Film and Videogames..again

The New York Times writes another nugget on the increasingly knitted worlds of film (should I say, celluloid film?) and video game creative production.

As electronic games become a candidate (of many possibilities) for the future of visual story telling, drawing upon the various models of production becomes a hot topic. Oftentimes the two forms of entertainment production are put alongside each other.

Far more often than not, it is the economics. I’ve heard both that electronic games has an economic girth more than and less than film — I’m not sure what’s the case any more.

After economics, it ends up being operational issues, like how to go about production. After that, the topic is often discussions about electronic games as an extension of a film’s brand, meaning an after-market bolt-on to the imaginary world of a film. This approach seems, in my humble opinion, to be about as considered and thought-through as the after-market resizing or pan-and-scan post-production that makes a film suitable to television.

I’ll go out on a limb and say that failure is basically guaranteed by making an electronic game based upon a story that was meant to be experienced sitting in a darkened room without a controller in your hand and in a mode of reception that’s far away from the kind of engagement a good video game like Katamari Damacy provides.

Why do I blog this? It was particularly interesting to note the tensions between video game manufacturing behemoth Electronic Arts seems to have difficulty when creative control clearly belongs in the camp of an auteur, like Peter Jackson. I can imagine the nervousness of EA execs thinking that they may become as useful as a film studio in the 1980s as creative and entrepreneurial directors similar in their capacity to Jackson are able to produce, distribute and market their own games independent of EA-style studios. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that EA is more of a warehouse of smart, enthusiastic, malleable video game programmers, and far fewer visual story-telling creatives who grew up on video games.

This topic is also of interest as the department in which I presently teach and do research is situated within a school of cinema and television and focuses mainly on production. The department is also significantly funded by Electronic Arts which makes for a complicated ordering of priorities. Many students seem to enroll because they see it as an easy-in to a job at EA.

NYT Article Archived

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