• Video Game Storytelling

  • What Every Developer Needs to Know About Narrative Techniques
  • By: Evan Skolnick
  • Narrated by: D.G. Chichester
  • Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (45 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Unlock your game's narrative potential!

With increasingly sophisticated video games being consumed by an enthusiastic and expanding audience, the pressure is on game developers like never before to deliver exciting stories and engaging characters. With Video Game Storytelling, game writer and producer Evan Skolnick provides a comprehensive yet easy-to-follow guide to storytelling basics and how they can be applied at every stage of the development process - by all members of the team. This clear, concise reference pairs relevant examples from top games and other media with a breakdown of the key roles in game development, showing how a team’s shared understanding and application of core storytelling principles can deepen the player experience. Understanding story and why it matters is no longer just for writers or narrative designers. From team leadership to game design and beyond, Skolnick reveals how each member of the development team can do his or her part to help produce gripping, truly memorable narratives that will enhance gameplay and bring today’s savvy gamers back time and time again.

©2014 Evan Skolnick (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Every once in a while I end up reading a book that should be read by almost everyone that I know - whether they actually need to or not. Video Game Storytelling: What Every Developer Needs to Know About Narrative Techniques (published by Watson-Guptill) is one of those books. [It] is a great resource not only for budding writers, but it should also serve as a very important reference for everyone who holds a position in the ever-expanding videogame industry." (Toronto Thumbs)

"[This] book piqued our interest to an exceptional degree. 'Video Game Storytelling: What Every Developer Needs To Know About Narrative Techniques' is perfect for anyone who is a Developer, wants to get into game development, anyone who is a fiction writer, or anyone who wants to have a greater understanding and appreciation of the fictional game worlds we so much enjoy." (Digital Mayhem Radio) 

"I found it to be both interesting and entertaining, using real-life examples taken from very popular movies and games that most people will be readily familiar with. I feel that Evan Skolnick has a lot to share and I really wish I had the opportunity to attend one of his talks. I would recommend Video Game Storytelling to anyone involved in the game development process - or anyone hoping to get into game development." (Game Vortex) 

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Starts great but drifts away from writing.

Good book on the matter, but I want to learn more how to craft a story. It starts out teaching some storytelling but turns into a list of reasons why you should hire a professional writer rather than write yourself. Maybe this book is targeted more at convincing larger game developers to hire professional writers rather than aspiring indie bedroom developers looking to make their own masterpieces.

4 people found this helpful

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Nice but shallow

This book contains a decent introduction into basics of storytelling in games.

However, given the size of the topic, the material feels very shallow: it starts out good with interesting examples from popular movies (yes, movies, not games) at the beginning but quickly degrades into a mix between blog posts and a quick PowerPoint presentation.

3 people found this helpful

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Must read for all developers!

This is a smart and potent book for game development and story telling! Add this to your arsenal!

2 people found this helpful

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Good for the absolute basics, but that’s it

Evan goes into a lot of detail when it comes to story structure, but other books do a batter a job at it.

The specifics of writing a narrative for video games, such as a branching story, are painfully missing.

This books try to be a jack of all trades but ends up being a master of none. Good for someone who’s really interested in video game writing but can’t imagine listening to someone who’s outside of the video game industry (although you definitely should)

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ahbugger
  • 08-08-21

Clearly Right For Most, But Not Right For Me

Got three hours in and gave up with regret.

The print book is not short on good reviews so it is clearly right for a lot of people. Unfortunately on the Venn diagram of people who shouldn't read this book, I sit in the overlap between 'already knows a bit about storytelling' and 'doesn't know anything about Star Wars'.

The author seems to think that Star Wars is some sort of universal language which they can use to explain storytelling concepts. Unfortunately, because it isn't, the author ended up inadvertently teaching me about Star Wars using simple storytelling theory.

I was hoping that if I got in far enough, that the book would move away from the real basics and say something interesting. But there I was at the three-hour mark being treated to the revelation that villains can't simply be evil for the sake of it and must have a reason that makes sense to them for acting the way that they do. Most of these simple points were then exhaustively annotated with a list of characters and sub-plots from the Star Wars universe. "Luke did this, Leia did that. Vader wanted this then did that." Such commentary made up a substantial part of the book.

To be fair to the author, the advice and concepts given were solid and correct. But they were solid and correct to the point of banality: I didn't think we needed another book, exhaustively going over the hero's journey (with or without Star Wars commentary). I had hoped that a book with a specialist focus on videogames might concentrate less on outlining well-established basics, and more time on how those concepts apply in the domain of games.

Never mind. This remains a competent and well-written book that has clearly given a lot of value to a substantial number of other reviewers. I hope you're one of them and not one of me.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MR D Shukla
  • 04-20-22

interesting read about narrative in games

having just started a game development company, I felt it was important to begin to understand the power of storytelling in games.

decent book with lots of information about how narrative works in video games and definitely know a lot more than I did before will take this into the games that we develop definitely recommend reading it

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-22-21

Solid trip around game storytelling

Very good tour around the many aspects of storytelling in general and how they apply to game development. Would recommend it to newcomers and leads particularly.