The Force Unleashed Wins Writers Guild Award


Star Wars: The Force Unleashed won the Writers Guild of America’s award for best videogame writing in 2008 last night, beating out other nominees like Fallout 3 and Tomb Raider: Underworld.

The Force Unleashed took home the prize for best videogame writing of 2008 last night in a ceremony held by the Writers Guild of America, according to Variety. LucasArts’ action game, which relates the tale of a secret apprentice of Darth Vader, beat out prestigious nominees like Fallout 3 as well as out-of-left-field indie contenders like Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble. The other nominees were Tomb Raider: Underworld and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3.

Congratulations are undoubtedly in order for the writing staff of The Force Unleashed, who crafted a story some say not only puts the game’s mediocre gameplay to shame, but even rivals that of the best of the Star Wars films. Still, the award does lose a bit of its luster when you consider not the competition that The Force Unleashed faced but rather the games that it didn’t have to beat out, because they weren’t even in the running in the first place. 2008 was no slouch for games writing – this was a year that brought us Braid, Grand Theft Auto IV, and No More Heroes. But those three games, along with a whole slew of others I haven’t played much less mentioned, weren’t even eligible for the award to begin with.

Seems a bit bogus, doesn’t it? The Writer’s Guild required membership in their videogame writers caucus for credited writers to be eligible for a nomination. Membership costs $75, but when you consider that some of these games, including The Force Unleashed, had multiple credited writers on staff, the fee for entering your name for an award that isn’t entirely that prestigious (yet), getting an award might not have been worth the price of admission. An indie game like Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble could front the cost more manageably, because it had a small staff. Or, aside from that, it’s possible that companies that had very eligible games just didn’t want to buy into the guild out of plain old anti-union sentiments, theorized Ben Fritz at Variety.

And maybe some of the writers just didn’t like the idea of having to pay to get an award at all. “[The awards are] a membership drive masquerading as an award ceremony, and that’s a large part of the insult,” outspoken Braid developer Jonathan Blow wrote. “So, here’s what’s going on: they are giving out pretend awards, in order to get people to join their caucus. Implicit in this action is the message that we are too dumb to notice what they are doing, or else vain enough that we don’t care what’s going on as long as we get some awards. I don’t take either of those as a compliment.”

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