Book Review: Game Writing Handbook

Author: Rafael Chandler

The video game industry is booming. There are several game genres – first-person shooter, the racing game, real-time strategy, sports, flight simulation etc.  I am not a game enthusiast,  but I picked up this book on Game Writing from the library to get to know more about the process of developing games.
It turned out a real eye-opener for me. I realized that Game Writing which is  just one aspect of Game Development, has myriad complexities involved in it.
A game is not written in a linear narrative manner  like a novel or a movie script. A game writer delivers the context for an interactive entertainment experience and creates a series of documents that detail the nonlinear interactions of players with widely different playing strategies. The game writer has to create a story content that accommodates all the scenarios arising out of these strategies. Moreover the game script needs to be adapted and integrated into a complex software program through  collaboration between many game developers.

This book imparts the know-how of game writing for today’s competitive video game market. It provides hands-on techniques for designing storyline, creating characters, writing dialogue, and testing story content.  The author has clearly explained these techniques using examples from several fictional projects. He has also included his interviews with veteran game developers who share their from-the-trenches experiences, insights and advice for the aspiring game writers.

A well-written book which has resulted in my developing a better appreciation for the Game Design and Writing !

Chapter-wise Summary of the Contents

Chapter 1: Writing A Game - An overview of – the game industry, context of a game, screenwriting transition, documentation, stages of game writing.
Chapter 2: Creating the Concept – Ideas that guide the writer during the concept creation phase, including licensing, marketing, competitive analysis, publisher requirements, and gameplay.
Chapter 3: Documenting the Story – Fundamental elements of a game story; methods of story delivery used by developers and their implications on the development process; characteristics of technical writing as applicable to story design documentation.
Chapter 4: Developing the Context – Story design process, planning methods, and developer collaboration.
Chapter 5: Creating the Characters – Process of character creation; different methods used to imbue the main characters with depth and complexity in their personalities.
Chapter 6: Structuring the Narrative - Logocentric and mythocentric narrative structures and their ramifications for the working game writer.
Chapter 7: Organizing Dialogue – Way the development team interacts with the writer and active format of dialogue documentation.
Chapter 8: Creating Cinematics - Methods to achieve high quality cinematic sequences; differences between prerendered cinematics and scripted cinematics; how writers can maximize the story potential of each type of cinematics.
Chapter 9: Directing Voice Actors - Ways the writer can participate in the planning stage, manage the audition process, and contribute to the direction of voice actors.
Chapter 10: Knowing Technical Parameters - Various technical parameters that the writer must be aware of when documenting a game’s story content; level design; audio programming; NPC dialogue.
Chapter 11: Integrating Dialogue - Process of dialogue integration, including the scripting team, their schedule and tools, the necessary documentation, and the triggers that are used to structure the integration of voice cues; game localization and the preparation needed for the same.
Chapter 12: Testing Story Contents – Testing process, testing materials, story documentation, defect reporting, evaluation, revision, and the walk-through.
Chapter 13: Understanding Postproduction – Documenting the lessons learned during the production cycle and listing all story related information for the benefit of the next game’s writer.
Chapter 14: Working in the Industry - Ways to get a foothold in the game industry; list of games that have been recognized for excellence in writing.


Book Details: Published:2007; Publisher: Charles River Media ;Paperback: 316 pages.

[Please feel free to leave your comments below or bookmark/share this post]

This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.