Chapter 1.4. 17 Things Screenwriters Don't Know About Games
Game experiences frequently have little to do with linear storytelling.
If traditionally trained
screenwriters are to be effective in writing artfully for games, they will need to learn the many types of writing skills games require. Likewise, developers and publishers may need to learn the finer points of dealing with Hollywood agents if they want to hire a screenwriter for their game. Some of the difficulties that might ensue for screenwriters and developers are discussed here.
This chapter, however, presents only half of the story. The next chapter, "Why Game Designers Often Find Writing to Be So Challenging" shows why not using a professional writer might potentially get a game developer in trouble.
Some specific tips for handling this conundrum are provided at the end of this chapter.
Having kicked around in the worlds of both films and games, I've come to appreciate the gap between them. Their surface similarities disguise their enormous differences.
Still, many game companies are reaching out to try to incorporate films' emotional spectrum into their games. At first glance, it seems like the answer is simple: Either train your existing staff (game designers, programmers, and so on) in the craft and art of writing (much tougher than it sounds), or, more likely, hire a trained screenwriter.
While my background as a screenwriter (especially armed with the "Beyond Structure" techniques) served me well for games, I've come across more than a few game developers who've had bad experiences with writers and now shun them.
Sometimes it's because they dealt with amateur writers writers who simply weren't good enough to make it in film and television, and who turned to writing for games, thinking their weak writing wouldn't be as noticeable there. But, in the end, their lackluster writing skills did little to improve the games they worked on, and the developer realized that if the writer stopped receiving paychecks, sooner or later he or she would hopefully stop showing up.
Some developers incurred other problems with trained screenwriters. Obviously, as a screenwriter now working heavily in games, I must feel that my skill set is of value. But I understand the difficulties some developers have faced. Why isn't simply hiring a screenwriter even a famous or a talented one always the "magic pill" that games need?
It's because there are so many aspects of games that most screenwriters don't know.