Significant Zero

Heroes, Villains, and the Fight for Art and Soul in Video Games

Significant Zero

From the award-winning videogame writer behind Spec Ops: The Line comes an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how today’s blockbuster video games are made.

When his satirical musings in a college newspaper got him discharged from the Air Force, it became clear to Walt Williams that his destiny in life was to be a writer—he just never thought he’d end up writing video games, let alone working on some of the most successful franchises in the industry—Bioshock, Civilization, Borderlands, and Mafia among others.

Williams pulls back the curtain on an astonishingly profitable industry that has put its stamp on pop culture and yet is little known to those outside its walls. In his reflective yet comically-observant voice, Williams walks you through his unlikely and at times inglorious rise within one of the world’s top gaming companies, exposing an industry abundant in brain power and out-sized egos, but struggling to stay innovative. Significant Zero also provides clear-eyed criticism of the industry’s addiction to violence and explains how the role of the narrative designer—the poor soul responsible for harmonizing gameplay with storylines—is crucial for expanding the scope of video games into more immersive and emotional experiences.

Significant Zero offers a rare look inside this fascinating, billion-dollar industry and a path forward for its talented men and women—gamers and nongamers alike—that imagines how video games might inspire the best in all of us.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501129957 | 
  • September 2017
List Price $26.00
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About the Author

Walt Williams
Ryan Mattson

Walt Williams

Walt Williams is originally from Louisiana and attended Baylor University in Texas on an Air Force scholarship, fully prepared to become a military chaplain. Quickly realizing the regimented, religious life was not for him, he moved to New York to pursue a writing career and took a job at 2K Games, one of the largest videogame publishers in the world. Although he’d intended the job to be only a temporary bill-paying situation, Walt quickly fell in love with the potential of interactive storytelling, and has been working in the industry ever since. Over the past ten years he rose from entry-level game analyst to senior writer, walking the line between publisher and developer, helping bring life to such beloved franchises as Bioshock, Civilization, Borderlands, Mafia, The Darkness, and the acclaimed, genre-bending Spec Ops: The Line.

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