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Videogame makers nix WGA noms

The year's top games go overlooked

It turns out many of 2008’s top videogames were not submitted for the WGA’s consideration.

When the Writers Guild announced its nominees for videogame writing on Jan. 12, there was a surge of discussion online about whether the games that drew mentions (“Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3,” “Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble,” “Fallout 3,” “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” and “Tomb Raider: Underworld”) were the most deserving.

Such arguments are common for any kudofest, of course, but in this case, it’s not just a matter of taste.

A number of the year’s best-reviewed and bestselling titles weren’t even submitted to the WGA. The companies behind games including “Grand Theft Auto IV,” “Dead Space,” “Call of Duty: World at War,” “Mirror’s Edge,” “Far Cry 2,” “Lost: Via Domus” and “No More Heroes” all confirmed to Daily Variety that they didn’t send a copy of their script and didn’t have credited writers join the guild’s videogame writers caucus — the two rules for eligibility.

Some of the year’s top games, such as Valve’s “Left 4 Dead,” were also ineligible because they didn’t have a specific “written by” credit.

Companies wouldn’t comment on their reasons, but many industry insiders blame politics. Vidgame publishers don’t want to support the guild in its effort to represent videogame writers (and even, potentially, developers as well). The WGA has only an optional contract for its members who work on games. SAG and AFTRA do have contracts with some vidgame makers but have failed to win residuals for their members (SAG’s last contract expired Dec. 31 and has yet to be renegotiated).

The videogame awards, which debuted last year, are explicitly part of the WGA’s efforts to organize writers in new media.

That motive has rankled some gamemakers, including Jonathan Blow, creator of the critically acclaimed indie game “Braid.”

“The problem is that it’s not really an award ceremony,” Blow wrote in a post on his blog explaining why he didn’t participate. “It’s a membership drive masquerading as an award ceremony.”