STORY for VIDEO GAMES
Strong narrative is key to engaging and retaining players. This course teaches the story-structure essentials that will help you craft richer and more compelling games.
Over seven weeks you’ll master story principles for games. You’ll investigate the relationship between player and protagonist, discover how to merge story and gameplay, and find ways to use those skills in a development team.
There’s a balance of theory – the five-act structure ideas set out in John Yorke’s acclaimed book, Into The Woods – with highly practical exercises based on games from Overwatch to The Walking Dead and The Witness.
At the end of the course you’ll write a story treatment for a game, and get feedback from story expert John Yorke and Heavy Rain lead Designer Caroline Marchal. The course is for anyone who works in the gaming industry as well as writers intrigued by the possibilities of interactive stories.
This is a professional development course and so you may be able to get funding from your employer to do it. All participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion evidencing their learning and study hours.
Course Director John Yorke
Course Director Caroline Marchal
Course Moderator Emily Ronan
Only 20% of players complete games — that’s very low. But the completion rate of narrative games is 60–70% — three times higher.
Story for Video Games has been designed for anyone who loves and plays video games, and is interested in how to tell engaging game stories. It explores the principles of storytelling and goes deeper than traditional scriptwriting courses by applying these principles to video games.
It’s ideal if you’re a writer looking to work in a different, ever-expanding medium, a video game professional looking to create richer and more engaging experiences, or a student wanting to work in the industry.
We teach this course in groups of up to 15 people. You can book as an individual or you can block-book a dedicated class exclusively for your team.
The course is suitable if you:
- Are involved in developing or publishing video games, be it as a designer, producer, artist or programmer, etc.
- Are new to video game writing and want to learn how to plan and structure your work
- Want to understand what a development team needs from a writer
- Want to learn how to see the underlying framework behind all stories everywhere — both in video games and traditional media
- Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
- Can dedicate 4–5 hours per week for the duration of the course
Massively successful video games like Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto or The Witcher feature exciting gameplay AND great stories. This course focuses on story’s primary colours, the fundamental principles you need to write great narrative, and on the techniques to adapt these principles to video games.
There’s a balance of theory and practice but in each session you’ll work through practical exercises based on acclaimed video games — from Uncharted to Life is Strange — and films and TV shows like The Godfather or Battlestar Galactica.
We teach this course in our online classroom, which is open 24/7 so you can fit learning around your work, family and friends. You’ll work in a small group of learners so you can discuss ideas, ask questions and share your writing as you progress through the weekly sessions.
You’ll learn from:
- Short podcasts from John Yorke and Caroline Marchal
- Short videos from John and Caroline
- Written guidance notes and carefully selected reading and playing lists devised by John and Caroline
- Practical exercises and prompts, devised by John and Caroline to help you experiment and practise your skills as you work toward developing your own game ideas
- Guided discussions with your group
- The chance to ask John and Caroline questions
- The opportunity to share your work and give and receive feedback from fellow writers
- Detailed tutor feedback on your treatment at the end of the course
- 4-5 hours per week to work through the course
- Access to the following games:
- Reigns (Windows/Mac/Linux, Android/iOS)
- The Writer Will Do Something (browser)
- Prior knowledge of The Last of Us (PS3/PS4) is ideal but not mandatory
- A laptop or computer* with:
- A reliable broadband internet connection
- Speakers or headphones
- The latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, or Safari
- Microsoft Word. If you don’t have this you can download Open Office free
- Adobe Reader, latest version. Download free
- QuickTime Player, latest version. Download free
- Adobe Flash Player 10 or higher
*You can access the course from a tablet or smartphone, but we recommend using a laptop or computer, as this makes it easier to share your work files with your writing group.
Join our alumni
After your course, you can join our online alumni where you’ll meet our growing network of past students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.
Within our online alumni area you can:
- Rejoin your classmates on a private forum and access an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
- Meet alumni from other courses and groups and share your work for feedback on our alumni critiquing forum
- Join in on discussions about reading, writing, editing and ideas on our general discussion forum. This is also where we share news and useful info
- Retain access to our resources area, which has interesting and informative links
- Chat with other people online using the alumni area live chatroom. We also host live chats with guests here
Mentoring and one-to-one feedback
The John Yorke Story tutor team offer mentoring, script reads and reports. We are happy to quote by job or script, or to arrange a longer mentoring scheme as you work on a specific story idea. We’ll create a package to suit you, so for more information please email email@example.com
Taking things further
If you’d like to continue on to another John Yorke Story or Professional Writing Academy course, we’ll give you a discount. Please get in touch for more details.
I want studios that make story-based games to start taking their stories more seriously. And that doesn’t mean hiring a big shot writer from Hollywood; it means that story becomes integral to making your game. I don’t see how you can achieve that without having an in-house writer who sits next to the designer, helping them make their levels, talking with the engineers about where we can tell the story more dynamically, pushing at technology.
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WHAT STUDENTS SAY ABOUT the COURSES
The content has been fantastic and the feedback incredibly helpful. I’ve managed to secure some work on a production, so hopefully I can put some of what I’ve learned into practice.
This course is kind of like getting under the hood of a car to identify how the engine works. I’m put in a mindset that allows me to identify breaks, transitions, emotional turns and story direction. Like car engines, some stories are high octane and others more pedestrian. I was able to apply the techniques to both a shoot-up adventure and a character drama I’m working on. That’s a revelation.
The course has been truly transformative to the way I frame and structure my stories, and I have been really touched by the genuinely supportive and encouraging atmosphere on the forums from fellow learners and tutors.