Do you want to know more about how to improve your portfolio for specific job areas within game development? In our Portfolio Tips series, we let our experts share their top 5 tips on how to do just that! Here’s 5 portfolio tips from Anna Megill, Lead Writer at Massive Entertainment.
To create a portfolio that gets you noticed, remember PROSE:
The main point of your portfolio is to showcase your skills, so only include your best, most polished work. Never include work that hasn’t had an editing pass by another set of eyes. You can’t see your own mistakes, but employers sure can. This seems obvious, I know, but I’ve seen some sloppy samples over the years. It looks unprofessional.
Game writers work on a wide variety of tasks within the project. You’ll write dialogue and cinematics, of course, but you’ll also write barks, objectives, item descriptions, letters, codex entries, and various other bits of text. I even wrote song lyrics and poetry for some games. You never know what the needs of the project might be, so cover your bases. Have samples of each type of writing, from screenplays to UI strings. If you can, include links to some form of interactive writing, too, like a Twine game. Show that you can write everything a game needs.
Think about the presentation of your samples within the portfolio. It’s tempting to order them chronologically, like a resume, but that’s not necessarily the best way. Always lead with your strongest work. If the studio likes it, they’ll read more. But if it’s not great, they’ll never skip down to see the dazzling cinematics you wrote for a project three years ago.
You will end up writing for some wildly different IPs in your career. Each project has its own style and tone: dark and gritty, comedic, cyberpunk—even New Weird. Your samples should show that you can write to order in any of these styles. If all I see in your portfolio are high fantasy cutscenes, then I might not hire you to write for a contemporary thriller game.
Above all, make your portfolio easy to access. Many studios will ask you to submit a few short samples as pdfs. Give them what they ask for, but also include a link to your full portfolio. Set up a webpage with all of your work, and let the studio know there’s more good stuff tucked away there. It’s also a great way to feature Twine games and other interactive media that don’t work well as documents.
Finally, understand that a good writing portfolio tells a story. It tells studios who you are as a creator and what journey you took to reach their door. It shows them what you can offer, the depth and breadth of your skill, and how well you’ll fit into their project. Tell that story, and you’ll land the gig. Good luck!