I get a lot of questions from aspiring game writers regarding advice. So, here goes!
Question: What advice do you have for writers hoping to break into the industry?
Get some experience: Get as much experience as possible. I wrote for quite a few indie games (some for free, some paid) before getting my job like Alfa-Arkiv and Elliot Quest. A really good place to find potential projects you can work on is Kickstarter. That’s how I came to write Elliot Quest. Of course, it’s likely that you’ll end up working on games that are never released, but that’s just part of the…magical world that is game development. Gamedev is tough, people!
Make your own games: Use twine/RPG maker/Unity, whatever you have at your disposal. I can’t stress this enough. I used the Fungus plugin for Unity and made some Telltale-ish games that were versions of my spec scripts. An interactive resume is always going to be more approachable to developers than a static script. Keep this experience short–or at least, realize that you’ll probably only have a minute or so to hook the player. But that’s true for most mediums!
Write spec scripts: Specifically, for studios you really want to work with. Demonstrate you know the IP and can hop right in if given the chance, because the odds are you won’t start your career on an original IP. It’s incredible important to practice and master a variety of styles and voices. This’ll make you more attractive to potential game studios.
Acquire some technical skills: Having additional technical skills gives you a better shot, because often you’ll be interviewed by designers. Do a few courses at Code Academy won’t hurt either. The language of game writing is design. We talk about inputs, about triggers. When you’re writing a script, you have to understand the conditions that will trigger a piece of VO or an event. Read a few design books as well!
Persevere: Finally, this is an entertainment industry, and having said that, there aren’t that many pure game writing jobs. That means you’ll face tons of competition. I interviewed and took writing tests with quite a few companies before getting an offer. Scripts. Bios. Barks. You name it. Don’t take it hard if you don’t get any feedback on a writing test. Be glad you got the writing test in the first place.
Question: What are some of your favorite games?
Super Mario World, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV and VI. Beyond Good and Evil. Katamari Damacy. Don’t Starve. Binding of Isaac.