What does writing have in common with a racing game?

Isabelle 'Nocturnaliss' Apel
4 min readDec 23, 2020


Image by Phillip Black

And unlike the riddle Alice was faced with, this one does have an answer:

Point of View.

If you’ve ever played a racing game, you may be seeing where I’ll be going with this. If you haven’t, or only played them in an arcade, you’ll be wondering wtf I snorted. The answer to the latter is: a few articles on writing!

What is Point of View, really?

The easiest way to answer this would be to say that Point of View is the narrative perspective you choose to write your story in. I think it’s safe to say there are four major PoV’s in writing, namely,

* first person

* second person (yes it’s a thing, not only for fanficcers)

* third person limited

* third person omniscient

You’ll certainly have seen these terms before, and chances are you’ve defined for yourself exactly what PoV you write in. First and second are easily identified. But what about third?

Recently, I had a discussion about PoV with a friend, which led me to Googling for an article that would better explain PoV than I could. To my surprise, and I’ll admit I didn’t read the entire article (shame on me, I know!), she came back towards me saying the writer — an editor, no less — had mixed up third limited and omniscient. I checked the article, and the passages, and she was right: the writer had taken third omniscient as limited, and head-hopping as omniscient. Obviously, I felt like an ass, and then I went on to read the articles she shared to educate myself a bit better on PoV.

This morning, I came to a realization: Point of View is like a racing game camera.


A, I believe, completely straightforward PoV. You’re inside the car, you see what a driver could see and nothing more. I’m sharing this one purely to cover all camera angles typically available, therefore I’ll skip second person and go directly to


Now we’re outside of the car, but still very focused on it (which is really the worst camera angle to play these games in, but anyway). We can see more of the background and surroundings, but it remains fairly limited to what the driver could logically see — as in, forward only.


Or, better said, the bird’s eye view. We’re still following the car, but from such an angle that we see everything around it. We’re like a bird atop a branch, watching the race unfold before us.

The theory of PoV is simple enough. This article lists very clear examples of each, and also points towards the most important element to keep your PoV consistent:


Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Or style, if you prefer. But for writing unwittingly omniscient in the past to evolving towards a tight third limited with here and there a fun incursion into first person territory, I can concur that voice/style will be THE main reason the reader either keeps reading, or walks away.

Take my three camera examples. Each game has its own style and atmosphere, with the first one being very realistic, the second one between realism and cartoon, and the third one purely pixelized. Every element within the screenshot fits the overall atmosphere. The ‘voice’ is consistent, so the game sucks the player in.

Now imagine if the first-person screen had, say, a palm tree from the pixel game. Just the one. That’d look horribly out of place, wouldn’t it? Ten seconds later, you’d run into one pixelized character. Later, a loose coin as taken from the second screenshot would be spotted hovering about randomly. At this point, chances are you’d figure the game is bugged and stop playing.

…But what if those pixel items only appeared on a specific part of the track where the music turned old-school and neon lights started dancing across the car like christmas lights? Then you might think, ‘this is weird!’, yet you’d keep driving on because, in all its weirdness, the scenery would feel somehow consistent.

But that would be a whole other topic about breaking the rules that I shan’t get into. Instead, I will leave you with an article about the only ‘PoV’ you should never, ever use: head-hopping. Just as with a racing game, shifting cameras is confusing and makes you lose track of where you are in the race, and ultimately crash into a wall. It isn’t fun. Unless you’re Terry Pratchett.

Remember that, whomever your narrator is, their voice needs to come through in order for the narration to be strong and pleasant to read. And experiment! For all you know, second person mixed with third person sort-of omniscient may be totally your thing.



Isabelle 'Nocturnaliss' Apel

Trilingual Dark Fantasy writer hailing from the Kingdom of Belgium. Chaotic good. Weaver of emotions and heartache.