All the Write Moves

Why game developers need comic book writers

Ortega, however, is looking to the future. “Anyone who’s really involved with games right now will tell you how exciting it is to be part of an emerging art form. However, despite the astronomical sales, games and interactive storytelling still aren’t fully legitimized in the public eye. We’re still waiting for our Maus or Watchmen or Persepolis. Once those hit, entertainment as we know it will have undergone a major shift in perspective, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s good for art to challenge, and games are definitely doing that right now, and will continue to do so in the future.”

So how do the two disciplines compare when it comes to time spent and money earned? “Given the amount of time-wasting that goes into games development, comics pay better,” Diggles says. Palmiotti has a similar view. “We get paid a lot for writing the games and it should be more, to tell the truth, for the amount of work that goes into it. For me, I play games and passionately want to create new ones. It’s really the basis for anything I do. I do it because I want to. It’s a nice place to be.”

“The money isn’t great,” agrees Ellis. “I do it because it’s interesting and I enjoy the process. It takes me a week - more or less - to write a comic’s script. Doctoring a game can be up to six weeks’ work for me. Ultimately, I find most games studios are looking for a cinematic arc to the development, which means creating a three-act structure to underpin the gameplay. Or, at least, something that looks like it, as it doesn’t map exactly. The second act is always the longest, and you can’t let gameplay drag.”

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