Joshua Ortega, a writer who worked on the Gears of War series, has joined Zynga as a “senior narrative designer” working on massively multiplayer online games.
By itself, that isn’t a huge surprise. Lots of game developers are moving on from hardcore game companies to where the jobs are in social and mobile games. But it says a lot when the shift happens with someone who is working on some of the highest profile games in the console business.
Ortega is a former journalist, based in Seattle. Although we’re only finding out about his move to Zynga now, he apparently left Microsoft Game Studios and started working for Zynga back in April.
There was a day when game developers scoffed at Zynga games. They were so simple that they didn’t need writers. But Zynga has nearly 3,000 employees now and it has 150 seasoned game designers. Clearly, bigger things are in the works at the largest maker of social games on Facebook.
Ortega has written for every major American comic book company, including Marvel, DC Comics, Dark Horse, Image, Top Cow, TokyoPop, and Dynamite Entertainment. He has worked on properties such as Star Wars, Spider-Man, Star Trek, Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer, and Battlestar Galactica. He wrote the novel Frequencies and worked on the smash hit Gears of War 2 and the Gears of War comic books. For Gears of War 2, he contributed to the overall story and wrote the entire screenplay.
Zynga declined comment, other than to confirm that Ortega was working for the company, and Ortega wasn’t available for an interview. He once said that he got into the game industry because of “my love for the medium and the art form. Video games, interactive entertainment, dynamic storytelling … whatever term we use to describe this medium, I’m just really excited that we’re finally being recognized as a legitimate art form.”