Narrative Designer

The role, salary, software and skills of a video game narrative designer

Image: Naughty Dog

What does a narrative designer do?

A narrative designer is the master storyteller within the gaming world. They play a pivotal role in shaping the narrative experience, creating a rich tapestry of stories, characters, and plotlines that immerse players in the game's universe.

These creative storytellers collaborate closely with game developers, writers, and artists to ensure that the game's storyline aligns with the gameplay, seamlessly blending storytelling and interactivity. From crafting intricate dialogues and character backgrounds to constructing compelling quests and branching narratives, a Narrative Designer not only weaves an engaging story but also provides players with meaningful choices that impact the game's progression, making the virtual world come alive with depth and emotional resonance.


Narrative designer job description

A narrative designer's job description is multifaceted, blending storytelling prowess with game development expertise. Collaboration is key, as narrative designers work closely with game developers, writers, artists, and level designers to ensure a harmonious fusion of storytelling and interactivity. Their role is pivotal in shaping the player's journey and emotional engagement with the game.

Role & responsibilities of a narrative designer in the gaming industry:

  • Develop a compelling storyline that seamlessly integrates with the gameplay
  • Create and flesh out characters with depth and complexity
  • Construct quests and missions that drive the player's progression
  • Design branching narratives that offer players choices, affecting the game's outcome

Skills required to become a narrative designer for games

Becoming a narrative designer for games requires a unique blend of skills. First and foremost, a deep understanding of game design and storytelling principles are essential.

Video game studios may look for the following skills in narrative designers:

  • Creativity and imagination 
  • Expert knowledge of gaming software and hardware
  • Adept at problem-solving 
  • Advanced communication skills 
  • Team leadership experience
  • Knowledge of gameplay scripting
  • Strong understanding of player progression narrative
  • Knowledge of game production pipeline and 3D game engines

What software and tools do narrative designers use?

Narrative Designers rely on various software and tools to craft their stories and integrate them into the game. Some Narrative Designers also use project management tools to keep track of quests, missions, and branching storylines.

Narrative designers may need knowledge of a combination of the following software:

  • Unity
  • Maya
  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Final Draft
  • Unreal 4
  • Celtex

How much does a narrative designer make? 

The salary of a narrative designer can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the game studio's size.

Entry-level positions typically start at around $50,000 to $60,000 per year, and the average salary in the US is $84,783. 

*Source ZipRecruiter

To learn more about this field, visit: The Game Development Process: How Video Games are Made



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