Movies based video games have a fraught past. From the goofy live action Mario Bros movies to the more modern and highly divisive Assassins Creed film, the level of success has not been high or constant for that matter. For the piece you could research a short history of some prominent video films and their failings, as well as any successful video game films, and give some insight on why the movie industry has such a strong disconnect from the gaming world.
Is it because studio execs don’t think the gaming community wants movies based on their games? And do they?
How does this relationship compare to the relationship between books and film? Why is it so easy to adapt a book but not a video game into film?
One could be quick to jump to the idea that it’s simply economics: studios don’t think the video game adaptations will make money. But this all changes in 2020, with the video game market being worth more than film and sports as of recently. Video games are where the money seems to be, so why aren’t these films put in the right hands with the right funding?
I think one reason for this may be that the broad details of the video game’s plot aren’t fixed, whereas, in a novel, theatre script, or even a manga, it very much is. In this case, things would start to delve into a discussion of the script writer’s abilities as a creator of plots, as opposed to an editor. From here questions for an article can take a number of different directions. – J.D. Jankowski6 months ago
Additionally, video games are designed for you to be part of the action while movies are designed to have you be an observer. Some of the sequences that make video games really exciting don't translate as well to film. Character development in games may happen over 10 to 20 hours in a game like The Last of Us, but films only last 2 or 3 hours. – Sean Gadus6 months ago
I think the biggest struggle lies with the familiarity of the characters. The adaptation of a book into a movie is almost easier because despite the idea we have of the character in our head, they have yet to exist in a visual format. We haven't see or heard from them, we only imagine what they would look or sound like. Video games are more challenging to adapt because we already have a reference to work from. The character has a face, and someone has already spent a painfully long time developing their voice. It's hard to imagine them as anything but what they already are, so no matter how much money a studio puts into the movie, they have a lot of work to do just to break away from the preexisting conceptions. – Nello3 months ago
The thing with video game storytelling that is so difficult for film to get right is that the nature of the medium is inherently interactive and nonlinear, whereas film (sans really a few examples throughout history) is not actually interactive and is linear most of the time.
You as the film viewer have no leverage in determining what route the film goes down, whereas in videogames the player can often be just as much of a storyteller in the process.
Granted videogame film adaptations were fraught with problems since their inception, and most of those examples were adaptations of mostly linear games with little to no branching storylines and narratives. I think the problem there is in the transcription of a game world to a cinematic one. For example, the Super Mario Brothers film works too literally in translating the game's characters and events, making the primary antagonist a grotesque humanoid. Perhaps then the problem is a team of filmmakers not working directly with the source material and understanding its vast array of storytelling; the director of Warcraft, for one, seemed to just work from the given world and randomized a story he thought would cast as wide of a net as possible.
I think it's entirely possible to make a good film adaptation of a video game, it'll just require a sophisticated and detailed approach, along with some luck for good measure. – Thatboyd3 months ago
video games are far more immersive (in my opinion) so it just makes it difficult for a film to have that same pull – moonchild3 months ago
Most games these days are released as either one finished piece at a final price or at an earlier stage at a reduced price. But occasionally – as with the newly rebooted Hitman trilogy – a finished game is instead divided into pieces and sold separately over a period of time, resulting in a sort of TV/Video Game hybrid wherein players experience shorter segments of gameplay over a long period of time. Could this style of release pose new creative opportunities for games, and if so, what might they be? Does a game have something to gain by releasing in this way?
Is this like the Mass Effect trilogy, 3 games with an overarching story and characters? I am a bit confused by the term episodic game trilogy. – Sean Gadus4 months ago
Agreed with Sean’s point. The biggest culprit in this broad category would be sports games from Electronic Arts (FIFA, Madden et al.), which have yearly releases. – J.D. Jankowski4 months ago
A good game to look at that attempted a sort of television/gaming hybrid was Remedy Studios "Quantum Break," which incorporated actual episodes that responded to a player's choices in the game. It's a very unique approach and not one that I believe worked very much in it's favor -- the characters that showed up in the television segments did not make an appearance in the actual game, which led to a big disconnect and stops the momentum of the experience dead. The applications of this formula should be expounded upon, but it should actively affect how the game itself plays rather than vice versa. – Runestrand4 months ago
Video games have seemingly been on an endless march towards total realism since their earliest days over 70 years ago when they were little more than repurposed radar equipment. Modern technology has managed to make games more realistic than ever before. However, in recent years, there have been murmurings around popular titles that they have stepped too far towards realism, to the detriment of the game. Red Dead Redemption II and Kingdom Come: Deliverance have both been subjected to criticisms that they are ‘too real’; the systems and mechanics meant to enhance the experience have instead diminished it. At what point does realism in gaming stop being desirable? Is there such a thing as a game being ‘too real’ to enjoy? Where does this mysterious new boundary exist, if one believes it to exist at all?
Really interesting topic, I would also wonder about whether our perception of realism (that is, what we accept as real in video games) have changed and affected this boundary? – Hui Wong4 months ago
Leaving out specific games, have there been other specific functions or mechanics in games that were deemed as too real? For me, playing any of the sports on GTA starts as fun than I quickly wish I never started. – