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mvon

Interested in writing, but clueless on how to get in

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Hello there! I just signed up to this site after a some lengthy discussions with a few people. I was told to look for a game developers forum, and it seems I have found one! I've browsed a few entries in here, and the people seem to be very helpful. A little about myself. I'm 29 years old, and I've been playing games since I was 6 years old. My first computer was a Commodore64, and the first game I made it to the "End" of was Q-Bert. I went to school for, and acquired an Associates in Criminal Justice, with the goal of getting into Law. Money ran out, however, and my credit dropped to next to nothing, so further schooling is difficult, if not highly improbable. I enjoyed school very much, and would love to go back but for my financial state. Flailing around from restaurant to restaurant to retail shop does not pay the bills. I do, however, love to write. After speaking with a few friends of mine on World of Warcraft (Some of which work for gaming companies, themselves), I've come to discover that writers are a valued commodity in the video-game industry. I have many years of experience running original D&D (Including modern, Future, Star Wars, Anime-Based, and any number of different genre's) campaigns that are highly in-depth, and loved by my friends for my attention to detail and creativity. I get very passionate and worked up over the little details of my campaigns, and sometimes lose myself in the history and setting of each campaign. I'm very much an "Idea Man", and would love to see these ideas go into games for people to enjoy. I've noticed a lack of decent writing for the past few years (It's starting to get better, fortunately), and know that I could produce quality content for any gaming company willing to employ me. My biggest question is this. Without a so called portfolio of collected work (A concept only recently introduced to me. I never thought to collect my ideas in some kind of binder or anything...), how might I go about doing this? Are there any gaming companies who might be willing to give me a "Test assignment", just to see what kind of stuff I can produce? I don't think I've ever seen an advertisement for "Video Game Content Writer" anywhere, though I've only recently started looking. My dream would be to work on game content with a team of people. Some animators to put art to my ideas, other writers to hash out details with, etc... But I'm certainly capable of writing on my own. Please feel free to contact me at my e-mail, but I'll check back here from time to time, or whenever my inbox informs me of a new post. :P

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Welcome to GameDev, mvon!

I agree with you about a general lack of writing quality, it's good to see people such as yourself taking an interest in improving it!

You should probably visit the 'Help Wanted' forum here at GameDev and advertise your skills, and also browse for people seeking writers.

The majority of these projects will offer no compensation, and I'm sure many will never even make it to a release, but it allows you to develop your skills, work as a team, make gaming contacts and most importantly will give you a basis for your portfolio.

Good luck!

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I know this isn't the place, but... I'm looking for a writer and into how to do all this stuff and we could always work together in this goal...so if you'd like give me a PM or email me, durakken@hotmail.com and we can talk.

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A game company wouldn't be willing to stand over you while you're writing a "test assignment" or anything like that. It takes too much time. It would be better for you to write up some of your stories and actually create this portfolio so you have something to show them when you can get a job interview. What you've done always speaks more than what you say you can do, at least it does to the people hiring you.

A great site (Tom Sloper's):

http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html
(I hope you won't mind others linking to it, Tom)

Article 32 is about writing for games.

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Thank you for the responses. ^_^ I've checked out the Help Wanted section and replied to a couple people already. I will start building a portfolio as soon as I can.

The article provided by Oluseyi is very informative, but I was wondering what people actually think about the idea of writing up characters (In my case I could make Histories and Bio's of various characters and NPC's from my D&D campains) and adding them into my portfolio? Would this be a benefit to help pad it? Could I then submit those to companies, as was suggested in the article?

Also, how should I actually make a portfolio? Should I just make a folder named "Portfolio", keep it on a Mass Storage Device, and just drop documents in it whenever I write something?

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Mv wrote:
>I've come to discover that writers are a valued commodity in the video-game industry.

Yes. Professional writers. Which you aren't.

>I'm very much an "Idea Man",

But writing for games isn't about ideas. It's about writing good dialogue, engaging characters, within the context of a specific game.

>Are there any gaming companies who might be willing to give me a "Test assignment", just to see what kind of stuff I can produce?

No. (Just reinforcing what another poster already said.)

>I don't think I've ever seen an advertisement for "Video Game Content Writer" anywhere

We don't advertise for writers. We hire professional writers on a freelance basis, or maybe (just maybe) someone on staff is a good enough writer. There are two ways to become a writer for games:
1. First, become a professional writer, with credits in print or movies or TV. Then network at game conventions and conferences and through the IGDA.
2. Get a job (any job) at a game company, and prove through your portfolio and occasional serendipitous opportunities to volunteer to write something for an ongoing project.

Neither of the above will necessarily make you a full-time writer for games. "Game writer" is not a full-time position in a game company, for the most part. Maybe some larger MMO companies might employ full-time writers.

