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Getting in the game How you can get involved in games design and development at Edge Hill University

Dr Peter Wright is Senior Lecturer in Speculative Fiction. As well as being a science fiction critic and games writer, Peter teaches across modules in creative writing and English literature. Peter leads game development projects in creative writing in partnership with Crooked Dice Game Design Studio. Hear how Peter’s love of games started and how you could get involved in this at Edge Hill University.

Dr Peter Wright

The reasons I became interested in game writing

I’ve always enjoyed writing and playing games. It just took me about thirty years to put those two things together. The passion driving them both, though, is my love of exploring alternative worlds. I’ve been fascinated by science fiction and fantasy, which have at their heart the creation of new environments, timelines, alien cultures and often radically different perspectives on humanity. I grew up in the 1970s, which was a really rich decade for science fiction and fantasy, so it was easy to become immersed in the genre. When I was in secondary school, my English teacher brought in a little boxed game called Dungeons & Dragons and a whole new range of possibilities opened up for me.

As I got older, I realised the potential of tabletop roleplaying games to provide unique immersive experiences. I started writing adventures for my friends because I wanted them to be able to have fun immersing themselves in worlds and stories that would challenge them, puzzle them and affect them emotionally. So, I think my passion and interest is really driven by those desires. I like to imagine worlds and situations that entertain but also that provoke and perplex.

How you can get involved

On our Creative Writing degrees, we offer modules including Introduction to Writing for Narrative Games, Writing for Roleplaying Games and Writing for Digital Adventure Games, that will allow you to explore and gain skills in game writing and game development.

On top of this, there is extracurricular activities that enable involvement in these games projects and working with Crooked Dice Games Design Studio that are open to students from other courses too. So do ask how you can get involved.

An image of Dr Peter Wright and Karl Perrotton, holding the "Pulp" boxed game.

The collaboration with Crooked Dice Games Design Studio

Our first game, 7TV: Pulp, originated from a chance meeting with Karl Perrotton, the Managing Director of Crooked Dice, at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham in 2017. My meeting with Karl coincided with me starting to think about an opportunity presented by Edge Hill to provide students with internship opportunities. Previous internship projects had always been led by staff with interests in their particular area of expertise – fiction, poetry and drama. I knew I wanted to work on a game-related project, and Edge Hill University Press offered an opportunity to explore a collaborative, creative enterprise with Crooked Dice.

Creative writing students from Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, Lancashire, have created their own unique Fantasy role play game which will shortly go into production.

Previous student involvement

From the beginning we had very clear aims, we wanted to provide our student interns with the opportunity to develop professional creative content and graduate with a publication credit in the form of a boxed game. We also wanted to provide them with all of the opportunities that had been available to previous interns – liaison work, editorial tasks, proofreading opportunities, and events management activities. This ensured that the students gained much needed real-world experience to help them begin and develop their careers.

7TV: Pulp provided such a good opportunity for our students, that we completed a second project – 7TV: Fantasy – with a new group of student interns. With support from Edge Hill’s Student Opportunity Fund we were able to be more ambitious with 7TV: Fantasy, much of which was produced by working together online under lockdown. A new team is now working on our next project 7TV: Dracula with input from Bram Stoker’s great grand-nephew, Dacre Stoker.

The projects have introduced and enhanced knowledge and skills that are applicable in a range of professional contexts. For example, our interns have gained application and interview experience, developed their professional practice as writers in a commercial context, and gained project coordination, management and team working skills, both in person and remotely. They have also had opportunities to apply their research skills in a commercial environment, investigated copyright and public domain materials, and improved their proofreading and copyediting skills. Working with Karl, they’ve had insights into design and editorial processes, writing to a brief, and engaging in client-facing work when the games launched.

The science fiction, fantasy and games I’d recommend

Where to start? I’d always recommend that anyone unfamiliar with the genre start with something contemporary. In science fiction, I’d recommend N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series. In fantasy, I’d suggest Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law Trilogy, which makes Game of Thrones look quaint. In table top gaming, I’d recommend Dungeons and Dragons or Call of Cthulhu for anyone interested in roleplaying games. For those new to board games, Bag of Dungeon is quite fun. For anyone wanting something a little more involved, Gloomhaven is perhaps the most impressive board game concept I’ve seen – and it’s beautifully produced.

July 13, 2022