Stephen Gaghan figured out the hard way that writing games is not like writing films. As a screenwriter who is used to crafting layered scenes with revealing dialog he found that such an approach doesn’t always work in the world of games, where the story has to serve the action and player experience.
“You go to your computer and you write in Final Draft. And you are like, ‘I’ve done it! I love this scene! It’s so awesome!’ It’s five pages. It’s so emotional,” says Gaghan. “You wander down the hall and you talk to everybody and they’re like, ‘That’s awesome. Now do it in five lines.’”
Having written the films Rules of Engagement and Syriana (he also did an early rewrite of Black Hawk Down), the Oscar-winning writer of Traffic has a body of work that served him well for taking on the role of writer for Call Of Duty: Ghosts. The 10th main installment of the franchise, released November 5, centers on a team of special forces warriors fighting a South American alliance known as the Federation.
“You are servicing a lot of stuff,” Gaghan says of writing his multi-narrative films. “And because you are crosscutting between intense things, you don’t have a ton of time to establish who people are, to build dynamics between characters. You have to be really efficient. You are constantly compacting with gestures and making dialogue evocative of who people are in the best way you can. I thought that was really applicable to games,” says Gaghan.
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