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BioShock, Far Cry 2 and Tomb Raider writer sees her role as 'an advocate for the player's emotional journey'

As a video game writer, Susan O'Connor believes it is her job to serve as "an advocate for the player's emotional journey," the BioShock, Far Cry 2 and Tomb Raider writer told the Gameological Society.

O'Connor, who has been writing video games for nearly a decade, said that her goal is to imbue meaning into the experience, but that writing is only part of her job. The other involves collaborating with those working on gameplay.

"When I think about my job as the writer, I think about it not in terms of being in charge of the dialogue and the words per se, but really an advocate for the player's emotional journey," O'Connor said. "I see it encompassing both gameplay and cutscene or whatever you want to call story elements. It's not always that way, but I try to think about it that way. I try to interact with other people on the team that way. The people who are the biggest storytellers in games are level designers. Those are the people who really have control over what the player is going to feel. The way to really make the story meaningful is to collaborate with them, and to make sure the stuff you're thinking and what they're thinking is at least aligning or resonating on [the] same level. They have to talk to each other, but when they don't, it's just random shit followed by random cutscene followed by random shit."

O'Connor also revealed that she's struggled with "an ongoing dissatisfaction" writing for games that has led her to consider leaving the industry.

"I'm way more interested in telling stories about different kinds of characters," she told Gameological. "I don't want to tell stories that involve shooting or being shot at. I'm all for violence at some points, but I think game stories can be black and white, because of the way the stories are told. You don't have a lot of time to get a lot of stuff across. It's a lot easier to be like, 'Here's a guy. Go shoot him.'"

For more on Susan O'Connor, her theories and her career writing for video games, you can watch her TEDxBeaconStreet talk below.

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