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Do I need to write a video game?

One of my favorite things to do as a writer is challenge myself. There’s nothing I enjoy more than treating a project like a puzzle, trying to mix and match and figure out ways to make a story work. One of the best ways to do that is to expand into new and unfamiliar mediums. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to tackle traditional novels. But I also like to branch out into poetry, comics, short stories, and screenplays. One day I might even want to try a narrative podcast or stage play. If there’s a new and interesting way to tell a story then I want to experience it. But even given all that, there’s still one medium I’m reluctant to dive right into: video games.

Which is kind of weird considering how much I LOVE playing them. Especially when I regard story as one of the best parts of the video game experience. Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy. All the video games I enjoy playing have rich plots with extensive backstories and fleshed out characters. So then why wouldn’t I have a desire to try my hand at writing one?

Truth is…I’m not sure. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that video games are not solely a passive experience. They’re an interactive one, and whatever story you’re telling has to take that into account. When designing a game you have to think first and foremost that someone will be playing your creation. You have to think in terms of levels and bosses and power upgrades and on and on and on. It’s a handicap, and although I enjoy the challenge of writing with handicaps, it feels as if the story has to take a backseat to practical gameplay. A sacrifice I'd rather not make when crafting a tale.

Believe me, I know none of that is really true. I’ve played incredible games that rise to the challenge and seamlessly blend a timeless story with engaging gameplay. But it just doesn’t get my creative juices going the way other mediums would. When I come up with a story idea my first question is, “what medium would this be great in?” I don’t think my answer to that question has ever been, “a video game.” However, if someone wanted to hire me to write one I would certainly be up for it. But right now in my writing career, it just doesn’t feel like a creative itch I need to scratch. Maybe one day. And I’m kind of looking forward to it. As a lifelong gamer, I’d be proud to help create one....eventually.

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