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Game writers now able to join Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America

Game writers now able to join Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America

July 20, 2016 | By Bryant Francis

July 20, 2016 | By Bryant Francis
More: Console/PC, Design

Heads up game writers: If you were looking to rub elbows with science fiction and fantasy writers from film and literature, you’ll have your chance soon. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, which organizes the annual Nebula awards, will begin accepting applications from game writers on August 1

It’s a notable move because it opens the doors for writers solely working on games projects to access writing resources, business connections, and voting rights for the Nebulas, one of the major awards in the genre fiction world. 

There is some confusion regarding he membership requirements—in a statement on the organization’s site, SWFA’s Kate Baker writes that salaried game writers are not currently eligible for membership.

Multiple Bioware writers have already voiced concern over this rule on Twitter, as it invalidates their (extensive) science fiction and fantasy writing on the Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and The Old Republic series. 

Speaking to Gamasutra via e-mail, Baker says that the organization is already listening to feedback, and expects to make adjustments to membership criteria based based on applicant’s qualifications.

Currently, the rules mostly benefit contract writers working individually, as opposed to teams of writers frequently employed by game development studios. 

Game writers still interested in seeking membership just need to meet of one of three sets of criteria to apply. The game in question must also (obviously) be a work of science fiction, fantasy, or horror. 

  • The writer has made one sale of 40,000 words to a qualifying game project, or three sales totaling at least 10,000 words to three qualifying game projects. 
  • The writer has earned a net income of at least $3,000 from a game including at least 40,000 words of text over the course of a 12-month period since January 1, 2013. The game must have no more than two clearly credited writers.
  • If no word count is possible, (since game work is rarely organized in one document), writers can be eligible based on one professionally produced full-length game for which they were paid at least $3,000 and with credits to no more than two writers clearly shown on the work. 

Update: SFWA president Cat Rambo has clarified in a Q&A that game instructions and mechanics won't count because they are "considered nonfiction," and that the SFWA is rapidly reconsidering its rule about salaried writers. 

In addition, Rambo confirms there will not be a game writing award in the 2017 Nebula Awards, but implies there may be an addition in future award ceremonies. 

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