What Is Narrative Design?

That's a tough question. Partly because a Narrative Designer encompasses so many things.

In the context of the Gaming Industry, the traditional approach has been for studios to create a game first, and bring a writer in near the end of the project to tie everything together. They often called us "Story Doctors" because we patched everything up, got it ready for the road.

But as the fast paced evolution of technology has increased, so too has the need for potent and complex stories within games. Though tradition still prevails from time to time, many studios are starting to see the importance of well-fashioned narratives and are working closely with qualified writers and story experts such as myself to create truly inspiring pieces of fiction.

That's not to say a Narrative Designer is the same thing as a Game Writer. While many Narrative Designers (myself included) will take on the role of Game Writer, a Game Writer is not necessarily a Narrative Designer. What differentiates the two is this: A Game Writer writes the dialogue, story and plot of the game. A Narrative Designer takes a step back and looks to see how the dialogue, story and plot can interact with the game and its mechanics to develop a narrative explanation for the interactive elements.

There are many moving parts one needs to consider, add the fact that audiences expect multiple choices and non linear plots these days, narrative designing becomes quite a complex task, and one best handled by a professional.

As a Narrative Designer, my job is to juggle all these moving parts. It's to see the spark of creativity in your original idea and develop it into a believable, functioning game world. Where I differ from other Narrative Designers however, is in my incorporation of Transmedia techniques to establish not just a world that feels real when your players turn on their console and get involved, but one that also allows for multiple, equally important stories to be told across various forms of media, franchising an idea into graphic novels, web series, VR experiences, etc...

Having this capability to branch out, with the stories already planned from the very beginning allows for universe consistency and continuity, which in turn, encourages a larger, more passionate fan base.