It can be hard on any of us when a team member is dismissive of our work. Not only does it hurt our feelings (no matter how much we pretend otherwise) it undermines the value of the writing tasks we undertake.
Over the years I’ve worked in the games industry, things have improved greatly for game writers, though there are still developers or individuals who don’t see the full worth of a writer. And although there are still people who need to be informed of this, we mustn’t rail at them or berate them in any way. We should be smarter in our approach.
You must ensure, therefore, that you are an important service provider and you deliver what the client wants. This doesn’t just mean that you write the dialogue to the best of your ability, but also that you help create a game of richness and depth through the way that you approach the story.
An important contributor is more than simply delivering the work, it’s also about working well with other team members and ensuring the project is put above any individual issues. It’s about valuing others’ contributions in the same way you’d want them to appreciate yours.
Most of all, be positive about the project and the team behind it.
Many people become extremely nervous at the thought of any kind of networking, seeing it as blowing one’s own trumpet when they may have a natural tendency toward modesty. Yet this is a kind of interactivity we must get involved in to some degree if we are to succeed in our field.
For those writers who work completely freelance – rather than an in-house position – any opportunity for networking and interacting with others in the games industry should be seen as important to their ongoing career.
Games conferences and industry events are not only places to keep up with current gaming trends, they are attended by other industry professionals, too. For those who are genuinely worried about such things, it can be helpful to attend smaller events to begin with in order not to be overwhelmed.
However, a writer should always ensure they don’t try to impress others too intensely. Giving the hard sell to show off yourself and your abilities can come across as desperate if handled in a nervous way, which is never a good way to put over your professionalism. Sometimes it’s about being patient and waiting for the right opportunity to discuss these things.
Networking isn’t always about mixing with people from other disciplines of the games industry. There can be opportunities to network with other game writers, which can be tremendously valuable. All the writers I’ve had the pleasure to meet have been friendly and approachable and game writers of any level should never be afraid to ask questions of others. Even the smallest piece of advice can be gold if it helps improve your game writing.
Very few games are developed by a single person these days. Even fewer by writers alone. This means the game writer will most likely be part of a team that encompasses a broad skillset with each member of that team working towards delivering the best game they can. Respecting the team as a whole and the individuals who make up the team is important if everyone is to work together efficiently and smoothly. It’s also vital if you want the other team members to respect you in return and the work that you bring to the project.
Some of a writer’s biggest strengths and skills are in their mind, so it can be difficult to show these in action. The team may not always understand what you have done, particularly as you are likely to deliver your work in a piecemeal fashion. Explaining your thought processes and what you have in mind for the story and characters helps keep everyone working towards the same vision.
There may be times when creative differences can cause a potential impasse and this is where respect helps everyone move forward. It helps you see the other team members’ points of view and work towards a mutually satisfying solution.
As a word, “compromise” has many negative connotations, but a properly creative compromise should be approached with thoughts on how it benefits the project. Instead of a compromise being viewed as a middle ground that everyone should just deal with, it should be approached more creatively. How can you all work together, define that middle ground and make the best of these parameters?