I attended a panel on publicity sponsored by the Writers Guild. Its take-home message: writers can and should help publicize the projects they work on. Although the panel focused mostly on screenwriters, their status as the red-headed stepchild of feature film publicity immediately drew parallels in my mind to game writing. Can a game writer publicize, and thus help sell, your game?
It’s almost an odd idea in an industry with very few rockstars beyond the likes of Will Wright and Sid Meier. Certainly we see coverage of games from the writer/designer point of view, but what about the contract writer? Recently, Susan O’Connor has spoken on writing for the award-winning Gears of War, but clearly the industry’s publicity arm has not taken full advantage of the game writer.
Experts on the panel insisted writers have two things going for them. First of all, journalists as writers have a natural affinity for them. Second of all, writers will have a keener understanding of the game story and dialog than, say, the game producer. This knowledge gives journalists a new angle. In addition, if the writer herself has an interesting backstory or hometown, she may get coverage in a paper, like the LA Weekly, that you could not get on your own.
Unfortunately, most writers, and most developers for that matter, have a strict NDA on their activities, besides not having publicity written into the contract. However, as a developer, it never hurts to ask. If you’re working with a writer and would like extra publicity, contact her. You may be surprised by the results.