Getting into games writing

So I’ve compiled a checklist of tips for people wanting to break into the games writing business.

You can’t force anyone to give you a job, but you can make sure that you’re fully prepared when opportunity knocks.

Knowledge

First of all, google for guidance. There’s already a bunch of excellent advice out there. Why are you reading this nonsense when you could be absorbing Greg Buchanan’s brilliant blog post? Or Katie Chironis’s comprehensive guide to getting a job (and a career) in game/narrative design? Or watching this GDC talk?

Read more books. There are dozens of fine books about games writing, and I constantly refer to them. Lean towards editions that are less than 5 years old. Kait Tremblay has shared this terrific reading list of books, talks and blogs to give yourself a narrative education.

Watch videos. The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain hosted a series of online talks which are full of wisdom for newcomers and veterans. You can learn a lot from YouTube, whether it’s this playlist of GDC narrative talks, play-throughs, or intelligent criticism such as Feminist Frequency and Critical Distance.

Take a course, if you can find one that’s suitable and affordable. There are also self-directed workshops like this one for in-game dialogue which is free and will undoubtedly make you a better writer.

Play a broad range of games. See just how many ways people can tell a story.

Network

Make the most of your transferable experience. Work out where your professional experience most closely crosses over with games. If you’ve written a zombie comic, that’s relevant experience when applying to write for a zombie game. If you’re an animator, you may already have contacts in the interactive industry. Focus on any area where you’re not starting from scratch.

Social media isn’t a safe space for everyone, but if you can…

Make friends and allies – in person (events, conferences) and online (social media). There is power in numbers. Pool your resources. Team up. Bond over memes. Join a game jam. Critique each other’s work.

Reach out for advice. Find mentors. Buy people coffee. You might even be able to score a formal mentorship.

Be a blogger/journalist/podcaster. It’s a handy excuse to interview the people you really want to meet.

Promote yourself. Put ‘writer’ in your social media profile. Promote your work when it comes out. Don’t be shy.

Join a support group, such as the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, which embraces games writers, runs regular events, and offers a low-cost student membership. Writers’ groups give you a reason to write more and they help combat loneliness.

Portfolio

Make something in Twine. Then make something even better in Twine. This one’s important.

Compile your script samples. That Greg Buchanan article has some fine advice on what to include.

Make a portfolio website. WordPress, Wix, whatever. Just a simple, single place you can send people when they ask, “Can I see your stuff?”

Opportunities

Watch twitter for opportunities via hashtags such as #gamewriting, regular keyword searches (eg “looking for a writer”) and games recruitment accounts like @gamejobs24 and @workwithindies.

Watch kickstarter for fledgling games that could use your skills, then say hi.

Join Facebook groups (with caution). Try Game Writers.

Search job websites, eg https://gamedevjobs.io/tags/writer/, https://jobs.gamesindustry.biz, gracklehq.com, remotegamejobs.com, and even LinkedIn.

Jan David Hassel has compiled this amazing Google Doc listing a bunch of brilliant job sites and resources, and it’s about as comprehensive as anything I’ve seen. Good hunting!

Is this dumb advice? Did I miss anything? Let me know via twitter or email.