|We loved Leviathan Wakes,|
but is it really better than
The Dispossessed, Foundation
Gateway or Babel-17?
(Image via Amazon)
Since 1969, scope creep has doubled the number of Hugo Award categories from 10 to 20 (including the two “technically not a Hugo” categories that are voted on and awarded with the rest). Some additions have obviously strengthened the award slate, while we would argue that other more recently-created Hugos are of dubious merit.
Ira Alexandre, who has been the driving force in arguing for a Best Game Hugo, has done their research. They looked at the amount of gaming content at Worldcons, examined the burgeoning field of interactive works, and made some significant arguments in favour of the suggested award.
But none of their work addresses the fact that gaming has never been a primary focus of Worldcon. Alexandre’s number-crunching even showed that the amount of gaming-related programming has never exceeded nine per cent of the convention — and is usually much smaller. We would suggest that the majority of Hugo voters are unlikely to have played a wide-enough and diverse-enough range of games and interactive experiences to make adequate nominations in a category dedicated to gaming.
It’s already difficult enough for Hugo voters to get through a voting package with six works on the shortlist in 15 categories. Games and Interactive Works individually take up to 150 hours to play through - with a short time between the announcement of the shortlist and the voting deadline, it would be difficult to play through, and be able to adequately assess, even one such game.
|Independent game Return of the Obra |
Dinn deserves recognition, but are
the Hugos the right place for games?
(Image via obradinn.com)
Science fiction is well-represented in games and interactive experiences — and while there are many awards in gaming, some excellent examples of science fiction get overlooked by the existing gaming awards. We do not believe, however, that such recognition should come from the Hugo Awards.
In their thorough and well-researched 100-page document arguing for the creation of a Hugo Award for Gaming, Alexandre correctly points out the vibrancy of science fiction within the modern independent game industry. However, given the tendency of the Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) category to recognize only those works with the highest budgets, we are unconvinced by Alexandre’s suggestion that independent games would win out over high-profile works with big advertising budgets. If Hugo voters shortlisted a blockbuster like Avengers: Endgame ahead of an independent film like Prospect, why should we believe they would select an independent game like Return of the Obra Dinn ahead of of a blockbuster like God Of War?
We must also ask what this Hugo Award would add to the overall cultural conversation about games and gaming. Again, Alexandre has done the legwork to look at other gaming-related awards: this is a field in which there are numerous high-profile awards that already recognize achievement in the field. From the perspective of those outside of the Worldcon bubble, a Hugo for Best Game or Interactive might appear to be a third-rate and irrelevant award: a Golden Satellite, rather than an Oscar.
|The coveted Golden|
There are already an excessive number of categories at the Hugo Awards that receive little attention from those being honoured. Last year, only one of the shortlisted Graphic Story authors was in attendance and only one shortlisted Dramatic Presentation (short or long form) was represented by a director. The movie industry doesn’t seem to care about the Hugo Award — we are dubious that the gaming industry would either.
The push to add a new category to the Hugo Awards in order to recognize games and gaming is one that we fundamentally respect. Proponents of the move are clearly working towards reasonable aims, and are providing some sound arguments in favour of their proposal. The proposal has been tabled for further study and will be discussed further at next year's WSFS business meeting.