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Getting in the game

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 has recently been involved in game development projects in creative writing in partnership with Crooked Dice Game Design Studio. Hear all about this and how you could get involved.

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 alternate 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.

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

The Edge Hill University Press and Crooked Dice 7TV games project

7TV: Pulp originated in 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 the opportunity presented by Edge Hill University Press. As well as providing students with internship opportunities, previous EHUP projects had always been led by staff with interests in their particular area of expertise – fiction, poetry and drama. The press had also seen considerable critical success nationally and internationally. 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.

Edge Hill students involved in the 7TV Fantasy game.

The 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 – the 7TV: Pulp boxed game. We also wanted to provide them with all of the opportunities that had been available to previous EHUP interns – liaison work, editorial tasks, proofreading opportunities, and events management activities; ensuring the students gained much needed real-world experience to help them begin and develop their careers.

The project introduced and enhanced knowledge and skills that were applicable in a range of professional contexts. Our interns gained application and interview experience, developed their professional practice as writers in a commercial context, and gained project coordination, management and teamworking skills, both in person and remotely. They 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 had insights into design and editorial processes, writing to a brief, and engaging in client-facing work when the game launched.

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

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 boardgames, Bag of Dungeon is quite fun; for anyone wanting something a little more involved, Gloomhaven is perhaps the most impressive boardgame concept I’ve seen – and it’s beautifully produced.

Want to explore how to bring your own fictional worlds to life in a game? 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.