At this time of year, we each have our traditions. Some go shopping; some enjoy latkes; some get cranky. A few weeks ago, I partook of one of my traditions — singing in a choir. We sang this German piece, Der Stern von Bethlehem, from the early 20th century, high in drama. Standing perched on the steps overlooking the orchestra, I watched the floutist carry on the melody for a spell, then the clarinet effortless took over. No struggle, no argument, just a quick swap as one artist yeilded the piece to another one. Why doesn’t it work this way all the time?
In game development, we often come across a tug-of-war over what makes a game good and fun. Many designers and gamers will say that story doesn’t matter. Others will say writers don’t have much of a place in game development, although more and more writers are being hired on staff. Some developers will insist that certain genres can’t support a story, despite evidence to the contrary. But to me, that’s a bit like saying that the flute holds no place in an orchestra, just because you can’t hear it when the horns are playing.
In an orchestra, each section or “department” works together to create a full experience for the audience. Like the harpist who came out only for a cameo here and there, not every instrument will play every beat like the violins seem to, but each instrument adds to the variety and beauty of the piece.
Just so, in game development, sometimes the art and lighting will underline the game’s theme, sometimes the gameplay, and yes, sometimes the writing. The trick is not to hold any one instrument above the others, but to combine each together to create the best experience for the player.
As we head into the new year, maybe we can all see ourselves less as members of this department or that, and more as instruments that only make good music when we work together.
Posted by Anne for Writers Cabal, a game writing and design partnership.
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