ByTom Burton, writer at
Pure Cumberbitch!
Tom Burton

Movies are movies, and games are games!

People have been going on about the synergy between video games and movies for years, but I’m still not seeing it. We seem to have got very little out of this partnership, except endless rubbish video game movies and, in turn, rubbish movie video games.

But if the end result seems increasingly unprofitable for both sides, why does anyone still persist? And why don’t they at least try some other strategy? Although they tend to make their money back eventually on DVD sales, no video game movie has ever been a major hit and it’s hard to imagine that any will.

Maybe Warcraft will change things, but how many times have you heard that about equally big franchises such as Tomb Raider? And when has any fantasy film ever been as successful as the Tolkien ones.

At the same time as all this movie tie-ins, at least those based on a specific film and not its wider universe, are no longer the guaranteed sell they were. Most companies don’t make them anymore and even a film as big as the new Star Wars isn’t getting a direct adaptation of the movie.

Direct collaborations don’t seem to work either, but the influence of Hollywood can certainly be seen in the increasing importance placed on cut scenes. It is ironic that at the same time as movies are putting less emphasis on coherent plot (did any of last year’s blockbusters make a lick of sense?) games are moving in the opposite direction.

Hollywood (and the TV business) is terrified of games, which they view as siphoning off their potential audience. The predictable response from the bean counters has been to try and copy their competitor as closely as possible.

Game designers used to despair of ever rivalling movies in terms of script or emotional involvement, but the best of gaming is already well ahead of the worst of Hollywood. But the problem with the games industry is that it remains terribly insecure.

Everyone involved knows they’ll never be media celebrities like their equivalents in movies or music and so describing a game as ‘cinematic’ – no matter how oxymoronic that may be – is still the highest praise some developers hope for.

Which is really selling video games short when so many movies desperately want to be ‘gamematic’. The very best games are, by their nature, experiences that cannot be replicated in any other way.

The cinematography in Call Of Duty may bear purposeful comparison to techniques used in film, but they are only part of the overall experience that makes the games.

Hollywood clearly understands the unique appeal of games, it’s a pity more in the games industry don’t too.

What do you think? Comment below and let me know!


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