A few weeks ago nominations for the 2003 Game Developers Choice Awards were announced, including nominations in the new writing category. The writing nominees are:
- Denis Dyack and Ken McCulloch
ETERNAL DARKNESS: SANITY’S REQUIEM
- GTA Team
GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY
- Daniel Vavra
MAFIA: THE CITY OF LOST HEAVEN
- Craig Hubbard and Team
NO ONE LIVES FOREVER 2: A SPY IN H.A.R.M.S. WAY
- Clint Hocking and JT Petty
TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL
My first thought on reading this list was that I was pleased the nominations were for games that many people currently consider the best of the best. I think it’s critically important that writing be seen as a vital component of successful interactive works, not as the antiquated skill it’s often made out to be by tech-biased members of the community. While excellent writing in otherwise failed products should certainly be recognized as well, from a purely political point of view this inaugural list convincingly makes the point that writing matters.
Oddly enough I also found myself pleased that I didn’t personally know any of the individuals who were nominated. The quickest way to demonstrate how important writing is, and how important writers and writing can be to successful design, is to make sure that recognition is distributed across the industry as a whole. My friends and peers already get it, and it’s reassuring to see that the same holds true in other development circles.
My only negative take involved the fact that although there is now a separate writing category, at least some of these nominations – for example that of the ‘GTA Team’ – could be due more to the game’s design than to specific knowledge of how writers or writing actually shaped the final product. (In an earlier post I noted that nominations and votes would be based on the final product, meaning no one would really know who actually did what on a given project.) While I think that’s a fair criticism, I also think it misses the big picture. From here on out, writing isn’t going to be assumed to be design: instead, it’s going to be discussed as a distinct part of product development. And that’s a sea change in this industry.
— Mark Barrett