>My dream would be to work on game content with a team of people. Some animators to put art to my ideas, other writers to hash out details with, etc...

That's the same dream that most people have. And it's very unlikely that any animators are going to animate based on a writer's "ideas." Game writing isn't about ideas. For the most part, game design isn't about ideas either. And it sounds like your aspiration has now switched from game writer to game designer. It's hard to give you answers when the question keeps shifting.

Vir wrote:
>http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html
>(I hope you won't mind others linking to it, Tom)
>Article 32 is about writing for games.

Of course I don't mind. In addition to article 32, the OP should also read articles 63 and 41.

As for the OP's new portfolio question, you have to have a portfolio in two forms: digital (online) and hard copy. You need to have a paper portfolio to take to interviews, and leave there forever. You also need to have an online portfolio. Your portfolio should only contain your most stellar stuff, and if you're focusing on game story writing, then your portfolio shouldn't contain anything other than game story writing.

It's going to be tough to get a job writing for games since you're not a credited professional writer already, and have no professional experience in the game industry. I recommend path #2 that I mentioned above. Which means you have to have a skill that'll get you into the game industry. Easiest way in is through QA, if you're not a programmer or artist with outstanding programming or art skills. Read my article 5 as well.

Good luck.

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Very well, then. Thank you for the input, Tom. You're not subtle, but I value all input on this subject. ^_^

It's clear that I don't have nearly the kind of experience I thought would be necessary to approach this subject, so I should call writing (Or Designing, perhaps) a long-term goal. I never once thought that it would be as simple as tossing ideas at people and getting money tossed back at me in return. Not once did I think "I can't program, I'm not a very good artist, writing sounds easy". I'll continue looking for people on this site who need help with writing, and giving them my time, regardless if it's for free or not, just to get some experience built up.

So perhaps someone can help me find one of those QA jobs, then. Should I look in the Help Wanted section for those, as well? I've tried searching for this on-line in the past, but all I've ever found are companies that expect me to pay them for the right to get started in this position, and that sounds like a scam to me. Perhaps someone can point me in a direction that will get me a job as a Tester, so that I can at least break into the industry and work my way up from there.

I am willing to work for this. I'm not just, as Tom says "A starry eyed kid". I've been out in the working world for a long time, and I know that even a job doing something you love isn't a free ride. You always have to work if you want to get anywhere. I just need some help getting that job that will allow me to grow within the industry. It's not an easy thing to break into.

Thank you all, again, for your input and patience with me. ^_^

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mvon, DO NOT EVER PAY FOR A QA JOB. NEVER. As you may have guessed, yes, they are scams. The easiest way to get a QA job is to just create a resume on Monster.com and list apply for a game testing position. Hopefully, there will be QA jobs in the area you live. I'm in Seattle and there's an abundance of QA jobs here. I should warn you though, QA jobs are low-pay and almost always temporary but they usually re-hire people after the end of a testing time period. Also, it really isn't as fun as it sounds. It is very repetitive and sometimes near the end of testing you do all nighters. Also, I'm not sure of getting into the game industry through QA testing. For writers and designers it's a better chance but programmers need programming skills. Fortunately, you're not looking to program.

Also, when it comes to writing for major developers most do not want creativity. Usually when time comes to creating new games the discussion in upper management thinks along the lines of, "What made lots of money before?" "What was successful and made lots of money before?" "How can we make lots of money again?". Now, this usually results in crappy sequels and the same old rehash with prettier graphics over and over again. Another sports game, another RPG sequel, another adventures sequel, another WWII game, etc.

So, if you want to still go for it I encourage you to. I think working for a game development team would be a fun and rewarding career as long as you're passionate about what you do.

BTW...what do you think of the new 4th edition D&D? I'm a DM myself and I'm not to fond of the new edition but I guess it's "what's hip" among D&D players now.

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Mv wrote:
>I should call writing (Or Designing, perhaps) a long-term goal.

Sure.

>I'll continue looking for people on this site who need help with writing, and giving them my time, regardless if it's for free or not, just to get some experience built up.

Sure.

>So perhaps someone can help me find one of those QA jobs, then. Should I look in the Help Wanted section for those, as well?

No, no, no! First you have to move to an area where there are numerous game companies. Then join the local IGDA chapter and network. Read FAQs 5, 24, 27, and 54 on my site. And use my Game Biz Links page to research which game hotbed you should move to. The first links are there to help you find companies, some of them searchable by area and some of them with maps. Get out of New Hampshire.

>Perhaps someone can point me in a direction that will get me a job as a Tester, so that I can at least break into the industry and work my way up from there.
>I just need some help getting that job that will allow me to grow within the industry.

No. You want help, but you don't need it. You have to do this yourself.

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