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 God Of War III, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood  Among Writers Award Noms
God Of War III, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Among Writers Award Noms
January 6, 2011 | By Leigh Alexander

January 6, 2011 | By Leigh Alexander

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Fallout: New Vegas and God of War III are among the titles honored for their writing with this year's round of nominations from the Writers Guild of America. The winner of the WGA's Video Game Writing Award will be announced February 5.

The group says the award intends to "promote storytelling excellence in video games, improve the status of gaming writers, and encourage uniform standards within the gaming industry." It also helps extend Guild contract benefits to writers who work on video games.

This year's award considers games released between December 1, 2009 and November 30, 2010. To be eligible, the games need to contain separate writing credits -- and importantly, only writers who are members of the WGA or who have applied to be members of the WGA can be considered.

The 2011 Writers Guild Awards will be held at two separate but simultaneous ceremonies for the guild's eastern and western constituencies, in New York and Los Angeles on February 5. The full list of nominated games and writers is as follows:

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Story by Patrice Desilets, Jeffrey Yohalem, Corey May; Lead Script Writer: Jeffrey Yohalem; Script Writers: Ethan Petty, Nicholas Grimwood, Matt Turner; Ubisoft.

Fallout: New Vegas, Creative Design Lead/Lead Writer: John Gonzalez; Writers: Chris Avellone, Eric Fenstermaker, Travis Stout; Additional Writing: Tess Treadwell, George Ziets, Jason Bergman, Nick Breckon, Matt Grandstaff, Will Noble, Andrew Scharf; Bethesda Softworks.

God of War III, Written by Marianne Krawcyzk; Additional Writing by Stig Asmussen, Ariel Lawrence, William Weissbaum; Sony Computer Entertainment.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Wii version), Writer: Benjamin McCaw; Story Dialogue Editor: Marianne Krawczyk; Ubisoft.

Singularity, Written by Marc Guggenheim, Lindsey Allen, Emily Silver; Additional Story and Writing: Jason Henderson, Adam Foshko, Michael Cassutt; Story and Script Consultant: Adam Foshko; Activision.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, Executive Producer-Writer: Haden Blackman; In-Game Script: David Collins, John Stafford, Cameron Suey; Additional Writing: Tid Cooney, Ian Dominguez, Tony Rowe; LucasArts.

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David Wilcox
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Of the four I've played ("Brotherhood," "God of War," "Persia" and "Singularity"), I guess I'd give it to "God of War III," but not with great enthusiasm. None of those games' writing was terribly memorable.

Megan Fox
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Looks like less a list of the best written games of the last year, and more like a list of whatever topped the charts / had a large PR push. Especially when they throw up something like "The Force Unleashed II." Also seems odd to throw a visceral action game like God of War III into a best-writing category?

... on the bright side, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood was quite well written, ditto for New Vegas, so at least there's that.

Ian Uniacke
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Totally what I was thinking myself.

Samuel Fiunte Matarredona
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From the god of war series I've only played the first PSP title, but I was more than surprised to see how well they fitted it with the greek mithology. Before playing it I though it was gonna be a total rubbish interpretation of that but it was well treated and quite a good mix. So I don't think action games are neccesarily badly written.

Dan Swerdlove
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Really? No Mass Effect 2? Now that's a slight.

Alex Matche
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"To be eligible, the games need to contain separate writing credits -- and importantly, only writers who are members of the WGA or who have applied to be members of the WGA can be considered. "

That's why there is no ME2, also why there are such weak written games like God of War III and Star Wars: Force Unleashed II.

It's essentially an award for best written video game story by members of the Writer's Guild of America, which is not reflective of the best written video game story of 2010.

Mark Harris
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Excellent point. If you do good work we won't recognize it unless you're a part of our union.

They have the freedom to do that, of course, but it comes across as disingenuous.

