Guild to Reward Video Game Writing

Rewarding great writing for the big screen, or even the small screen, is commonplace. On Saturday, the Writers Guild of America will be handing out an award for the first time for the year's best video game writing.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The Writers Guild has scrapped its own annual awards ceremony this year. The Guild will simply announce the winners tomorrow night. Along with best original screenplay, best comedy series and daytime serial, there's a new category being featured, best video game writing.

(Soundbite of video game)

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): We've come a long way, gentlemen, and I trust that you will do what is needed when the time comes.

MONTAGNE: The Writers Guild created the award to try to raise the profile of video game writers. The Guild also hopes to attract more members and make inroads into the gaming industry, where they don't have a lot of control at the moment.

(Soundbite of video game, World in Conflict)

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (As character) Now listen up. We're here. Ivan is coming from this direction and we've been ordered to take and hold the town until Colonel Wilkins arrives with reinforcements.

Unidentified Man #3 (Actor): (As character) Yeah, it's about time we showed those commie bastards.

MONTAGNE: That's from World in Conflict, one of the nominated games. It's set in a fictional 1989 with the Soviet Union waging a surprise attack on the city of Seattle.

(Soundbite of video game, World in Conflict)

Mr. ALEC BALDWIN (Actor): (As Narrator) Seattle was lost the moment those ships entered the harbor. There was never any real chance of our holding the city. I try not to think about all those we were forced to leave behind.

MONTAGNE: Yes, you may recognize that voice - actor Alec Baldwin as the narrator. Even more high profile stars voice another nominated game.

(Soundbite video game, The Simpsons Game)

Ms. YEARDLEY SMITH (Actor): (As Lisa) You have the power to convince crowds to do whatever you want.

Ms. JULIE KAVNER (Actor): (As Marge) Just like Oprah.

MONTAGNE: For The Simpsons Game, writers from the TV show created a whooping 8,000 lines of dialogue to sprinkle throughout the video game's action.

(Soundbite of video game, The Simpsons Game)

Ms. NANCY CARTWRIGHT (Actor): (As Bart) That is the lamest video game B.S. I've ever heard. Karate. Another problem solved with violence.

MONTAGNE: Crash of the Titans, The Witcher, and Dead Head Fred round out this year's nominees. Video game writer Jay Lender is a part of the Writers Guild committee that made the selections. He says the gaming industry has long focused on more impressive graphics, faster and more complicated game play. Now video game makers are looking beyond technology.

Mr. JAY LENDER (WGA): The new frontier is story. Why are we running through that hallway killing thousands of zombies? Context is what's going to make this next generation of games that much more involving for the player.

(Soundbite video game)

Unidentified Man #4 (Actor): (As character) Somebody's got to deal with these zombies pronto or there ain't gonna be a single decent person left alive in this neighborhood.

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