If you play fantasy games and read fantasy fiction, you are probably aware that the quality of the writing in the latter tends to significantly exceed that of the former. Now, I’d long assumed that the problem of bad scripts in games was the result of poor decision-making by the responsible producers. This was probably the result of the time I was asked about my interest in writing the Starcraft novels. And I was very interested, right up to the moment when the Blizzard guy waxed exceedingly lyrical about how astonishingly cool it would be to build towards a climax where the Queen of Blades exited the scene with a cruel and evil chortle. I nodded, smiled, and told my publisher that he’d have to find someone else to write the books for them.
I’m no literary giant, but I’d at least like to know that any monstrous cliches surfacing in my work are unwitting ones. And life is too precious to spend months wading through the muck of someone else’s rotten chestnuts.
However, it turns out that the pedestrian tastes of executive producers probably aren’t the main problem. The truth, I have come to understand over time, that most game industry people assume that writers are significantly more expensive than they are. Even at excellent development studios with first-rate designers, artists, and audio guys, responsibility for the scripts and dialogue are likely to be handed over to a wannabe writer who has never published in his life… and sometimes just to anyone who happens to be free for the afternoon.
There are a variety of different paths into the game industry, probably more than there are ways of breaking into print. So, if you’re creative and happen to harbor literary ambitions, it might be worthwhile to consider putting together a portfolio that shows off your talents and submitting it to game developers in addition to sending off submissions to the usual publishing houses, literary agents, and magazines. The medium may be different, but the need for original, high-caliber fantasy writing is arguably greater, the ghastly Vampire Humper craze infesting fantasy literature today notwithstanding.