The Skills, Pathways, and Paychecks of Video Game Writers

Navigating the unique world of video game writers

Surya Kumar
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>The Skills, Pathways, and Paychecks of Video Game Writers</p></div>
The Skills, Pathways, and Paychecks of Video Game Writers

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AFK Gaming

A game writer's phone buzzes constantly. From a developer seeking clarity on a plot twist or a designer seeking input on a new level, to a voice actor calling to discuss character motivations, or a playtester offering feedback on the latest build - there’s a ceaseless tug-of-war between internal stakeholders for their (rightfully) valuable time. A typical day begins with a morning stand-up meeting with the entire team, where progress is shared, tasks are outlined, and obstacles are identified. The next few hours are dotted with emails from a creative director containing notes on yesterday’s script revisions, a producer dropping by to coordinate the next big narrative push and occasional inputs from team members and play testers whose feedback is crucial for maintaining narrative integrity while keeping players engaged.

It’s not an easy job. The constant juggling of solitary writing sessions and collaborative meetings with various internal stakeholders like concept artists, technical artists, cinematic directors, game designers, programmers and animators demands versatility and resilience. Writers must seamlessly switch between drafting new content and revising existing scripts, all while adhering to tight deadlines. The work is demanding, with long hours spent polishing and redefining scripts, adding side quests, and pacing the progression of events. Writers must be adept at self-critique, able to tell if something isn’t working and not afraid to “kill their darlings.” 

Yet, despite the challenges, it’s a deeply rewarding job. “There’s a unique thrill in seeing a character you’ve developed come to life, voiced by a talented actor, moving through a world you helped create,” said Harris Orkin, a veteran Game Writer and Narrative Designer. The satisfaction of knowing that their storytelling has captivated players, immersing them in a vibrant, living world, makes the hard work worthwhile. It’s a role that combines creativity with collaboration, requiring both artistic vision and technical skill. 

And it is through this rigorous daily grind that writers like Orkin craft narratives that captivate millions of players worldwide. Known for his work on blockbuster titles such as "Dead Island," "Mafia 3," "The Division," and "Resident Evil Village," he recently shared his insights and experiences with AFK Gaming, shedding light on the unique path that led him to this dynamic industry.



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