What are some of the challenges that come with this line of work? And, how do you deal with them?
It’s not like when you write your own material. Firstly you have to sign away all your copyright - and there’s no way around that, apart from to have a bestselling novel or something in the first place, in which case the games companies would come to you to license the title.
You can also have vast swathes of people looking over your shoulder and chipping in — producers, designers, animators, programmers, artists — there are a lot of people to try and keep happy. Most people think they can write, and most people have seen movies they think you should be ‘absorbing’ into your work. You can deal with this by being selective, or more often lucky with whom you work, or, more often than that, just by rolling your sleeves up and taking the time to keep people on-board. This can involve visits to clients and lots of clear headed thinking and a basic ability with handling people.
Recently you presented a lecture at De Montfort University? Had you done something like this before? How did you find the experience?
I did a guest lecture for Kate Pullinger’s online MA writing course. The lecture was an asynchronous forum, so I didn’t make my way to Leicester, it was all done online. I spent my time answering the students’ questions about writing in games, the nature of interactive narrative and techniques for designing interactive stories.
That was the first time I did an asynchronous forum, but I’ve spoken about this kind of thing and related topics before all over the place - Reading, Newcastle, Tokyo, Kyoto, Shanghai , Chongxing, Chengdu , Hanover last week, and I’ll be talking in Malmo in May. I travel quite a bit with my work and for my company, The Mustard Corporation, because of our clients and because of the games conferences all over the world — it’s GDC in San Francisco in early March. And also because I do quite a bit of voice recording of actors for games and that usually entails being in L.A. and — that’s another thing --you find ways of making good use of time when you spend so much of it travelling.
I really enjoyed the experience - I think it went down okay, people thanked me, and said they found it interesting. I can’t remember if I mentioned it, but I’m also working towards a Ph.D. in creative writing at Newcastle University and I like the idea of maybe doing the occasional guest lecture again to students sometime in the future.