If you have a knack for writing on top of having a genuine love for all things video games, I’m sure you’d love these two super-niche video game writing jobs.
2018 was a record-breaking year for the gaming industry with a whopping $43.4 billion in total video game sales.
The video games market is expected to be worth over 90 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.
And if you’re one of the 164 million+ adults playing video games in the United States, you’re already somewhat qualified.
Two Types of Video Game Writing Jobs
Many writers would agree that as much as there are different kinds of writing jobs out there both online and IRL, there are also different writing specializations to fit anyone’s skill.
If you dig into the writing careers available in the video game industry, you’d see that the opportunities are mostly divided into two:
- Script writing is involved in the video game development itself. These writers are awesome storytellers and would excel in adding words, stories, expressions to 3D graphics of the game.
- The other kind of career is at the other fence: the gamer. As a gamer who is also good at writing to inform, entertain, teach, or guide other gamers of the newest games worthy of playing, this career path can be either office-based or work-from-home. (We’ll talk more about this later.)
Both types of writing would require you to play as many video games as you can.
You need to be passionate about the industry to perform the job well.
Script Writing: Making Graphics Richer with Stories
John Dennis, who has worked in the game industry over 20 years on massive hits like Worms and Call of Duty, spilled the beans that you have two ways to get involved in video game development as a script writer:
1. It was your idea – You came up with the story, plots, and everything in between.
This route is rare, but does happen once in a blue moon if you’re equipped with the best idea for a video game.
If you’re going with this route, know that undergoing this process isn’t for the faint of heart and would push you to your limits.
But being able to work through a game from start to finish is an experience worth having if you’re serious about making a dent in the gaming industry.
2. You are part of a team – If you’re hired to write speeches and sequences, a game director would probably be leading you how to complete the project and guide you every step of the way.
Unless you land a job with a company that creates video games exclusively, you’re most likely going to work on a particular game on a per-project basis.
What tools do you need for video game script writing?
Story-based games can be exceptionally complicated with infinite possibilities of script, depending on what the gamer chooses in the game.
- Understanding how strings work. Script writing a video game isn’t like any kind of writing. You’d have to collaborate with multiple talented people when writing a “text snippet,” or what game programmers know as “string.” This string is saved in a text database, which everyone from designer, coder, writer, and even video game testers will use to perfect the game.
- Knowing the ins and outs of game play. As a gamer, you know the strengths and weaknesses of your player. You know that the options given to your player, usually as “goals” or “missions”, are what leads you to the plot of a story. This type of skill cannot be learned by the book – you’d need background experience from years-worth of gaming to be able to get the point of a story across with the player and game mechanics in mind.
- Practice with tools. Sites like Twine or Inform are great resources for you to use when practicing how to write creative non-linear fiction. There’s also an app called Episode that brings your story to life with ready-made graphics.
- Learn the types of video game content you’ll write. You’re going to be training yourself with new ways of writing. For example:
- Flowcharts – These make it easy for you to visualize every possible option allowed to the player.
- Side quests/missions – This is beyond the main story, and may be a totally different story altogether.
- Character dialogues – You’ll work on the player dialogues (which would have multiple variations at a time) and dialogues of characters the player will interact with in the game.
- Narrations and cut scenes – These sequences are often inserted before, and after a level, or a mission.
- Final storyboard: If you have background with scriptwriting in films and TV shows, this is probably the most familiar task you’ll work on. This is only written once all other content has been created, since it will include every plot twist and gameplay from beginning to end.
How Much Can You Earn as a Video Game Scriptwriter?
If employed with just one company, the average video game writer salary is $75,000 to 80,000 per year.
Of course, studios with higher budgets tend to pay higher than average.
Writing Previews, Reviews & News about Video Games
The other type of video game writing jobs is available from outside the game production companies.
Most of the time, these writers are gamers themselves, which make them quite the pro when it comes to writing about video games.
Here are writing gigs that you might be interested in:
Write news and previews about upcoming video games
Use your writing skill to spread news about soon-to-be-released video games.
No opinions needed here yet, so just pull out your 4Ws and 1H (who, what, where, why and how), reporting news as they come as is.
Write reviews of recently-released video games
Reviews are more personal.
You’d have to play the video game, experience the story first-hand before you can pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of a particular game.
There’s a special kind of writing skill to become a critic. Google the late, great John Peter Bain or more known as ‘TotalBiscuit’ to know if you got what it takes to become a video game reviewer.
Write tutorials about a particular video game
Game tutorials are challenging to write because you’d have to be a phenomenal gamer, or involved in the production of that game to be able to release a tutorial quickly after the release of a game.
If you’re not in a rush and prefer to write “the go-to tutorial of all tutorials,” then it’s totally up to you.
Get hired or Be Freelance
The cool thing about writing previews, news, reviews and tutorials of a game is that you can be your own boss by starting a blog and generating income from it, starting your own YouTube channel, writing an e-book, and following other passive income generating techniques….
Or you can find an online magazine like Gamespot and apply to become a video game writer.
You’d be surprised just how many websites are trying to get a piece of the gaming industry reporting pie.
If you land a job with any of these gaming media, expect an average salary of $70,000 per year.
Expanding Your Skill Beyond Video Game Writing Jobs
The video game designer job market is expected to grow by 9.3% between 2016 and 2026. Just imagine how many games are scheduled to be developed, released and played from now until 2026.
The amazing thing about writing for the video game industry is that they are open to people wearing multiple hats, especially those wanting to make money playing video games.
A game designer can be the scriptwriter, the script writer can be a game programmer, and so on. If you’re already a part of the industry, why not learn other skills as well?
Not only will expanding your skill set help you become an inch closer to a video game director job (if you wanted to), you’re also increasing your value to an employer.
Combine your passion for writing with a live stream, and you’ve got an excellent way to make money on Twitch as well.