The Writers Guild of America, which once considered Star Wars: The Force Unleashed the pinnacle of videogame writing, has decided to drop the category from its 2020 awards, and possibly beyond, because too few games qualify.
Year after year, the WGA gives the Outstanding Achievement in Video Game Writing award to big action games like Assassin's Creed (twice!) and Horizon Zero Dawn. The list is full of good games, but good game writing? Not so much. The Last of Us and the latest winner, God of War, look less out of place, but still very conservative picks.
Quality, then, isn't the issue. For a game to qualify, there are a list of prerequisites, including a credited writer that's applied for WGA membership. Instead of an absence of good game writing, it's a lack of WGA members submitting game scripts.
Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann, who won for Uncharted 4 and both The Last of Us and, the following year, The Last of Us Remastered, called it "a misguided slap in the face" on Twitter.
Very disappointed at the WGA for removing the video game category from their awards. A misguided slap in the face for writers in games. https://t.co/663vOFXDhHOctober 3, 2019
Josh Scherr, who co-wrote Uncharted 4 and is now working on The Last of Us 2, called the WGA incredibly short-sighted and claimed the organisation was to blame for the lack of game writers in its membership.
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/Nujr4dY376October 3, 2019
One of the criticisms of the WGA is that, even if a game writer paid dues, they couldn't get full membership or the ability to vote in the awards. Telling Lies director Sam Barlow, meanwhile, bemoaned the fact that excellent FMV thriller did qualify, but now won't be recognised by the WGA, adding that it felt like the Sceen Actors Guild (SAG) had done a better job of acknowledging videogames.
I can think of one game this year that had a WGA member on its writing team, who was also fricking greatOctober 3, 2019
The WGA says that it will revisit the category when there's a "critical mass of videogames covered by the WGA," though that seems less likely now than ever.