Posts Tagged ‘videogames’

Book and Video Game Writing Differences

So I am sitting there last night with my newborn in one arm and a ps3 controller in my other hand playing ‘Last of Us’. It got me to thinking about videogame writing vs. book writing. Well, I thought about it when I wasn’t trying to hold in my jumps (so that I wouldn’t scare my kid) and hating those darn Clickers (for those of you who are not initiated, a Clicker is a plant-zombie that is a serious pain in the neck).
What are the differences between each? What makes for a good game story vs. a good read? Thinking about all of the really great story driven games that I’ve played: Uncharted Series, Final Fantasy (I, IV, VI, VII, X), Bioshock, Mass Effect, etc…, I thought about what made them great and came up with the following:

1. Graphics
2. Well Developed Characters
3. Meaningful Character Dialogue
4. Lush Beautiful Environments
5. Gameplay
6. Exciting Plot and Strong Plot Twists

Of course there are other things, and obviously some of the things in the above list do not refer to writing, but a lot of the list does. As I listened to Joel and Ellie banter last night I thought about how well Naughty Dog does at fleshing out their characters. Their offhand comments did more for their characters than a lot of games can manage with an entire script. It was the same with Uncharted when Drake and Elena would talk back and forth as they journeyed. I wonder how much stronger a good Final Fantasy game could be if they would incorporate that (of course I know it would be harder due to the bigger parties, but still…SE should be able to pull it off).
So now I look at the books I’ve enjoyed the most: Fablehaven, Harry Potter, The Belgariad, The Ender Series, Narnia, Sword of Truth (at least the early ones), etc…, and I asked myself the same question. What made them memorable to me? Why do I still like going back and reading them over and over?

1. Fascinating Characters
2. Interesting Locations
3. Exciting Plots
4. Awesome Action Sequences

As with games, there is more to books for me than those four things, but they seemed to jump to the top of my list as I thought about it. To me, strong book writing allows me to picture what is happening in my head, while at the same not flooding me with imagery. I know that some readers enjoy having every aspect spelled out to them, but I like to be able to fill in the gaps. Too much imagery slows things down too much (and if you’ve read my previous posts, you have an idea how patient I am… much to my publisher’s dismay). The authors of the aforementioned books hit the right combination of imagery and action (for the most part) to keep me on the edge of my seat through the entire read.

I am interested in hearing about your thoughts. What makes for a good read and a good game? What expectations do you have? What aspects are you prepared to overlook? What will stop you from completing a game or a book altogether? What traits have kept you riveted right to the end and hungry for more?