Writers Guild of America's Videogame Writers Caucus Micah Wright has confronted what he feels is a widespread misconception regarding the awards handed out to videogame writers each year. According to the American author of film, television, animation, videogames and comics, nominees don't have to be full WGA members to be nominated, but they do need to join the Caucus which requires a $60 annual fee to be considered for nomination.
In an effort to set the record straight, Wright published an editorial over on GI.biz and in it he states that the Videogame Writers Caucus "is not the same thing as being a member of the WGA," and the $60 annual fee covers the cost of perks such as free film screenings and a subscription to the WGA's Written By Magazine.
"The WGA is a Guild primarily supported by the mandatory union dues of our film and television member-writers," wrote Wright. "A writer who works on, say, Pirates of the Carribean 4, will contribute 2 percent of their salary to the union, which in the case of a film like that might be in the range of $100,000. The idea that anyone thinks the WGA is somehow getting rich off of $60 fees from videogame writers is laughable."
Regarding criticisms floating around that the VWC membership requirements only allow more popular or mainstream games to be considered due to the cost of membership, Wright said that isn't the case. What it apparently boils down to, is that a script must be submitted first and has nothing to do with the fee. A provided script saves judges the time and money they would spend devoting "80 hours to playing every videogame that comes out at retail," when "they've got jobs and lives to lead and they can read the entire script in 2 hours or less."
"We need to see a script with a list of writers' names on it," Wright explained. "For one thing, we need to know who wrote these games: we're not clairvoyant... we can't magically peer into some Developer's internal business structure and divine who wrote what. Because of this requirement, however, some game studios have refused to submit a script, even though we've gone to great lengths to make it easy for them to do.
"Bioware, for example, refused to submit a script for either Mass Effect 2 or Dragon Age this year, and that's too bad, because both games would have likely been finalists. Similarly, Take Two Games refused to submit a script for Red Dead Redemption. Why? We don't know. Maybe they hate unions, or maybe they just hate winning awards, or maybe they have enough statues on their mantle.
"So another game gets what would likely have been their nomination. Are we happy about it? No... but rules are rules and our rules are clear and very fair."
The editorial was written in response to a comment made Eidos Montreal's narrative designer Mary De Marle yesterday, when she said gets kind of "mad about the WGA writing awards because, rightly so, to be a part of that guild you have to pay membership fees."
"If Mary De Marle wanted to submit the Deus Ex script for our award this year, she could have, and we would have loved to have her... and she might have even won it since the guys who wrote Red Dead Redemption took themselves out of consideration this year," said Wright.
The WGA plans to hand out the Video Game Writing Award tomorrow, with presentations to be be simultaneously in LA and New York. Nominees this year are:Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Fallout: New Vegas, God of War III, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Singularity, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II.