer to pitch via e-mail instead.  By taking a risk and being honest, the writer headed off a problem before it got too big.   

Anyone have any horror stories about joining a team — or times when you inadvertently used this advice with positive results?

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1 Comment

Filed under Collaboration, Game Industry

One response to “Managing expectations: joining a game writing team

  1. Pingback: Forming a game writing team « Writers Cabal Blog

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