Writer’s Guild of America Drops Video Game Writing Award

The Writer's Guild of America will not honor video game writing this year due to a supposed lack of qualified candidates.

God of War Video Game Writing Awards

The Writers Guild of America has decided to drop their award for video game writing due to a supposed lack of viable candidates.  

“There won’t be a Videogame Writing Award in 2020.” says a WGA spokesperson in a statement to IGN. The same representative noted that the award may return when “there is a critical mass of video games covered by the WGA in order to provide a meaningful award selection process.”

The WGA is almost certainly in the wrong here, but let’s take a minute to breakdown just why this is ridiculous. First off, there are a series of requirements a game must meet before it can even be considered for a WGA award. The big one is that one of the credited writers to have applied for a WGA membership. At the very least, that means that only major releases tend to ever qualify for consideration. 

That’s a flaw that’s consequences reveal themselves through the list of previous winners. While games like God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and The Last of Us could all be considered worthy previous winners, we’re not sure how games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Assassins’ Creed 3: Liberation, and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood won the award outside of the restrictions of that selection process.

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The other problem seems to be that the WGA apparently looks for a specific type of game for these awards. Namely, they seem to prefer more traditionally cinematic gaming experiences. This means that game stories which take advantage of the medium’s interactive nature in order to effectively tell a story (Return of the Obra Dinn, Telling Lies, and Bloodborne being just a few examples of this approach) would most likely not be properly considered by the WGA even if those games qualify for the WGA requirement (which, interestingly enough, Telling Lies does).

As you can imagine, there are quite a few industry figures who are upset by this. Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann (a two-time WGA award winner) called this a “misguided slap in the face.” Josh Scherr (the co-writer of Uncharted 4) points out that “There is currently no way for a game writer to become a full-fledged WGA member” which really does seem to invalidate the award in its current form in many ways. Portal writer Chet Faliszek noted that he “never joined the WGA and never will” due largely to the organization’s policies.

Long story short, there are, at the very least, some serious holes in the WGA selection process that call into question whether the problem here is a lack of games that deserve a writing award or whether the WGA is even fully aware of the number of well-written games out there. 

Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014