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Game Writing for Young People by Steve Ince

Writing.ie | Resources | Developing Your Craft
Steve Ince 2021

Steve Ince

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Engaging young people in any kind of writing can be a challenge to parents, teachers and even the youngsters themselves.  The modern world and the range of interests for many of them do not naturally lead to an interest in the written word.

Games like Minecraft, however, show us that huge numbers of children are interested in creating whole worlds and sharing them with friends.  It therefore doesn’t take an enormous leap to conclude that game writing and interactive storytelling is likely to engage many young people.

Most kids love playing games and many of those would really enjoy making their own, but beginning the process can seem like a hugely daunting task.  Yet it doesn’t need to be and from my own experience of running workshops in schools (as well as for other age groups) I know that children of all abilities connect with interactive storytelling very quickly.

We all love telling stories in one form or another and game writing is another type that adds to the range.  With my three decades in the games industry and my experience of giving talks and workshops across the world, I know that young people (and those not so young) find the interactive approach to storytelling refreshing and inspiring.

Of course, interactive stories are not limited to games.  Stories like those in the old “choose your own adventure” books were hugely popular in the 1980s and are even making a comeback now.  People are using interactivity to explore storytelling in the mediums of TV and films with great success (Bandersnatch and TryLife, for example).  So understanding these ways of telling stories at any age, not only gives a person insights they may not have had before, but can also lead to new avenues of creativity they had not previously considered.

Game writing is a fascinating way of using narrative and one that gets the mind firing on many levels.  The writer of interactive stories has to be both creative and logical and learn how to balance the two in the process of telling great tales.

“How,” you may ask, “do I even begin to learn this way of writing?  It can’t be that easy.”  Yet it isn’t particularly difficult if you approach it in the right manner, which is why I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others through workshops I run.  These sessions became the basis for my new book, An Introduction to Game Writing, which takes the reader through a clear, step-by-step process in a very hands-on way.

Working through the book will have you, your children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, friends, students and anyone else you know, creating interactive stories in a very short space of time.

One of the main reasons I wanted to create this book specifically was that no one has so far released a game writing book for a younger audience.  There are plenty of volumes on the subject aimed at already experienced writers or advanced students, but enriching younger people’s creativity is something we should all aim for if we can.

Kids are incredibly smart and have fabulous imaginations but need a variety of ways to express themselves and, hopefully, have fun doing so.  While it’s good to teach children how to create interactive stories, they also need to be encouraged to do so in their own way and explore outside of the process.  These young storytellers will be creating the entertainment of the future and hopefully they will be doing so in ways that excite and surprise us.

Young people are not the only ones who should learn game writing.  With an understanding of the subject, you could gain valuable insights into your own writing, which can only ever be a good thing.  Reading articles and books on writing can be rewarding from the perspectives they give and a knowledge of interactivity in telling tales will likely help you, too.  At the very least you may finally understand what your young relatives see in all the games they play.

Although the book puts no emphasis on spelling and grammar, I do believe in the importance of these, along with other related matters.  Teachers can therefore use the book in conjunction with other lessons to hopefully give the students a more fulfilling learning experience.

While the book is not designed to turn people into instant game writers, it is a valuable introduction to the subject and the writer who becomes fired up by the ideas it contains will surely find their own multiple paths into the rich forest of interactive narrative possibilities.

You may think this isn’t for you or the kids you know, but consider this: choosing to learn something new is interactive itself.  “Do I really want to learn this?”

If you choose No:  Move on with your life but worry that you may regret the choice for the rest of your days.

If you choose Yes:  Celebrate the fact that you will be learning new skills and keeping your mind fresh.

Game writing is about writing with the player’s choices in mind but also about exploring new ways of telling stories with an interactive slant.

(c) Steve Ince

About An Introduction to Game Writing: A Workbook for Interactive Stories

Learning anything new can be a daunting task, particularly a skill like game writing. Without the right approach, many of those who’d love to learn this thrilling way of telling stories can be put off before they begin. This book takes away that daunting aspect by introducing the reader to the exciting nature of game writing in a step by step process that any person can pick up quickly. Requiring no previous knowledge or outstanding English skills, the eager novice will learn to create interactive stories in next to no time. Building on three decades of experience in the games industry and having run workshops for learners of all ages, the author will take you on a journey that may kick-start a lifelong passion for writing and telling stories in a new, stimulating and interactive way. The first steps of any journey are always the hardest, but this book will help smooth the path.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Having worked in the games industry for nearly three decades, primarily as a writer and games designer, Steve used all of his knowledge and experience in the creation of his latest book. Nominated for prestigious writing awards and having worked on critically acclaimed projects, he is well placed to write on the subject.
His game projects include the Broken Sword series, The Witcher and So Blonde.
His other books include Writing for Video Games, Blood and Earth, The Quinton Quads and the Mystery of Malprentice Manor, and Amanda Alexander and the Very Friendly Panda.
Steve lives with his partner, June, has three grown up sons and six grandchildren.

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  • www.designforwriters.com

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