I had to order new business cards last year, but found myself stumped on what exactly to put on them. “Writer” obviously. And “Game Designer” was kind of a no-brainer. But I wanted to say something about how I develop intellectual properties — and not just for the games or stories in which they first appear, but with an eye towards expanding them into other projects and media.
“World Builder” came close. I am, in fact, quite good at building worlds. But in video game development, that term can refer to a person who literally builds the world with 3D modelling software — like a “level designer” but working with a much larger canvas. That sounds like an awesome job. I’d love to try my hand at it someday. But I’ve never done it, and wouldn’t want to give the impression that I’m actually competent at it. If someone handed me a copy of Maya and a design document, saying “Knock yourself out, kid,” I’d probably just curl up in a corner and weep.
“World Builder” also suggests something a little more limited than I prefer.
For me, it’s not just about creating the history, characters, and setting of the world. It’s about stuffing those things with enough story potential to launch a dozen games, three lines of novels, a TV show (with its own inevitable spin-off), and an experimental webseries starring puppets made of cheese.
It’s not just a world, but a storyworld. And it’s only as good as the stories it can inspire.
So I came up with “Storyworld Architect.”
The word “architect” suggests more of a big-picture focus than the term “builder.” Not to say there isn’t a ton of “building” involved in the process — there certainly is — but the emphasis is different. Broader. More architectural.
And yes, more pretentious…
…But still better than “Cheese-puppet Master.”