Blogs on Narrative Design and Game Writing

I’ve covered many books on game writing here over the years, and I’ve collected and linked a lot of online resources on narrative design and on the history of IF design in particular.

This time, I’m recommending some blogs by other people who post about game writing or narrative design. Originally this post was going to be about blogs and podcasts, but there were enough of both that I have broken it out, and the podcasts section will appear later.

I’ve also intentionally not clustered these blogs by topics, since a lot of bloggers write about different things on the same blog. So instead I’ve mentioned some key posts, if there’s something on the site I consider especially characteristic of that person.

Whitney “Strix” Beltran designed the narrative RPG Bluebeard’s Bride, which is amazing, and has also worked on a number of video game and other projects. Her website links a couple of different YouTube show series where she takes on several narrative or narrative-adjacent topics.

Andrew Plotkin is a veteran of the IF space, and his reviews are very much based in narrative design questions. He’s served on the IGF narrative judging panel for a number of years, so a good place to start is with his reviews of IGF narrative nominees.

Kaitlin Tremblay‘s blog is partly announcements and news, but also includes some content from talks given, such as this piece on using game-making to tell stories about healing. She is especially interested in themes around mental health.

Jon Ingold posts in multiple places, but many of his recent posts are to be found on his Gamasutra blog. He’s often writing about discoveries from past or current projects. This post on ideas and dynamic dialogue in Heaven’s Vault is a great example.

Kim Belair has several articles at GameIndustryBiz that touch on narrative design topics. Here’s one about the difference it makes to the stories we can tell if we back off from requiring huge, life-or-death stakes in games.

Chris Avellone posted blog-style articles for a number of years (roughly 2007-2012) on the Obsidian forums, and some of those posts remain relevant. For instance, here’s one with tips on designing companion characters.

Toiya Kristen Finley. Finley’s blog contains relatively infrequent but useful posts, often with passages excerpted from things she’s written for books. Particularly recommended: her four-post series on subverting player expectations.

Greg Buchanan‘s website contains quite a lot of advice on how to break into narrative design and game writing. He also tweets on related topics fairly often.

Jill Murray’s website is not exactly a blog, but she does link to several podcasts, articles, and interviews that feature her.

Hugo Sahuquet writes about what the job of a AAA narrative designer actually entails, as opposed to a writer.

Danny Salfield Wadeson. Some advice for people starting in the field, and some blog posts that dive into particular challenges.

Michelle Clough is a game writer and narrative designer with a particular interest in romance and sexuality in games. Her blog features a series of posts on male sexualization in particular, so quite specifically focused, but with a lot of depth and supporting information.

Queerly Represent Me is a multi-contributor site that offers resources, game designer interviews, and consulting about queer representation in games. While not all of that is narrative-specific, these concerns are most likely to arise in games with story.

Sam Kabo Ashwell writes about interactive fiction, choose your own adventure works, and narrative design in other games, reviewing in depth. The post of his that I link most often is the classic piece Standard Patterns in Choice-Based Games, but he also has an entire series analyzing the structure of specific games. I also read with interest his critiques of game blurbs and what they communicate. Designers working for companies with a whole marketing department may not have to worry about this so much, but it’s a skill worth acquiring for people with a solo game practice, even if you’re not selling anything.

Sande Chen and Anne Toole wrote for several years ending in 2010 at Writers Cabal Blog. The content is still there, with short takes on a number of topics. Some of these are about the state of the industry, and decreasingly meaningful as time passes, but they also talk about design choices in games that can throw off the experience in their series on the seven deadly sins in game design.

Bruno Dias writes for Sub-Q Magazine an ongoing column of topics in interactive fiction design, and many of these would apply as well to other types of narrative design.

 

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