Occasionally on my days off from scrubbing the pool floor, changing filters, getting Chlorine in my eyes and falling off ladders trying to replace the festive holiday lights permanently fixed to the tiki bar I get a chance to spend some time on things I actually love.
And I’m not talking about spending hours alone weeping and pulling my hair out questioning poor level design, awful difficulty curves and gigantic plot holes as I play my monthly bad video games that the manager ruthlessly opens the door and tosses at me in my hut.
I’m talking about laying on the beach like an even more drunk TJ Miller sharing raw fish with my best buddy, Cookie and reading back issues of EGM. Reminiscing about Periwinkle in his naive youth. Thumbing through every single page of any gaming magazine I could afford while working minimum wage at a grocery store. Using dial up internet to keep up with his favorite writers in the gaming world. Knowing someday he too would be beloved in Japan and by a small but growing contingent in North America as a masterful script writer for an incredible Action Adventure series.
As you now know – obviously that all happened and now I’m just your typical billionaire that spends his free time in between riding in my personal jet made of platinum and naming Elon Musk’s children after cyborg angels writing for the blog because why not? I just love games.
So I guess I decided to create my own little list. I am going to briefly write about my own top five favorite video game writers. And I’m going to ask my co-conspirators on the site and YOU! (yes, you don’t be shy) to follow suit!
Also I don’t want to hear any belly aching about how, “March isn’t Video Game Writer Month” and “You can only write about your favorite writers in August!!” or any other made up blog rules because I don’t give a shit.
BUT – I do want to hear from you and your favorites! Be it video game writers, anime or book authors. Could be anyone – who cares – let’s rejoice in the people that make us happy. Alright let’s start:
These are in no particular order and this list is obviously not a proclamation of who is “the best” or any of that. Just my personal favorites.
Known for: Grand Theft Auto Series, Red Dead Redemption series, Smuggler’s Run, Max Payne 3, Midnight Club, Bully
My Pick: GTA IV
Despite being one of the most commercially successful writers on this list, Dan Houser has always shied away from the celebrity some of his counterparts bask in. Growing up in England with brother Sam – the Housers ultimately ended up in New York creating the upstart Rockstar Games.
While not being created by the Housers they took over chief writing of the Grand Theft Auto series early on and by the third installation single handily revolutionized open world gameplay. The series has since went on to become one of the most popular video game series of all time (selling over 320 million copies). Grand Theft Auto has always been known for its dark humor, satire of American culture and homage to crime movies but with GTA IV the writing truly evolved into epic storytelling. Matching the updated and realistic graphics the gritty story followed anti-hero, Niko Bellic as an off-the-boat immigrant from the Baltics trying to start a new life in America – only to be forced into the same criminal lifestyle he led back home. It’s a mature and dark take on the American Dream and subsequently became an instant classic.
Known for: Horizon Zero Dawn, Fallout: New Vegas, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Horizon, Dungeon Siege: 3
My Pick: Fallout: New Vegas
Most die hard Fallout fans despite what system they swear allegiance to would tell you that they were giddy after Microsoft acquired Bethesda in September of 2020 because of one thing: Bethesda now being reunited with Obsidian Entertainment.
The last game the two companies worked on together was the near perfect, post apocalyptic masterpiece, Fallout: New Vegas.
The high water mark that some Fallout fans fear will never again be reached. Fallout 4 was good but it wasn’t New Vegas and Fallout 76 is unfortunately a stupid bastard child hated by all. But maybe all fans don’t know that in addition to Obsidian and Bethesda kissing and making up they will also need the help of John Gonzalez, the lead writer of New Vegas. The darkest entry in the violent series, perfectly paced and packed with exciting and interesting dialogue trees and characters, Gonzalez deserves a contract worth all the Nuka-Cola caps in the world to lead the writing team for Fallout 5.
Known For: Max Payne, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, Alan Wake, Quantum Break, Control
My Pick: Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
Max Payne was an absolute game changer for me. Revenge. One of the oldest tales ever told reinvented with style, bravado and a smoky verbosity that my friends and I still joke about to this day. The original Max Payne was about guns and Matrix-esque action sequences. In fact, they were on such a tight budget at Remedy that Sam Lake modeled for Max Payne himself, with other programmers lending their likeness for henchman and baddies throughout the game. They even used Sam’s own mom as the main antagonist, Nicole Horne.
But after Max Payne crushed it as a critical and commercial darling – the budget inflated and Lake hung up his modeling cap and turned the storytelling up to 11. The Fall of Max Payne is a masterpiece on several levels, between its submersible baddie dialogue to its expertly crafted Shakespearean-star-crossed-lovers story arc the Fall is not only a PlayStation 2 masterpiece but an achievement in story telling from an underrated modern day master.
Known For: The Nomad Soul, Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy), Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human
My Pick: Beyond: Two Souls
David Cage is a polarizing figure. I will acknowledge that. But thats it. I am only here to discuss writing prowess and even to that end his company, Quantic Dream also draws hard lines in the sand with gamers. You either really love Quantic Dream games or you don’t. There truly doesn’t seem like very much middle ground.
My personal pick probably seems confounding. Beyond: Two Souls was by far Quantic Dream’s least successful release. It was skewered by critics and gamers alike for bad controls. But it was easy to work through these issues with Cage’s script being read by Elliot Page and Willem Dafoe. If this game doesn’t give you the feels than I can’t help you. The acting is elite and Cage’s script keeps up with his talent.
Known for: The Metal Gear Solid Series, Policenauts, Zone of the Enders, Snatcher, Death Stranding
My Pick: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
The master. In the opinion of many (including my own) one of the greatest writers of all time. No one has quite mashed pop culture, action adventure cinema and overall gun powdered existentialism quite as smoothly than Mr. Kojima.
Throughout Kojima’s career one could argue no one has ever imposed a more convincing anti-war argument to teens through visual media. He may have created one of the most badass soldiers of all time but like all man made weapons of destruction he runs the film past the script end. Never afraid to challenge his own genre and medium no writer has ever been as bold as Kojima when it comes to challenging his players to look at the world around them and demand, “Why?”
ADULT SWIM HOURS
My two best friends that I constantly harass when writing any of my articles had some writers to add of their own they were mad I omitted. They know my guys. They know what games I love. But they needed the world to know:
Shigeru Miyamoto is number one. You don’t just write Mario/Zelda/Donkey Kong/F-Zero/Pikmin/Star Fox and get ignored on some idiot’s blog about great video game writers. It just can’t happen.
While that is true. A few faithful readers will remember that I’ve already been thrashed by a Twitter badass for my lack of absolute devotion to everything Nintendo as is. So I might as well continue this disturbing and challenging trend.
Also, this guy:
This curly haired fellow? Neil Druckmann? He is solely responsible for one of my closest friends denouncing Xbox and buying a PlayStation 3. After watching a half an hour or so of Uncharted. I’d say that’s a pretty good endorsement.
Alright so… now it’s your turn.
And in addition to all of my favorite writing partners on the site I have a couple specific bloggers I follow as well. Obviously don’t feel obligated to but I’d be interested to read your favorites:
So there you have it. Who inspires you? Who are your favorites? Join the conversation in the comments below or let me know via social media at: Buffalo Retro