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I love games almost as much as I love writing. This combination of passions has been my key to working with games publishers around the world. I’m thrilled to contribute to a hobby that means so much to so many.
I’ve worked with games publishers in more than a dozen countries, and have been responsible for:
My work as “the words guy” often qualifies me as a game’s subject-matter expert. This leads to close collaborations with artists and graphic designers, who rely on my notes to create a consistent look and feel across all of a game’s visual elements.
My style sheets include guidance on things like rulebook layout, color choices, and how gameplay examples should be illustrated. Where relevant, this direction also includes character design; the images below were created for Phase Shift Games‘ Age of Heroes setting, according to my notes:
Creative copy helps to tell a game’s story and reveal its themes. As flavor text on cards, and as rulebook callouts, this copy helps to drive a game’s narrative.
Compelling packaging copy attracts attention, and can have a significant impact on a game’s sales. In both cases, my clients have adapted my writing for use on sell sheets, websites, and other promotional materials.
Working on games requires the ability to think analytically about abstract concepts; one must pay attention to hundreds of small details while also keeping the larger picture in mind. My experience allows me to identify places where things have been overlooked, or where a game might suffer “breakage.”
This may be best illustrated by my work on The Game Changers, billed as “an expansion to every game.” My contributions made it possible to transform early concepts into a bulletproof, truly universal expansion. In gratitude for my care and inventiveness, the designer gave me special acknowledgement in the game’s rulebook.
Writing effectively for a licensed property is a special challenge. Brand identities must be maintained, and style guides must be followed to the letter.
This sort of writing requires creativity within constraint, and beyond simply understanding the property, it is crucial to understand how the licensor wants consumers to interact with it.
To be successful at this task, a writer must be trustworthy, knowledgeable, and able to set aside their ego; several examples of licensed properties on which I’ve worked can be found below:
Context is important in defining a game’s narrative, and many games take their inspiration from real-world people, cultures, and events. To honor these origins and educate consumers, these elements should be represented in writing with as much accuracy and sensitivity as possible.
This often requires a fair amount of research, consultation, and negotiation with designers and publishers. I provided relevant cultural and historical context for each of the items illustrated below:
While I am most-often credited as “Editor,” my responsibilities tend to be much more fluid and far-reaching, as evidenced by other examples on this page.
As the bridge between game designer, graphic designer, and publisher, I have a holistic view of the production process. This big-picture perspective allows me to see gaps and liabilities in the process and delegate tasks as issues become apparent. In the end, a game won’t go to print until I’ve signed off on every one of its printed materials.
My work on Petersen Games‘ Cthulhu Wars Onslaught 3 illustrates my points:
Cthulhu Wars is Petersen’s flagship product, and their Onslaught 3 edition featured nearly 400 pages of printed materials, all of which fell under my responsibility.
Beyond essential editing, I reconciled errata, negotiated rules changes, and directed several graphic designers on necessary layout changes. As a subject matter expert, I had to learn the details of more than 40 different modules and find ways to make them “bulletproof.” That is to say, unambiguous and unbreakable in any combination.
I negotiated numerous rules changes with the designer, instituted new workflow procedures, and made executive decisions with regard to the suggestions of our team of volunteer proofreaders. Frequent changes by the design team required constant vigilance, as each adjustment had the potential to cause a cascade of unforeseen problems; it fell to me to communicate these changes to other members of the team and make sure that everyone was aware of and working on the latest version(s).
With final editorial approval on all printed materials, it was only with my sign-off that the game’s thousand-plus discrete elements were authorized to go to print; I am proud to say that despite these challenges, the final result was a flawlessly gorgeous luxury product.
Rules are critical to a game’s success. After all, what good are cool components, novel mechanics, and a respected designer if no one can actually figure out how to play the game?
A rulebook needs to be absolutely clear and consistent, as any ambiguity has the potential to break the game. That’s where I come in – I understand the way games work, and I’m skilled at adapting rulebooks to be “bulletproof” and as user-friendly as possible.
These talents are why publishers around the world trust their games to my care again and again, and why their translators rely on my work as their source for converting rulebooks into other languages.
Stories help sell games. After all, “managing a global trading empire” is a lot more compelling than “pushing cubes on a map.” Beyond that, every gamer has personal-favorite stories from the table – memorable moments shared for years after the game is over.
This can happen with any game, even those deemed “abstract,” but the most memorable moments come from games whose fiction is pre-established. I’ve written some great in-game stories, and it’s mind-blowing for me to hear people talk fondly about moments that I helped to create.
As an example, I built the world of Phase Shift Games‘ “The Known Lands,” establishing this new world’s cultures, religions, histories, mythologies, and even geography. I also wrote stories for promotional videos (see below) and developed portions of interactive fiction, connecting multiple games across a shared narrative.
Many of the games on which I’ve worked were successfully funded on Kickstarter, as indicated by the table below:
GAME PUBLISHER FUNDING (in USD)
Chivalry & Sorcery 5th ed. Britannia Game Designs 43,337
Cthulhu Wars Onslaught 3 Petersen Games 1,076,211
Dreidel Revolution Unusual Accomplishments 10,270
Dungeon Drop Phase Shift Games 259,695
Europa Universalis Aegir Games 578,631
Expedition Horror Fabricate.io 64,663
Firenze – Raiatea – Counterfeiters Quined Games 68,875
Glorantha The Gods War Petersen Games 585,473
Gondola Big Kid Games 18,924
Halloween Quined Games 22,193
Isaribi Eagle-Gryphon Games 22,456
La Cosa Nostra Quined Games 36,485
La Cosa Nostra – Guns for Hire Quined Games 22,254
La Stanza Quined Games 63,202
Neo-Morphosis: Infestation Dark Gate Games 233,041
New Osaka Daso Games 9,330
Titan Dice Eagle-Gryphon Games 16,906