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How to Bring Story and Gameplay Together

Susan O'Connor

Registration for this course is now closed.

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Course Information

Course Fee

$999 (approx. £750) per student.

Seating is limited to ensure each student has time with the instructor, and registration for these courses will be closed when capacity is reached. Purchasing a GDC Masterclass pass also gives you full access to the AI Summit at Tobacco Dock London during London Tech Week.

Course Description

Designers want to build a great game. Writers want to craft an amazing story. They’re on the same team, pursuing the same goal: create an unforgettable experience for the player. So why are these collaborations so tricky? Some days, it can seem like they’re speaking two different languages. What gets in the way, and how can we improve the process? After working on over 25 games, from indie to AAA, Susan O’Connor has developed a set of best practices that any team can use to get writers and designers moving in the same direction. This two-day, hands-on, interactive workshop will help you ship your best work yet.

Course Type

Virtual two-day course: This is a single course that takes place completely virtually over Zoom for two four-hour days with limited breaks.

Intended Audience

This masterclass is for writers, designers, and any developer who plays a role in creating a playable story. Attendees who have shipped a title will benefit most from this experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover why, when it comes to bringing story and gameplay together, the answer is to create the right problems
  • Practice using straightforward tools that will protect your game from the “design versus narrative” breakdowns that plague most projects
  • Get hands-on experience with a practical, step-by-step approach to story development, designed from the ground up with collaboration in mind
  • Discover strategies for resolving tension between writers and designers
  • Evaluate the tools other studios use to facilitate communication between narrative designers, writers, and gameplay designers
  • Explore case studies from successful games to find best practices you can apply to your current project



Instructor Bio

Susan’s first job as a game writer was for “a slumber party game -for girls!” She’s gone on to work on over 25 projects, including award-winning titles in the BioShock, Far Cry,and Tomb Raider franchises. Titles in her portfolio have sold over 30 million copies and generated over $500 million in sales. She is an adjunct professor at UT Austin, where she teaches a course on writing for games. A long time ago, she founded the Game Narrative Summit at GDC. Now, she partners with studios, publishers, and writers to help teams ship great games with great stories. You can also find her at The Narrative Department  where she teaches a six-week course dedicated to supporting creatives to grow their skills, knowledge, and confidence in game-writing.


Connecting the Global Game Development Community