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Storytelling Media: Writing for Video Games

Updated on August 9, 2011
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When I was a college undergrad, I wrote my senior thesis about different modes of storytelling and how different people (specifically teenagers) are more receptive to certain forms of media over others. While the core of storytelling - a thoughtful progression of a plot with a clear beginning, middle, and end - doesn't change much, the way in which a story is presented does make a difference. Although I didn't get to conduct a survey like I originally wanted, I used a personal anecdote to prove a point. My brother can't stand reading but plays video games for hours on end; I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite. The truth is that if we're not good at something, we are less likely to enjoy it or want to do it.

I also added that, while I couldn't beat the game that I had challenged myself to play, I did like the game's storyline enough to write my own version of it (fan fiction). Sadly, I couldn't even finish that either. It's not that writing for or about a video game is particularly difficult, but in this case I didn't have the experience or resources to do it justice. After all, you can't write about what you don't know without doing the proper research. Unfortunately, even that posed a problem. I could not find playthroughs to watch online, and when I looked the game up on Wikipedia I found out there were sequels that were only released in Japan. While I was only prepared to commit myself to writing a story about the first game, I now had more pertinent continuity to deal with that was beyond my reach. There was also a manga title released in Japan, but that too did not make it to the U.S.

While it should be noted that Wikipedia is not the most credible resource and should never be used in a professional capacity, it does contain enough accuracy in matters such as these to get by (unless the entry was hacked by trolls or something). I like what I have written so far, but unless I become confident enough in what information I do have without experiencing it first-hand or through demonstration, I will have to consider dropping this project.

(It should be noted that I have had somewhat better luck with a different series of games, but that is another matter entirely, as I have never actually played a game in that series but enjoy watching cutscenes and playthroughs online. The stories I write about them are also for my own enjoyment, while the story related to my thesis was purely for academic purposes.)

What is your favorite medium for storytelling?

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