Starting August 1st, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America will be taking membership applications from writers in the gaming industry, but not without some hitches.
Founded in 1965, the SFWA brings together under one umbrella successful and influential writers of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Its easily the most efficient non-profit writer’s organization, and the website boasts that it has accumulated over 1,800 members since its inception. Before this announcement, the guild was comprised of mostly artists, editors, and other allied professionals, games excluded. Each year, they give out the coveted Nebula Award for best literary and dramatic works of speculative fiction.
There are some restrictive requirements needed for application that potentially will alienate certain gaming writers. First, you will need proof that your work has sold. You need at least “one paid sale of a minimum of 40,000 words to a qualified market, or three paid sales to qualified markets totaling at least 10,000 words…[or a] net income of at least 3,000 from a game that includes at least 40,000 words of text (not including game mechanics), over the course of a 12 month period.” Crowd-funding applies, so many of the more artistic independent game writers can submit an application.
However, there is a small caveat that ostracizes some of the more successful gaming writers. You are currently excluded from membership if you currently hold a full-time salaried position as a writer. Patrick Weekes, a writer for BioWare, and author of the Rogues of Republic series, has openly criticized the SFWA for this exclusion:
Oh, the SFWA thing is dumber than I thought. The fact that I draw a salary as a full-time writer automatically disqualifies me. Farewell!
— Patrick Weekes (@PatrickWeekes) July 20, 2016
However, in a recent Q&A interview, the SFWA has claimed that this restriction has been no more than an “oversight”, and are “re-examining this [issue] in light of the many people pointing out the issues with it.” In addition, they have almost been toying with the idea for a specific game-writing Nebula Award for future award ceremonies. The spokesperson for the SFWA mentions that someone who is heavily invested into games herself, they are looking forward to the inclusion of more writers from this field. This is a small step forward in recognizing the many talents that work diligently to produce meaningful works through the medium, and encouraging others to see gaming as a respected occupation and art form.