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Awards for video game writers... but not designer-writers.

Posted by Chris Avellone , 21 October 2007 · 1945 views

I have to confess, I was pretty happy to hear the Writers Guild of America, West was giving awards for video game writing.

Award Criteria and Submissions

Then the fine print came out, which basically invalidates all the writing work we did at Black Isle and Obsidian for the past ten years, including:

"Submitted games MUST have separate credit for writing (i.e. Written By, Story By, Writer, Story Designer, etc.). Writing credits must be verified by their inclusion in the game manual. If writing credits are not printed in the game manual, the publisher must fax or e-mail screenshots of the game's complete writing credits directly to Melissa Gage at the WGAW, fax no.: (323) 782-4810 e-mail: Melissa Gage. Alternate proof of writing credit will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

While there is no limit on the number of credited writers a particular game may have, credits not specifically tied to videogame writing are not acceptable (i.e. Lead Designer, Designed By, Produced By, etc.)"


This is a little frustrating because we didn't employ solely writers at Black Isle or Obsidian, mostly because our writers are designers... and I believe part of being a game writer is being able to do design work that complements the story within the engine you're "writing" for. I could go on a seperate rant on how the story should express itself through game mechanics as much as possible, but I'll leave that for another blog.

Anyway, enough venting. I'm pleased to see awards being given out, but not so much the criteria invalidates a % of writers that also do design work.





Sadly, it may be unfortunately due to the guild's ignorance how majority of games are being developed.

I'm puzzled though why would they make the conditions so restrictive, any news regarding of the appeal yet?
In absolute agreement with you old friend, as regards writers needing to be designers too. I can think of a bajillion stories that I'd love to tell, but "Hamlet" would not be a very entertaining RPG, however well-written. (Though it'd be fun in a sick sort of way to take all of Shakespeare's plays and turn them into NWN2 mods, and then present them like the gaming equivalent of the old Gold Key comics when we were youngins.)

As for there being a seperate category for writers though, it's not like we're really being picked on. In the film industry it isn't at all uncommon to see someone listed in the credits as a director, writer, producer and an actor simultaneously. Its simply acknowledgement that individual X has contributed in all those different capacities. To be fair to some of the other sub-specialties of design, you'd need to have categories for Technical Design, Scripting, Interface Monkey, etc. etc., but I don't think that's all that unreasonable. It's not like anyone other than us and the folks over at Moby even read what our credits are anyway. wink.gif (Has anyone ever done something where's there's a bonus bit of gameplay at the end of the credits, like they've done with movies in the past? Now that would be a funny way into luring people to read them all.)

All that said, I feel your pain. I can think of several games where I would have been ripped off by this crediting schema. Of course by the flip side of the coin, there are a number of games where I was initially hired to write stuff but ended up designing quests but never got a seperate "design" credit. So I think it goes both ways currently.

Whatever the end result is MotB team definetly would deserve the price. Best CRPG in - hell, I don't even know how many - long, long years and definetly in my Top 10 games ever, propably even Top 5 original.gif Plot, storytelling etc. is superb original.gif

Ugh, now that sounded like brown nosing. ermm.gif


Anyway, I'm curious if you can answer this question. Pretty please... Of course, if you can't ignore this by all means.


Since Sawyer is now Creative Lead for Aliens in addition to his Lead Designer status, what you're doing? Are you drifting from project to project, doing some work on PG, some on Aliens and something on the unknown third project? Or do you work mainly on one of these and do some lesser work with other ones (like you did with MotB while you were CL for Aliens I guess)?

Or are you going to be Lead Designer on third project or something (I guess it's NX2, since it's supposed to be PC title...)?

Just average fan with bunch of questions, heh. innocent.gif


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