Editorial: Writing for games
To the Zigfrid last night, to find out more about writing for computer games, under the aegis of New Media Knowledge. It is, by the accounts of the speakers, an area that is growing and growing, with the demand for stories meaning that narrative and words are going to increase in importance alongside gameplay, artificial intelligence and real-time rendering.
Three things stood out for me, as an observer more interested in the words than the gameplay:
1. Things are converging: When Blast Theory and Punchdrunk can collaborate on 'urban gaming', when games developers are enlisting theatrical and film writing talent, then it’s clear that something interesting is going on here, and those of us who haven’t thought of games as new way of bringing narratives to life need to think again.
2. In discussing Penguin’s We Tell Stories, which his company developed, Adrian Hon of Six To Start suggested that in this world starting with design is no bad thing. That, and having writers who are fast, and good. The project explored narrative as delivered through maps, infographics, blogs and Twitter, as well as live writing and choose your own adventure modes. Knowing those constraints meant that the writers, such as Mohsin Hamed could experiment with circular, branching and infinite loop narratives. Linear is not the only way.
3. When Naomi Alderman was describing Perplex City, and the range of interactions players could have with the game: emails, live web chats, phone calls, text messages, skywriting, live encounters with improvising actors… well, it sounded like the most ambitious integrated campaign you could ever dream of. Clearly people have been developing immersive, 360, all channel communications. We just haven’t properly noticed. There’s stuff here that we in adland need to learn from.
Plus I loved a) the word ‘cutscenes’ (it’s my new favourite word) and b) the legend that hidden somewhere in Metal Gear Solid is a 90 minute movie – an entire film within game. Convergence indeed.