Micah Wright
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Not exactly... you need to become a member of the Videogame Writers Caucus, a working group of professional videogame writers. It's not the same thing as being a member of the WGA. Some of our members are both, but not all. ALL of them, however, are professional game writers.

As for why there's no Mass Effect 2 or Red Dead Redemption nominees, well, as a WRITING award, our judges can’t be expected to fairly or accurately judge games the writers or producers of which refuse to submit a list of writers and script for. Although “Red Dead Redemption” would have undoubtedly won my vote for the award this year (or Mass Effect 2, for that matter), the Publishers involved would not engage with the Caucus, and refused to submit a script. It’s impossible for a union of writers not involved in these corporations’ internal production processes to somehow guess who wrote what game and magically bestow the awards on the proper creatives. If your favorite game isn’t here, don’t blame the WGA, blame the Publishers which irrationally hate and fear Labor Unions and are preventing their writers from stepping forward to claim their just desserts.

As for games you don’t like that got nominated despite your personal feelings, well, EVERYONE voting on these nomination is a professional videogame writer, and we know from good and bad writing. We choose our nominations from the best of what was submitted, and we’re looking for the best WRITING, not the longest game or the most awesome graphics or coolest gameplay… character, story, dialog, theme… these are some of the things we’re rewarding. We’re WRITERS and this is an award for the Best Videogame Writing, not Most Wicked Awesomest Game of the Year.

Some people say “Oh, just play the game and judge that” but there are hundreds of games that come out every year, and asking us to purchase all of them at full retail and then wade through them with a machete hoping to turn up a few with well written storylines is a pretty big ask. Fallout: New Vegas, for example, has several different paths through the game with completely different endings conditioned upon choices the player makes. It’s unreasonable to demand that our judges set aside a few hundred hours solely to repeatedly playing a game like F:NV when there are over 30 other submitted games to choose amongst… not when it’s possible for the same judge to read a script in a few hours. And even if we DID all of that work, we’d still be back to not knowing EXACTLY who wrote the game and to whom we should give the award.

We worked on our rules for over a year before establishing this award. This is the fourth year we’ve given it out, and each year we’ve made small adjustments to be more inclusive while also trying to convince game companies to properly credit and identify their writers. I think we’re doing a pretty good job, and I’m proud of all of the game writers nominated this year.

-Micah Wright, chair, WGA Videogame Writers Caucus

Vince Thomas
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God of War III's story was absolutely miserable. I guess technically that doesn't necessarily imply bad quality of writing, but it'd be hard for me to see that game winning awards for anything related to plot development.

Aaron Truehitt
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Yeah, I don't think subject matter really counts much I guess. I know all I got out of GoWIII was REVENGE REVENGE REVENGE. I understood where Kratos was coming from in the first game, but in III I was to the point of like, "Dude who cares..just get over it." They really rode that revenge plot for to long.

Vince Thomas
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Actually, if the story was JUST about revenge I think I would've been more OK with it. But you get lessons about hope, Kratos finds a heart (are you kidding me?), and somehow Athena shows up at the end only to have Kratos kill himself to screw the whole world over... ? The whole thing felt very disjointed to me. In the first two games, I knew exactly what my main goal was (kill Ares, get revenge on Zeus) and I knew exactly what the means were to that end (get Pandora's box, bend the sisters of fate to your will), but GoWIII just meandered all over the place. I heard that there were two or three people in charge of the story at various points in the games development, which wouldn't surprise me given its lack of direction.

Aaron Truehitt
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I'm sure other games had great writing as well, but as the article says, some don't meet the qualifications. So that may be the cause that it only lists top sellers.

Glenn Storm
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Congrats to all the nominees, but a special one to Marianne Krawcyzk, for two separate noms. (is that nom-nom?) Maybe this is prompted by gratitude for last year's GDC "Square Pegs" talk from her and Susan O'Connor on writer integration. (recommended)

Randy D
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GoW III's story, imo, was the weakest of the trilogy. And the Force Unleashed II's story was terrible.

Chris Remo
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Congrats Nick