Is writing a computer game like writing modern fiction?

In the case of a text adventure, it looks quite like fiction seeing as it is words. A graphical game has less surface appearance, but I still hear terms such as 'narrative' and 'backstory' being used by game designers (I sit next to them in the office) so it seems that they are related. Therefore, I decided to read a book about how to start a modern fiction story to see if it is relevant. The book was 'Hooked - write fiction that grabs the readers at page one and never lets them go'.

The key lessons I learnt are:

You must get your readers (players) attention at the beginning otherwise they will not continue. In the case of a book they might well be picking it up in a bookshop to see if they want to buy. For a game, i'm not sure….maybe it's a teaser video on the web? The story should start with the protagonist being involved in action as soon as possible. This should be an 'inciting incident' that introduces the 'initial surface problem' The initial surface problem should lead on to another problem, then another, then another. This all adds up to 'Trouble' with a capital T… …until the protagonist works out that there is an underlying 'story worthy problem' that is actually cause of all this trouble. Before you can plunge the protagonist into trouble there needs to be some 'setup' to lead them into the action. This should be as little as possible. It could even be as short as a couple of sentences. Give the reader the 'backstory' after the inciting incident to fill them in a bit more about the protagonist. In conclusion, I would say that game developers must be quite a bit like modern fiction authors. They are performing a similar task using different mediums.

It's All In The Game blog (c) 2005-16 by Jez Nicholson