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The Writers Guild of America has announced they will no longer give awards to video games until more games are made by guild members.
News initially started from Insomniac Writer Mary Kenney, tweeted “Was just told the WGA suspended their Game Writing award category this year. One step forward, seven steps back (eye-rolling emoji)” on October 2nd.
Indeed, the Writers Guild Awards 2019-20 does not list any entry for video games or the like. The category been present since 2008.
In a statement issued to US Gamer, a spokesperson for the Writers Guild confirmed the news. They also explained the guild’s reasoning:
“There won’t be a Videogame Writing Award in 2020; however, the category will be reinstated when there is a critical mass of videogames covered by the WGA in order to provide a meaningful award selection process.”
Several writers have expressed their dismay at the decision, feeling it is motivated by the labor union to swell its ranks and may even driven existing members away.
“The WGA Game Writing Award was never more than a way for the WGA to build its membership among game writers, incentivizing us to pay dues in exchange the privilege of being eligible for that award.”
~ Shawn Kittelsen, Writer (Mortal Kombat 11, Injustice 2, The Hunter: Call of the Wild)
“I’ve never joined the WGA and never will. To win this award you have to be a member. When they asked us to join so we could win – we could pay dues, but not vote because game writing isn’t real writing, not like have a short story published in a zine read by 12 people.”
~ Chet Faliszek, Writer (Half-Life 2: Episode One, Portal, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Portal 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive)
“[Having something to do with game writers not being part of a union] was my thought too. Most video game writers aren’t members because video game writing alone doesn’t qualify you, so the category is usually a narrow selection of games that happened to have a WGA member.”
~ Morgan Lockhart, Writer (Halo 4, Halo 5, Rift, Everquest 2)
“They do realize that eligibility for the Game Writing award was the primary reason for many videogame writers to keep up their memberships? As a Canadian videogame writer, other than that all I get from them is the newsletter and warm fuzzy feelings.”
~ Susan Patrick, Writer (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Far Cry 5)
“I’m surprised because the award was a superb strategy for getting video game writers to join the Guild. I always assumed that once they had a critical mass of members, they would push the industry for jurisdiction. Now I think most VG writers will let their memberships lapse.”
~ Lisa Hunter, Writer (We Happy Few)
Unions have been in the news recently. Tory Baker revealed he did not reprise a character in Borderlands 3 as Gearbox “wouldn’t go union.“ Meanwhile Ustwo Games are facing threat of legal action after being accused of union-busting a former employee, after he allegedly attempted to encourage other employees to sign up to his union.