Game Development Reference
Writing for Sports Games
A whole chapter on this? You cannot be serious!
Can there really be much more to writing on a sports title than commentary,
tutorials, maybe some character comments, and some on-screen text? (And when
you look at something like Wii Sports tennis, you don't seem to even need any of
Well, often there isn't any more to it than that. And that's because nothing
else is needed—because anything else wouldn't help the game. Sports are essentially
physical activities, so it follows that the core gameplay experience is about replicating
or simulating these activities.
However, even delivering commentary, tutorials, character comments, and on-
screen text requires research—each sport has its own glossary, and you can bet the
people playing it know their double faults from their in-swinging yorkers, their curve
balls from their linebackers, and their crossover dribbles from their step overs. If you
get hired to work on a game and you've played the actual sport for any length of time,
the glossary could well be second nature to you. But sometimes you'll have to board
the research bullet train and learn lots quickly—go see matches, fights, games, races
(or whatever the right term is for the sport in question) and try to take in as much
as you can. If you don't, the gaps in your knowledge will soon be exposed. Take a
voice recorder, take a notebook, and listen to what the crowd says—and if you go to
a soccer match in the UK for the first time, don't be surprised if you can't use any of
it if your game is supposed to go out with an E for Everyone rating. But you take my
point—get yourself out there and research it. Watch it on TV, too—the chances are
excitement and involvement that comes from the TV pundits.