John Yorke Caroline Marchal Story for Video Games

STORY for

VIDEO GAMES

Strong narrative is key to engaging and retaining players in the industry today. This online course teaches the story-structure essentials that will help you craft richer, more compelling games.

Strong narrative is key to engaging and retaining players in the industry today. This online 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.

By the end of the course you’ll have written an industry-standard story treatment for an original game, with a clear idea of gameplay and narrative.

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.

This professional development course has been devised by story expert John Yorke and Caroline Marchal, lead game designer of Heavy Rain and founder of INT./NIGHT studio. It’s for anyone who works in the gaming industry as well as writers intrigued by the possibilities of interactive stories.

All participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion evidencing their study hours.

NEXT COURSE

Start date: 25 January 2021
Duration: 7 weeks
Skill level: Intermediate
Held: Weekly
Sessions: 6
Price: £900 (inc. VAT where applicable)

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John
Yorke
Director
Caroline
Marchal
Director
Georgi
Tandy
Moderator

Caroline Marchal’s games

Script Development Tutor Work
A man writing at a coffee shop

Only 20% of players complete games – that’s very low. But the completion rate of narrative games is 60-70% – three times higher.

​- Caroline Marchal, Course Director

Read Caroline’s article on what game writers should know about players

Our professional development course is for anyone who loves and plays video games. It’s ideal if you’re a writer looking to work in a different, ever-expanding medium, or a video game professional looking to create richer and more engaging experiences.

We teach this course in groups of up to 15 people. You can book as an individual, or you can block-book a class 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 — 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 SolidGrand 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.

 

SESSION 1: The Protagonist and the Player
We start with an in-depth analysis of what a protagonist is, their desire and their relationship to the player. You’ll learn about good characterisation and how the identification process works.
SESSION 2: Key Elements of Story
In addition to a protagonist and a desire, every story needs an antagonist, an inciting incident, a journey, a crisis, a climax and a resolution. We’ll analyse all these elements in detail and how they work in games. At the end of this session you’ll have the chance to ask John your questions.

SESSION 3: Understanding Story Structure
We’ll focus on the ten questions you need to ask to make sure your story isn’t broken, and how you can structure it in three and five acts. By the end of the session, you’ll be able to deconstruct any story.
SESSION 4: Merging Story and Gameplay
The key challenge in game writing is to make story and gameplay work together. For this, you need to know your verbs, understand agency, choice, pacing and much more. At the end of this session you’ll have the chance to ask Caroline your questions.

SESSION 5: Storytelling Tips for Games
How you tell your story is as important as what the story is. A great story told badly is worse than an okay story told elegantly. Find out how to perfect your storytelling with 15 essential tips.
SESSION 6: Writing in a Development Team
In this final session you’ll learn what a development team needs from a writer — how you can contribute to, improve and make an impact on the quality of the final experience. This session will last two weeks.

At the end of the course you’ll use what you’ve learned to write a treatment for your own game story idea, which you can submit to receive written feedback notes from your tutors.

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.

Read more on how we teach. 

See a list of the materials and programmes you’ll need to complete this course. Also desirable is access to the following games: Reigns (Windows/Mac/Linux, Android/iOS), The Writer Will Do Something (browser), and prior knowledge of The Last of Us (PS3/PS4) is ideal but not mandatory

You’ll learn from:

  • Short podcasts and videos from John Yorke, Caroline Marchal and other industry experts
  • Practical exercises and prompts to help you experiment and practise your skills as you build your game story 
  • Carefully selected reading and viewing/playing lists
  • Live Q&A chatroom sessions with your group and tutor
  • The opportunity to share your work and give and receive feedback from fellow writers
  • Weekly tutor input and detailed feedback on your game story at the end of the course from your tutor and John Yorke

Join our alumni

After your course, you can join our online alumni community where you’ll meet our growing network of past students. You’ll be able to.

  • Rejoin your classmates in a private forum
  • Continue to access an archived version of your course materials
  • Meet alumni from other courses and share work for feedback
  • Join discussions about screenwriting, script editing and the industry
  • Attend live chats with guest writers and industry folk

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 learn@johnyorkestory.com

Taking things further

If you’d like to take another John Yorke Story course, we’ll give you a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

Women in Games Bursary

We’ve written articles on why the games industry needs more women and are committed to helping encourage more female talent on the scene.

Our bursary covers 25% of the regular course price and is available to one female applicant for each iteration of this course. To apply, email us and tell us how you’d benefit.

As this counts as CPD training, you may also be able to get funding from your employer to do it. See here for all our latest bursary and funding opportunities. 

Price: £900 (inc. VAT where applicable)

Price: £50
(Non-refundable)

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WHAT our  STUDENTS SAY

I feel the class has made me a better writer, and it’s made me understand game design more fully…Few games can (or should) blindly follow a three-act shape. But understanding form is how artists learn to subvert and surprise. This is the value of the course.

Colin Campbell

Games Journalist, read Colin's full Polygon article about the course

Just wanted to say a big thank you to all the tutors and everyone I’ve talked to over the past few weeks on the course. It’s been stressful and exhilarating and mind-opening to say the least! 

Rowan Tafler

Brand Director, Searchlight at SEGA Europe

The teaching materials were first class. There was a lot to digest, but the tips and examples provided will become valuable additions to my “writer’s toolkit”.

Phil Jackson

Animator and game writer

It was refreshing to see a wide variety of people being involved, both enrolled on the course and leading it. It has encouraged me to pursue further work in writing for video games and has allowed me an insight into an industry that, as a huge video game fan, has been one that I have long admired.

Course participant, 2018

Our ARTICLES on VIDEO GAME STORYTELLING
Nick Dixon on what game writers need to know when pitching

Nick Dixon on what game writers need to know when pitching

Every game begins with a treatment that’s a few pages long – so how do you distil a whole game into a couple of thousand words? Here, game designer Nick Dixon explains how to write a proper video game treatment and the importance of effectively combining narrative and gameplay.

Game designer Nick Dixon on adapting film and TV for video games

Game designer Nick Dixon on adapting film and TV for video games

What actually goes into the process of adapting film, books or TV for video games? Here, narrative expert Nick Dixon talks about adapting existing narratives into video games, what sort of work to expect when breaking into the industry and the importance of avoiding complexity in storylines.

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