While much ado has been made about the impending end to the Writers Guild strike, something momentous has slipped past most people’s notice. On Saturday night, at an informal — verrrry informal — gathering of writers in NYC, the Writers Guild awarded its first ever award for videogame writing. Both the game industry itself and the WGA should pay attention to the outcome.
Reactions to the announcement of the new award were mixed, to say the least. Some in the game community have dismissed the awards due to a few omissions from the nominee list — where’s Bioshock? Where’s Mass Effect? Never mind that they probably never entered the competition. One blogger even wondered where WoW was. Really? I know there are 10 million subscribers, but is the writing really that fabulous? Some argued the nominations were filled with washed-up film/TV writers “slumming” it, who didn’t really care about or “get” games. Others lauded the move, saying that game writing tends to be better than film/TV writing anyway. Would either side prove to be right?
After enduring these strong and sometimes virulent opinions, we nominees gathered at the WGA event to hear the outcome. Somewhere after Richard Belzer’s lewd acts with his dog – don’t ask — they announced the winner of the first annual WGA Award for Videogame Writing. Was a washed up screenwriter the winner? Was it some hoity toity Hollywood denizen who couldn’t care less about our industry?
No, I’m happy to say it wasn’t. It was a game designer, a 15-year veteran of the game industry who lives in North Carolina. He had to fight a bit within his company to get to write the dialog, but he certainly enjoyed it. And, perhaps for the first time, he has been recognized not for his achievements in game sales or design, but for his writing. Both the WGA and the game community should be proud to see this nominee win. I know I am.
While we would have loved to win for our work on the Witcher, we couldn’t think of a finer representative of the game industry for the first WGA award. Congratulations, writers Dave Ellis and Adam Cogan!