ByNicholas William Batrow, writer at
Nicholas William Batrow

There was a time in my life where I believed that video games couldn't involve choice, that there was only one way to beat a game, one outcome per game, and a linear storyline was the only storyline. That was back when I was seven, I had just got my first console for Christmas, the Nintendo Gamecube. My parents bought me Star Wars Bounty Hunter, Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, and NASCAR Thunder 2003. Two of these games were awesome and I love them still to this day, I'll give you a hint... I've evolved past my fascination of NASCAR, and they had one thing in common; they had one ending. There wasn't much choice, besides the obvious in-game stuff, styles of play and all, but there was one fixed ending, no dialogue choices, and there was no "morality meter." As my game collection grew, the games had the same story structure, leading to me wanting more, even though I was still young.

It wasn't until I bought the original Xbox and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, that I was exposed to a more diverse story structure. The game had TWO ENDINGS! Oh my goodness, I was floored! For once in my life, the choices I made in-game had a direct result on the game, beyond a "game over" screen or a few extra items, including who lived or died. It quickly became one of my favorite mechanics in video games, BioWare obviously became one of my favorite studios, and eventually I saw them in a far different light than more linear games, in a much better light at that.

Why do I bring all of this up? Because for a while now, we've seen video games start to see movie adaptations, and the other way around. The general consensus is that both products are, on average, pretty terrible. Uwe Boll and his ilk are among the worst offenders, but so far, even they have had the intelligence to stick with games that don't involve much choice.

But what happens when they finally decide to tackle such a topic?

We all know it'll be terrible, for the conventional reasons: horrid writing, hammy acting, fairly low budgets, far too much focus on action, and objectifying women even more than the video games do.

But the biggest insult of all will be the separation from choice. The concept of choice in a video game is a lovely mechanic that helps invest the player, engrossing them further in what is hopefully a rich, entertaining, and well developed world. In a movie, the viewer cannot choose the path the main character takes, cannot choose the personality traits or actions of said character...

So, taking away choice from the equation bastardizes the whole concept. Robbing the viewers and gamers alike of one of - if not the most - important and valuable elements of the game.

To add to that, Hollywood can almost never make a good movie adaptation of a video game, they've tried many times. The (arguably) most successful attempt was the movie Hitman, based on the video game series of the same name, and even that was a fairly average, if not below average, film. The action was decent, the lead stayed true to the main character from the game, except for the whole falling in love thing, and the story was decent. Now you can see the trailer for the newest attempt at it, and it honestly looks like Michael Bay schlock that we've seen a dozen times over now.

That game series has choice in game play, but not in narrative, the more popular way to play is with stealth and tact, something the movie was lacking sorely, and something the next movie will leave out entirely, I'm sure.

That's just choice in gameplay and the makers can't even get that right, so how can they possibly tackle choice in narrative? The short answer is that they can't. They honestly can't. If the Mass Effect movie focused around Commander Shepard, which it really shouldn't otherwise it WILL fall apart, then there IS no right OR wrong way to make it, as long as they follow the narrative faithfully, or at least freaking try (looking at you, Uwe) then it won't be a colossal failure, it's just not something studios should invest tons of money in.

However, if it were an average soldier or civilian - or something like that that were the focus of the movie, then it could work out fantastically. Some good acting, good effects, and good representation of the series, and we could see the greatest video game-to-movie adaptation of all time.

But that's a long shot, to be honest. Someone would botch it, mainly because Hollywood doesn't take these movies seriously, and Boll might get his tentacles wrapped around it.

The movie COULD work, if the conditions were right, but in reality, it WILL NOT WORK.

Am I wrong? Maybe.


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