The Writer Will Do Something

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LIFE GOAL ACHIEVED

The Writer Will Do Something is a Twine game by Matthew S. Burns and Tom Bissell, both who have been writers for or about video games. The game places you as the lead writer on Shattergate: a AAA game that is in crisis. As such, the department heads have been called together for an emergency meeting.

The game presents the role of the writer as a rather unforgiving task. The writer is presented as the scapegoat: the one who takes a lot of the fall, seems to have little say and is expected to fix or cover issues with game play. On top of this, the team disagrees with what is good (in terms of emotional vs. expositional writing) and tends to look down on the writing: each team member believing that their department is the most important.

rtgkjdvhmThe challenges presented in this game are pretty specific to writing on a AAA video game. The writer must write for an idea that is not their own premise but rather that of an existing franchise. Additionally, their writing must be realistic and believable despite the absurdity of the premise:

58465312Where The Writer Will Do Something really shines is in its portrayal of AAA game development and emergency meetings. The game is over-scoped, the team over-worked and the premise overwrought. It is a high stress environment dictated by executive decisions that constrict the creativity of the team. The fixation on Metacritic scores and an upcoming E3 appearance really push home how this game is more about sales and views than actual creative merit.

MetacriticScarily, bad work conditions and insane hours is something that is often discussed when looking at AAA development. While things have improved since 2004 when “EA Spouse” exposed some bad working conditions, the archaic idea that you should be grateful to have a game in the industry, despite the conditions, continues to persist (Legault, M. J. & Weststar, J; 2013). AAA games tend to be the most offends of this oppressive crunch, whether this be because of release dates, deadlines by publishers or the company’s attitude. Either way, the way that these large companies deal with the individuals who work for them can sometimes be manipulative.

Last_Exit_to_Springfield_60The entire game, and especially the ending of The Writer Will Do Something, captures the never-ending pressure associated with AAA game development. It nicely demonstrates the how individuals simultaneously have a lot of pressure and liability whilst also having very little creative freedom and ability to influence decisions.

Post-Script

Maxime Beaudoin has written an article called “Why I Quit my Dream Job at Ubisoft” that deals with his own experiences with working in a AAA studio and explores many of the same issues that are addressed in The Writer Will Do Something.

REFERENCES

Beaudoi, M. (2016).  Why I Quit my Dream Job at Ubisoft. Retrieved from
http://gingearstudio.com/why-i-quit-my-dream-job-at-ubisoft

Bissell, T. & Burns, M. S. (2015). The Writer Will Do Something [Video Game]. Retrieved from
https://mrwasteland.itch.io/twwds

Legault, M. J. & Weststar, J. (2013). Are Game Developers Standing Up for Their Rights? Retrieved from
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/184504/are_game_developers_standing_up_.php

Legault, M. J. & Weststar, J. (2015). Working time among video game developers: Trends over 2004-14. Retrieved from
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/257143/Working_time_among_video_game_developers_Trends_over_200414.php


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