You’ve got the money; you’ve got the resources. You’re ready to make a game. But how do you find the perfect game writer for your project? This week we’ll explore how to find the game writer who can make or break your project.
One of the best ways to find a writer. Talk to people you already know who have worked with writers. Who do they recommend? Who should you avoid? When I was hiring game writers, I e-mailed literally everyone I knew in the game industry, describing my ideal writer. I found several writers I wouldn’t have found any other way and even hired one. Find out if your contacts have actually worked with the writer before.
Benefit: You will already know the strengths and weaknesses of the writer
Drawback: Limited to your network
Contacting the major Hollywood agencies will yield you quite a list of writers. Many game companies are going that route, though many others are put off by the whole Hollywood scene. As far as I know, agencies primarily provide writers on contract. Whether you hire a writer through them or not, you won’t have to pay the agent a cent.
Benefit: Established writers in games, Hollywood, or both.
Drawback: Established writers in games, Hollywood, or both.
Game industry recruiters make a good resource for game writers, content designers, and narrative designers. I found my staff job as head writer through a game recruiter, so they definitely have their benefits. You have to pay them if you hire one of their candidates.
Benefit: Pre-selected candidates with game industry experience
Drawback: Not good for small games. Recruitment fee. May be redundant if you have a human resources department
I have seen quite a few game writer jobs listed on places like Craigslist and other game industry boards.
Benefit: Some are free to post, and depending on where you post, will gather a variety of people.
Drawback: You may find less qualified writers and you also have to devote your time to sorting through the huge volume of irrelevant responses.
Which writers wrote your favorite games? Which wrote games in your genre? Equipped with names, you may contact your next writer directly. Watch out for hiring the hot action writer for your action game. It might just turn out like his or her last game. Think outside the genre. The showrunner of HEROES had to apologize for second season — he apparently found so many good Sci Fi writers, that the season plodded through poorly constructed love stories. Conversely, the LOST television series made sure to find “good” writers, even if they didn’t have a Sci Fi background.
Be wary of hiring based on reputation. At ION, we had one lunch partner say “Oh, I thought there were only 5 game writers.” Don’t go with a writer just because they have good PR! A writer may have gotten credit for a popular project, while having had all work thrown out by the producer. Do your research before going with any one writer.
Benefit: You cut out the middle man and find qualified writers
Drawback: Those writers may be overbooked or overpriced.
Now that you have a few candidates, next we’ll explore how to vet your game writers. Of course, if you would like to hire the Writers Cabal to write your game, drop us an e-mail and let us know about your project!