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Posted at 9:21 AM ET, 11/30/2010

Story pick: Writers got game(s)

By Steve Hendrix

Sure, video games have plots. The build-up is point. And the climax is shoot. Repeat.

But for an increasing number of journalists and other writers looking for a handhold in the new media landscape, the tales behind all that shoot-em-up go much deeper. In this recent look in the New York Observer at the writing involved in the booming game industry, Dan Duray suggests that this most visual of media could be a haven for ink-stained refugees from newspapers, magazines and books.

Rhianna Pratchett, daughter of the author Terry, left journalism to enter the games industry in the early 2000s.

"What I found on the other side was that I'd never really understood how hard it was to get any kind of coherent story into a game, let alone a good one," she said.

"I always say that the games industry makes Hollywood look like avant-garde poetry publishers," said the journalist and fiction writer Tom Bissell.

If they can break in, that is. It turns out that getting a game-writing gig can be like Mario trying to climb up all those crates:


As someone who's been on the outside of the game industry trying to get in, I can tell you it's bloody difficult," Alex Garland recently told the U.K.-based Edge magazine. He's the author of "The Beach," among other novels and movies, and the recent game, "Enslaved: Odyssey to the West," which took its inspiration from the ancient Chinese novel, "Journey to the West."

"In the lit biz, I'm, to quote Ron Burgundy, I'm kind of a big deal," said Mr. Bissell, who's also had a hard time entering the field. "But in video games, no one cares." Though that's changing in Mr. Bissell's case. He was just named to Game Developer magazine's power list and just this past Monday spoke about video game design at Drew University in New Jersey.

By Steve Hendrix  | November 30, 2010; 9:21 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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