Perhaps this article might come off as more of a rant. I’m ok with that. To be completely honest, I often feel slighted by these companies as a content creator because of the medium I chose: writing. Yes, from articles to fan fiction, writers are just as much a part of the creative community as anyone else..but good luck finding support.
Dying Art Form
The reason for the ignoring is pretty obvious: Writing as an art form is somewhat dying. With movies, games and more all muscling out books and the written word, companies generally don’t help these types of people. That’s not to say they don’t appreciate your contribution…well, I think.
Art contests are abound such as polycount. League features a nexus for fan art where you can submit your drawn art and show it to the world. Blizzard regularly features art on their twitter as well as having a wall in the Overwatch studio dedicated specifically to fan art. You’re not going to find writing here, however. Companies don’t do these sorts of contests with writers because the time and effort going into analyzing a good story is likely more subjective and more questionable than art itself.
Along with that, the main medium of sharing art in recent times is twitter and reddit. Two websites that focus greatly on short, quick, easy-to-consume content for the masses. One time someone posted one of my fan fics to the League subreddit and it got something along the lines of four hundred positive votes. Comparatively, a quick shitpost I did (with wrong information, mind you) nearly garnered eight hundred. It felt demoralizing to know that jokes I can make in five minutes are far-and-away more well received than stories I pour hours-to-months-to-years of work into.
The Bouncer at the Club
Perhaps the moment that truly tilted me was when I saw Riot sending a care package to a cosplayer for creating content for League of Legends. I thought it was awesome and showed that Riot really cared…and then I remembered there was no possible way I could earn this as a writer. Above all else, it stung because many writers put just as much time, effort and otherwise into their work comparative to artists, cosplayers and movie-makers for youtube.
Blizzard regularly releases Overwatch hero maps for people who wish to cosplay their character. For writers they can’t even get a straight story to stay canonical. Riot regularly hosts content creator workshops with youtubers, cosplayers and more. Writers are never going into that. The only writing content I remember for League was done by a rioter (Bioluminescence, bless her soul) who took it upon herself to read, review and otherwise categorize everything on her own.
This sort of thing is also poison for people who wish to create for your game. If I don’t have a basic place to put my work and share it with the community, what’s the point? Writing a story for yourself is all well-and-good but people want to share their work with the world. They want feedback, praise, criticism, critique, acknowledgement. Artists and video-makers are afforded this luxury. Why must it be a challenge for a writer?
A Box of Scraps
This is usually the part where I list what I think could be done to improve things for writers but, honestly, I don’t know. I’ve spoken with friends at both Blizzard and Riot about finding ways to acknowledge great writers and those who pour their heart-and-souls into the work they do. My advice has either fallen of death ears or applied in an ironic way. I’ll leave you with a story:
One of my ideas I spit balled at a Rioter was the creation of a subset in their “Nexus” (lore form) for writers to submit their ideas and writing. They asked how I would do this in a way to include everyone. I said that’s not possible and that it would be subject to rigorous standards, testing, etc. They told me that wouldn’t happen, as the divide between have-and-have-not-writers would be far too great.
About a week later, Riot unveiled a system where artists could submit their artwork to a grand database after a rigorous review process for recognition and praise. The very system I wanted to writers was applied for artists while writers were told that there was still no place for them in League of Legends. It was yet again another avoided inclusion of writers and yet another time I felt that my form of content creation did not matter to Riot.
Situations like this make me want to put down my keyboard and say forget writing.