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Update: The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association has updated Horizon Forbidden West's entry in the Nebula Awards with the full list of the game's writers.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

March 8, 2023

3 Min Read
Cover art for Guerrilla Games' Horizon Forbidden West, showing Aloy fighting a bird machine.

Guerrilla Games' Horizon Forbidden West is a finalist for the 2022 Nebula Awards, and one of its writers claims most of its staff wasn't credited. 

Giles Armstrong, one of the game's multiple narrative writers, pointed out on Twitter that Nebula's listing only names two writers: narrative director Ben McCaw and lead writer Anna Kitain. 

While all the writers of Horizon Forbidden West are credited in the game proper, their omission in the Nebula Awards speaks to a larger issue with crediting in the industry.

"Guessing there wasn't a character limit, Guerrilla," wrote Armstrong. When asked about who was missing, he opined "the entire writing team" wasn't featured. Per the credits of Forbidden West, nearly all of the game's 12-person writing staff is omitted from Nebula's listing. 

To provide further context, his screenshot shows fellow finalists Dungeons & Dragons: Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel (which lists 17 writers) and Obsidian Entertainment's Pentiment (4 writers). 

While happy for Forbidden West's whole writing team, Armstrong called the omission "a little bittersweet for those left off the entry, for whatever reason."

The game industry's crediting problem is bleeding into other areas

The International Game Developers' Association (IGDA) has clear standards about games crediting developers and contractors who worked at a studio for a minimum of 30 days. However, no such standards appear to exist for award nominations.

Recent years have shown how thorny crediting in games can be, and that issue is now being reflected onto awards for video games. Several studios have drawn ire for not including all of their staff in the credits of their games, particularly as it relates to contractors and interns. 

In 2022, Obsidian received criticism for failing to credit Pentiment's localization staff. Director Josh Sawyer explained at the time that it wasn't provided a list of localization staff before launch, and those employees have since been credited in the game via update. 

Similarly, developers who worked on God of War Ragnarok from Sony Santa Monica and Striking Distance Studios' The Callisto Protocol allege they were left off the credits of their respective titles. In the case of the latter game, nearly two-dozen employees weren't in the credits, and at the time, one employee speculated the studio was "playing favorites" with who was credited and who wasn't. 

Game Developer has reached out to Sony and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA), who run the Nebula Awards. This post will be updated when a response from either party is given. 

Update: An SFWA representative reached out to Game Developer and explained that a lack of the full writers list led to Horizon Forbidden West's crediting snafu. The organization only received the full list hours after the nominations went up, and contacting Guerrilla for validation was further complicated by the studio operating in the Netherlands.

"We generally have less than a week between the validation of the Nebula Award nominations and the announcement of the finalists," they explained. "Our attempts to contact the finalists for confirmation ahead of the announcement can sometimes be unsuccessful."

At time of writing, the game's entry has since been updated with the full list of writers on the 2022 game. 

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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