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Writing for Video Games Areas of Evaluation

Areas of Evaluation

The following list gives a general description of each assignment /area of evaluation. Specific requirements, due dates, and evaluation criteria will be provided in an Assignment Prompt for each project and paper, located in the “Assignments” folder on Blackboard.


The Game Project 50%

The purpose of this class will be to produce a playable game: a mod of an existing video game, a mini RPG or platformer, or a text-based adventure. This project will be a demonstration of your understanding of the resources, lectures, and theories of ludo-narratology, as well as your ability to work as a productive team member in an assigned writing group. The video game industry considers all of these types of narrative game productions to be professional experience, so you will be able to use the material produced in this project as part of your portfolio, and record your time spent on this project on your resume.

The project will be broken into a series of deliverables, documents and artifacts of the process of creation due at specific deadlines (see the full project assignment sheet for details). Your individual grade will be a combination of the group grade, your team members’ report on your contributions, and your self-report on contributions.

The final product will be a five-minute playthrough of your game for the class on the day of the final, and a submission of all your material, including the files and content necessary to install and play the game, to me. I will be playing all of your games.

Make no mistake, this is a herculean task, not unlike making a short film. Not only will you need to work effectively and efficiently as a group to complete all of the necessary work, but you will have to teach yourself (using guides and resources that I will help provide) basic game coding. Luckily, the game creation engines I’ve gathered use GUIs (graphic user interfaces) to help facilitate some of the more complex coding.

For this reason, I will strive to create groups of three team members that compliment your various experiences and expertise in the field. Still, you should expect this project to consume a significant amount of time, energy, and sanity this semester. The gauntlet has been thrown!

**NOTE! All members of the writing team retain the intellectual property rights to ALL of the material created on this project, regardless of claims of workload or expertise. Failure to share material with team members is a violation of these IP rights, and can result in disciplinary and/or legal action by the university.


RPG Adventure 30%

To facilitate an active learning experience in the complexities of designing interactive narratives, where the player/reader often drives the direction of the story, you will play a basic tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) in the last hour of each class. As a writing group, you will need to first decide upon a setting and premise for your RPG. You will create player characters, and then each week one group member will be responsible for designing a short adventure that can be completed within the allotted hour time frame. A total of six adventures will be played over the course of the semester, with each team member responsible for creating two complete adventures.

In addition, once you’ve completed the creation and playing of the adventure modules, you will write a critical reflection of the process and experience within the context of the ludo-narratological theory we’ve covered. This means describing the possibility space of your adventure, and how you designed it to be immersive and interactive, providing player agency. The critical reflection should be academic in style and form, working closely with and citing the theoretical texts of the course, and be a minimum of 1000 words in length. Guiding questions:

  • Ludology: what are the rules of play? What RPG rules did you use? What rules did you make up in character design and world building? Did you make any up as you went, redefining the possibility space in response to player interaction? What affects did these rules have on the narrative play experience, and on the narrative itself?
  • Narratology: what is the narrative structure? What tropes, devices, archetypes, myths, and time frames did you employ? Did the narrative style and structure adapt to player interaction? In what ways? How did the narrative determine the rules of game play?


Grading breakdown:

Adventure Module 1 = 10%

Adventure Module 2 = 10%

Critical Reflection = 10%


Productive Team Member 20%

Like the film industry, the gaming industry is dependent on successful collaboration among a variety of stakeholders and creative types, from executive management to writers to artists to programmers. Inevitably there will be clashes in personalities, egos, visions, and expertise. Your job is to ensure that you can manage all of the highs and lows of collaborative writing, allowing your team members to do what they are best at and ensuring that you do your best. Coming late to or skipping class and group meetings, or failing to deliver your responsibilities to the projects, as well dominating the group and failing to delegate and share responsibilities, will have an immediate and irreversible effect on your grade.

I (and your team members) cannot fire you, since this is ultimately a course that you are paying for. In lieu of that real-world consequence, this grading category will serve as the reward/consequence of productive team work.


Late Assignments and Revisions

Because we are attempting to replicate the gaming industry in this course, deliverables submitted after the deadline will receive a 0 for that element of the project. However, revisions are a standard and necessary part of the creative process, and so if you as an individual or group are not satisfied with your grade on the deliverable, you may revise it for a higher score. Revisions will also be subject to an agreed upon deadline.