WGA Announces Videogame Writing Award Nominees

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WGA Announces Videogame Writing Award Nominees

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Assassin's Creed III, Halo 4 and 007 Legends are some of the big names nominated for the 2013 Writers Guild of America Videogame Writing Award.

It was way back in 2008 when the Writers Guild of America introduced the Videogame Writing Award, with nominations going to Crash of the Titans, World in Conflict, Dead Head Fred, The Simpsons and The Witcher. The award eventually went to Dead Head Fred, and wow, we sure have come a long way, haven't we?

This year's nominees for Outstanding Achievement in Videogame Writing are:

  • 007 Legends, Activision - written by Bruce Feirstein
  • Assassin's Creed III, Ubisoft - story by Alex Hutchinson, Corey May, Matt Turner; multiplayer story by Richard Farrese, Jeffrey Yohalem; Lead Scriptwriter Corey May; scriptwriter Nicholas Grimwood, Russell Lees, Matt Turner, Danny Wallace, Ceri Young
  • Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, Ubisoft - scriptwriting by Richard Farrese, Jill Murray
  • Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, Disney Interactive Studios - writing consultant Marv Wolfman
  • Halo 4, Microsoft Studios - narrative design Christopher Schlerf
  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Sony Computer Entertainment America - written by John Garvin

Wow.

"Where's The Walking Dead?" you might ask. "What about Spec Ops: The Line? Or, the final 15 minutes notwithstanding, Mass Effect 3? No Dear Esther? No Dishonored? No Max Payne 3? Come on!"

Allow me to explain. There are two criteria that can lead to the exclusion of worthy games. First, nominees must be members of the Writers Guild of America Videogame Writers Caucus, and many of them are not; and second, publishers must actually submit scripts for consideration. As WGA Videogame Writers Caucus Chairman Micah Wright explained in 2011, those restrictions have kept obvious contenders like Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age, Red Dead Redemption and Deus Ex: Human Revolution out of previous nominations.

So this is what we've got to work with. Who's your horse? The Writers Guild of America Awards will be presented on February 17, 2013, at ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.

Source: Writers Guild of America

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I think its best if we just ignore the existance of these awards

I appreciate what they're doing, but the criteria is just too restrictive to be worth bothering with. And the submission process seems like a poor way to judge it too. They just hand in the scripts I think? Because videogame writing should be about keying into the central theme of the game and unifying with the gameplay.

I doubt this award would have recognised the way Spec Ops used the gameplay to force the player inline with the protagonist and then pull the rug from under him with physical actions in the game.

They don't even have Far Cry 3. In a year with exceptional writing (ME3 doesn't count, the character stuff was good and the little side crew interactions, but most of the plot was delivered with three people talking round a table, much worse than ME1 or ME2 or KotoR or Jade Empire) the only one which even gets close to deserving it's nomination here is AC3?

I've only partially played one of these games (AssCreed 3) so I could be wrong, but do any of these games really deserve to win? Are any really "Outstanding Achievements"?

No disrespect to the Writers Guild, but the mechanical aspect of how videogames tell their story might make the WGA a bit unqualified to judge them

josemlopes:
I think its best if we just ignore the existance of these awards

Yup... sounds like the smartest thing.

Seeing as how many games are excluded this just feel like the Writers Guild of America patting itself on the back and giving itself an award, it's rather meaningless.

BrotherRool:
I appreciate what they're doing, but the criteria is just too restrictive to be worth bothering with. And the submission process seems like a poor way to judge it too. They just hand in the scripts I think? Because videogame writing should be about keying into the central theme of the game and unifying with the gameplay.

I doubt this award would have recognised the way Spec Ops used the gameplay to force the player inline with the protagonist and then pull the rug from under him with physical actions in the game.

They don't even have Far Cry 3. In a year with exceptional writing (ME3 doesn't count, the character stuff was good and the little side crew interactions, but most of the plot was delivered with three people talking round a table, much worse than ME1 or ME2 or KotoR or Jade Empire) the only one which even gets close to deserving it's nomination here is AC3?

I don't think it's too restrictive to say someone must be in the writer's guild to get a writer's guild award. I also have never seen a video game script, but I'm sure it has various notes about the game itself, the way a movie script does.

Damn that sucks, talk about a Guilded cage!

I have only played one of those games, Halo 4, and it most certainly doesn't deserve an award for writing. It's not a terrible game by any means but there were games with far superior writing released last year and to ignore them seems criminal.

Lvl 64 Klutz:

BrotherRool:
I appreciate what they're doing, but the criteria is just too restrictive to be worth bothering with. And the submission process seems like a poor way to judge it too. They just hand in the scripts I think? Because videogame writing should be about keying into the central theme of the game and unifying with the gameplay.

I doubt this award would have recognised the way Spec Ops used the gameplay to force the player inline with the protagonist and then pull the rug from under him with physical actions in the game.

