Friday, August 19, 2016

Game Editing Demystified

In this article, game designer Sande Chen examines the little known role of game editors in game development.

With increasing budgets and the need for costly voice recording, some game companies are employing teams of editors as well as writers on large game projects.  If you consider Fallout 4 had over 111,000 lines of voiceover dialog, which was recorded over the span of years, there's a need for consistency of style, pronunciation, and character personality in these recordings.  On an organizational level, it helps that there's someone there who is keeping track of how to pronounce fictional names and locations as well as guarding the lore.
Photo by Stan Jourdan (Flickr)

In addition to working with voiceover directors, game editors of course work with writers to refine their text, just as a book editor would do with an author.  Editors ensure continuity across branching narrative, which may be sprawling.  Their job is not to rewrite the story, but to make everything better.  This includes the normal proofreading tasks of fixing grammar mistakes and typos.

Game editors also work with localization teams on issues of cultural sensitivity or copyright infringement.  They may be on hand to give advice on how to avoid unknowingly offending certain groups.

According to Cameron Harris, who helped launch the IGDA Game Editing SIG and accompanying Facebook group, the efforts of game editors saved Bioware over 1 million dollars on the Mass Effect trilogy through a reduction of word count and overall oversight.

Clearly, game editors make an impact on the bottom line as well as on the quality of the narrative.

Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose work has spanned 10 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She is one of the founding members of the IGDA Game Design SIG.


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