Significant Zero

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

Significant Zero

From the award-winning video game writer of such hits as Star Wars Battlefront and BioShock comes an exclusive “compelling look into a world that doesn’t like to spill its secrets to outsiders” (NPR): the video game industry.

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, including some of the biggest franchises today.

A veteran video game narrative designer, 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. As Williams walks you through his unlikely and at times inglorious rise within one of the world’s top gaming companies, he exposes 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 is crucial for expanding the scope of video games into more immersive and emotional experiences.

Significant Zero is a rare and illuminating look inside “the video gaming industry in all its lucrative shine and questionable morality…[and] provides a refreshing and realistic portrayal of succeeding at attaining a dream via an unforeseen career trajectory” (Booklist).
  • Atria Books | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501129964 | 
  • July 2018
List Price $22.00 (price may vary by retailer)

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About the Author

Walt Williams
Ryan Mattson

Walt Williams

Walt Williams is the award-winning video game writer known for his work on such beloved franchises as Star Wars Battlefront, Bioshock, Civilization, Borderlands, Mafia, The Darkness, and the acclaimed, genre-bending Spec Ops: The Line. His book, Significant Zero, explores the hardships and insanity of AAA game development. He lives in Louisiana with his family.

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