Looking to combine your love for gaming with your passion for the written word? Video game writers provide the narratives that propel players through the game — narratives that have grown increasingly complex as games offer ever-expanding choices for characters and game play. Of course, breaking into the world of game design isn't necessarily easy, but if you're willing to put in the effort, your dream job could be waiting for you.
Before you even think of applying for jobs, take the time to learn the lingo. This means playing every game you can get your hands on and reading everything you can about game design and the gaming industry as a whole. Learn who the major players are in the world of video games, either by visiting company websites or attending industry events, like the Game Developers Conference. Skip the big ticket price by volunteering to work at one of the shows, where you'll rub elbows with some of the top names in the field. If you're lucky, you'll make a few connections or pick up job leads.
As you're brushing up on the industry and building your network, perfect your writing skills. Many companies that hire game writers want employees with script or film writing experience, so work on these skills, even if it means working for free on small, independent projects. Take classes in creative writing, scriptwriting and grammar. Try to develop a portfolio of game scripts or related work that you can show off when you finally land an interview. There are plenty of indie game companies out there that would welcome some free writing help. If you can't find one, join forces with friends and release a mobile game app on your own to gain experience.
When you think your skills are up to snuff, it's time to submit samples to game design companies. The website for game developer BioWare suggests creating a sample quest and script, but keep it simple — you don't want to send a novel. Focus on creating strong characters, and plan to revise and resubmit your work often before you land a job. Writer Joshua Alan Doetsch, who wrote the dialogue for "The Secret World," sent out three dozen samples and resumes before landing his coveted gig.
Keep in mind that many game makers don't even hire independent writers — they simply assign the task of writing to a member of the design team and assign them the task of writing. You may find yourself in this position, so be prepared to learn design, programming and code basics to get your foot in the door. Another option is to start working with non-video role-playing games, which could help you forge the connections needed for the video gaming world.
- BioWare. "Interview with Senior Writer Jennifer Hepler." June 11, 2012. (Dec. 11, 2014) http://blog.bioware.com/2012/06/11/interview-with-senior-writer-jennifer-hepler/
- Edwards, Robert. "How to Break Into the Game Industry Part 3." Vancouver Sun, July 30, 2013. (Dec. 11, 2014) http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/07/30/how-to-break-into-the-game-industry-part-3-on-writing-for-games-and-the-impossible-ish-dream/
- Edwards, Tyler F. M. "'The Secret World' Writer Joshua Alan Doetsch Talks Video Games." Adanai, Aug. 28, 2014. (Dec. 11, 2014) http://adanai.com/joshua-alan-doetsch/
- Forbest, Matt. "Breaking Into Video Game Writing." Tor, Dec. 3, 2010. (Dec. 11, 2014) http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/12/breaking-into-video-game-writing
- Gaider, David. "How Do I Become a Writer for Video games? P3" BioWare, March 6, 2009. (Dec. 11, 2014) http://blog.bioware.com/?s=how+do+i+become+a+writer
- Oguntoyinbo, Lekan. "How to Get Started as a Game Writer." Dice, Jan. 9, 2013. (Dec. 11, 2014) http://news.dice.com/2013/01/09/how-to-get-started-as-a-game-writer/