How do one get started in "creative" gaming jobs?

I don’t want to hijack this interesting thread on getting into the gaming industry as a programmer, but I’d like to ask a related question. How does one get into the industry as a writer? I’m currently a technical writer with a stimulating job (believe it or not), but I’m curious about the creative writing aspect of the gaming industry. How does one get hired as a scenario/script writer? Is anyone actually hiring this kind of professional at the moment? What kind of portfolio should one build? I’m also curious about how other “creative” types, such as graphic artists, get their start. (No disrespect to developers intended, I’m just trying to separate nuts-and-bolts game development from composed game content.)

I don’t have very much information about this, other than I know someone who was trying to get a similar job, and I know they wrote short stories. (Not sure if they were related or not).

You could check out the help-wanted sections of gaming outfits like BioWare (my brother knows a few people who work there). Right now they have a position for ‘senior writer’ with lots of info that sounds similar to what you’re looking for.

Thanks, Nanoda. The requirements they give are very thorough…This is a good place to start.

I’ve got two Internet friends who have this sort of position (one of them is at Bioware, I think). The Bioware one is a published fantasy author; the other guy is a published D&D author and administrator of a gaming messageboard. It helps, I think, to be proven in related fields.


Writer is one of the hardest jobs in the games industry to get. Most games are still written by one of the designers on the development team. Sometimes pros are hired from outside the outside the team, but it’s usually a name guy that brings some ‘perceived’ PR value.

I know a few guys making a living as game writers, but they’re all former designers who built contacts within the industry before become full time writers.

The role of writers in game development is in flux right now. Until recently most companies didn’t hire professional writers and even now the quality of most game writing is pretty abysmal. Hopefully over the next few years we’ll see this change.

This does mean that it’s not very easy to get a job as a writer in the game industry right now. A lot of companies still don’t think that good writing is worth paying for, so your potential client pool is on the small side.

The writers who are working in the industry are often freelancers. Most game companies don’t have enough of a demand to keep a writer on payroll full time. In order to get hired as a freelancer you should develop a porfolio of **creative ** works – I’m afraid that technical writing won’t sell your skills very well. Television or movie scripts are great, as is comic book writing, as those skills tend to translate well into videogames. Short stories, novels and poetry don’t translate as well and are much less very valuable as portfolio pieces.

The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has a special interest group (SIG) for writers who are interested in working in the game industry. You might consider subscribing to their mailing list and asking your questions there.

Also, the Writer’s Guild of America has a New Media Caucus that’s focused on bringing videogame writers into the Writer’s Guild. They maintain a directory of writers who are interested in game industry work.

Oh, and you asked about graphic artists as well.

It’s much easier to get a job as an artist. A big team these days can have a hundred artists on staff. They might not even have one full-time writer.

Artists get hired on the strength of their portfolios. A lot of times they’re hired straight out of school based on their student work. Or they come from a previous career in animation or film or commercial art.

The industry is reaching the point now where artists are specializing. So someone might be hired just as a modeller, for example. Or just as user-interface designer. Or just as a concept artist.

Thanks so much for the input. I’ll be looking into the IGDA SIG shortly.