July 2018 Challenge: Level 1

You turn your system on and feel the green glow of the console button. The loading screen fades, and then you see it: “Player 1 – Press Start.” Only this time, it’s not just a game—you’re really there.

For this month’s challenge, we want you to take us through the first level of a video game universe. Use your imagination here—that means you’re not allowed to use a video game from the real world!

Many players have entered your game, but how many have survived past Level 1? What do they encounter along the way? Is your game part of a fantasy realm? An Earth-like realm? The possibilities are virtually endless, and endlessly virtual.

While this challenge is to write a story about a video game, it might also be helpful to learn a little about how actual video game worlds are written. Considering that, we had a sit-down with Morgan Lockhart, the Halo series narrative designer, who gave us the inside scoop on how to craft video game worlds. So go do your video game homework! (Wait, that doesn’t sound right).

To learn more about video game writing, you can take the full Course with Morgan Lockhart!

Here are few things to consider about your Level 1:

  • What kind of video game is it? Action-adventure? Space Caper? A lot of mischievous sheep and their wacky mishaps?
  • What is your player’s objective? To escape? To climb the mountain? To wrangle all them thieving sheep?
  • Who/what is your player up against? People? Nature? Society? Sheep hooligans?
  • How does your health and energy work?  What does your character have to do to lose the game?                                                 

For this challenge, we want you to craft a SHORT picture book (20 pages or less). You must follow Storybird’s community guidelines, so no graphic violence is permitted. 

Aside from that, just make sure:

1.   Your character is trapped in a video game.

2.   That you only write the first level. This isn’t a whole game.

That’s it! Get to learning and—oh wait:

3.   DO NOT write about a video game that exists already. Just wanted to make that super clear. 

Okay, that’s everything, I promise. Fire away!


1. Theme of the month: Level 1 – Your challenge this month is to write a SHORT PICTURE BOOK (20 pages or less) about living through the first video game level in a game. Describe your enemies (what challenges do you face?), show us the virtual world (what’s the setting?) and explain the rules of the game (what’s it like?). Do not use a world or characters from an existing video game, and do not include graphic violence.

Try out our new course on Video Game Writing if you’d like some extra inspiration. Remember, all stories submitted to the challenge must follow our community guidelines.

2. Choose your artwork – Browse our library of images to find the artwork or artist that inspires you, or search for a specific theme (like “space“). Select the PICTURE BOOK format.

3. Submit – When you have finished your book, select “July Challenge” on the details page before you publish publicly. Choose the option for Picture Book. You may only submit one entry to the challenge, so make it great!

4. Eligibility – Any Storybird member with a Regular account can participate in our writing challenges. Students are not eligible. Paid membership is not required but it will allow you receive beautiful printable certificates for each challenge.

5. Moderation – Paid membership ensures your work is reviewed within 1-2 days. Otherwise, your work will be reviewed on a first-come, first serve basis and can take up to several weeks to be visible in the public library. We try to accelerate Challenge entries because of the short timeframe, but there are no guarantees. You may redeem Crowns for Express Moderation.

6. Due date – To be eligible to be featured, your book must be submitted to moderation on or before July 24, 2018. Selected entries will be featured on the Storybird blog on August 1.

Do the Challenge

Please note: You must have a Regular account to enter the challenge—Student accounts are not eligible. Books must be published from Regular accounts to appear in the public library and to be featured on our blog. Books published from Student accounts are only visible to members of their class and do not appear in the public library.

Badge art: Littlepinkpebble

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