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Screenwriters and the Electronic Gaming Bubble

Posted on Tuesday, May 17th 2005

With the Electronic Gaming bubble bubbling and frothing, with Mobile Entertainment startups snapping up an unusually large share of venture funding dollars, many commodity gaming products will be hitting the market in the next few years. There is, however, an opportunity in this nightmare, for screenwriters who can make the transition from sequential story-telling to interactive story-telling. The opportunity is to help these publishers differentiate their titles.

Perhaps one of the best known examples of interactive story-telling is from Electronic Arts and its new release featuring an original storyline from Academy Award™ nominated screenwriter John Milius (Apocalypse Now, Clear and Present Danger). Medal of Honor: European Assault makes the player the driving force in the struggle to liberate Europe. “You are US Army Lieutenant William Holt, hand-picked by William “Wild Bill” Donovan to be the first field agent of the newly formed Office of Strategic Services-the OSS…”

In the process, you encounter opportunities to learn some World War II European History and Geography, besides the usual fare of hand-eye coordination that video-game publishers tout as benefits.

The sub-segment Mobile Gaming has had the maximum activity of late, with Jamdat’s recent successful IPO, as well as new entrepreneurial energy (and dollars) into Digital Chocolate by Trip Hawkins of Electronic Arts fame. It is a lot trickier to build a compelling storyline for mobile videogames because of the short window, although I for one will not underestimate the creativity of the writers.

Clearly, however, the digital gaming industry is emerging as a new avenue of expression, and consequently, a business opportunity, for the screenwriters vying for the attention of a relatively smallish number of film producers. I am curious to see how both the film industry and the gaming industry evolve further in the next decade, to leverage each other, and how sequential story-telling morphs to embrace interactive story-telling. And finally, I am also curious to see how talent agencies like CAA and William Morris deal with this opportunity, as it becomes mainstream and pervasive.

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[…] I had writtent a few pieces earlier: Screenwriters and the Electronic Gaming Bubble and Advergames: Cross Technologists and Story-tellers. In general, my thesis on the Gaming business is that the “title” financing model is trickier, whereas, “Advergames” is a very powerful, lower risk model, whereby the entire marketing muscle of a major brand can be behind a game. And if such games are nuanced towards “good”, then even better. […]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Games For Good Sunday, June 4, 2006 at 8:09 PM PT