Game Writers Experiment @ Game Developers Conference San Francisco  

By WGAW member Steven-Elliot Altman  

WGA game writers Steven-Elliot Altman (9Dragons) and Joshua Rubin (Assassin’s Creed) become willing disciples of a new cyber religion at GDC San Francisco. 

I had heard rumor that the Game Developers Conference was to San Francisco what Comic-Con is to San Diego, and having just returned I have to admit it’s a fair comparison. The difference between GDC Austin and GDC SF is that Austin offers a track of lectures, panels, and workshops geared specifically toward writers, whereas GDC SF offers more of a developer’s showcase, geared toward promoting commerce between companies. With an expo floor full of bling, swag, and game demos that rivals E3, every booth I visited was refreshingly user-friendly to the general public. One might expect the writers to get lost here, but I kept bumping into scribes I knew left and right, many with tales of scoring jobs. I was amazed that in a time of economic strife, nearly every game company I could name from Activision to Ubisoft had active recruiting booths and seemed serious about hiring.

The best party I attended was hosted by Kabaam, and the best event I attended was “The Game Design Challenge 2011: Bigger than Jesus,” where notable game designers were challenged to invent a new game that basically simulated the birth and mystique of a new religion. One entry began with the panelist proclaiming himself @God on Twitter with a request for followers, and as over a thousand audience members plucked out their mobile devices, the first twelve become @God’s Apostles. Next, those twelve were called up on stage, handed packs of different colored post-it pads, and sent out as missionaries into the audience to gather disciples, pleasantly reminding me just how contagious a game set in a shared universe can be, even when the setting for that shared universe is TRW (The Real World) once again.

I cannot recommend the entire series of Game Developer Conferences enough. If you are a WGA screen or television writer, or a novelist with even modest credits, wishing to expand into games, these venues could easily provide an introduction that could help you break into writing for games. If you’re an established game writer looking for your next gig, or you just need to keep a finger on the pulse of the gaming industry, I’d venture to say that attendance is all but mandatory.

If you have further questions regarding the WGAW’s Videogame Writers Caucus, please contact the Organizing Department at 323-782-4511 or Videogame Writers Caucus.