SFWA To Add Nebula Category for Game Writing

SFWA President Cat Rambo told members today that a Nebula for game writing will be added in 2018 or 2019 reports Jason Sanford.

Qualified writers who help create narratives for video games, table-top roleplaying games and card games became eligible for SFWA membership for the first time in 2016.

6 thoughts on “SFWA To Add Nebula Category for Game Writing

  1. Awesome! While game writing has a way to go it’ll be good to have further industry recognition of those that do it well. If 2018 I wonder if that’ll make Horizon qualify, it’s fantastic.

  2. It will be interesting to see how they implement this, and how they overcome the issues that made the category a tough one for the Hugos, such as the fact that a fair comparison of all works would require access to several different gaming platforms, and an extensive amount of time spent playing the games.

    If the finalists provide Nebula voters with plot summaries, sample dialogue scripts, and videos of selected sections — rather than requiring voters to go to heroic lengths to actually play the games — it could work reasonably well.

  3. @JJ: ISTM that that would be do-able and enough to judge with. Writing for a video game is different from evaluating Best Overall Video Game, for which you have to play it to know.

  4. Nancy Sauer on May 20, 2017 at 8:55 pm said:

    A pity this came too late for Portal 2. What an amazing story.

    I think that’s one of the games that makes me see JJs point above with a little more clarity, do you think reading the script for Portal 2 and seeing a video would be a poignant as that moment when you put the cursor over the moon and figure out a solution that’s presenting itself? The game Brothers has an amazing story and no dialogue but that moment where you realize what you have to do to draw on the older brothers strength near the end? Powerful stuff. Sometimes with games it’s the unconventional style of storytelling that really makes it work but the best way to present that is also one hell of a puzzle of its own.

  5. I am of course excited by this news. (I have pixeled in these comment threads before about the idea of a game Hugo category.)

    Yes, if you want to really judge game narrative, you have to judge game design to some degree. (Just like if you want to *write* game narrative, you have to *do* game design. Or at least think about it.)

    And yes, that is a hassle. I’ve done jurying for game festivals. It’s a time commitment — and you wind up compromising anyway. I played the first 90 minutes of Undertale; is that enough to understand what the author is doing? Is going to a “let’s play” video of the ending (or endings!) going to help, lacking the context of the middle bits? Not to mention the context of growing up playing 80s Nintendo RPGs, which I’m also missing.

    Is it even sufficient to play a game through? In Portal, once you’ve finished you’ve seen everything. But there are widely branching games where a single play-through tells you almost nothing about the design. You might not have any idea how much variety of storyline and character situation is available — surely those are important factors in judging? The author’s intent might not even be discernable until you see a bunch of story-paths and compare them.

    …Now it sounds like I’m arguing against the Nebula idea. 🙂 I’m not! In festival jurying you do your best and hope that the combined experience of the jury is enough to build an informed result.

    That’s really the argument for adding these game categories. It’s not that games have only just started having good stories! It’s that game literacy is now widespread enough that the Nebula (and Hugo) audiences can have an informed discussion.

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