When you play a video game, do you find the detail, depth and originality of the story has the greatest effect upon your experience?

You’re not alone.

Let’s take a look at the writers who have given us some of the most memorable video game stories and characters of all time. 

The five best video game writers of all time are Susan O’Connor, Kazushige Nojima, Yuichiro Tanaka, Eric Barone and Greg Kasavin. These writers are responsible for creating the most compelling and highly awarded games of recent years, many with multiple successes over long careers.

Susan O’Connor

O’Connor has been writing for games since 1998, and as an award-winning freelancer, has contributed to the story development of games like BioShock and Far Cry 2.

O’Connor also wrote the scripts and dialogue for Gears of War, and has story and writer credits for games developed out of globally respected franchises like Tomb Raider, Star Wars and Warhammer.

O’Connor has been held up as one of the most prolific and successful female writers working on video games today!

Kazushige Nojima

Nojima worked for SquareEnix until 2003, developing some of the most beautiful games we know and love: Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy X (and X-2) and the Kingdom Hearts series.

These games hang around 80-90% on Metacritic, but trust us when we say these are undoubtedly some of the best written games ever: Nojima takes players on deeply emotional and affecting adventures with characters who remain beloved long after the gameplay’s complete. 

Yuichiro Tanaka

Responsible for delivering Persona 5, one of the most memorable RPG game stories of all time, Tanaka has become a highly respected video game writer.

Persona 5 has a Metacritic rating of 95% on PC and on PS4.

You’ll be struck by the verisimilitude of the world and characters you encounter while playing Persona 5, and by the beauty of the world.

More than anything else though, Persona 5 offers rich dialogue and scenarios to play through.

Tanaka also worked with Atlus, the same studio, on the writing of Catherine, Persona 4 and Persona 3. 

Eric Barone

If you’re going to watch any of the videos in this article, make it this one!

Barone created Stardew Valley entirely on his own from the ground up, writing the story, developing the characters, script and dialogue and developing the world.

Barone even composed the score of the game.

He set himself the task of developing a game with all the elements he loved and remembered from his time playing the Harvest Moon series, a game developed by Natsume which has seen countless versions and remakes, with arguably few as good as the original installments.

Keep an eye out for Haunted Chocolatier, which Barone recently announced and will release as soon as he feels he has been able to perfect the game!

Greg Kasavin

One of the best game writers of recent years, Kasavin developed the story for Hades, a roguelike RPG widely named game of the year when released by Supergiant Games in 2020.

With Hades, Kasavin has delivered an all-time titan of video game writing which draws richly from Greek myth to deliver an original, but also deeply archetypal exploration of highly relatable tropes.

Here’s a great article on how Kasavin uses death as a narrative device to advance gameplay in Hades.

The dialogue throughout stands out: Zagreus, Hades, Persephone and Meg all have extremely memorable (and often hilarious) lines.

There are also rich subplots scattered throughout, like that between Orpheus and Euridice, and Achilles and Patroclus, which you’re likely to enjoy. 

Conclusion

Susan O’Connor, Kazushige Nojima, Yuichiro Tanaka, Eric Barone and Greg Kasavin are the five best video game writers of all time. They’ve given us characters like Sora, Zagreus, Krobus, Aerith, Ren and Atlas. If you’re after exciting and endlessly fascinating hours of gameplay, look no further than the games these writers have worked on.

You might find yourself inspired to write and develop a game of your very own, just like Barone!


Ol James

Letter Review is currently edited by Ol James, who is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing, casual academic, and guest lecturer at the UNSW. Ol has worked as the Reviews Editor at Southerly Literary Journal and an Editorial Assistant / Fiction Reader at Overland. Ol has had short stories published in leading literary journals such as Overland, Southerly, Seizure, and TEXT. Ol has had novels long listed for major awards such as the KYDUMA, has received government funding to produce plays from Create NSW and screenplays from Screen NSW, and has performed / produced self authored original work at major theatrical venues.