Chris Avellone on Video Game Narratives

Play Diaries, a website dedicated to video game storytelling, recently had an opportunity to pick Chris Avellone’s brain for over 2 hours. And while the full transcript of that particular chat is still on the way, right now we can check out an edited-down version of the interview that touches upon Mr. Avellone’s early career, his approach to creating a story, his vision for the future of narrative-driven games, and more. Here are a few paragraphs to get you started:

First getting the itch to write for a living

“Well, I started out with pen and paper tabletop games. So for me when I realized how much I enjoyed gamemastering, it was sort of a next logical step that because it was pen and paper to get involved in that industry and write modules and write adventures or write character books, you sort of by default were the writer. You weren’t the artist or the illustrator per se, you were just the guy who would write the arc for the module.

“I guess I always was writing by default which I enjoyed. And I just loved writing and then the idea that I could write for videogames was sort of many years later where it hadn’t occurred to me from the outset. It was only when Interplay had its D&D division and then suddenly, there was a connection there. Like, ‘Oh, well, You know, I understand D&D’ and it hadn’t occurred to me that I could write D&D for computer games, I was only thinking of the tabletop industry.

“And I’m like, ‘Well, you know, that seems like it’d work well, that would also be a steady paycheck. So I’m like, ‘Okay, that sounds cool. Like I could write for digital games during my 40 hour work week and then in the after-hours, I could write for pen and paper games. But then when I got in the industry, I discovered that I was actually enjoying writing for digital games just full time and having a blast with it. So it was just kind of a transition there.