There's rarely a day where I don't listen to a podcast or watch a YouTube video. While many people suggested thick books on game writing and narrative, some of the most useful resources were podcasts and YouTube channels. For me, the information was more accessible and easy to navigate and was updated more frequently.
In this post, I've listed my personal podcast and YouTube favorites that have informed my work as a game writer and narrative designer. Some of these are specific to the craft itself, and some discuss the industry more broadly. Either way, all of these resources have informed my day-to-day work.
If you haven't heard of Script Lock and you want to be a game writer, narrative designer – stop what you're doing and listen to Script Lock.
Each regular episode typically features two game writers or narrative designers in an interview-style format.
Max and Nick Folkman, currently of Insomniac Games, have been working on Script Lock since 2015, so there's a generous backlog of episodes to get lost in. I've been stymied by a narrative problem more than once, only to find that another game writer gave advice on this podcast that spoke to my concern.
I can't think of another podcast more specific to game writing and narrative design than this one.
The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook is one of my favorite podcasts for multiple reasons. Made by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (the same organization that hosts the D.I.C.E. Summit and the D.I.C.E. Awards), they have the ability to pull interviews from voices that often feel difficult to access despite their clear influence on the industry. The interviews are typically one-on-one between the interviewer and the guest, making it feel personal and honest, given that every episode is about 40 minutes to an hour long.
What I love about this podcast is the range it covers. Many interviews are done with game directors on well-known franchises and IPs we know and love, but many episodes speak with composers, narrative directors, and publisher voices that have a large impact. It's nice to hear from these voices about the broad struggles and triumphs a project faces from beginning to end or considerations in publishing games that are unique and often go unconsidered.
No Clip is both a YouTube channel and podcast headed by Danny O'Dwyer. The YouTube channel is dedicated to long-form documentaries about game studios and their projects. The podcast is a companion channel that features developer interviews.
I appreciate No Clip because it gives a broad overview of what working on a specific project was like and considers the more minute aspects of specific disciplines.
Occasionally, the podcasts feature episodes specific to game writing and narrative design, such as this episode on writing characters in the Outer Worlds or this interview with devs about the broad design and narrative of Ghost of Tsushima.
The Game Maker's Toolkit is another YouTube channel that does deep-dive analyses on video games. The channel is run by Mark Brown, a games journalist who does a superb job of looking into the design philosophy and implications behind games and how they're made. His commentary is always thoughtful and holistic.
There are plenty of episodes specific to narrative in games, like the one about Monolith's Nemesis System or how level design can tell a story.
If you want to hear advice on narrative and game writing straight from the horse's mouth, it is impossible to ignore the Game Developer's Conference. GDC is a yearly professional conference in San Francisco, CA, that discusses the craft of video games. Game developers worldwide gather to exchange insight and information, make pitches, and network. Developers deliver prepared talks about game development, which are recorded and compiled into something called the GDC Vault, a library of talks going back several years. Be warned that full access to the GDC Vault is very expensive, sitting at $550/person and physical attendance at the conference even more so. However, the GDC YouTube channel posts many of the best talks for free and there's more than enough material to keep anyone occupied. They specifically have dozens of talks on narrative uploaded on a playlist.
There are many other podcasts and YouTube channels that I didn't put on this list that I listen to and love. This list does evolve, and I would encourage you to delve in and discover other channels and voices.
In the meantime, my next post on game writing resources will be delving into the world of mentorship in game development!