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Worldbuilding in Videogames

Worldbuilding in Videogames

How does world-building for a video game team differ from doing it for a novel?

As a science-fiction novelist, I have spent many solitary hours creating and populating worlds—much of which is never seen. The world backstory that props up the vignette I present to readers is vast. Yes, it's a trope, but it really is like the iceberg model: What is seen is so much less than what is developed. Authors are responsible for their own biographies and back blurbs and media, so I've done that, too.

But world-building a video game is absolutely different.

Writing for a video game, so far, has been a cooperative effort. First, I'm writing a lot of dialogue and blurbs. I'm not experienced writing screenplays or scripts or spoken advertising copy, so that's been a challenge. I still am unsure if I'm doing it right. I have a game developer who has a vision, much like the director of a movie. I have an art director who I have to give cues to about backstory, much like the art director of a movie. I have voice actors who have to be able to speak the lines I write, much like actors in a movie.

It's an interactive effort, a community effort, a brave new world of creativity.

When the team gets together to brainstorm, I get inspired. It's not just me, and I appreciate that. I'm not in an echo chamber inside my own head but have immediate feedback. That game developer listens and lets me know if it's do-able. The art director creates art which inspires me to populate it with stories. The voice actors create audio in my head, let me imagine the characters, their attitudes, their histories.

On this new and creative frontier, I'm finding my way.


See you next time!