My Game Writing Lab at the London Screenwriters’ Festival

After an overview piece in my last post I thought I’d write something more about the game writing lab I conducted.  This was a workshop aimed at LSWF delegates who had an interest in discovering more about the details of game writing.

After being invited to speak on the game writing panel at last year’s event I contacted the organisers earlier this year about the possibility of doing a more structured talk.  Instead, they suggested that I do the game writing lab.  I may have neglected to tell them that I’d never run a workshop before, but as they didn’t ask I thought it was a great opportunity.

We asked the potential attendees to submit a one-page game story idea as a means of whittling down the numbers to six.  As it happened, we received seven quality pitches and it seemed a little petty to exclude any of them, so we all crammed into a small room on the Saturday of the festival weekend.

We started out by discussing each of the submissions in turn.  Every one of them had potential as game ideas, but at the same time they would need a lot of development work with a good design team or studio before that potential could be realised.  However, the pitches showed the first seeds of an important aspect of being a game writer – understanding how the story needs to relate to the gameplay and the development process.  They weren’t simply creating a story idea but one that connected to some gameplay ideas.

Such was the nature of the submissions and the interesting contributions of the participants that this discussion took a lot longer than I’d anticipated and half the allotted three hours had gone before we knew it.  But having something concrete to discuss was incredibly valuable to all concerned.  Not only did they get feedback on their own ideas but thinking about other people’s concepts is always beneficial for giving us a wider perspective.

After a five minute break I moved onto more specific aspects of game writing, connecting them back to their game ideas where appropriate.  Discussing Interactivity, Gameplay, Game Design, Story Nodes, Multiple Storylines and Dialogue, gave us plenty to throw back and forth and time whizzed by rapidly again.  I found myself running out of time and shifted into a summary of the process and the writer’s role.

The feedback I received from the participants was very positive with each of them saying that they found it very valuable, with one person even calling it “inspiring” *blush*.  But it would not have been the quality it was without the input of everyone taking part, so I’d like to thank David Bishop, Kulvinder Gill, Eoin Rogers, Geoff Searle, Lucy Moore, Asher Pirie and Rhys Howell for their valuable contributions and great ideas.  Good luck for the future.

I’d also like to thank Lucy Hay, Chris Jones and Judy Goldberg, a few of the organisers I had dealings with.  And Scott, one of the volunteers who helped out.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole session and would love to do this more often.  If any of you know of writing or game courses that would be interested in this kind of workshop, please pass on my details.

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3 thoughts on “My Game Writing Lab at the London Screenwriters’ Festival

  1. Thanks, James. Although I was a little nervous about doing the workshop, it didn’t take long to get into the swing of things.

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