Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why Game Movies Suck - According to Canada

I'm back home from PAX East, and it was a busy weekend for me. Lots of walking.

Lots. And lots. Of walking.

I'm working on typing up my review and will post it soon. In the meantime, here's another gaming story to keep you busy. Some professor talked to USA today about why video game movies suck.

Kirk Kjeldsen is an assistant professor in the Cinema Department at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Vancouver. Leave it to a Canadian to state the obvious, that the problem with game movies is that video games and movies are two different beasts.

"Translating a non-linear narrative into a linear three-act structure is like making a song out of a painting or a sculpture."

Isn't there a song about the Mona Lisa or did I imagine it? And there are a number of songs inspired by art pieces. Bad analogy assistant professor. It's not an invalid point, just an obvious one. Of course games and movies are different forms of media. Video games allow users to interact with the story, make decisions for the characters, and ultimately affect the outcome on how a product is received. Movies are a passive activity, that require us to do little above basic thought processes to interpret and understand the story.

This all came up after the not so strong showing of the Need For Speed movie. While it has made up for it's budget domestically and done decently internationally, it wasn't the break out hit that Disney and others were hoping for with game based movies.

Honestly? It's just not a strong pool to pull from right now BECAUSE games are so vastly different from what films offer. Taking a song, television show, book, or play is different by comparison because those are natural story arcs that can blend in with the pace and timing of a film. Games operate on a different platform of story-telling entirely, some creating brand new genres (Murderd: Soul Suspect comes to mind as one of the first ghost action/adventure/drama) which can't be confined to a movie format.

So what does the Canadian assistant professor suggest film studios do? "[T]ake the best parts of the game, discard the rest." Which is something the Resident Evil films have done, and not done so well. The one thing that they do get correctly is the sense of fear and overwhelming odds against the zombie hoard. The story takes practically nothing from the games, but at least the action attempts to capture what the RE games portray.

Not Earth shattering news, but I'll make up for it with my PAX East overview. Promise.


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