A Nebula Award category for game writing

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Tagged: awards, interactive fiction, sfwa, if, nebula

A couple of years ago, SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, announced that game writers were eligible to join. Or, I should say, writers were eligible to join SFWA on the basis of game writing.

I thought that was pretty cool, so I applied. It turned out that Hadean Lands qualified for both the word count and royalty level requirements. So for the past couple of years, I have been a card-carrying SFWA member. Okay, I never got a card, but never mind that.

Yesterday, SFWA took the next step: game writing is now eligible for the Nebula Awards. The Nebulas are one of the major awards in science fiction and fantasy.

(The Hugos are more famous, particularly in the last couple of years. I've argued for a videogame Hugo category, but the Worldcon people who run the Hugos have not made a move in that direction.)

The summary of the Game Writing Nebula:

  • The award goes to an "interactive or playable story-driven work which conveys narrative, character, or story background." This is intended to include both videogames and table-top roleplaying games.
  • The Nebulas cover science fiction, fantasy, and related fiction genres. I expect this will be interpreted broadly; horror and alternate history are traditionally considered siblings of SF.
  • Any size game is eligible. The lack of a word count requirement means that entirely nonverbal games are also eligible (think Journey).
  • A game is eligible in the year that it is first fully published in English or in the US. Demo, beta, and early-access releases don't count. A new release of a game can be eligible in its own right if it is a substantial update or change.
  • Since this is a writing award, a game must have at least one credited writer to be eligible. All credited writers will get certificates.
  • Nebula nomination and voting is done by SFWA members, but you don't have to be a SFWA member (or even have heard of SFWA) to have your game nominated.
  • The official Nebula rules are here.

I'm happy to say that I took part in the discussion around these rules. We tried to fit them to the realities of the videogame and tabletop markets.

This is all pretty cool. Hopefully it's part of a general trend towards recognizing games and interactive narrative as primary parts of the cultural canon.