Improve your writing by playing video games [Pt2]

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The second instalment in how to use video games to better your writing. In the first article, using video games as a research tool, I covered plot analysis and world building. In the second; using video games to better your writing pt1 I went over scene and level analysis, as well as why you should try playing different genres to that which you actually write.

Character Analysis

The key to developing yourself as a writer is to not only consume good content but analyse bad content. One of the most important things that is often over-looked when people analyse anything is the why. When analysing characters its more important to contemplate why the character works or doesn’t as opposed to what they actually do.

Characters in games are very interactive, you’re either fighting them or they’re helping you. They have a purpose, which is another thing to consider in writing. I recently got around to watching the final instalment in the Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Treader, and couldn’t help but wonder; Why is Eustace even there? Until he turns into a dragon he contributes nothing to the story and my partner and I spent most of the film [not so secretly] hoping he’d die. Characters other than your protagonist are tools, to better or hinder your main character. The beauty of games is that NPC’s [non player characters] serve a singular purpose and that is to drive you onward.

Concept analysis

This carries on from my talk about setting analysis, but takes a more philosophical look at it. When your playing through your latest game, consider the driving idea behind it. Why have the developers chosen to use this plot, setting, characters as opposed to another. What do they add to the player experience.

Appeal

Gaming is big business now days, with nearly 70% of the western world playing games in one form or another. While the interactivity is the driving force behind their popularity, there are a great many games that are brilliantly made but flop because they lack human elements like quality characters, well constructed settings and believable dialogue.

Just as an author should add best-sellers to their reading list to further their appeal. The same goes for games. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a game I hate passionately, mainly because I’m terrible at it, but I can’t deny that it is massively popular. So I asked myself, why does it appeal to people so much?

It’s a war game? Yes, but there are a multitude of combat-simulators out there that are no where near as successful. There are a number of factors but the main reason is it is incredible fast paced. It has a fluid and intuitive controls and moves quickly. I have taken this into consideration when writing action sequences in my novels and short stories. There is a time and place for beautiful description and it is not an eight foot orc’s blade is swinging toward the protagonist.

Wrap up

Hopefully this has given you some ideas on how to use your game time to better your writing. Why do you think certain games [like CoD] are so popular? If and how have you used games to further your writing?

Stay tuned as I am going to go into a little more depth on how my experience as a gamer shaped the plot of my début novel “Sword of Unity”.

Thanks for reading,

Cortez

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