Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down, via Zoom call, with scriptwriter Kim MacAskill and talk a little bit about her work writing for TV and video games, and especially the upcoming Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League game, developed by Batman Arkham veteran studio Rocksteady.
After stepping down from a career as a stand-up comedian, Kim focused her efforts on writing, until she also became a producer to make things happen, and eventually got a producer role on BBC Comedy. Now, she’s responsible for the script of the Fable video game reboot and the highly-anticipated Suicide Squad title; check out the full interview below and a few highlights afterwards:
WRITING FOR TV X WRITING FOR VIDEO GAMES
Many people who are into the writing process sometimes wonder how different it is between writing for a medium like film or TV and the realm of video games. Well, I went on and asked Kim about it.
When comparing her experiences writing for TV and video games, Kim says the process is very different. “I wish someone had told me how different they were”, she remarks, “because when I first started in games […] I joined thinking it would be very much like writing a script, handing it to them and hoping it stuck, and that would be it.”
But that wasn’t exactly it, as Kim continues: “[…] I was confused when they were like ‘okay, we’ll start you on a 2 year contract’ and I thought ‘2 year contract? […] I don’t understand, like, that was a whole production, why’d they need a writer for 2 years?'”, and she goes on to explain how different the process of writing for video games is: “Games are very much you sit down, you have a script, and then design, art, tech art, coding, and the creative director, everybody comes out and goes ‘okay, here’s all the reasons we’re gonna change that, can you write the script based on 20 changes?’, and you’re like ‘oh, okay’. Then later on someone in design will go ‘okay we’re not doing that thing anymore, so you’re gonna have to rewrite that whole chapter because now we’re not using tanks; instead of tanks, we’re gonna use dragons. Can you work with that? Can you change it to dragons?”, and so it goes throughout the whole production.
WRITING SUICIDE SQUAD: KILL THE JUSTICE LEAGUE
Naturally, the Suicide Squad game is still a ways away and Rocksteady doesn’t want no secrets being spilled, so Kim isn’t currently allowed to talk in too much detail about her work in it. However, she did say that character development was her favorite aspect of the process: “If you know comic books, you know the characters have been retold and retold and there’s a slight spin every single time a character’s been retold, for example there’s that rule of ‘Batman never kills anyone’ […]”, but as soon as someone claims that, she says “there’s a comic book writer right there somewhere who’s just like… ‘guess what’s he gonna do in my comic book?'”, so Kim states that it was all about finding who was the Suicide Squad for them in this particular iteration, building from what’s come before but also giving it its own take.
She also says that her favorite character to write in this game was “probably Harley Quinn”, and the journey they went on with her in it was “particularly rewarding”, and that she is very proud to where they went with Harley creatively. Personally, I’m a huge Harley Quinn fan and as much as I love Batman: Arkham Knight I did feel somewhat let down by how the character was approached in that game, so hearing this about her portrayal in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is especially exciting.
Kim goes on to reveal that besides the main go-to channel of inspiration that are the DC comic books, her work was also considerably inspired by the animated films and even fan art!
There’s quite a lot more insight the scriptwriter shared about her writing processes and what to expect from the Suicide Squad game, which is slated to release on 2022. Make sure to check the full interview in video at the beginning of the article!
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