Do you ever wonder why computer games have such sucky and so-so storylines? As an avid computer gamer, I always did. And I think I stumbled on the answer.
On a whim, I grabbed my PC Gamer copy of the November 2012 issue (OK, not so much on a whim; I was bored out of my skull… once more without electric power and cooped up inside the house by an intense tropical downpour that lasted nearly ten hours) and went through it, reading the damn magazine for the umpteenth time.
This is a very interesting issue: it has an insert concerning the various Game Schools all over the US. Do you think I’m kidding you? I’m not. There are now College-level courses (with educational credits and all!) on how to design computer games, including art design and animation. But my mind was very away from the constant hype printed all over those pages; it was more focused on several footnotes spread along the entire insert, where all the professions had been dissected (what they actually do while designing a computer game, and more important how much money did they earn for doing it) down to the last detail.
I have re-read this insert several times during the past year and a half… mainly daydreaming of attending classes in one of these Game Schools. A moot point for their tuition fees are stratospheric (It’s over $40,000!… if you can tolerate a little Dragonball Z joke here) and they’re oriented toward young programmers barely getting out of their teens. No place for a poor old slob like me there.
But one itzy-bitzy little thing had been annoying me all the time; and I think I know why. The listings spread all over the bottom of that insert covered a wide range of professions: Project Director, Art Director, Programmers, Graphic Artists, and Designers.
But where the F%$# were the writers??!?! These games don’t grow storylines out of thin air, do they? But nope, no writing department seems to exist in computer game development. Sure, there must be some poor slob, chained to a desk in sub-basement D (next to the sewer lines) writing up all that dialogue for many of the games out there… but real dedicated writers, with full knowledge of plot twists, shocking endings and McGuffins and how to avoid Deux Ex Machinas in a tale? (And with paying jons, of course!!!) Nope.
Most of the main plot writing in almost every project comes from the Game Producer itself. This is the guy responsible in the game developer company for carrying Project X to fruition, making sure lack of budget or resources don’t derail the project on its smooth travel from point A to B (and C and D, and so on and so on). And while most of these guys are quite competent whipping up a decent plot line (and excel in managing company resources), they aren’t real writers. That’s the sole reason why recent games like Diablo III or Bioshock Infinite have such disappointing stories (and in the case of B.I., some glaring holes in the main story line. Boy! Did I get a disappointment of that one!).
Here’s the deal, gaming companies out there: drop me a line and we’ll discuss arrangements to write you up some decent stories, easily adaptable to turn into computer games. It won’t cost you much… how about $200 bucks a month for a trial, starter package? (I’d be $50 cheaper than the guy locked in subbasement D! Hooray! for your bean counters!) And maybe I should stipulate in the contract that every employer in your company should buy and read my books? Now there’s some food for thought…
Rant’s Over… (Or should I say “Game Over”?) 😛