They don't even have Far Cry 3. In a year with exceptional writing (ME3 doesn't count, the character stuff was good and the little side crew interactions, but most of the plot was delivered with three people talking round a table, much worse than ME1 or ME2 or KotoR or Jade Empire) the only one which even gets close to deserving it's nomination here is AC3?

I don't think it's too restrictive to say someone must be in the writer's guild to get a writer's guild award. I also have never seen a video game script, but I'm sure it has various notes about the game itself, the way a movie script does.

I don't mean its unreasonable, I mean its too unuseful for us to pay attention to. Whoever wins this isn't really winning a particularly meaningful award. It's a nice idea but its just not working in the wider spectrum. Might be useful for the individual writers I guess.

As for the rest, it depends who judges it, because you have to have a lot of familiarity with games before you realise that the inate shooter mechanics promote a brutality appropriate for point a). I don't mean that they won't take into account the events that happen during gameplay, but I wonder if they would realise how the act of choosing creates a special attachment to Clem or reinforces the white knighting lesson in Katawa Shoujo etc

BrotherRool:

Lvl 64 Klutz:

BrotherRool:
I appreciate what they're doing, but the criteria is just too restrictive to be worth bothering with. And the submission process seems like a poor way to judge it too. They just hand in the scripts I think? Because videogame writing should be about keying into the central theme of the game and unifying with the gameplay.

I doubt this award would have recognised the way Spec Ops used the gameplay to force the player inline with the protagonist and then pull the rug from under him with physical actions in the game.

They don't even have Far Cry 3. In a year with exceptional writing (ME3 doesn't count, the character stuff was good and the little side crew interactions, but most of the plot was delivered with three people talking round a table, much worse than ME1 or ME2 or KotoR or Jade Empire) the only one which even gets close to deserving it's nomination here is AC3?

I don't think it's too restrictive to say someone must be in the writer's guild to get a writer's guild award. I also have never seen a video game script, but I'm sure it has various notes about the game itself, the way a movie script does.

I don't mean its unreasonable, I mean its too unuseful for us to pay attention to. Whoever wins this isn't really winning a particularly meaningful award. It's a nice idea but its just not working in the wider spectrum. Might be useful for the individual writers I guess.

As for the rest, it depends who judges it, because you have to have a lot of familiarity with games before you realise that the inate shooter mechanics promote a brutality appropriate for point a). I don't mean that they won't take into account the events that happen during gameplay, but I wonder if they would realise how the act of choosing creates a special attachment to Clem or reinforces the white knighting lesson in Katawa Shoujo etc

I see your points, but I raise you this question: Shouldn't we at least be appreciative that writing for videogames is being recognized at all?

EDIT: And by other writers, no less. I imagine in a lot of circles, saying you write for video games carries the same weight as saying you write for the Internet.

...this is just freaking pathetic. As much as I love Halo, there's no way it's winning any writing awards.

Lvl 64 Klutz:

I see your points, but I raise you this question: Shouldn't we at least be appreciative that writing for videogames is being recognized at all?

EDIT: And by other writers, no less. I imagine in a lot of circles, saying you write for video games carries the same weight as saying you write for the Internet.

I see that, I hadn't thought about the respect thing, but this is to restrictive for that. Because we're giving awards to really weak games, if anything surely it hurts their reputation. If a writer thinks AC3 was the best written thing this year, well thats a negative misconception.

GDC and the Interactive thing that got nominated recently have awards for writing and being chaired by people who definitely know games it encourages games to integrate interactivity with the writing which will improve the industry as a whole.

Gaming now makes serious money, didn't we overtake films recently in income? People will have to respect us because its so common and then when they look at our awards ceremonies (providing Spike doesn't win =D) they'll be introduced to Journey and The Walking Dead and Katawa Shoujo and Spec Ops and end up having a far greater respect than seeing a game which frankly has sucky writing compared to most of the things they write

EDIT : And judging writing like this makes games seem like an imitator of writing rather than a medium that can do powerful things unique to games

Just waiting for the first person to comment on the terrible choices without reading the part about the restrictions for entry. Oh wait, there's already several posts along those lines.

I suspect the "nominees" are actually just all scripts that were submitted this year.

This is just dumb.

captcha: "hulk smash"
Yes. Please do.

grigjd3:
Just waiting for the first person to comment on the terrible choices without reading the part about the restrictions for entry. Oh wait, there's already several posts along those lines.

Who? I couldn't catch one. A couple of comments about how these games don't deserve awards but there's no evidence that they didn't know about the restrictions, I read it as them decrying the awards ceremony as pathetic because these restrictions cause such poor choices

Well these award shows never did pick those who deserved it so why would it be any different for the games industry.

The Witcher shits on all of these games when it comes to writing.

So, fuck 'em.

josemlopes:
I think its best if we just ignore the existance of these awards

I couldn't agree more, friend. I mean, WGA must stand for 'Wanker's Games Awards'.

Just to clarify, the nominees do NOT need to be members of the Writers Guild of America... they only need be members of our affiliated Videogame Writers Caucus, membership to which is open to any writer who has ever shipped a single game. If a writer is not a member when their game comes out, they can join simply by submitting their game for our award. In other words, EVERYONE is eligible for our award.

