John Yorke Story: Story for Video Games

The video games industry increasingly recognises that strong narrative is critical to engage and retain players. Learn how to structure great stories for video games, then write your treatment and get feedback from John Yorke and Caroline Marchal

Do you work in the gaming industry and want to learn how to craft richer, more engaging games? Or are you a writer intrigued by the possibilities of telling interactive stories?

This seven-week course, devised by story expert John Yorke and experienced narrative game designer Caroline Marchal and run with our partners at John Yorke Story, will introduce you to the principles of story structure, as set out in John’s bestselling book Into the Woods and applied to video games.

You’ll learn about the relationship between player and protagonist, discover how to merge story and gameplay, master story structure techniques for games and understand how to work as part of a development team. Finally, you’ll write a story treatment for your own game, which you can submit for feedback.

Heavy Rain video game PS3 cover image

Only 20% of players complete games — that’s very low. But the completion rate of narrative games is 60–70% — three times higher.

Caroline Marchal

Lead Game Designer, Heavy Rain and Beyond - Two Souls

I want studios that make story-based games to start taking their stories more seriously. And that doesn’t mean hiring a big shot writer from Hollywood; it means that story becomes integral to making your game. I don’t see how you can achieve that without having an in-house writer that sits next to the designer, helping them make their levels, talking with the engineers about where we can tell the story more dynamically, pushing at technology.

Neil Druckmann

Creative Director at Naughty Dog (Uncharted, The Last of Us)


Start date: 16 May 2022 **
Duration: 7 weeks
Skill level: Intermediate
Session length: Weekly
Sessions: 6
Price: £900 (inc. VAT where applicable)

** We are accepting late enrolments for a limited time

Course Director

Story for Video Games has been designed for anyone who loves and plays video games, and is interested in how to tell engaging game stories. It explores the principles of storytelling and goes deeper than traditional scriptwriting courses by applying these principles to video games.

It’s ideal if you’re a writer looking to work in a different, ever-expanding medium, a video game professional looking to create richer and more engaging experiences, or a student wanting to work in the industry.

We teach this course in groups of up to 15 people. You can book as an individual for the group course, and video games companies can block-book a dedicated class exclusively for their teams.

This is a professional development course and so you may be able to get funding from your employer to do it. All participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion evidencing their learning and study hours.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Are involved in developing or publishing video games, be it as a designer, producer, artist or programmer, etc.
  • Are new to video game writing and want to learn how to plan and structure your work
  • Want to understand what a development team needs from a writer
  • Want to learn how to see the underlying framework behind all stories everywhere — both in video games and traditional media
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
  • Can dedicate 4-5 hours per week for the duration of the course

Massively successful video games like Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto or The Witcher feature exciting gameplay AND great stories. This course focuses on story’s primary colours, the fundamental principles you need to write great narrative, and on the techniques to adapt these principles to video games.

There’s a balance of theory and practice but in each session you’ll work through practical exercises based on acclaimed video games — from Uncharted to Life is Strange — and films and TV shows like The Godfather or Battlestar Galactica.

You’ll work within a supportive group of learners with Caroline Marchal and John Yorke on hand to answer your questions and give you feedback at the end of the course.

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: 12 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.


We teach this course in our online classroom, which is open 24/7 so you can fit learning around your work, family and friends. You’ll work in a small group of learners so you can discuss ideas, ask questions and share your writing as you progress through the weekly sessions.

You’ll learn from:

  • Short podcasts from John Yorke and Caroline Marchal
  • Short videos from John and Caroline
  • Written guidance notes and carefully selected reading and playing lists devised by John and Caroline
  • Practical exercises and prompts, devised by John and Caroline to help you experiment and practise your skills as you work toward developing your own game ideas
  • Guided discussions with your group
  • The chance to ask John and Caroline questions
  • The opportunity to share your work and give and receive feedback from fellow writers
  • Detailed tutor feedback on your treatment at the end of the course

You’ll need:

  • 4-5 hours per week to work through the course
  • Access to the following games:
    • Reigns (Windows/Mac/Linux, Android/iOS)
    • The Writer Will Do Something (browser)
    • Prior knowledge of The Last of Us (PS3/PS4) is ideal but not mandatory
  • A laptop or computer* with:
    • A reliable broadband internet connection
    • Speakers or headphones
    • The latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, or Safari
    • Microsoft Word. If you don’t have this you can download Open Office free
    • Adobe Reader, latest version. Download free
    • QuickTime Player, latest version. Download free

*You can access the course from a tablet or smartphone, but we recommend using a laptop or computer, as this makes it easier to share your work files with your writing group.

Join our alumni

After your course, you can join our online alumni where you’ll meet our growing network of past students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.

Within our online alumni area you can:

  • Rejoin your classmates on a private forum and access an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
  • Meet alumni from other courses and groups and share your work for feedback on our alumni critiquing forum
  • Join in on discussions about reading, writing, editing and ideas on our general discussion forum. This is also where we share news and useful info
  • Retain access to our resources area, which has interesting and informative links
  • Chat with other people online using the alumni area live chatroom. We also host live chats with guests here

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

Taking things further

If you’d like to continue on to another John Yorke Story or Professional Writing Academy course, we’ll give you a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

What our students say...

I’ve learned so much on John Yorke’s course — I understand what elements are required to make a story tick. I’ve somehow absorbed those over the duration of the course to the point where they feel really natural and intuitive.

Writing the treatment at the end really opened my eyes to what doing this for real would entail.


What our students say...

All the help and feedback during the course has been fantastic, and as a result of the course, I feel much more confident about tackling difficult story lines than I ever have done before.


What our students say...

I have previously attended script courses, for example, the Robert McKee one, and there is no comparison. John Yorke’s teaching methods are far more in depth and vibrant and the industry guests full of inspiration, generous with their hot tips and insightful.


What our students say...

I found the clips really useful in illustrating the taught material. It was also useful having the lecture notes to take away, but it was the clips that really made me understand what I was being taught.


Ready to start writing?

Price: £900 (inc. VAT where applicable)
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