VG writer for Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Army of Two, Sonic: Chronicle on VG vs TV writing, VG actors, and racist VGs vs queer-friendly VGs

Jay Turner
began as a game journalist and for the last ten years has been a professional video game writer. His first gig was working as an editor on BioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins. Then he levelled up and got to write for it, and then for first three Mass Effect installments, as well as for Sonic: Chronicles. For Visceral, he wrote Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, and now he works at the N-Space studio in Orlando, Florida.

In today’s episode, Jay Turner discusses:
  • Misconceptions about, and the pros and cons of working in the games industry 
  • What video game writers actually do
  • Why a game company inserted two famous hip hop artists into a game that was nearly finished production
  • How game writing and TV writing are the same, and how they’re different
  • Why some game writers are resistant to what playwrights call “workshopping”
  • What “the Eye of Sauron” means in professional game development
  • What video game actors can bring to the writing and realisation of video game characters
  • What it’s like to be hired to write something you find morally repugnant
  • How one game studio is creating a queer-friendly game universe, and
  • The socio-political differences between American and Canadian game studios and the content they create.
Along the way you’ll hear some insider expressions:
  • EA means Electronic Arts, one of the largest game corporations, which fund and distribute games.
  • Studios are the teams of writers, artists, programmers, and others who actually make the games. Small studios fund their own production, but corporations buy the most successful studios to create game empires.
  • An EP is a game’s executive producer, which is like a director in film-making.
  • “Ship a game” means to deliver a completed game to retail stores or legal-download marketplaces. Some people work inside the industry for years on one cancelled game after another, or on a game that takes forever to complete. If someone hasn’t yet “shipped a game,” some veterans dismiss him or her as barely above amateur.
Full disclosure: Jay Turner is a friend of mine, and we co-wrote the Kasumi downloadable content module for BioWare’s Mass Effect 2.

Jay Turner spoke with my by Skype from his home in Orlando on November 5, 2014. He begins by talking about what it’s like being a veteran in the industry.

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