Polygon

The writer of System Shock and Dishonored reveals the writing lessons learned from video games

The writer of System Shock and Dishonored reveals the writing lessons learned from video games

Ever considered getting into games writing? Austin Grossman, writer on System ShockThiefDeus Ex, and Dishonored - you know, games which have been praised at least in part for their really freaking good writing? - shows just how different, and challenging, it can be.

While there are many lessons Grossman lists, my favorite has to be the "hovering thumb" comment. The idea that you can pour yourself into a piece of work and know that players often have to simply push a button to skip all of it twists my stomach, and suddenly I'm having a guilt complex over every time I pressed B to skip dialogue. Still, Grossman manages to turn the lesson into something positive, and it's good advice for any aspiring writers.

I first saw this story when Borderlands 2 and Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin' writer Anthony Burch tweeted it with the comment, "Other than the fact that each mention of 'cutscenes' isn't followed with 'are the worst thing,' this is worth a read." He, Aaron Linde of Airtight Games, and I had a brief Twitter conversation about cutscenes and their place in games storytelling, and it's fascinating that between all of us, we can have wildly different views on the subject. I think that, more than anything, speaks to the power of the medium.

Burch also has some interesting thoughts on the subject of games writing, though his involve more fake beards and morbid jokes.