Punchy Writing Portfolios for Games

  • Edwin McRae

Preparing a Portfolio

In the video game storytelling space there are two types of portfolios that you can and should be putting together.

Type 1 = Game Writing Portfolio
Type 2 = Narrative Design Portfolio


Type 1: Game Writing Portfolio

If a story element is presented in words that the player can read or hear then it's classified as front end game writing.


Flavor Texts

Story Glyphs

Codex Tomes

UI Text

The above are but a few of the many forms that game writing can take. Should you be trying to present them all in your portfolio? No... and yes.

No, you shouldn't present your prospective employer with an exhaustive (and exhausting) wall of text that includes every bit of front-facing story you've ever written. Games vary massively in their narrative requirements, so writing samples are limited in their relevance across projects.

Dialogue might be important to a story-driven action adventure game but totally unnecessary for a city builder. Codex Tomes might be vital to a turn-based fantasy game but UI Text will be far more important to a house flip simulator mobile game.

Yes, you need to curate your writing samples to the gig you're applying for at the time. Find out as much as you can about the project, look at the studio's previous, similar games, and then present only the forms of game writing that you know will be useful to your client.

If you are creating an online portfolio on your own website, then carefully compartmentalize and label your different types of writing. Don't make your prospective client sift through your entire body of work. You'll lose them. Make sure your clients can carefully select what they want to engage with.


Type 2: Narrative Design Portfolio

Anything that the player does not see should be featured in your narrative design portfolio. This includes all of the back end work that informs how narrative will be expressed in a game.

Character Profiles

Quest Designs

World Building Docs

Environment Descriptors

Procedural Strategies

User Experience Journeys

Ink Scripts

Branching Diagrams

Your aim with a narrative design portfolio is to show prospective clients and employers that you understand UX in narrative terms. Game devs need to feel confident that you can enrich their game play with story.

It's also this portfolio that shows off your potential for senior narrative positions, that you can think in big picture terms and help to design an all-encompassing experience for the player.

Same display rules apply as game writing, of course. Separate your narrative resources into clear categories that clients can easily navigate.


If you'd like to learn more about portfolios, writing tests and generally getting gigs as a writer in the games industry, have a look at Narrative Design for Writers.

Cheers and thanks for your reading time!


About Edwin McRae

Edwin is a narrative consultant and mentor for the games industry.

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