Game Vs Film

Cinema and videogames are on a convergent path, this is undeniable. Two of the most memorable games of the last ten years were L.A Noire a game although not directly based on the film L.A Confidential was very similar and shared the film noire style and Heavy Rain described as an ‘interactive film’ by its designers. Games using film styles is not uncommon; Mass Effect is a sci-fi game, Red dead Redemption is a western video game, Mafia is a Gangster video game and there are enough war games to fill an Olympic swimming pool.There are films about games or that copy games there are even games where there are films inside the game world like The Darkness screening to kill a mockingbird and of course there are games in films.
Tron is about a man entering a video game, Gamer is about a man exiting a video game, eXistenz is about not being able to tell the game world apart from the real world like The Matrix.
One of the most famous series of games renowned for its cinematic style is the Metal Gear series by Hideo Kojima. Kojima is quoted as saying he copied the main character for his game Solid Snake from Kurt Russel’s character Snake Plissken in the cult classic Escape from New York. What this means is films and games have almost a symbiotic relationship, they influence each other in the same way books inspire films inspire tv shows inspire awful musicals, they’re not at war they’re in business.

I hate to say this but I’m a massive fan of Silent Hill, the games and the film and I’ve played all the games but I watched the film first. Sacrilege, I know but that’s the point of films of games and books of games and films of books; to get you interested in the whole mythos by giving you a feel of what the series is about. I liked the film so much I had to play all the games because I was so interested in the world of Silent Hill being such a big Lovecraft fan the similarities were too much for me to ignore. You see because I like the Resident Evil games I ‘have’ to go see the films even though I know they will be terrible, I just have to know because I’ve made an investment in time, money and in some cases emotion to the series and I have to know how mind-rapingly awful the films are as a result of that.

Games today map real actors so as to have actual acting in their video games, I remember playing L.A Noire and recognising people from tv shows and movies I’d watched and it was amazing seeing them and playing them and fighting them. This isn’t new though Command and Conquer has been hiring real actors for years to star in their live action cut scenes to add realism and drama to the action.

Now for the elephant in the room; Movie tie-in games and movies of games usually suck, with a few exceptions, like the Mario Brothers movie… (What!?). I know they’re terrible but I still watch them and I still enjoy them but it highlights the fatal flaw games have which is they rely on gameplay more than they do story or characters. Which is why when they make the leap to the silver screen they fall short and the same is true the opposite way around; films that become games are usually ill conceived and have terrible game play and a tacked on storyline that has no relevance (one exception was Spiderman 2 the best Spiderman game in my opinion).

Movie tie in games only work when they create a different experience that branches off from the same scenario. So in terms of Spiderman 2, yes it follows the same story arc as the film so you fight doc ock and do most of the things that happen in the film but also there were loads of side missions and other villains to fight as well as the whole of New York city to explore. In my humble opinion it wasn’t a game as much as it was a Spiderman simulator as in I think that game is the closest you are going to get to knowing what it feels like to be Spiderman. 

Are games incompatible with stories or do they reinvent them? Games tell stories but the stories are counterfeit because they aren’t as important as the world or the game play, or just the ‘raw feel’. You could make Casablanca the game but that doesn’t mean anyone will want to play it, videogames are not inferior films but something structurally different all together. Story should be the most important part because that’s what drives us on, story and meaning gives purpose to the lives of the characters.

In the cinema, the world is projected at you; in a videogame, you are projected into the world (Poole 2000). A film rolls over your eyes it can leave you behind you can fall asleep and it can carry on boring you but a game needs your input and that’s why it’s more engaging. It’s like watching die hard and then Bruce Willis ask you for help in killing some trashy euro-crooks, who knows maybe that’ll happen one day.

Look at the way games and films both do 3D, so you take 3D glasses into a film who’s to say one day you won’t take a lightgun or science help us; a wiimote into the cinema and help the allies fight Mecha-Hitler?I think it was final destination 3 that allowed you to decide who died in the film which would in turn alter the endings, which is interesting because a lot of dvds do come with alternate endings to films and in some cases I’ve thought they were better so why shouldn’t I be allowed to choose that ending? I’m not rewriting the film I’m just choosing the way I think it should end. Film is afraid of games in that way, it parodies them or uses them to show that people are anti-social, or dangerous because videogames in nature are more flexible and malleable than films and they can’t really compete with that.

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