Monthly Archives: September 2008

Which type of game writer are you looking for? Part 2

The problem with titles or credits in the game industry, is there are so many titles to describe the same type of work.  The problem with game writing is the same title can describe different types of work!  Check out the continuation of our look at game writers (Part 1 here), with the artistic goodness of our friend Chris Avellone.

Game Writer

Very into dialog and story and may get cranky if you say s/he is a designer. Despite that, may also design
Known for: Good dialog, story and a sort of nationalistic pride in the writing profession and all things written

Game Writer

Terribly confusing moniker for game journalist or game reviewer, leading to consternation in conversations involving game writers of all types
Known for: Writing reviews, feeling guilty about taking swag from PR people, and questioning the quality of games journalism regularly


Someone who writes story as well as designs aspects of the game. Considers him/herself the salt of the Earth, but probably looks down on mere writers (just kidding. mostly)
Known for: Putting first whichever word will more likely get him/her the job

Unfortunately, you can’t easily tell different types of writers apart, leading to confusion at parties:

"No, not that kind of game writer!"

But on the job, the best writers work in a team.

Which type of writers works best for you?

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Filed under Game Industry, Outsourcing

Which type of game writer are you looking for? Part 1

Confused about what kind of game writer you want?  You’re not alone!  The game industry constantly struggles with titles in every department, and writing is no exception.  When looking for a game writer, story designer, narrative designer, dialog writer, etc., make sure you’re looking for the right kind.  For this series, we teamed up with Chris Avellone, writer and co-founder of Obsidian Entertainment, who offered up his characteristic artwork for this issue.


This writer is so good s/he started a company to share the shiny goodness
Known for: Great writing, good management, and the ability to walk on water

Narrative Designer

Writer who knows the ultimate truth that game story doesn’t begin and end with the written word
Known for: Using a holistic approach to game development, and having it all figured out 😉

Narrative Designer

Narrative designer makes sure there's no name-calling

Now, no name-calling

This type of ND acts as champion for a game writer’s work within a company, especially if game writer works on contract.
Known for: Diplomacy, good eye for great writers (like us!)

Content Designer

Someone who works on staff, writes some storylines, then implements them into the game with tools. Someone who will rise in the design department, rather than being relegated to the “writer ghetto” that exists on some staffs
Known for: Having a career path, a pile of story ideas, and a secret desire to shed the designer title and be a WRITER FOREVER!

All done?  Not so fast…  Next week we’ll put up more game writers, including the game writer vs. game writer confusion.  Subscribe to make sure you’re getting the right writer!

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Get serious right now! Combining education and new media

For those serious games developers, now’s your chance to see what’s on the cutting edge of combining new media and tech with your educational goals. Fellow Nokia OpenLab attendee Steve Dembo and his compatriots at Discovery Education are presenting a streamathon right now. Topics covered include: “introduction to streaming media, tips and tricks for integrating digital media with popular Web 2.0 websites, and strategies for incorporating free movie making tools.”

If you’re looking to incorporate some social media or other functions of the web into your serious game, this series looks like a must!  It runs for 12 hours today, starting at 9am until 9pm Eastern.  It will take a few minutes to sign up and get in on the WebEx seminar.   Check out the schedule here.  We’re especially curious about this one:

6 PM (Joe Brennan)
Digital Storytelling Resources in DE streaming

Let us know what you think!

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Filed under Serious Games

What type of gamer is everyone else?

We often talk about writing and designing a game for each gamer type, especially Bartle’s Player Types.  Now’s your chance to find out where you lie.  GamerDNA has hit 500,000 tests today and offers visitors a way to learn about their playstyles.  What’s interesting is that the site offers a way to chart the aggregate of everyone’s tests.

So far, of Bartle’s original Four, explorers are the highest at 38.1% of players.  However, I think this result is skewed, because explorers might be twice as likely to explore taking such a test!  Socializers are the lowest.  I don’t know if you get an output you can easily share when you complete the test (the site is lagged due to Kotaku traffic), but if not, that could be why socializers are low.  Surprisingly, achievers come in second to last at 19.1%.  Perhaps the presence or emphasis on multiplayer FPS makes the survey skew toward “Killers” who come in second at 29%.

In addition to the Bartle’s Test, there’s also the “Decades of Influence,” and FPS and RTS multiplayer style tests.  Wait a day or so until they’ve got their servers back in order, then go over there and check out your style.  Learned anything surprising?  Share your results!

Next week: Stay tuned next week for a humorous look at game writers — our first collaborative post with writer Chris Avellone, who draws a mean stick figure.

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Filed under Amusing diversions, Game Design, MMO

You don't know Austin GDC 2008 until you've read this

Sande trekked over to Austin to get you the latest on what’s going on at the Game Developers Conference.  Whether you attended these sessions or not, check out what you missed by reading Sande’s articles over at Edge Online.

Know Your Characters

Tom Abernathy tells you that story comes from character.  He goes further to say character inspires mechanics.  Now if only we can get developers to develop characters before mechanics and we’ll be all set!

What’s Wrong With Questing and How to Fix It

Attendees brainstorm on solutions to the seminal text box for delivering quests.  Many MMOs and games have taken a stab at it.  Added benefit of eliminating the text box in favor of icons or one-liners?  You save your writers’ time so they can focus on making a good adventure.

Future Gaming

Where will games be in 35 years?  Find out what a towel has to do with it!

Google Lively Becoming Game-Friendly

Worlds in Motion Summit reveals that Google isn’t interested in dollars.  Oh, I’m sorry.  Virtual dollars.

Other News from Austin:

Breaking the Sound Barrier

Cartoon Network Flexes IP in MMO

Building an Online Disneyland

Anything from AGDC you’re just dying to learn about?  Got any hot tips?  Click on the comment below and do your magic.

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Filed under Game Design, Game Industry, GDC, MMO, Writers Cabal, Writing

Played the Witcher? Play it better for free!

THE WITCHER: ENHANCED EDITION is now available in North America!  As you may know, we wrote the English script for the original game, which was named PC Gamer’s RPG of the Year last year.  The new edition includes new voice recordings, items, and I believe an extended script as well as many other improvements based on fan feedback.  What’s more, if you already own the game, you can get the “upgrade” for free!

Since I know you ran out and bought THE WITCHER last year after we announced it, check out the official site to download the enhanced edition and all the extra goodies for free.  Europeans will have to wait until September 19th.  If you didn’t buy it, run to your local store to buy the box.  You can also download the entire game, though I think you’ll want the box for this one.

The Witcher’s on the loose again — quick!  Hide your women!

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Writers Cabal at Austin Game Conference 2008

Of course, we would be remiss if we skipped out on the Austin Game Conference with its focus on game writing.  While Anne is in Helsinki, Sande is traveling to Texas to bring back the best of what the conference has to offer next week.  So in preparation, here are a few short articles on what writers and designers stand to gain at AGC.

Top Ten Reasons Writers Need to be in Austin

Unfortunately, it’s not worthy of David Letterman, but this list of reasons to attend is no joke.

The Writing Track for Game Designers

This article underlines once again why an understanding of writing isn’t just useful for writers.  But you already knew that, or you wouldn’t have come here.

Will you be at AGC?  Drop a comment or send Sande an e-mail if you want to meet up!

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Filed under GDC, Writers Cabal, Writing