The Writers Guild of America is speaking out about criticism that video game writers have to pay money and sign up for a membership to win the Writers Guild Award for games. In an editorial on GameIndustry.biz, the chair of the Writers Guild of America’s Videogame Writers Caucus, Micah Wright claims, "you do not have to be a member of our guild to win our award."
"We ask that all entrants join the Videogame Writers Caucus (VWC), but that is not the same thing as being a member of the WGA," says Wright.
The problem is, the VWC does require a $60 annual fee, which buys a membership. The money does give the submitter access to free film screenings and a subscription to the WGA’s Written By Magazine, but it’s still a fee.
"The WGA is a Guild primarily supported by the mandatory union dues of our film and television member-writers," adds Wright. "A writer who works on, say, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, will contribute 2% of their salary to the union, which in the case of a film like that might be in the range of $100,000."
"The idea that anyone thinks the WGA is somehow getting rich off of $60 fees from videogame writers is laughable," Wright continued.
The award does have other requirements besides the $60 fee and mandatory membership. Those that want to be considered have to submit a "script with writers’ names on it" because the organization is "not clairvoyant" and "can’t magically peer into some Developer’s internal business structure and divine who wrote what."
Wright goes on to say that many game studios have refused to submit a script even though VCW has "gone to great lengths to make it easy for them to do."
Apparently, some of the companies that have refused to submit a script include BioWare and Take-Two. Wright claims that BioWare "refused to submit a script for either Mass Effect 2 or Dragon Age this year" and Take-Two "refused to submit a script for Red Dead Redemption." Wright says that these three games would have likely been finalists had the aforementioned companies complied.