5 Pieces of Inspiration from a Blizzcon Writing Panel

I’ve never considered myself a gamer. I have friends who consider themselves gamers. My fiance is an avid one. He’s a fan of Blizzard, a gaming company that created World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Diablo. 

I ended up at Blizzcon this past weekend, despite not really playing the games. I gave Warcraft a shot and although I found the art and gameplay enjoyable, it just didn’t stick. 

I became a fan of Overwatch when my fiance showed me one of the short cinematics. I was so impressed and in awe of the beautiful storytelling that I immediately binge-watched the rest, which didn’t take long since they are shorts. 

After watching the shorts and reading about the story of Overwatch, I tried the game and genuinely enjoyed it. So, when my fiance asked if I would go to Blizzcon with him, I accepted. 

Blizzcon was so much fun! I didn’t expect it to feel like a huge celebration with concerts and even rowdy sporting events in the form of video game tournaments. The highlight for me though, was the writing panel. 

The Writer’s Room: Building the Worlds of Blizzard was a panel of seven of Blizzard’s writers. These amazing individuals are the ones who create stunning backgrounds and bring life to the beloved characters of all their games. 

Here are five things that I took away from the panel as a writer. 

1. Writers come from all walks of life

It was so cool to hear about how these writers got their start and ultimately ended up at Blizzard. Many of them had worked on animated and live action movies previously. One of them had a degree in digital photography. Another wrote short stories before getting the job at Blizzard. It was super interesting and encouraging to see all different backgrounds up on that stage together. It just shows that writers can emerge from just about any field.

2. “We are all the main characters of our own story.” 

I’ve heard this concept before, but it was especially powerful in this context. You don’t get the background of the Overwatch characters in game, but they all do have fleshed-out backgrounds, as is evident on their website, as well as in the form of comics, short cinematics, and books. Just because a character’s background isn’t worn on their sleeve all the time, doesn’t mean they don’t have pasts. That goes for people as well, I think this quote is saying. We can only imagine what went on in other people’s pasts. We have to be sensitive of what others have beneath the surface, whether in real life or in the context of our stories.

3. When writing, it is helpful to figure out what will happen first. Then figure out how to get there. 

When working on the story for one of the Overwatch characters, the writing team had half the time that they usually did. This was a piece of advice they gave while talking about how they needed to quickly get the story written. They started with four images and then filled in the plot holes to form the full story. It’s great writing advice. By working backwards, from what you want to happen and then to how it happens, you can create stronger and more logical links between scenes in order to make them more believable. 

4. “It’s such a blast to question your sanity.” 

I believe the writer for the Diablo 4 cinematic was half-joking when he said this, but also half-serious. The short for this game was extremely dark and violent that the writer joked he needed a therapist after writing it. I think he was really trying to say that writing is insanity sometimes and pushing the boundaries of the stories is part of the fun, even if it takes you to a dark place once in a while. 

5. “If I’m learning, I’m having fun.” 

One writer just started working at Blizzard last year and gave this as their closing statement. They described how there is so much to learn from their fellow writers and from the work itself, but they have fun doing it because it’s new and exciting. I love that about writing in general. It’s encouraging when I learn something new and can use it. It means I’m getting better. And I’ll continue to do so. 

I loved Blizzcon. It was such an immersive experience, filled with passionate fans and roleplaying. Obviously, a lot of video games, but so much more than that in my opinion. I’ll say it again: I am not a gamer. I feel like I probably won’t ever truly be, but I do love stories and Blizzard has a plethora of them. 

It just goes to show that all you have to do is keep your mind open and you can find inspiration in the most unexpected places. Happy writing!

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