During her daytime career, Kimberly Hamilton penned hundreds of scripts for Guiding Light and All My Children. However, in recent years, she made the move to a different type of storytelling: mobile gaming. Hamilton, now narrative designer for game developer Jam City, discussed her most successful product - Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery - and the universal nature of storytelling with Forbes.
Hamilton shared there are notable similarities between writing for TV and mobile gaming; journalist Emma Pocock observed that story creators are similar to writers' rooms, "aside from the fact that writers, developers, engineers, artists and musicians collaborate at every stage..."
But there are a few big differences, Hamilton said:
The biggest difference is that as a narrative designer you have to learn the language of tech. You have to find the parallels in television that you know, and find them in tech.
Writing for such games is serialized, so it happens in stages. Jam City has different teams working on different stages of Harry Potter quests.
We have the main plot progression, but also these parallel storylines that have their own narratives. Quidditch has its own separate storyline, and world, and we have separate writers working on that together, because of the different timelines in the game.
Writers for mobile games must take into account differences in pacing between film/TV and other media, in which side quests and plots are sometimes just as important as the original mission.
People are playing these games on the train, in the supermarket line. The story has to be very snackable and bite-sized, and a lot of repetition, so that players can pick it up wherever they’re at, and feel at home in the world, and pick up where they left off. There’s a lot of craft that goes into that, and where to put cliffhangers, and moments that make you want to keep playing.