Story for Video Games

The course

Take your games to the next level.

Strong narrative is key to engaging and retaining players. Learn the story-structure essentials that will help you craft richer, more compelling games.

Over seven weeks you’ll master story principles for games and 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.

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 from the games industry.

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

Meet your course director

John Yorke

John Yorke is widely acknowledged as the UK’s foremost expert on story, and his book Into the Woods is the bestselling book on the subject in the UK. John’s worked on some of the world’s most lucrative, widely viewed and critically acclaimed TV drama, from EastEnders to Shameless, Life on Mars and Wolf Hall.

Meet your course director

Caroline Marchal

Caroline is the CEO and Creative Director for independent narrative studio INTERIOR/NIGHT, based in London. The team are working hard on their first IP, As Dusk Falls. Before this, Caroline lead the game design team on the critically acclaimed Heavy Rain and Beyond – Two Souls at Quantic Dream.

In partnership with John Yorke Story

Accessible, industry-focused CPD training and consultancy for professionals at any stage of their career. Online learning led by BAFTA-winning John Yorke, author of bestselling book on story structure Into the Woods.

CPD certified

This course has been independently accredited for integrity and quality. It reaches globally recognised CPD standards and benchmarks for active learning that develops professional skills, competence and career aspirations.

How it works

We give you the theory in the form of videos, podcasts, written lectures and reading extracts. In the case of our live workshops, this includes a live online seminar.

You put it into practice by completing the writing assignments.

You share your work with the small group of fellow writers and the teaching team.

Your tutor and fellow learners read your work and give professional-style feedback on your submission. Giving feedback notes helps to build your skills as an editor - a critical part of the writing process.

You reflect on the exercises with the group and share what you’ve learned.

You use what you learned from the feedback and discussions to review your work and improve it.

Things to know

This CPD training is for anyone who wants to develop their talent in the industry and create richer player experiences. It’s suitable if you:

  • Are a game writer or narrative designer looking to build on your skills
  • Are new to game writing and want to understand what a development team needs from a writer and how to structure your work
  • Work in other areas of game development and publishing, be it as a designer, producer, programmer or artist etc.

Our alumni include a former Lead Writer at Telltale, the Lead Level Designer at Mediatonic (Fall Guys), the Lead Story Editor at Ubisoft, and a BAFTA Breakthrough producer from Ustwo (Monument Valley II).

This professional training allows you to:

  • Gain the narrative skills to better integrate story into the production process, ensure story is heard within a development team, and resolve problems where game design requirements feel at odds with story needs
  • Master story structure, and ways to use the principles of narrative to produce more effective stories, and diagnose and fix story problems
  • Refresh your skills and understand decisions you’ve always made using instinct
  • Gain a more specific narrative vocabulary for communicating within a team
  • Distill your thoughts at the planning stage, and exert greater control over drama as you work on games
  • Gain greater understanding of industry expectations and processes within development teams
  • Clearly identify and pursue your potential
  • Develop the professional skills required to create games (eg discipline, attention to detail, ability to work to deadlines)
  • Increase your professionalism in working with others
  • Practise giving effective feedback and receiving critical notes
  • Network with others in the industry, and with the tutor team and special guests
  • Build greater independence, autonomy and critical judgment as you self-direct, self-manage and realise your assignments and final pitches to the course briefs.

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.

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 games writing, 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 [email protected]

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

The games industry needs more women and we’re committed to helping encourage more female talent on the scene.

The bursary covers 25% of the regular course price and is available to one female applicant for each iteration of this course. To apply, email John Yorke Story and tell the team 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 John Yorke Story’s latest bursary and funding opportunities.

The team

Meet your course team

John Yorke

Narrative expert

John Yorke is widely acknowledged as the UK’s foremost expert on story, and his book Into the Woods is the bestselling book on the subject in the UK. John’s worked on some of the world’s most lucrative, widely viewed and critically acclaimed TV drama, from EastEnders to Shameless, Life on Mars and Wolf Hall.

More about John Yorke

Caroline Marchal

CEO of Narrative Games Studio

Caroline is the CEO and Creative Director for independent narrative studio INTERIOR/NIGHT, based in London. The team are working hard on their first IP, As Dusk Falls. Before this, Caroline lead the game design team on the critically acclaimed Heavy Rain and Beyond – Two Souls at Quantic Dream.

More about Caroline Marchal

Stuart Maine

Game Designer

Stuart has been a video game designer for 26 years, working across console, PC and mobile platforms, and was one of the founders of Well Played Games, where he still works as Principal Designer. He’s also written the scripts for many games, including new and established IP (Transformers, SpongeBob Squarepants, Warhammer, etc). His book I’m Too Young To Die: The Ultimate Guide to First-Person Shooters 1992 – 2002, will be published in late 2022 by Bitmap Books.

 

More about Stuart Maine

Shimon

Shimon Alkon

Game Designer

Shimon is a (Narrative) Game Designer and Game Writer who is currently based in Seattle, Washington. He also designs, develops, and facilitates workshops and course offerings for the Game Design Department at the DigiPen Institute of Technology, and a variety of game companies.

More about Shimon Alkon

Chay Collins

Moderator

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