Additionally, anyone involved in any game can choose to submit the script; the writer, the developer, or the publisher. Some game companies, however, irrationally terrified of Hollywood unions, choose not to participate and refuse to allow their writer employees to submit the script for their games. This accounts for many of the "Huh, I wonder why Game X wasn't nominated?" mysteries.

The last exclusionary rule which accounts for some games not getting a nomination is that all submitted games MUST have credits for ALL of their writers. When we established this award 6 years ago, it was common for game developers to either not credit the writer at all, or to give them insulting credits like "Special Thanks." When games don't have a writing credit in them, we, the largest union of writers in the world, aren't about to reward some company for not fairly crediting their employees. We don't consider "Designed By" to be a writing credit, for example, nor "Lead Designer," or any other credit which refuses outright to credit the writing. It was common in the early 80's to drastically limit the number of people credited on games because every name cost money to burn into a ROM cartridge... but there's no excuse these days for not properly crediting a worker for both Designing and Writing a game.

Hope that clears things up a bit!

Micah Wright
Chair, Videogame Writers Caucus of the Writers Guild of America (West)

Who wants to bet that these were the five scripts submitted this year?

Zombie_Moogle:
No disrespect to the Writers Guild, but the mechanical aspect of how videogames tell their story might make the WGA a bit unqualified to judge them

Except everyone who votes on the award is a videogame writer, so no, not a valid criticism.

I've only played AC3 and Halo 4. And out of the two...I enjoyed Halo 4, and didn't spend half the game raging at how shit the story was. Or how uninteresting the characters were. Or how fucking weird the new controls are. In fact...AC3, irrelevant of all it's good reviews...I outright consider it a bad game. There was next to nothing about that game I enjoyed or thought anyone put any real effort into. Especially not the writers, because the writing in that game was fucking horrendous.

Leperous:
Just to clarify, the nominees do NOT need to be members of the Writers Guild of America... they only need be members of our affiliated Videogame Writers Caucus, membership to which is open to any writer who has ever shipped a single game. If a writer is not a member when their game comes out, they can join simply by submitting their game for our award. In other words, EVERYONE is eligible for our award.

Thanks for the clarification - I've updated the post accordingly.

Wow 007 Legends? I mean the other games I guess you could call them well written, in the sense that you know you needed to pad out the nominee list so that it does not look like a run away win for Specs Ops or The Walking Dead (possibly ME3 and Far Cry 3 also) to some degree. But 007 Legends? Really...? REALLY?!

Leperous:

Zombie_Moogle:
No disrespect to the Writers Guild, but the mechanical aspect of how videogames tell their story might make the WGA a bit unqualified to judge them

Except everyone who votes on the award is a videogame writer, so no, not a valid criticism.

Isn't the issue that it's the Writers Guild, which contains very few game writers?

Is it a bit strange that Halo 4 doesn't actually have a writer, but someone who does 'narrative design'...?

Then again, where does writing end and level design begin?

While I'm certainly proud of some of the studios for their marked increase in storytelling from previous installments in their series, to put it simply all those games are more or less shit in the writing department and it's a disgrace to the word writing to have them as the nominees for an award.

This entire organization, and any awards it may deign to dole out are, in a word, bupkis.

I've seen indie games with far better writing than those games. I mean, has anyone played The Cat Lady? That game deals with death, suicide, depression and mental illness on such a scale no AAA title would ever dream of. Maybe we should just do our own Escapist Community's Writers Awards, and nominate titles that actually deserve it.

The criteria for nomination is pathetic, and because of that any nominations will be pathetic. It's along the lines of giving writing awards to Michael Bay films.

Wait... Liberation, Halo 4 and Golden Abyss all got nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Writing? That's blinking ridiculous. I really hope none of them win as frankly the writing for each of the games' stories were terrible.

josemlopes:
I think its best if we just ignore the existence of these awards

Uh... lessee, two handheld spinoffs,

a 007 game nobody played

ACIII, Halo,

and... Epic Mickey 2.

Good God. Forget ignoring, we have to try and FORGET these awards just to cope! The world must think we all dropped out of remedial English.

Andy Chalk:
nominees must be members of the Writers Guild of America Videogame Writers Caucus

So, like, are these the ONLY six games whose developers are members of the Writers Guild of America Videogame Writers Caucus?

Two of the choices are Assassins Creed III, one's a spinoff I never heard of, another is a sequel I never heard of.
This is making the VGAs look good right now, and that's not okay. Also, only nominating members of the Guild is probably the dumbest thing I've ever heard, I might have to just ignore that this organisation even exists.
WOW that's stupid.

I really hope people tear them to shreds about this, so many good story driven games came out last yeah that shit on these games. Also games that use the plot of films really shouldn't be considered.

The restrictions are absolutely stupid and now we're left with choices that are mediocre at best.
"The writers must be apart of our special little club or they aren't allowed to play". Bullshit. I hope they get eaten alive by the gaming crowd.

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