One of the greatest humans ever, William Shatner, once said, “The basic quality that any great story must have is a narrative that illustates the human condition.”*
Very true Captain Kirk, very true. One of the main complaints about games that many have voiced in recent years involves the lack of great writing. Although gameplay, visuals, sound and setting can create an engaging game, when the narrative and dialogue fails to live up to the other components, it can mar the enjoyment. But when a game bucks this trend and creates an emotional and endearing story with relateable characters, it can create a near-perfect form of interactive entertainment.
One such game is The Walking Dead. The point-and-click adventure game created one of the most powerful narratives I have ever had the pleasure to experience. And I’m not just talking about gaming, but the entire range of entertainment mediums. Unfortunately, the exceptional work of the storytellers was ignored by the organization that is focused on recognizing great writing and writers in entertainment: The Writers Guild of America.
After nearly universal critical acclaim from journalists and gamers alike, the fact that The Writers Guild did not even include the title on its list of nominations was a disappointment to say the least. To get an idea of how apparently out of touch the Guild may be, here is the actual nomination list for Outstanding Achievement in Video Game Writing:
- 007 Legends
- Assassin’s Creed 3
- Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
- Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation
- Halo 4
- Uncharted: Golden Abyss
So yeah, it is hard to believe that The Walking Dead did not make this list. The reasons for the games exclusion may have to do with how closely the developer is aligned with the Writers Guild, or how much money they have given (let’s hope not), but the fact remains that this episodic series was a huge achievement in writing and should be given credit where it is due.
Although the games listed have all created a “ripping good yarn”** it almost seems like these nominations were done almost as an afterthought. As far as I am concerned, the Guilds strategy was: Let’s find some of the biggest games from the biggest publishing houses and trust in their pedigree….time for a drink….gg.
One positive that must be taken is simply that The Walking Dead was made and many gamers enjoyed the intense and highly affecting narrative. The game has set a new standard for game writing and we should be very excited about the fact that EVERYONE will have to raise the bar and focus more on developing an effective story in addition to great gameplay.
So until The Walking Dead gets the recognition it deserves (and I am not including the Spike VGA Game of the Year Award…because…well, it’s a Spike Video Game Award) the gamers are the ones who have to make sure everyone knows how amazing the story was.
As a writer myself, this was tough to stomach. But as a gamer, it hurt too. Am I making too big of a deal about this? Or is this just yet another example of the mainstream media being out of touch with gaming? Let us know what you thought about The Walking Dead and if you believe great writing is an essential part of the gaming experience going forward….
Somewhat Unnecessary Footnotes
*Sourced from the internet, so who knows if he actually said this…but it sounds good, so I am going with it.
**Not sure about 007 Legends though…that’s a stretch by any means…High chance Bobby Kotick had something to do with this.