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Is writing for video games as creative as scriptwriting?

The games industry has long held an aspiration to keep pace with film, moving beyond an emphasis on graphic realism to developing more compelling storylines and characters to underpin the action, so I read with interest Are Computer Games a Literary Genre?  at the Guardian Mortarboard blog.

As with film, a bad script will let the production down. And games companies are now increasingly recruiting writers with film and TV backgrounds. But is it literature? In his book Writing for Video Games, games producer, designer and writer Steve Ince explains that a writer does not usually come up with the original idea - initial concepts are typically the domain of the games designer. The writer is brought in to work with the team and game play is all.  The writer needs to ensure that story objectives match game play objectives.

So arguably with less control over the story, character, action and even genre - how creative is it?

Very, according to Ince.

The challenges of non-linear storytelling and the opportunity to innovate within a medium that 'devours ground-breaking ideas' is something to be relished. 'Many facets of traditional storytelling: plot, character development, conflict etc transfer over to new media, but need to be looked at with fresh eyes.'

Whatever it is, it is certainly a lucrative and growing new market for writers who are up to the challenge.

Jenny Ridout is the Publisher of Methuen Drama, Media and Reference.

Find out more:
Writing for Video Games, Steve Ince

IDGA, Games Writers Special Interest Group