T&L: Game Scripting
Teaching Game Scripting In Class
By: Rick Smith, Assistant Professor of Sports Management Marietta College
From my days in college athletics, I remember spending hours writing, planning, and mapping out a game script for every home football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, and soccer game. More and more, we are seeing college athletics trend towards a focus on the fan experience at the game instead of concentrating on wins and losses. Game scripting is an art, and it is made easier by software programs like TSE ScriptPro from TSE Services, LLC.
Working with TSE, Marietta College was able to create a unique partnership, ScriptU, which is designed to help college students learn game scripting in relevant classes, such as sports facilities and event management, sports sales and promotions, and sports marketing. Over the course of five class periods, my class met in a computer lab to learn how to write PA scripts for sponsors and how to “time” the game so that videos, music, and PA reads didn’t run past a timeout. The students were able to use their creativity to plan what they thought was a good “game flow” and balance between PA reads, videos, and on-court fan promotions/games in order to make the fan experience worthwhile.
In terms of the specific software that the sports management program at Marietta College uses, the following provides a brief background on TSE ScriptPro and some of its features:
- It is used by hundreds of sports teams and organizations across the country, including professional sports teams and events, minor league baseball organizations, and college athletics departments.
- The software allows multiple people to view a game script live – and make updates live on everyone’s script – through a secure internet portal. This becomes useful when a fan is chosen from the stands for an on-field/on-court contest and one person can type their name and update the script so the PA announcer in a different part of the arena can see the update in real-time on their screen.
- Users can create multiple viewing boxes on a screen so that the “game producer” can see everything at once (e.g., what the PA announcer is saying, what audio file is next to play during the upcoming fan contest, etc.), all while allowing the PA announcer to automatically scroll to the next part of the script after they are done reading the announcement.
When teaching my course, I heard the usual questions like, “Why do we have to learn this?” from some students. I quickly responded with, “It’s the same reason graphic design majors learn design software, or accounting majors learn spreadsheet software: if you are going to work in sports game production, you will use this software somewhere along the way.” One student in particular, a senior majoring in marketing with a sports management minor, returned from a job shadowing experience at a Division I school a few weeks after asking why she had to learn the scripting software in my class. Upon her return from job shadowing, she told the class, “The school used ScriptPro.” It was a moral victory of sorts for me as a first-year (and at that time, a first-semester) instructor at Marietta College.
The main goal of teaching the software in class is to have students understand the software program to make them more qualified for entry level positions in sports marketing and sports event production right out of school. But like any assignment, there are measurable college-based assessment goals, too, such as critical thinking, communication, and integrative learning. Because of TSE’s vast array of clients, I also hope that our students can use their network of contacts in the industry to help secure internships (required for the major) while they are in school and jobs right after graduating.
Looking forward to future semesters, I plan to teach different aspects of the script program in different semesters, such as writing PA reads and creating the game script in a first-year course called Sports Management, and then teaching the students how to manage a live game using the program in subsequent courses such as Sports Marketing or Sports Facilities and Event Management. Eventually, I hope to create a partnership with our athletics department to have students produce the game using the script program, and maybe a little longer-term, work with minor league baseball teams in the area to allow our students serve as their staff for a game or two to showcase their work in front of potential employers.