Writers came to be seen as a burden, not an important part of the team, during David Gaider’s time at BioWare. He spoke out about his experiences in a Twitter thread last week.
Gaider is a Canadian narrative designer and novelist. He worked for BioWare from 1999 to 2016, serving as the lead writer on all three Dragon Age games. He joined another developer, Beamdog, before leaving to found Summerfall Studios in 2019.
Writing is one of those disciplines which is constantly undervalued. It's something that everyone thinks they can do ("I can write a sentence! I know what story is!"), and frankly the difference between good and bad writing is lost on many, anyhow. So why pay much for it, right?
— David Gaider (@davidgaider) May 2, 2023
Gaider reflected on when BioWare was a company that “vocally valued its writers,” noting how it “built its success on a reputation for good stories and characters.” Dragon Age: Origins, one of BioWare’s early successes with its own IP, was titled “Best Story of the Year,” “Best Xbox 360 RPG,” and “Best PC Role-Playing Game of the Year” by IGN in 2009.
Over time, Gaider said he felt the mood towards writers shift at BioWare. They were “quietly resented.” Those in charge started to see “expensive narrative” as a barrier to development, not “something that needed support and priority.”
A number of familiar names behind BioWare games have left the company in the last five to ten years. Mark Laidlaw served as a creative director for Dragon Age and left in 2017. Casey Hudson was a general manager and left in 2020; he founded his own studio, Humanoid, the next year. Drew Karpyshyn, the lead writer for the Mass Effect series and Anthem, left in 2018.
According to Gaider, “writing is one of those disciplines which is constantly undervalued.” He said writing is often thought of as an afterthought, something that anyone can do instead of an “actual skill which requires development.”
Though he didn’t refer to it specifically, the tweets came a day after the Writers Guild of America began its strike to earn fair compensation for its members. The Writers Guild of Canada has come out in support of the strike.
Image credit: BioWare