My Life,  The Lazy Designer,  Writing Resources

Sorry I can’t read your story


The other day I received my first message from a stranger asking me to read their game script.

I was flattered. But also alarmed. I really can’t read other people’s work or help them get it published. I have neither the time nor do I want to get involved in any kind of legal dispute later (i.e., if someone feels I stole their idea).

I did not want to be abrupt or discouraging and so I sent them a fairly detailed reply. I’ve decided to post a cleaned up version of the reply in case I ever need to direct people to it again. The following is intended for people who might have an unpublished novel, short story, or script that they feel would make a great video game.

What Gamemaker makes the Game?

Even when working at BioWare I never would have been able to get my own script made into a game. Games are designed by dozens, if not hundreds of people, and most studios have writers already on staff who would be frustrated to have to write somebody else’s game. Freelance writers are hired by some companies to write game scripts but usually only after having proven themselves, either in the game industry or in movies or television, but these writers are still generally fleshing out someone else’s vision. Not their own.

If you truly feel you have the next great game your best option would be to found your own gaming company (or join a relatively new company).

Here’s a list of other suggestions that might help you realize your vision:

  1. Form a squad Join a gaming community, either one near you or one online. Meet with like minded people. You might find people who are willing to volunteer their time to help you build your game, especially if you have skills that you can offer to help with that and with the projects they are working on.
  2. Publish it Try publishing your game script as a novella (look at and other sites for places to sell stories).
  3. Start ‘er up Look for a new gaming developer that is actively hiring, especially if you have other skills that might get your foot in the door. Once you’ve worked for them a bit start talking about your script… if they are a really new company and floundering to create that first great project your script might be what they need. Probably best not to mention your script in the interview unless you have managed to have it published elsewhere first.
  4. How about a movie? There are creative folk out there who make movies using game animation tools. You won’t make any money from this but it might be satisfying to collaborate with someone and see your script turned into real animation. Here’s an article about it machinima and with some Internet sleuthing you should be able to track down the sites hosting these videos.

I realize this is probably discouraging. I was discouraged starting out when I realized how difficult it was but I quickly realized that the exciting and collaborative environment of video game development was rewarding in and of itself.

Good luck.

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.

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