This week the Writers Guild announced its Awards Nominees for “outstanding achievement in video game writing during 2010.” The list 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), 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
It’s hard to find a Top Anything of 2010 List that “AC:Brotherhood” didn’t crest, so that’s no surprise. And both “Fallout: New Vegas” and “God of War III” are popular, oft-touted games. But as I perused the internet for reactions to the list, I found that one or two nominees were sticking points for a great many consumers. The value of the writing in Singularity, in particular, seems to be a source of much debate.
Posting the nominees on Gamefront.com, Phil Owen harshly wrote:
Having Singularity on here is like the WGA nominating, like, Timecop for a screenplay award. S-t, now that I think of it, Singularity really is just Timecop but with Russians. Huh.
“Bedlight,” commenting on Kotaku, was more forgiving, but still firm:
I thought Singularity was exceptional. Best Writing? Hell no. But the game was definitely underrated.
On the positive side, David Satzinger wrote on Industrygamers.com:
I am happy to see Singularity there because it kind of went underground for being a bit too gimmikicky [sic] and repetitive in its gameplay but in my opinion it really had some good potential.
What they say about opinions goes doubly so on the internet, but all this discussion led me to wonder exactly how folks are gauging writing or story versus gameplay. Ideally, I imagine that the harder it is to distinguish between the two, the better the game.
Having never played “Singularity,” I had no frame of reference. But I decided to go in search of some examples on Youtube. I found this demo from E3 2009, and, hell, it made me want to play the game. More importantly, I was drawn into the story — or what I could glean of it, anyway. Considering they probably don’t have the time to play through all these games — maybe they’re even the same people trying to decide between “Inception” and “Black Swan” for best screenplay — it’s possible the folks at the WGA just watched this: