The Hugo Awards are getting a videogame category—but only for 2021

The Hugo Awards, the prestigious annual literary award for science fiction and fantasy works, is going to have a videogame category in 2021. Like the Oscars, the Hugos are awarded for achievements made in the prior year. As such, the World Science Fiction Committee has decided that due to the heightened influence of videogames during the pandemic, the medium deserved to be recognised—for that year only.

According to the World Science Fiction Committee, "an eligible work for the 2021 special Hugo award is any game or substantial modification of a game first released to the public on a major gaming platform in the previous calendar year in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects." The nice thing about this wording is, that it could be virtually any game, even the smallest interactive fiction game on Itch.

"Since early 2020, many of us have spent more time gaming than we ever expected. This award will offer fans an opportunity to celebrate the games that have been meaningful, joyful, and exceptional over this past year," said Colette Fozard, co-chair of DisCon 3, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention. 

Hold on, I hear you say, haven't games been meaningful prior to early 2020? Isn't the continued growth of the gaming industry a pretty strong signifier of how many people spend a large amount of time gaming, pandemic or no? 

Well, even though videogames do have a rather large audience overlap with science fiction novels, the people who actually nominate and vote for the awards may not be a prime gaming audience. These are the same people who just last year showed that when it comes to diversity, the Hugos still have some way to go, and who reference Pong in reply to their own gaming category announcement. Back in 2006, a newly-introduced videogames category to the Hugo Awards was dropped due to lack of interest.

Still, "The Hugo Study Committee is also considering Best Game or Interactive Experience as a potential permanent category," a tweet from the official WorldCon account reads, so the continued recognition of videogames at the awards could be subject to the attention this year's videogame category gets.

The Hugo Awards will take place at DisCon 3, which is held in Washington DC from August 25-29, 2021.