There’s no denying that with all the progress which has taken place to improve computer games as a whole there is still a visible bias elements of society has against them. They’re still regarded as just being games, not worthy of being seen as art or a “true” media like film or music. A common example i’m sure you’ve all heard at some point is when a film fails and emphasises upon action over plot, lacking any substance, it’s described as being like a video game. As if there are none which are more narratively complex than Duke Nukem 3D.
What appeared to initially be a step forwards in having the writing and stories of games viewed as a having true quality to them has only served to emphasise this point.
Announcing some time ago that there would be an award devoted for Outstanding Achievement in Videogame Writing; the Writer’s Guild of America has revealed its shortlist for this category. With so many games having taken narrative leaps forwards in 2012 you can probably think of a fair number which should be on the list. Spec Ops. The Line, The Walking Dead, Mass Effect 3 (yes even with that ending), perhaps even something like Dishonored for its adaptability or Journey for its artistic simplicity.
Well, believe it or not but not one single one of these titles is on this list. Nor are any you would expect to find there. Instead here are the titles on the short-list in question:
- 007 Legends
- Assassin’s Creed 3
- Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation
- Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
- Halo 4
- Uncharted: Golden Abyss
It’s hard not to believe this is a joke isn’t it. Well no, unfortunately for us this is actually their list and not only does it contain average examples at best but almost all of these have been based upon one single bias category which excludes a vast number of titles.
This category had two primary restrictions. The first being that it had to have hit shelves between December 1st 2011 and November 30th 2012. Fairly reasonable. The second however was listed as follows:
“Credited videogame writers must have been or must have applied to become members of the WGA Videogame Writers Caucus at the time scripts were submitted.”
So yes, it’s not the quality of the storytelling or even the direction upon which it takes which makes a title viable for this award. It’s simply who is writing it and if they’re a part of their newly created club. Atop of limiting entries to games which would not have even been considered otherwise this condition also excludes any international writers.
Quite frankly the whole thing is at best a sham. It does nothing to encourage high quality writing, ignores a truly vast number of great titles and is at best a sign of how little value the Guild places on scripts within video games.
The awards themselves will be held on February the 17th. Unless the list changes dramatically within the next month it will be a pointless award which misrepresents video games as a whole.