Timeline and Milestones
Creating a Hugo Award category is a process with multiple steps. The two required steps are (1) passing the proposed category at one WSFS Business Meeting, followed by (2) ratifying the proposed category at the immediately following Worldcon's WSFS Business Meeting. We're working on those two, but also some additional milestones.
Current Status and Next Deadline
The proposed "Best Game or Interactive Experience" category has been officially referred to the Hugo Study Committee. The Games Hugo subcommittee, chaired by Ira Alexandre, is actively soliciting participants, especially from marginalized populations. Volunteer here!
September 15, 2019: Submit a pitch for a trial games category to CoNZealand, the 2020 Worldcon, if theirs is not yet decided.
- October 15, 2019: Submit trial category pitch to CoNZealand, assuming it hasn't been filled
- November 15, 2019: Release first survey based on current state of proposal
- November 30, 2019: First intermediary report
- November 30, 2019: Submit request for table space and collaboration with Gaming division at CoNZealand
- December 1, 2019: Submit trial category pitch to DC Worldcon, if CoNZealand does not accept
- December 15, 2019: Submit panel proposal to WisCon 2020
- February 15, 2020: Release second survey based on current state of proposal
- March 15, 2020: Second intermediary report
- May 22-25, 2020: WisCon -- collect feedback via panel and gaming area surveys
- June 15, 2020: Final report and proposal compiled and submitted to Hugo Study Committee
- July 28, 2020: Deadline to submit items for the CoNZealand Business Meeting agenda
- July 29 - August 2, 2020: CoNZealand! Proposal to be voted on at WSFS Business Meeting
August 16-19, 2020: WSFS Business Meeting
Games Hugo proposal was on the agenda as D.13 "Best Game or Interactive Experience". The proposal, as seen in the agenda, is available on the Dublin Worldcon website. It was referred to a subcommittee of the Hugo Study Committee to be chaired by Ira Alexandre and with the co-sponsors of the original proposal invited to participate.
The initial debate over setting a time for D.13 or postponing it indefinitely can be found starting at 20:51 in this video of the proceedings.
The full debate on D.13 can be found in the video below. The text of Ira Alexandre's speech is found below the video.
My name is Ira Alexandre, pronouns they/them, and I am the person behind this proposal. After doing exhaustive research into over a decade of Worldcon data and hundreds of games, and incorporating feedback received in person and via a one-response-per-person survey, I am asking you to approve a games Hugo in recognition of the storied and longstanding role of games, game creators, and game players in WSFS history and culture. This Hugo is viable because it includes low-cost and communal games that are easily accessed, because there is a wealth of worthy content every year, and because the uniting element of interactivity is a compelling and unique storytelling tool particularly suited to speculative work.
Games have always been part of WSFS culture, and interactive media of all kinds, whether digital or analog, represents a thriving and indispensable site of speculative fiction work. There is speculative work that only games can do, and this is not adequately covered in Best Dramatic Presentation or Best Related Work. Refusing to recognize this is an act of disengagement with where speculative work is being done today, and is a disservice to a vibrant and vital aspect of WSFS culture.
I have heard some concerns about the cost to nominate and about what would go in the category, and I'd like to briefly address those now. Regarding eligibility, media like Bandersnatch, Sleep No More, and Choose Your Own Adventure novels would unequivocally be eligible in this category, because the uniting factor that sets them apart from all other types of storytelling is their interactive nature and the incorporation of choice into the narrative structure.
In terms of costs, the idea that it is necessary to buy hundreds of dollars of equipment or expensive AAA titles is a myth and also erases analog games, many indie titles, and interactive. Analog games tend to be communally owned, and interactive fiction ranges from inexpensive to free. In video games, about half of the games that top the major awards any given year are indie titles, playable on typical phones and computers already owned by most voters. Such titles generally sell for $20 or less and can be completed in 3-10 hours, comparable to the time and money investment of one or two novels. Those who can't or don't want to play can become informed voters via free widely available guided tours or movie versions of games.
There is no inclusive, medium-neutral speculative fiction award for games. The Hugo Awards can be the first, and the gaming membership of WSFS deserves this recognition just as much as the excellent and widely available titles that fill the field. As always, my full 60-page report is available at gameshugo.com. Thank you.
Prior to the 2019 Business Meeting
- July 16, 2019: "Best Game or Interactive Experience" proposal officially submitted to 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Agenda.
- July 3, 2019: File 770 post and Lady Business post about proposal, third draft of report published.
- May 24-27, 2019: WisCon. Second draft of Ira Alexandre's report made publicly available online, gameshugo.com opened, initial interest survey opened. Many thanks to the Gaming division of WisCon 43 for their collaboration and support.
- May 12, 2019: First draft of Ira Alexandre's report shown to Hugo Study Committee for feedback