Writer’s Guild Awards Video Game Nominations Announced
I despair, I really do.
The Writer’s Guild of America is the main guild or union for writers in the US, and it supports writers working in almost every platform. The Writers Guild Awards (WGA) take place every year, and as it has in the past, this year will feature awards for writing in video games.
Normally that would be cause for celebration; a respected, powerful organisation acknowledging and rewarding good writing. Instead its cause for plenty of facepalm.
The nominated games for “Outstanding Achievement in Videogame Writing” are as follows:
- 007 Legends, Written By Bruce Feirstein. Published by Activision
- Assassin’s Creed III, Story By Alex Hutchinson, Corey May, Matt Turner; Multiplayer Story By Richard Farrese, Jeffrey Yohalem; Lead Scriptwriter Corey May; Scriptwriter Nicholas Grimwood, Russell Lees, Matt Turner, Danny Wallace, Ceri Young. Published by Ubisoft
- Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, Scriptwriting by Richard Farrese, Jill Murray. Published by Ubisoft
- Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, Writing Consultant Marv Wolfman. Published by Disney Interactive Studios
- Halo 4, Narrative Design Christopher Schlerf. Published by Microsoft Studios
- Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Written By John Garvin. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment America
So much for the hope that we’d see some top-notch, high quality writing on display. No sign of Mass Effect 3 and its (mostly) excellent handling of the story of a galaxy-wide conflict, the settling of old scores, and the culmination of an epic journey. Not a peep out of The Walking Dead and its triumph of making us genuinely care about the characters. No, we have 007 Legends; a game with unanimously bad reviews, almost all of which single out the story as unclear, confusing, and dull. And Halo 4? That game’s excuse for a story was a confusing mess of Forerunners, Reclaimers,
Protheans Prometheans (sorry), and Precursors. Its idea of narrative arcs boiled down to “Go here, kill this wave of enemies. Watch Cortana lose it. Repeat.” It doesn’t even have a writer, just someone for “Narrative Design.” I’m not even sure what that is. Assassin’s Creed 3 has divided opinions here on GFBR; Levi was quite taken with it, while I was left spectacularly unimpressed. I also question the thinking behind including a game that requires eleven writing credits. How do you even begin to split the trophy?
I can’t even muster the energy to pour scorn on the rest. Not even Epic Mickey 2. Ye Gods.
It’s tempting to write these off as teething errors, and mistakes made due to video game writing still not being recognised as being just as valid and just as capable of emotional resonance as other forms. But no, there’s no excuse for poor choices like this. Of all people, The Writer’s Guild should know better. I can’t even begin to fathom the thinking that went into choosing these games. That being said, Mortal Kombat was nominated last year, so what can one really expect.