The Writers Guild of America–the union that represents writers across movies, TV, and video games–has scrapped its video game category for the next edition of the show. WGA has honored video game writing since 2008, so this is a big change–and developers are sounding off about it.
A spokesperson for WGA told The Hollywood Reporter that it will not hand out a Video Game Writing Award in 2020 due to a lack of WGA-covered games. The category may return in the future if the number of video games covered by the WGA reaches a “critical mass,” the group said.
A bigger number of WGA-covered games will lead to a “meaningful award selection process,” WGA said. The five nominees for the Video Game Writing Award for 2018 included Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Batman: The Enemy Within, Episode 5- Same Stitch, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. Sony’s God of War ultimately won the award.
To be nominated, a game must feature on-screen writing credits, while credited writers must have already been or applied for membership in the WGA Video Game Writers Caucus. This incurs a $100 fee. WGA said in the past that it also considered games that were not developed “under WGA jurisdiction,” though the new statement specifically called out a lack of WGA-covered titles as one of the reasons the award category is going away.
While the WGA has abandoned its video game writing award, other prestigious awards shows, including BAFTA, still honor video games in multiple categories.
The reaction to this news from video game writers and developers came swiftly and passionately. Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann, who has won multiple WGA Video Game Writing Awards in the past, said on Twitter that he is “very disappointed” by the WGA’s decision to remove the category.
“A misguided slap in the face for writers in games,” he said.
You can see some of the other responses below, including messages from Patrick Weekes (BioWare), Josh Scherr (Naughty Dog), Chet Faliszek (Portal, Half-Life), and others.
An incredibly short-sighted move on the @WGAWest‘s part. There is currently no way for a game writer to become a full-fledged WGA member, so if their excuse is not enough studios are signatories or working with union writers, well… 🤷♂️https://t.co/Nujr4dY376
— Josh Scherr (@joshscherr) October 3, 2019
Was just told the WGA suspended their Game Writing award category this year.
One step forward, seven steps back 🙄
— BloodyMary Kenney☠️🍹 (@maryknews) October 2, 2019
The WGA Game Writing Award was never more than a way for the WGA to build its membership among game writers, incentivizing us to pay dues in exchange the privilege of being eligible for that award. https://t.co/TdrArFtHbo
— Shawn Kittelsen (@kittelsen) October 2, 2019
I’ve never joined the WGA and never will. 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. https://t.co/o9UFzWf0U7
— Chet Faliszek (@chetfaliszek) October 2, 2019
Listen, it was an honor just to be nominated
— Patrick Weekes (@PatrickWeekes) October 3, 2019
I’ve had the honor of working with some of the best writers in all of games. They deserve recognition. I established Telltale’s opening credits, which *always* began with “A Telltale Story by” as the very first credit. More props to all game writers!https://t.co/qsEaE43j6R
— Kevin Bruner (@kevbru) October 3, 2019