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Game Writing Resources, Part 1: Blogs

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

It's not surprising that game writers often have blogs. After all, we like word-adjacent things. But when I started as a game writer, it was also a source of relief. I gained insight into what devs thought about the craft, and many of them offered career advice.


Even now, I read posts that give me perspective. For example, late last year Anna Megill wrote a post titled, The Bright Side of Failure. She spoke of burnout and what it feels like to job hunt after such an experience. I had been dealing with an intense period of burnout following the release of We Went Back, and Anna's post spoke directly to the emotional whiplash I felt. However, there's an important disclaimer I should make before continuing:


Just because advice is posted on a blog, even mine, it doesn't mean you should take the writer's word as gospel.


Some writers in this list disagree with each other on both theory and practical techniques in game writing. Some of these writers even disagree with their original opinions over time.


And it should be that way.


The way we understand writing, stories, and narrative should evolve, and that's part of the fun. Rather, think of these blogs as a toolkit. You can pull out whatever tool you need at any time.

Without further ado, below is a blog list.

 

Susan O'Connor is one of the original writers on Bioshock and has worked on over thirty AAA titles since. I've personally worked with Susan in-studio, and her insight was invaluable. Her blog is no different.


She now works as a story consultant and has been sought out by studios such as Telltale, Warner Brothers, Crystal Dynamics, Epic Games, and Netflix. She also co-founded the Narrative Summit at GDC.



I first learned of Emily Short by playing her classic piece of interactive fiction, Bee. She is now the creative director at Failbetter Games, a studio that's admired for its rich storytelling.


As for her blog, I think it's fair to assume that Emily's posts raised an entire generation of game writers. Her blog is more than a blog – it's a repository. Emily's understanding of interactive fiction (IF for shorthand) is thorough and detailed. She has been consistent about posting for several years, so there's an ample supply of knowledge to dig into.



The first time I read Katie's blog, I was at a critical juncture in my career. I needed the advice she offered.


While she doesn't write about the specifics of writing or story craft, her blog outlines how to get a job in games, and there is a post dedicated to game writers and narrative designers. Katie also has advice for those already working their first job, contract, or wanting a promotion, etc. She is now a Principal Game Designer at Riot Games and released Elsinore in 2019.



I mentioned Anna's blog earlier in this post for a good reason. She updates her blog with project updates, writing advice, and details of her experience as a game writer. She also gives links to her interviews and appearances.


She recently joined Playground Games as a lead writer on Fable and has booked seventeen years as a dev on knockouts like Dishonoured and Guild Wars.



If there is a talk or presentation involving Kim Belair, I sign up right away. I have never regretted it. I owe Emily Short's own post about game writing blogs for pointing me to Kim's articles on gamesindustry.biz. While it's technically not a blog, I think these articles read back-to-back feel like one.


Kim is the co-founder and CEO of Sweet Baby Inc, a narrative consulting studio that advocates for marginalized voices. Kim and Sweet Baby Inc have worked with multiple studios, including EA, Wizards of the Coast, and Ubisoft.



There are two parts of Greg Buchanen's site you ought to spend some time reading. First, he advises writers on how to land a game writing gig.


Second, he has several short posts about game writing specific topics written by other professional game writers. You can read Hazel Monforton's thoughts about writing the supernatural or Tameem Antoniades response to the question, "How do you come up with ideas?" Greg has compiled a wealth of advice that's yours for the taking.


Ian Thomas: Wildwinter


Serving as the narrative director at Ubisoft Stockholm, Ian Thomas often drops a practical morsel of writing advice on his blog at just the right time. Of course, it's no surprise that he's also the founder of Tale Spinners.


I find that Ian often posts about the quandaries that most writers in interactive mediums share. As a result, his posts feel relatable every time I read them. He's also good at demonstrating an example of what he's tackling instead of discussing topics on a purely high level.



Jon Ingold co-founded Inkle Studios, responsible for acclaimed games such as Heaven's Vault and 80 Days. He has also been known to participate in quite a few panels on game writing.


His blog posts on Gamasutra are always thorough and frank, and he doesn't oversell or understate his examples. He's incredibly good at illustrating the problem he's trying to solve, and his use of visual aids to illustrate his point is something I particularly love.



Inari is a narrative designer at Ubisoft, and while she has written exactly one post on her blog. For a new dev, it's a must-read. She outlines the confusion surrounding job titles for game writers and narrative designers. While that may seem like a simple topic, it can be overwhelming for those on the job market for the first time. Inari lays it all out, and I hope to hear more from her.

 

There are many other blogs that I've found useful, but these are the writers I return to again and again. However, I'd encourage you to find other blogs that connect with you and read them.


In my next post, I'm writing about Twitter as a game writing resource. Buckle up – the bird app is wild.





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