With the introduction of a video game category in 2008, many gamers believed that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) had helped to legitimize their chosen pastime in the eyes of the uninitiated. Those who dismissed games as mere children’s toys or forces for evil would, in theory, see their sharp views dulled when a prestigious establishment took the time to honor the medium. As of 2020, however, the WGA Video Game Writing Award will cease to exist until the WGA is provided a “critical mass of video games” that present them a “meaningful award selection process.”
That means that the award could potentially return in the future, but presumably only when the organization deems laudable writing to be more widespread within video games. PlayStation titles have historically done well with regards to the WGA’s top honor, as previous winners include exclusive titles (and elite recipients of 10/10 PlayStation LifeStyle review scores) The Last of Us, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and God of War (2018).
With The Last of Us: Part II scheduled to launch on February 21, 2020, and the original game having previously been honored, the timing of the decision certainly seems strange. Director of The Last of Us 2, Neil Druckman, understandably wasn’t best pleased about the WGA’s decision, voicing his displeasure in a tweet where he called the choice a “misguided slap in the face for writers in games.”
Druckman wasn’t the only renowned industry writer to air his grievances, as former Valve man and writing talent behind games like Portal and Half-Life Chet Faliszek also shared a tweet on the subject. He alleges that his previous interactions with the WGA—an organization said to have allowed him to “pay dues, but not vote”—gave the impression even then that they believed “game writing isn’t real writing.”
Here’s hoping that in years to come the Writers Guild of America will, in fact, see fit to reinstate the award, as there are plenty of talented writers in the sector that are worthy of higher recognition.