Obsidian’s Outer Worlds won the Nebula Award for Game Writing, announced over the weekend. The game edged a win against more story-heavy rivals, including Disco Elysium and Outer Wilds.
Outer Worlds received recognition for its solid storyline, in-depth lore content, and its dark humor. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America presented the award via a Twitter announcement.
While the SFFWA originally covered books and short stories, the group expanded out. They started including modern works of literature like scripts, dramas, and now video games in 2018.
Obsidian’s space opera ekes win over more story-driven games
The Nebula Award is a sought after prize for many writers. For in-game storytellers, the award can be an affirmation of their life’s work.
So far, the Game Writing award had four other nominees other than Obsidian’s space opera. These are Outer Wilds, Disco Elysium, Fate Accessibility Toolkit, and The Magician’s Workshop.
The winner of the 2019 Nebula Award for Game Writing is the team behind The Outer Worlds! The winners include Leonard Boyarsky, Kate Dollarhyde, Paul Kirsch, Chris L’Etoile, Daniel McPhee, Carrie Patel, Nitai Poddar, Marc Soskin, and Megan Starks. #nebulas2020 @outerworlds
— Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (@sfwa) May 31, 2020
Each of these games offers a level of writing that is far more story-heavy than OW. Each has its unique flavor, more so than the Fallout-style dialogue technique used by Obsidian. While the story is entertaining, there can be some periods of flat comedy that doesn’t hit home.
Disco Elysium’s story is open-world and dialogue-heavy, with much of the storytelling presented in character interactions. Players use skill checks and dialogue trees to expand the story, hidden in many choices.
Outer Wilds goes to the opposite route of Disco Elysium, working out an entire story without much dialogue to speak. It takes advantage of environmental storytelling, combining it with its game mechanics to tell a sci-fi version of Groundhog Day.
Fate Accessibility Toolkit is far different too. The Fate Toolkit is an expansion of the Fate Core tabletop, adding more characters and supports players with disabilities.
The Magician’s Workshop is an interactive historical fantasy novel. This game is more akin to a traditional piece of literature, only that character choices matter. Every choice creates a deviation to the plot, enriching it in the process.
Controversy brewing over OW’s Nebula Award rout
The win of Obsidian’s Outer Worlds is creating controversy due to many factors. It’s not only about the games that it won against but also the problems with the game and award.
For starters, even with its stellar gameplay, the writing for OW is its weakest point. There’s also the problem with its past winners, the last year of which was Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
Bandersnatch received criticism for its wearisome meta-narrative. The Outer Worlds is available for PC, Xbox, and PS4 and will come out for the Switch on June 5.
Images courtesy of Obsidian Entertainment/Youtube Screenshots