A Storied Career
This Episode player earns a living writing videogame fiction. Tap to learn how.
Episode - Choose Your Story
Explore. Play. Create.
Bronte Dawson is a successful young writer with fans all over the world. But you won’t find her latest best-seller on a bookshelf—digital or otherwise.
Instead, Dawson, 24, has a more interactive outlet for her stories about the drama and humor of teenage life: the narrative game Episode.
Episode plays like an animated comic book: Readers can customize the main character’s appearance and name, and make choices to steer the plot. Will you ask the cute barista for his number or quietly order your espresso and be on your way?
Launched in 2014, Episode has since amassed a library of over 100,000 stories across genres like romance, mystery, and horror. Most are made by a community of more than 12 million registered creators. And these folks don’t just write. Content producers like Dawson use a robust set of scripting tools to animate characters and bring scenes to life, similar to a movie director.
Like a true auteur, she has gained a devoted fan base. “I was in Michigan going to a concert,” Dawson recalls, and “a girl that I had spoken to in Episode was like, ‘Oh my goodness, can I come and meet you, please?’ She drove from Chicago with her mom to come meet me in Michigan for dinner. I was just as excited as she was.”
Dawson lives in a village near Leicester, England. After earning a bachelor’s degree in humanities and arts from the University of Leicester, she took a year off to save up for graduate school. She spent the time teaching herself the ins and outs of creating Episode content.
Dawson’s first story, 2017’s “Dear Diary,” racked up more than a million reads. (In Episode parlance, a “read” is each time a single episode—essentially, a chapter—is completed by a user.) Thrilled with her success but wanting to go further, she doubled down on her efforts, stuffing notebooks with ideas and observations.
“My inspiration predominately comes from emotion,” she says. “Things that make me emotional on a day-to-day basis.”
“The Girl With the Bad Reputation,” a recent addition to Dawson’s oeuvre, tells the tale of a student who’s kicked out of a religious school after a shameful scandal, then discovers she’s not the only one with a dark secret. “I believe in God, but I struggle with religion,” Dawson says.
Her work, which earns her as much as $5,000 each month, has been read over 25 million times—making her one of the platform’s most popular authors. She has 40,000 followers on Episode’s built-in social network.
While most Episode writers contribute simply for the love of sharing stories, there is money to be earned. Developer Pocket Gems generates income by selling passes that give readers immediate access to a new episode of a story the instant it publishes. (Although stories in the app are free, you have to wait to unlock them.) When creators hit a certain threshold of reads, they qualify for payments based on how many people are consuming their work.
Dawson’s Episode income is enough for her to focus on creating content full-time. (Grad school is on hold for the time being.) Her dream is to reach the upper echelon of Episode creators. But, like the characters in her stories, she knows that big dreams begin with small steps.
“I’d love to have millions and billions of reads, and I’d love everyone to love my work,” she says. Until then, she’s happy with what she’s got. “If I can afford all my bills and then go on holiday once a month—perfect.”