Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have advice for getting a job writing games?

Writing for games is a funny field with people bringing their experience from all over. At Telltale our writing team includes novelists, playwrights, TV writers, indie filmmakers… It sounds like cliched advice, but honestly the best thing you can do to get a job writing for games is to start making games of your own using some of the many amazing free tools out there like Twine, Unity, Adventure Game Studio, and Game Maker. Once you've made games, share them with people, collaborate.... there are tons of game jams and communities out there that you can join - a few of those under your belt and you'll suddenly have a portfolio!

I think I'd be a great video game writer. I have lots of ideas.

Well, first of all that's not a question, second of all... "Having ideas" isn't really what being a video game writer is all about. Everyone "has ideas." Being a video game writer is... well, maybe you should just read veteran game writer David Gaider's article on being a game writer.

What games have you worked on?

I was a writer at Telltale from May 2013 - September 2018 and in that time I was fortunate to work on The Walking Dead Season 2, Tales from the Borderlands, Minecraft: Story Mode, Minecraft: Story Mode - The Adventure Pass, Batman: The Telltale Series, Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2, and Telltale’s upcoming game based on Stranger Things.

What do you write besides video games?

Outside of video games, I also write cartoons, feature films and I've been starting to branch out into TV, comics, and VR experiences. None of those have actually been made yet though. (Watch this space in 2019 though....)

How did you get on the Forbes "30 Under 30" list?

Honestly? No idea. I was told that I was nominated, asked to answer a few questions about myself, and then found out only about an hour before everyone else did. Definitely a big honor, if an unexpected amount of attention to get all of a sudden.

What college should I attend to become a writer?

When I was in high school I actually sent a letter to Brad Bird (the screenwriter and director of The Incredibles, Iron Giant, Ratatouille) asking him the same exact question. My dream was to be a writer for animated movies and it was so hard to figure out how to achieve that goal, where to go to college, what to study... He gave me some great advice: Write as much as you can, and go to whatever school will teach you to be a better storyteller. I ended up going to the University of Southern California (USC) to study animation and screenwriting, I have friends who are wonderful writers who went to Emerson, NYU, Brown... There are lots of great film schools all over the country, but almost every liberal arts college or university these days is going to have classes on writing and/or film which, if you work hard, can give you the education you need to start becoming a great writer.

Do you have recommendations for books about screenwriting?

Here are a few of the books I recommend to beginning writers:

  • Story by Robert McKee - This one is pretty thick, but all the lessons are gold. Really great book on story, character, etc. in a way that's not specific to screenwriting but just writing in general.

  • Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder - Some people don't like this one because it turns screenwriting into a formula, but it's also one of the best beginner screenwriting books ever written. The examples used in it are a teeny bit old, but the lessons all hold up.

  • Screenplay by Syd Fields - An older book, but still a classic. Fantastic book about scene construction, formatting, dialogue, etc.

Do you think having a writing degree is important for being a writer?

Unlike some jobs that like to ask about your degree and where you went to college, when you're trying to get work as a writer, people don't necessarily care where you went to school, what your degree is in... they care that you're good at writing and that you're a hard worker. I think the most valuable things college can teach you are the value of hard work, how to be organized, and how to be a professional, kind person. Wherever you end up going to school, whatever you end up studying, you should use it as an opportunity to learn as much as you can about everything and develop the skills you need to be hard-working and dedicated to your craft.

What is your favorite video game?

I'm going to cheat and list off some of my favorites in no particular order: The Monkey Island series, Psychonauts, Grim Fandango, Beyond Good & Evil, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Kirby's Dreamland, Super Smash Bros. (N64).

What software do you use to write?

I use Final Draft (for screenplays) and Apple Pages (for everything else). But honestly what I use to write the most are my notebooks and pens. I like the feeling of actually scratching away at paper.

Will you read my script/play my game/give me feedback and advice?

Send me an email at eric.stirpe@gmail.com. I can't promise I'll respond right away, but I'll do my best.