Does Good Writing Matter?

How important is good writing in video games, and why do you think that?

Does well-written code and “fun” gameplay matter more to you than the writing?

Do we have to choose between fun gameplay and good writing, or can we have both?

By writing, I mean the words used in cutscenes, storytelling, dialogue and more. By good, I mean something that stands out, that took some effort and makes the game enjoyable.

3 Comments

Filed under Video Games: Reader Q&A

3 responses to “Does Good Writing Matter?

  1. Interesting thought, I don’t think either are mutually exclusive and when working well in tandem can produce some excellent results. Digging a little deeper could draw parallels to the movie and film industry. Sometimes you just need some senseless violence and Marvel Studio films to scratch a certain dumb and fun itch whilst other times you need a good Mamet thriller. Potatoes/Tomatoes. Well written games are great but are they fun? A well written comedic game maybe but how prevalent are they?

    Liked by 2 people

    • “…I don’t think either are mutually exclusive and when working well in tandem can produce some excellent results.”

      I agree. I wonder, though, if developers and the video game “industry” think the same way. I hope they don’t forget that dumb-fun games are great, but so are games that manage to have both fun and well-written elements. And I’d like to go further and issue a challenge: I encourage more people to make games that have both.

      Like

  2. I would say good writing matters if that’s the kind of game you’re trying to make. That said, a well-written game is going to look a lot different from a well-written film (or book or show). A lot of developers, most obviously Naughty Dog, tried to get away with inserting non-interactive storytelling techniques into an interactive medium, and the results were pretty clumsy more often than not. It’s important to know that some techniques we’ve been using for centuries simply do not work in this medium. The opposite holds true too; things that would be signs of bad writing in most mediums (such as having a detailed plan that proceeds to go off without a hitch) are suddenly perfectly viable in this medium. It doesn’t mean the medium is bad for telling stories; it just means you need to employ different techniques when approaching it. As such, when I think of the best story-heavy games, I tend to cite things like Undertale, OneShot, and Planescape: Torment over anything Naughty Dog has produced.

    Liked by 2 people

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