Book Review: Video Game Storytelling by Evan Skolnick

It isn't often that I sit down with a "how to" book. I prefer fiction, and it usually doesn't take much more than a quick Google search to find similar information for free. However, Video Game Storytelling: What Every Developer Needs to Know about Narrative Techniques is one that caught my eye. As an avid gamer, amateur writer, and aspiring game designer... well, surely there would be something in this book I would love, right?

The Good
If you have any desire to tell stories, regardless of what medium you use to tell them, this book has some nuggets of wisdom that will keep you on the right track. Skolnick does a fine job of explaining Joseph Campbell's monomyth. Given that the examples he uses are from pop culture rather than obscure literary references, I'd argue that he did a better job explaining this than any of my high school teachers or college professors did.

The Bad
At the end of the day, this isn't the kind of book most people would read for fun. Skolnick has a very casual style, which helps, but it still reads like a textbook.

Video Game Storytelling does exactly what it claims to do: provide developers with lots of tips, tools, and warnings to help make sure that amazing games don't end up with horrendous stories. If you do any sort of storytelling, the first third of this book is chock full of good advice. If you are in any way involved in video game development, the same is true from cover to cover. If you're a game developer who struggles with getting the story just right, this is a must-read.

Note: Special thanks to for providing me a free review copy of this title.
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