Just out (in June) is an edited book that looks like an excellent resource: Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames. Contributors include Ernest Adams; Chris Bateman; Richard Boon; Richard Dansky; Mary DeMarle; Matt Entin; Stephen Jacobs; Ed Kuehnel; Tim Langdell; Rhianna Pratchett; Coray Seifert; James Swallow and Andrew S. Walsh. It is described as follows:
As computer games become more and more like Hollywood productions, the need for good story lines increases. Research shows that stories are highly valued by game players, so today’s studios and developers need good writers. Creating narrative — a traditionally static form — for games is a major challenge. Games are at their heart dynamic, interactive systems, so they don’t follow the guidelines and rules of film or T.V. writing. Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames addresses these issues and is the first book written to demystify this emerging field. Through the insights and experiences of practicing game writers, the book captures a snapshot of the narrative skills employed in today’s game industry. This unique collection of practical articles provides the foundations to the craft of game writing. The articles, written by members of the International Game Developer’s (IGDA) Game Writers’ SIG, detail aspects of the process from the basics of narrative and non-linear narrative to writing comedy for games and creating compelling characters. Throughout the articles there is a strong emphasis on the skills developers and publishers will expect a game writer to have. The book is suitable for both beginners and experienced writers, and is a detailed guide to all the techniques of game writing. This book is an essential read for anyone wishing to get into this exciting field, particularly for new game writers wanting to hone their skills, and film and T.V. scriptwriters who want to learn how to transfer their skills to the games industry.
The chapter outline indicates that once you get past the first three chapters on what narrative is etc there is some interesting guidance. The first chapter is available for free in [pdf form] and html at Gamasutra. Also at Gamasutra is a review in which Richard Dansky and Brad Kane give the book 4.5 out of 5 stars. You can buy it from Charles River Media.
Now, we just need a book on Cross-Media/Transmedia/Convergent Entertainment writing…Drew’s book which should be out next year is the first step. 🙂