How to Become a Video Game Writer

From the AMA pile, Anonymous asks:
If someone wants to become a writer for video games, what would your advice be?

My super short advice is to do these in any order: (1) get a video game job and (2) learn to write well.

More in-depth (and hopefully useful) advice follows.

If you have a video game job, you need to learn to write well and squeeze yourself into positions where you have opportunity to write. You can learn to write anywhere: books, blogs, school, reading, but most importantly by actually writing and getting critiques from other writers.

I suspect, however, that the other order (learn to write, get game job) is the one most of you will be interested in. Here are some options:
  1. Get known for your writing and make your interest in gaming publicly known.
  2. Watch for game developer job openings. For example: inXile, Obsidian, Bioware.
  3. Make friends with other game developers. Note that I said "friends," not "acquaintances who can help me get what I really want." Remember: self-serving has a smell.
  4. Learn skills related to the game industry but that you also enjoy and/or excel at. For example: 3D art, 2D art, programming, web development, game design, etc.
  5. Find similar-minded friends and make quality games (or mods of existing games) on your own time.
  6. Become a game tester.
None of these are mutually exclusive. In fact, the more you do, the greater your chances of getting what you really want.

I know game writers who have followed all of these paths. The goal is to get noticed any way you can, so when someone asks a friend of yours, "Do you know any good game writers who might be available for this?" your friend can go, "[Your name here] might be interested, and his [type of work you do] is always good and on time. Want me to ask him?"

Incidentally, my path is here. It's a stranger path than most, but I did #2 and #3 for my first job, and a combination of #1, #3, and #4 for my current one. So my advice applies to at least one person? I guess?


Got a question? Ask me anything.


Matthew MacNish said...

You're not counting: already be a famous fantasy author (cough, Patrick Rothfuss) and get invited to write a tie-in novella because you're awesome.

You're talking about actual game writing, right?

Natalie Whipple said...

Getting to write a little part of a video game was one of the funnest things I got to do in my very busy schedule! Thanks for letting me do that;)

Adam Heine said...

@Matt: Actually, Pat is doing actual game writing for us as well. A whole companion, in fact (and maybe some other things, if we can keep his attention long enough).

And yes, technically "become super famous and get invited" falls under #1 above :-)

@Natalie: It was super fun to work with you (and I can't wait to implement your area :-).

fairyhedgehog said...

It sounds like a dream job.

Sarah Ahiers said...

This was super interesting! Thanks for sharing (because i have no idea about any of this)