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Should We Write For Games?

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The recent discussion on eReaders and the problems of books having to compete with games (and other distractions) on iPads and the like set me thinking. Perhaps it's wrong to try and compete; perhaps we should see games as another outlet for our writing?
I think it's perfectly possible to love both. When I was younger I found games such as Lords of Midnight and Tir Na Nog - ancient history now - almost as engrossing and magical places as Earthsea and Narnia.

Games and books are different things, of course, and they entertain in different ways, but there's a crossover there. Good games require good writing - by which I mean they need believable characters and narrative tension and all the stuff we as writers are used to grappling with. There are also hybrid forms where literature and gaming connect : interactive fiction where the reader gets to make choices and text adventure games where the writing creates the world in the reader/player's mind.

Perhaps rather than fretting about the lure of games, we should write for them instead? It's an avenue that intrigues me, I have to say. So, coming soon, is a guest post by my good friend Andy Yates, gaming guru and all-round good guy, who has played more computer games than I've had hot dinners. Andy blogs about PC games here and he also writes too : both conventional and interactive fiction. I'm sure he'll have a lot of fascinating stuff to tell us. Stay tuned!


  1. Interactive fiction is seriously cool and there should be more of it.

    It must need a lot of writing though, with having more than one possible ending.

  2. fairyhedgehog,

    You're right on both counts. I've written a bit and creating something that works whatever route you take through the narrative is challenging.

  3. That's a very interesting idea. It could be a lot like screen-writing....

  4. I have a friend (yes I do!!) whose twin passions apart from his family are writing sf and writing for/inventing games. So they are not mutually exclusive!! I say if you are able to do both- go for it!!! And all power to you!!!

    I love your father x-mas hat Simon! Very festive!! Take care

  5. Words Crafter,

    Indeed; I'm sure there are a lot of similarities there.

  6. Old Kitty,

    That sounds fascinating. I could happily do both!

    Glad you like the hat.

  7. I've never heard of "interactive fiction" before. It's a fascinating concept, though!

  8. Golden Eagle,

    There are publishers who specialize in it : but I'll leave the details for Andy to tell us about ...

  9. Well why not? Games use artists and musicians why not writers? Sounds like an interesting interview coming up.

  10. Karen,

    Should be! No pressure Andy ...

  11. With all the lore that has to be invented these days, its not as silly as it may initially appear. You can by WoW lore books these days. Arenanet is releasing a Trilogy based on their game, Guild Wars, to bridge the gap between Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2.

    The question is, of course, how does one go about getting into the profession of lore writing for games?

  12. Amanda,

    Interesting! I just wish I knew the answer ...

  13. "They need believable characters and narrative tension" -- true. The best games I've played have had both, and of course it's been due to the writing.
    And hey, I like your blog's virtual snow!

  14. Milo,

    True. And thanks. Did you spot you can direct the snow with your mouse pointer?

  15. Simon, this was an interesting post. I don't think I realized that there was a sort of marketing competition between ebooks and game apps for ipads, etc. My husband recently bought an ipad; his and our children's first move was to find games, whereas I immediately installed the kindle app. Unsurprisingly, I love text-based games like the ones you mentioned. has some rather good ones.
    Also, my major purpose in visiting your site was because I just read Guitar Heroes. I loved it. I think it would make a fantastic full-length novel or even a series. Just wanted to say thank you for creating and sharing it.

  16. glennyeg,

    Thanks! Delighted you enjoyed Guitar Heroes. I did have some plans to make a series of stories with these characters, I must admit.

  17. Simon,
    So...does that mean there is a series stashed away in a file somewhere that we can look forward to seeing in the future? -wink- I'm working my way through the rest of your online offerings now.

  18. glennyeg,

    Well, there are just some ideas at this stage. There is, however, an urban fantasy novel - Hedge Witch - that I'm currently deciding what to do with. Some details here if you're interested. It's rather different in tone from Guitar Heroes but does have a former member of Screaming Machinery in it ...


I'd love to know what you think.