Wed 11 December 2019
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Virtual reality needs real writers
The rapidly developing world of video games is fertile ground for authors – so why have so few taken up the challenge?

There's an interesting video from gametheoryonline.com currently doing the rounds on Twitter about the role of writing in video games. There's no real news here – except that this is a good, thought-provoking video. Indeed, the main stab at headline creation in the film is the one part that I didn't find convincing: an attempt to suggest that we're having a renaissance in storytelling in videogames. Of course, that might be right and I'd be glad to hear about any games that do support this idea – but next to no evidence is produced in the film itself.

What the film does do well is give a coherent overview of the perennial problem of why writers have so far failed to make the most of videogames. And why, as the industry expert John Walker puts it, "gaming is seemingly still years away from its 1984, its Slaughterhouse-Five, its Annie Hall."

On the face of it, you might think that this relatively new, rapidly developing art form would be exciting and fertile territory for authors. There's scope for experimentation in the ability to, say, explore multiple narrative strands, to make mistakes and start again, to work in puzzles. There's also the surely attractive chance to encounter the kind of predominantly young male demographic that traditional book publishers have such trouble reaching. And, of course, there's the oodles of cash you stand to make if you can just keep hold of the rights.

Yet while writers such as F Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler and PG Wodehouse headed for California when Hollywood was at a similar stage in its development, it's hard to imagine any big names in contemporary fiction getting involved in computers. What's more, the professional Hollywood screenwriters themselves have failed to get in on the action. Admittedly, there are headlines every so often suggesting that the opposite is true – but most are typical of the last occasion when it turned out that the only person to make the transition was Chris Morgan, the brains behind The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift – not a film noted for its sparkling dialogue. Or anything else.

For the full article

The Guardian

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