When we think of textbooks, it’s usually with a groan. Most of the time, textbooks aren’t very fun or interesting. However, when I took a Writing for Video Games class, our textbook was really valuable and I actually enjoyed reading it.
In-Game: From Immersion to Incorporation by Gordon Calleja describes the player involvement model and the different ways that video games engage players and create compelling stories. It explains how to immerse a player and discusses all the different aspects of a game that affect their experience and outcome. The player involvement model includes six levels of involvement: Kinesthetic (controls), Spatial (setting), Shared (other players), Narrative (story), Affective (emotion), and Ludic (choices and consequences). A lot of the information can even be applied to other mediums like tabletop RPGs and regular books—not just video games.
I used this textbook with all my writing projects and can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from it. It’s really interesting to see how many pieces work together to create a successful video game; there’s a lot more to it than just making it pretty and fun. If you take a class on video game writing or just want to learn more about video games, I definitely recommend picking up Calleja’s In-Game: From Immersion to Incorporation.