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.”
Dave Gibbons was easily seduced. “It presented itself as an exciting creative playground, plus they offered me a very good deal! It went on for months - a year or more! That’s the same amount of time you’d spend drawing a graphic novel. As for the game I worked on, there must have been 15 people involved. It’s a lot more work.”
But it’s time and money that Josh Ortega sees as an investment. “As far as the money issue, sure, games are a great place to be for a writer right now, but I think writers are attracted to the storytelling possibilities in the medium more than anything else. This is a medium in its infancy, much like Hollywood in the Thirties, and there’s so much yet to discover and explore, you’d have to be a pretty stodgy writer not to be excited over the narrative possibilities. In ten years, interactive storytelling is going to be something we can’t imagine - its leaps and bounds will be nothing short of incredible.”
Joshua Ortega aside, the comic’s creators we spoke to don’t see the games industry as a full-time career. Even for the prolific Paul Jenkins, it’s one he balances with comics and films. Andy Diggle spoke for everyone when asked if he’d work on games rather than comics: “No, it’s not for me. I’m used to being in the driving seat. With game development, it felt more like I was constantly running for the bus.”
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