The Writers Guild of America, or WGA, has announced that the organization will no longer award certain rewards for video games as a medium. The awards from this group have consistently awarded commendations for outstanding storytelling in various media forms, but starting with the upcoming ceremony and related voting period, there’s no more opportunity for video games to win such an award. It all seems like a bad decision, but that’s the way things are now.
Many different industry personalities and veterans have expressed discontent with the announcement. Neil Druckmann, vice president of Naughty Dog, called the decision a “misguided slap in the face”, and Insomniac Games writer Mary Kenney said that the change would be “one step forward, seven steps back” for the games industry. It seems like a very bad choice for the WGA, at least from the outside. Video game writing is getting more grandiose over time, but there’s also fewer of these games as more and more of the AAA industry shifts away towards new gameplay loops. Personally, I feel like the increased focus on hyper-monetization is at least part of the problem here, as the AAA industry looks to be sacrificing story for the sake of making more money. Whether that’s actually the case is not known, and the full justification from is pretty simple. The only real reason given is explained in a statement to USGamer. The WGA said it was suspending the award until there was “a critical mass” of video games, as the organisation will only consider games written by its members.
But the problem is, judging from the reaction by various industry persons, it looks like a lot of people feel slighted by the announcement and would even refuse to join the WGA.
Portal and Half-Life writer Chet Faliszek stated he would never join the WGA and explained that, “To win this award you have to be a member. When they asked us to join so we could win – we could pay dues, but not vote because game writing isn’t real writing, not like have a short story published in a zine read by 12 people.”
The whole thing has been rather poorly received in general as well. But luckily this whole mess doesn’t mean that every form of writing award has been eliminated for video games. The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) videogame award continues to offer a category for such an award. This award is independent of membership, its only qualifier is that half of the game must be written in Britain or by a British person, and the guild is working closely to campaign with the Game Workers Union.