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Writing for Video Games (ft. Susan O’Connor)

  • Episode #1

Episode summary: These days, video game writers are taking something old – storytelling – and marrying it to something new – technology. In this way, writers are redefining what it means to tell a story in the 21st century, just as screenwriters did in the 20th century. Now more than ever, great games deserve great stories.

In this episode, hosts Danny Iny and Abe Crystal interview  Susan O’Connor, the creator of the multifaceted course “How to write for video games.”  Susan’s been writing for many years and learned everything the hard way, which meant screwing up and mostly screwing up in public. Why should other writers have to go through this hard process, she asked herself? Why not go through a class? So, she created one that’s achieving “pinnacle results” for her students. 

In this episode we discuss:

  • “The digital campfire” model; creating a space for writers to build a community – they LOVE it. 
  • How she constructed the content of the course and its multifaceted structure.
  • How the TA (teacher assistant) strategy enabled Susan to scale. 
  • What she’s charging for her course(s), and why she has class 1 and class 2.
  • How Susan is able to get her students jobs in the industry.
  • Danny’s and Abe’s debrief after the interview 

“I created a buddy system. I waited a couple of weeks until we’d had a chance to know each other. But I would partner people up so that they could have a go-to person to discuss that week’s homework assignment. And then I changed up the buddies every week.”

Susan O’Connor

Guest Bio: Susan’s first job as a game writer was for “a slumber party game – for girls!” She’s gone on to work on over 25 projects, including award-winning titles in the BioShockFar Cry and Tomb Raider franchises. Titles in her portfolio have sold over 30 million copies and generated over $500 million in sales. She is an adjunct professor at UT Austin, where she teaches a course on writing for games. A long time ago, she founded the Game Narrative Summit at GDC. Now, she partners with studios, publishers, and writers to help teams ship great games with great stories. She is dedicated to supporting creatives in the games industry so that they can do their best work.

Resources or websites mentioned in this episode:

Credits:

  • Guest – Susan O’Connor 
  • Hosts – Danny Iny & Abe Crystal 
  • Producer – Cynthia Lamb 
  • Executive producer – Danny Iny 
  • Writer – Michi Lantz and Cynthia Lamb
  • Assembled by – Geoff Govertsen
  • Audio Post Supervisor: Evan Miles, Christopher Martin
  • Audio Post Production by Post Office Sound
  • Music soundscape: Chad Michael Snavely

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If you have a question for Course Lab, put the show title in the subject line and send it to podcasts@mirasee.com.

Music and SFX credits: 

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Course Lab

Ever wondered how online courses could be even better? What would that next level look like? Those are the questions driving online course experts Danny Iny (founder of Mirasee) and Abe Crystal (co-founder of Ruzuku) in Course Lab. In each episode, they bring on an innovative course creator and deconstruct what makes their course (and course business) work for them and their students.