Star Wars writer shares secrets of success


A Sheffield Hallam University graduate who now lives in Austin, Texas, is returning to the city to pass on her experiences of working on one of the world's largest multiplayer online video games.

Jo Berry, who studied a master's in creative writing at Sheffield Hallam, is a writer on Star Wars: The Old Republic, a 'massively multiplayer online role-playing game' based in the Star Wars universe.

At a public masterclass at the University, she will discuss what it's like to be a writer in the game industry, creating scripts for the first completely new art-form since movies were invented.

She will pass on advice about creating dialogue and characters, building scenes that work both for the narrative and as exciting set pieces, and writing for voice actors.

She will also show examples of when visual storytelling is better than dialogue, discuss the vital importance of documentation and liaising with other teams, and why the script for Star Wars: The Old Republic is longer than forty novels.

Launched in 2008, it had one million subscribers within three days of its launch, making it the world's fastest-growing 'massively multiplayer game'.

Jo, 29, who moved to America in 2008, said: "Attention to the quality of video game writing is increasing - gamers are demanding better storytelling and the industry is responding.

"Writing for video games is perhaps not something that creative writers would consider but it is an exciting career where your writing might find a home. I'm looking forward to coming back to the University and sharing my experiences with potential games writers of the future."

The masterclass takes place in the University's Norfolk Building, room 210 on Wednesday 25 April from 6.10 until 7.30pm.

Jo studied a part-time master's in creative writing at Sheffield Hallam, graduating in 2008. A short story she wrote during her degree was commissioned by BBC Radio 4, while her script Another Place was made into a short film.

She credits her experience of studying at postgraduate level with equipping her with the practical skills she needed to succeed as a commercial writer.

She said: "Even if you're talented, you need skills. You need to be able to write pitches, work collaboratively and demonstrate your talent. Studying at postgraduate level equipped me with these skills, and exposed me to opportunities and people I would never have experienced had I not chosen to study.

"I would encourage anyone to consider the positive impact postgraduate study can have on your life and you career."

If you have been considering further study after graduating, or a change of career, come to the Study Fair at the University on Wednesday 16 May. It is a chance to speak with tutors and find out more about the opportunities available. Further details at  

For press information: contact Tess Humphrys in the University’s press office on 0114 225 4025 or email 

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