Here are the games that the Writers Guild of America nominated yesterday for the outstanding achievement in writing for video games:
Assassin’s Creed III
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
In all seriouness: is this a joke? Two of these games are unplayably bad (Legends, Liberation), and two are serious disappointments, hardly noted for being redeemed by particularly great stories (Golden Abyss, The Power of Two). And then there are Halo 4 and Assassin’s Creed III. True, both of these games do extremely impressive things in gameplay, and presentation. But to cite these games as the major achievements in writing of the year? Balderdash! I’d like to reprint somethign I wrote about the plot of Halo 4 in November:
The plot is hysterical in both senses of the word, at the same time. Things are always happening, and there is always a blast door that must be shut on penalty of galactic holocaust, and there is a guy with evil intentions for humanity named THE DIDACT who looks like a dad in a bad Predator costume, but THE DIDACT may actually have understandably evil intentions for humanity, and your top-heavy computer program sidekick is going crazy, which for her means sometimes getting a bit sassy and turning red, which makes me wonder if I am going crazy, because I sometimes get a bit sassy and turn red, and even though you are eight feet tall and have repeatedly saved the world you have not received a promotion and no one trusts your instincts, and also your first name is John. John Master Chief.
Nominating Halo 4 for best writing in a game is like nominating Transformers: Dark of the Moon for the best original screenplay Oscar. It’s an insult to all of the amazing game writing that happened this year. The Walking Dead moved me to tears. Far Cry 3, for all the controversy it engendered, took major risks with conventions of genre and characterization. Even if you absolutely detested the ending of Mass Effect 3, the game was a landmark achievement in storytelling in the medium.
These nominations are an embarassment.