I grew up in an age of as yet unrealized new technology. The future of the tech world was just beginning to blossom. We had
Nintendo and VHS players that were just becoming affordable enough that everyone who was anyone had one. Computers were slowly making their debut into the commercial landscape. Admittedly they really weren’t much to brag about, but if you had a computer you were SOMEONE important. Even though computers were not very exciting, no one really believed that eventually we would all want one.
But I digress… again. At the time, video games were something kids seemed to enjoy, although they were nowhere near as graphically beautiful or immersive as games are today. Being a teenager at this time, I saw games as a new way to experience “story” in a whole new way of experiencing someone else’s imagined world.
Today as a writer and a daydreaming, fantasy-loving Pisces, games are a very engrossing, very immersive and addictive form of procrastination. Why write a story when you can actively participate in “writing” a story that stars YOU as the hero? Especially when that world is a beautifully rendered, fully realized and a graphically engaging place that makes you feel you are part of something much bigger than yourself.
Games have evolved so much in such a relatively short period of time, that it’s not surprising to me that today millions of people own consoles and games and spend an average of 10-20 hours a week playing videgames. Which brings me to my next point. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity or desire to delve into the world of video games, I have one question for you. Why the heck not?
Some of the most engrossing and epic stories can be found in today’s best-selling video games. Sure there are those that leave you feeling ‘meh’, but at the same time there are games out there whose story arcs are so deep, so well thought out and so emotionally engaging as to make them epic in the world of story. Looking for inspiration? You only need look at what is currently on the best-seller list at your local video game retailer. Not sure what kids and adults alike are drawn to story-wise in our fast-paced world of tech? Again… video games.
Video games are now part of a multi-billion dollar industry that shows no signs of slowing down or fading away. And video game designers always need writers. They need engaging content, then need relevant content. They need writers who know how to engage gamers on an emotional level and who would love to see their written work brought to life by some of the most talented artists out there.
So whether you’re a writer who games or just someone who thinks that games are for kids, think again. Games are slowly making their way into everyone’s daily life. Games are everywhere. They’re in your phones, your Facebook, your tablets and your consoles (if you have them). And as a result the demand for good writers is increasing, which if you’ve never considered writing for the game industry before is a very good thing.
For those interested in games with good story lines, I’ve played only a few that fit that criteria, which I will list below. I’m sure there are more out there, but so far I’ve only come across two or three that contain good story arcs and characters that take your breath away. And I’m guessing here, but I believe this likely due to the fact that good writers have yet to realize what a gold mine writing for games could be. If you haven’t done so yet, perhaps now is a good time to check it out?
Games with great stories and epic characters: Mass Effect (trilogy). Although its first installment was not all that impressive from a graphic perspective, it does contain over 300 dialogue options and that is no small task to accomplish. But that’s not all, this game goes even further by building on the choices you make in the first game and allowing you to import what you did there into the second and third in the series, making for the most immersive “choose your own adventure” story I’ve played to date.
Red Dead Redemption. What can I say about this game? Red Dead is one of those gems you discover when you’ve finally
earned all those achievements you couldn’t seem to grasp in your favorite titles and find yourself with nothing to play. As with the other titles I’ve listed here, the story arc in RDR is exceptionally well-planned, well thought out and wonderfully rendered. It engages you, it gets you emotionally connected to the main character and personally invested in his success and/or failure. And again all this is made possible by some very talented writers.
Assassin’s Creed II is another game that fits this category with its beautifully rendered landscapes and emotionally real protagonist who was brought to life by talented writers who knew how to engage their audience. This game is so impressive that even today, fans of the AC Universe still call this the best game of the series, even though they just published Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag in October 2013 and ACII came out in November of 2009. Makes you wonder what, exactly, was so special about AC2… having played it, I would have to say it has a whole lot to do with the storyline and the dialogue, which says a lot about the writers behind this title’s success. But don’t take my word for it, play it yourself and find out. 😉
Related: Writing for the Gaming Industry