Thoughts on writing #1

Truman Capote famously said of Kerouac’s On the Road “That’s not writing, that’s typing”. Bit harsh that, but you can see his point and it’s an important distinction. Albeit snotty and supercilious. Much like the final paragraph of this review of Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives which I’ve been reading – review here

The book describes one man’s addiction to games (and other things) with almost photographic recall of their most memorable moments for him: cowardly leaving his friends in Left 4 Dead (he guiltily went back to help), his first impression on seeing Resident Evil, etc. The book seemingly documents Tom’s ability to devote huge amounts of time to these games at the expense of real events around him, like playing Fallout 3 and missing Obama’s inauguration.But it also asks interesting questions about writing in video games and the paucity of good writing.

It seems game narratives, using Capote’s benchmark, are largely filled with typing. Registers and registers of the stuff, and as someone who is technical, I know from experience that sometimes (only sometimes =p) the text you see on the screen is written to also fill space. It’s shocking isn’t it? Not really. Games are still evolving, their ideals are lofty but their resources have been limited, especially for small developers. Which means the developer is sometimes also the artist & musician & writer & teaboy & marketing: it’s an impossible task!
With that in mind, I’m going to try and find a writer to help out on the project because *newsflash* the draft game design is more or less there. I’ve resolved the issues I previously wrote about (Location based) and I’m massively excited by it. I’ve also sent it to a relative stranger, an expert in the industry, to see how it holds up. To be honest, I’m nervous. I’m oscillating wildly between thinking it’s great and thinking it’s not. We’ll see.

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