Game Development Reference
to create a storyline. The subject matter expert's responsibility is to make sure the
writer understands what learning objectives are needed in the story and dialogue.
Here is an example of some dry, textbook language you might receive:
A massive object will not have a change in velocity (v) unless acted upon
by a net Force (F).
Every force (F1) has an opposite twin force (-F2).
Acceleration (a) is equal to net Force (F) divided by (m).
Velocity (v) is equal to net Momentum (P) divided by (m).
Position (x) is equal to net Work (W) divided by net Force (F).
Conservation Laws: Mass, Energy, Momentum.
As an exercise, you may want to translate this language into entertaining dialogue
between two opposed characters.
In most cases, the expert's work is simply presented as information for the writer
to know and absorb, not as something to be translated directly into fun dialogue.
More often than not, the subject matter expert will be thrilled to provide resources
for study, so be prepared to sort through a deluge of information. It will be the
writer's job to figure out how and when to weave that information into dialogue or
When there is limited interaction with the subject matter expert, the writer will
have to do research on the side. When there is a lot of interaction, the writer is
blessed with a fact checker but will have to decide based on the learning objectives
and fun factor how much of this information will end up in the game.
Translating Facts into Fun
As any writer knows, good fiction has a basis in facts. Well-researched facts add
to the believability of the scenario, setting, and/or characters. Some authors even
pay research assistants to gather this information. When working in serious games,
writers have the unique opportunity to work with subject matter experts who may
have spent years studying the subject matter.
As was mentioned before, subject matter experts are willing to share their knowl-
edge but are not obligated to create a storyline for the game. That's the writer's job.
With direct access to a subject matter expert, a writer should not be afraid to use that
expertise. In order to write factual dialogue or a story based on facts, the writer needs
to constantly check with the subject matter expert. This is of utmost importance
since the serious game will not be judged by game reviewers but by other experts
in that field. So, if the writer includes a far-fetched plotline or inaccurate speech
patterns in the serious game, it calls into question the validity of the entire game.
When the writer has no access to a subject matter expert for questioning, the
writer needs to do additional research to supplement the writing. For example, when
working on Legacy Interactive's veterinary simulation Pet Pals: New Leash on Life ,