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Subject: Are there content editors for games? rss

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Filip W.
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I live in two worlds: writing and game design. They're pretty similar but in writing I see several things that should exist in game design but I've failed to uncover them.

One such thing is content editing. In writing a content editor is one of the most important people you'll encounter as a writer - s/he is the person who makes sure that your book shines.

See, there are two types of editors in the writing world: copy editors and content editors. A copy editor will correct all your grammar errors, check your spelling and make sure that your character names are spelled consistently.

A content editor will tell you that you've got a weak opening, that your subplot is going off base and that your hero isn't sympathetic enough. In short, the copy editor makes sure your book is easy to read while the content editor makes sure your book is worth reading.

My question is this: are there content editors in game design? I've seen examples of content editing happening, for example when Ignacy Trzewiczek blogged about how Vlaada Chvátil told him that there shouldn't be any positive events in the Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island event deck. That's a content edit: this thing makes your game worse than it should be, correct it this way.

But I've never seen a position as a content editor, or anyone saying that they're a game content editor. The closest thing I see are game developers, but development involves quite a lot of things that a content edit doesn't, and content editing involves some things that game development doesn't.

So, are there content editors in game design?
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Eric Etkin
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I'm sure there are, yes, but not uniformly.

As with all things writing, everyone thinks they write well because they CAN write, which completely undervalues nearly all aspects of the profession.
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Jeremy Lennert
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I believe "playtesters" are generally expected (or at least requested) to do that.
 
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Rich Shipley
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Game development covers it. The role can vary from coordinating playtests and keeping track of rules changes to taking over the design after submission.
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Eric Etkin
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rshipley wrote:
Game development covers it. The role can vary from coordinating playtests and keeping track of rules changes to taking over the design after submission.


In larger companies, wouldn't this also be the domain of the marketing department (as sad as that probably is...)?
 
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    Wargame companies do a lot of heavy editing, where the role is usually referred to as the game's "Developer".

             S.

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Scott Nelson
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Whoever is developing your design and in the process overhauls your rulebook, would be the content editor; taking queues from the blind playtesters (no pun intended) who will show them problems they found in the current rule set. This could be the designer as well, but it would be better to have two eyes look it over and do at least one overhaul of the rules.
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Filip W.
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Antistone wrote:
I believe "playtesters" are generally expected (or at least requested) to do that.


In part, but a playtester isn't (usually) a professional. A content editor would be able to point out the weaknesses on a consistent basis for multiple target audiences, a playtester would mostly talk about their own impressions from their own personal standpoint.
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Filip W.
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rshipley wrote:
Game development covers it. The role can vary from coordinating playtests and keeping track of rules changes to taking over the design after submission.


I agree, but game development is a very broad term, covering a wide range of topics. A content editor is rather specialized (although not all books get content editors, sometimes it's the agent that acts as a content editor, sometimes the lot falls on the copy editor).
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Ziegreich
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filwi wrote:
rshipley wrote:
Game development covers it. The role can vary from coordinating playtests and keeping track of rules changes to taking over the design after submission.


I agree, but game development is a very broad term, covering a wide range of topics. A content editor is rather specialized (although not all books get content editors, sometimes it's the agent that acts as a content editor, sometimes the lot falls on the copy editor).


My take on it is this: In writing, what you work with is content. Hence a content editor. In games, you work with game mechanics, hence a game developer. A game developer does the equivalent thing to a content developer, but in a different context.

Having a content editor in a game would be like having a conductor in a drama. In a different environment, the person does a slightly different job, but fulfilling essentially the same role - making the thing better by suggesting changes.
 
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Filip W.
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Yeah, but a game developer does work with games that a content editor wouldn't do with text, for example run playtests (i.e. market research, handling alpha readers etc.). A content editor wouldn't develop the manuscript either, which a game developer does with a game.

On the other hand a content editor would normally be subordinate to the writer, which a game developer usually isn't, so a content editor fills a support function, while a game developer is the "next step in the chain", more akin to an market editor or publisher than a content editor.
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Steve Zagieboylo
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I don't think that the game design world is mature enough for such a role officially. Those designers who are wise enough to know that such input can add to their game post here, they playtest extensively, and they listen.

In 12 seconds of Googling, I did not find a worldwide market size of literature or gaming, but I'll bet that the gaming market is less than 1% the literature one. With a market so much smaller, I'm not sure that even significant game companies will ever have a full-time person in such a role, though they unofficially have the role already.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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filwi wrote:
Antistone wrote:
I believe "playtesters" are generally expected (or at least requested) to do that.


In part, but a playtester isn't (usually) a professional. A content editor would be able to point out the weaknesses on a consistent basis for multiple target audiences, a playtester would mostly talk about their own impressions from their own personal standpoint.

The designer isn't usually a professional, either. That doesn't change the nature of the job, it just means the bar is set lower.

Playtesters don't usually offer expert advice, because they're usually not experts, because usually no one is willing to pay for experts, so you get volunteers and amateur advice instead. I imagine that if board game profits were a hundredfold higher we'd have professional playtesters who would be expected to understand different target audiences and stuff like that.
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Corsaire
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I think it is a question of scale. Read some Magic the Gathering designer/developer blogs and the roles are much more specialized when you have a million some dollar market for the same game. Similar sort of thing in software development; and based on the quality of books from off label publishers particularly with content errors, I'm thinking it scales there too.
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Ben Crane
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I think you're looking for a 1:1 equivalency here which doesn't exist. So, the short answer to your question of "are there content editors for games?" is no, there aren't.

The long answer, though, is that there are people who fill the role that a content editor would fill, it is just that it is not always one person doing exactly the same things in exactly the same manner. So there is somebody whose job is to provide high-level analysis of a game's strengths and weaknesses, they just do it in a different framework than would be used for editing a manuscript.

filwi wrote:
Yeah, but a game developer does work with games that a content editor wouldn't do with text, for example run playtests (i.e. market research, handling alpha readers etc.). A content editor wouldn't develop the manuscript either, which a game developer does with a game.

On the other hand a content editor would normally be subordinate to the writer, which a game developer usually isn't, so a content editor fills a support function, while a game developer is the "next step in the chain", more akin to an market editor or publisher than a content editor.
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Pablo Schulman
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filwi wrote:
Antistone wrote:
I believe "playtesters" are generally expected (or at least requested) to do that.


In part, but a playtester isn't (usually) a professional. A content editor would be able to point out the weaknesses on a consistent basis for multiple target audiences, a playtester would mostly talk about their own impressions from their own personal standpoint.


That's why when you are looking for playtesters you should look for people within your audience (or someone that knows what your audience wants). The playtesters will say: the theme feels pasted on, I don't feel like I'm involved in the game, the endgame is anticlimactic. Based in your description of a content editor, the job looks pretty similar.

And I'm pretty sure big companies like FFG or Hasbro or whatever might have in-house developers/playtesters capable of doing it in a consistent basis (and possibly being really accurate and savvy about what their market audience wants).

Or perhaps there's no such thing in gaming, and might not be a good idea to try to understand the board gaming industry through the eyes of another industry.
 
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