There are a few errors in particular that I see more frequently than others in game writing. Given the importance of writing to a game designer, I think it's fair to say that these are the kinds of errors that could lose a job opportunity if they appear in a cover letter. (Programmers probably get slightly more leniency.)
This is my list of Most Frequent Student Mistakes. If you're a student, learn these, because you might not get marked off in your game design classes but you certainly will in your job application. If you're a teacher of game design, feel free to add your own frequent student mistakes in the comments.
- Bored vs. Board. If you're doing a dull task, you're bored. If you're playing a game like Chess, you are playing on a game board. If you say that you're "board" it means that you feel like a non-digital game component. If you call something a "bored game" it is an insult to the game's designer.
- Lose vs. Loose. If you fail to win a game, you lose. If something isn't tight, it's loose. There is no such thing as "loosing" a game, and you never "loose" a life.
- Roll vs. Role. If you want to throw a pair of dice to get a random result, you roll them. If you are acting in character, you are playing a role. If you "role" dice it means you're trying to behave as if you were one of them. If you are playing a "roll-playing" game you're implying that you do more die-rolling than actual role-playing, which is generally considered an insult.
- Suit vs. Suite. Each card in a standard poker deck belongs to a suit. Hotels and office buildings have large rooms called suites. If you refer to Clubs as a "suite" you had better be talking about a swanky dance club and not a deck of cards.
- To vs. Too. If you could substitute the word "also," use too. Otherwise, use to. Not specific to games but a lot of students seem to have a problem with this and use "to" for everything.
- Affect vs. Effect. For the purposes of describing gameplay affect is almost always a verb, and effect is a noun. A special ability in a game may have an effect on the game, and it may affect your chances of winning. There are rare exceptions to this which can generally be ignored if you're writing about games.
- Know vs. No. If you understand a piece of information, you know it. The opposite of yes is no. If you say that you "no the rules of the game" then... um... well, I'm not really sure what you're saying, but it's not what you think you're saying.
Note that a spelling/grammer checker will often not help you with these, so proofread your own stuff even if Microsoft Word says everything is fine.
I also see some common misspellings, which surprise me in their frequency given that they would be caught by a spell checker:
- Obstacle. Not "obsticle."
- Strategy. Not "stragety" or "stratagy." And learn to pronounce it correctly. I blame Bugs Bunny for this one.
- Ridiculous. Not "rediculous."
- Sense. Not "sence."
- Experience. Not "experiance."
- Explanation. Not "explination."
- Definitely. Not "definately."