“I want to write for games.”

Are you sure? It’s not a well-paid job. It’s not prestigious, except at the very top end. It’s rarely 100% writing or even narrative design – you’ll have to double up on QA and other duties. It will likely involve hard work, ramen and compromise. You are sure? Here’s the best advice we can give.

tl:dr; Build something. Show it to people. Don’t mail a dev and ask how you can get a job with them – at best they’ll point you to a resource like this one. Don’t leave something half-finished on your hard drive because it’s not ready to show the world. If you land a writing gig, week 1 will require you to get thousands of words on-screen, ready to be shown to thousands of people who don’t care if you live or die.

(1) If you want to write for Failbetter…

Build pieces in a text-centric interactive writing tool. We suggest Twine, ChoiceScript, inklewriter, Inform 7, or our own StoryNexus. If you don’t enjoy it or can’t finish it, that’s good evidence that you wouldn’t enjoy working for us. If you do enjoy it, you’ll end up with a portfolio piece you can use when we’re hiring writers – freelance or permanent.

You should review our three-part guide to writing for Fallen London and the list of our blog posts on writing for interactive fiction. Alexis, our former CEO, also presented at GDC in 2016, and you can watch his talk about Choice, Consequence and Complicity in the GDC Vault.

(2) If you want to write for another indie dev…

Other game devs emphasise different things. Some make use of narrative designers who aren’t primarily writers, and don’t mind so much about the detail of the prose. Some use voice actors. Many use linear stories, not the kind of choice-based responsive stuff we do. A portfolio piece in one of the tools above is probably still a good start. Here are some game writing tips from a successful freelancer.

Or you could just make your own game. A lot of indie devs are hybrid writer-designers – many games don’t need much copy or that much story. Here’s a guide to indie game making from someone else successful, also called Tom.

(3) If you want to write for a big glossy AAA dev…

Hell if I know. I never have. Some people make it in through QA. Some people make it in via other indies. I think some folk even make it in with a creative writing qualification. Here’s some advice from David Gaider, in three parts:

Part One: What is a games writer?
Part Two: On developing the skill of writing
Part Three: On putting together a good submission

Here are additional, more recent opinions and advice, also from David Gaider.

Lastly, here’s lots of  really specific, practical advice from Liz England. It’s aimed at designers, but that includes narrative design.

Best of luck!