So a month ago I applied for a game writer position at TellTale games.
I would KILL to write for Telltale. I’ve already written about why I think their take on The Walking Dead was game of the year for 2012 and the writing talent they have already is incredible. I can maybe think of only one or two other places (Bungie or 343 etc) where I would want to be a part of creating stories.
They wanted screenwriting samples which is perfectly reasonable. However their disclaimer (which I’m sure is industry standard) indemnified them should they ever create something completely identical to my writing samples. Meaning if I gave them something original but unpublished, it was essentially theirs in perpetuity.
Again, this is in a lot of ways a completely industry standard thing for writers. The companies you want to write for have to know you can write. In return should they ever in the history of ever make something slightly similar to what you provide them as a sample, if they don’t hire you they certainly don’t want to get sued. That’s not unreasonable. But it does represent a dilemma for writers who have a published body of work but not in the specific format they are demanding.
My problem, as a writer, was with their particular use of the word “Identical” in their writing sample agreement. To wit from the actual public job application site:
“By applying for the position and submitting any writing sample (the “Sample”) to Telltale, Inc. (“Telltale”), you understand and acknowledge that Telltale is constantly developing in-house ideas, formats, stories, concepts, artwork and the like (collectively, “Creative Elements”), and that many such Creative Elements developed by Telltale now or in the future may be similar to or identical to those contained in your Sample. You agree that Telltale will not be held liable for any such similarities and that Telltale’s use or development of Creative Elements similar to or identical with any material or elements (including Creative Elements) contained in the Sample shall not obligate Telltale to you in any manner. In connection with your agreement to these terms, you expressly waive any claims you may have against Telltale arising from or relating to your submission of the Sample.”
Emphasis mine. Again perfectly standard disclaimer. But I have several unpublished scripts and things in development that I would not want to have put under this disclaimer, but that represent my best work. What to do?
Well it’s been a month, and I’ve not heard a peep from them so I assume it didn’t work out. So I thought I would share with you how I handled the situation. I created two short screenplays that both addressed what I thought was a good representation of my abilities, without the content being something that would ever be a thing that they would make a game out of. Perhaps it was too clever by half, but I sure had fun writing it. I thought readers and other writers might want to see my solution to the “identical” problem. Please to enjoy, The TellTale Tales.