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How To Write A Screenplay For A Video Game

Adam Scott

This article will discuss how to write a screenplay for a video game based on my years of experiences doing this with a team of writing partners.

Storytelling is extremely important in creating an immersive gaming experience. Screenplay writing is a skill in which even novice writers can develop over time, and video game storytelling needs to be unique from film storytelling to effectively interact with gamers.

Screenwriting is a truly unique medium in that it allows a storyteller to draw on their experiences and memories in a way that only a narrative medium can do. Here are five tips to help you develop your own personal film script for a video game based on my experience.

Choose the right genreJoy-Con Nintendo Switch

Because video games are narrative storytelling, there are many different genres with which you can work. For our upcoming adaptation of the bestselling first person novel, Invisible, we are writing an original piece set in the “Valley of The Shadow,” an immersive, underground setting inspired by Russian short story writer Mikhail Bulgakov’s We.

When writing screenplays for video games, it is often helpful to limit yourself to three genres at most, and the one you choose should relate directly to your story and characters. For example, if your game is set in a science fiction setting, you might limit your genre to science fiction or science fantasy.

If your story takes place in a fantasy setting, you might focus on high fantasy, or if your story takes place in a high fantasy setting, you might limit your genre to heroic fantasy.

The three genres to focus on are:

  • Independent games, specifically first-person shooters and survival games.
  • Visual Novels and Interactive Stories.
  • Adventure games and adventure stories.

When choosing a genre, think about the big themes that you want to present, and how these can be incorporated into the video game world. For example, if you are writing a zombie apocalypse game, you can apply the genre to a meaningful story based on the concept of a world where a disease has rendered humanity blind, and therefore incapable of choosing to use their remaining vision.

Start with charactersblack flat screen tv turned on showing woman in blue dress

Video game protagonists need to be developed from the ground up, and the same goes for writing a screenplay for a video game. Your video game protagonist’s story should be the core of your screenplay, and you need to develop and put your character through a narrative arc throughout the game.

Storytelling is very different from traditional film storytelling, which depends on the development of a plotline through pre-scripted actions. When writing for video games, you have full control over how your character is progressing, and it is up to you to determine what their progression will be.

A great way to determine your character’s story arc and character development is to study the gameplay of the video game that your screenplay is based on, to get a sense of the gameplay dynamics that will be used to develop the main character, and to find the emotional buttons and rewards of the game to emphasize and explore.

The questions that you will want to answer for your video game protagonist are as follows:

  • Who is this character? What are their strengths?
  • Why does this character feel the way they do? What are the internal and external conflicts within them?
  • What is the driving force that drives this character forward, and what are their greatest fears and goals?
  • How can you use the game mechanics to evoke this character’s internal fears and desires?

If your video game protagonist is a soldier, for example, you could develop the character’s internal conflict between duty and individuality, and you could even use the weapons that are used to represent each of these conflicting emotions. Your soldier could be plagued by the impulse to take revenge, or torn between protecting their comrades and avenging the loss of their family.

Your video game protagonist needs to be developed from the ground up, and when writing your screenplay, you should follow the same process.

Write powerful dialogue

Dialogue is one of the most important parts of the video game narrative, and it needs to be used to tell a meaningful story and create a dynamic narrative. When developing a video game screenplay, you will want to think about what makes the best dialogue in games.

One of the biggest advantages of video game dialogue over other film and television forms is that the dialogue is generally real-time. The dialogue is actually happening at the same time as the game, which creates a real-time dynamic that can be used to dramatically advance the story.

A great way to develop strong video game dialogue is to follow the advice of game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. In his work on the Super Mario Brothers series, Miyamoto has focused his writing efforts on developing memorable lines of dialogue for his characters, and he believes that a good voice actor is the most important ingredient to developing this dialogue.

Miyamoto also has a lot of experience as a game designer, so he knows that it is vital to create characters that become memorable and engaging with their dialogue.

Video game writing can also benefit greatly from working closely with a character, who will develop their dialogue and scenes through improvising. Improvisation is the cornerstone of comedy writing, and by working with a character you will find the most entertaining lines of dialogue for your script.

You can get started by asking your character what they are thinking or feeling, and through this dialogue you can develop their most natural and entertaining character motivations.

Research and discuss the characters in other video games

Research can play an important part in the writing of a video game screenplay. When developing a game screenplay, you need to be familiar with the various video games that you are writing about, and to know what the various characters are like, how they think, and what their abilities are like.

You will also want to research all of the gaming elements that your script will need to be about, such as the pacing and pacing of the game, the environments, the enemies, and the challenges. By researching the games that you are writing about, you can pick up on the best pacing techniques and writing themes that video game designers are using.c


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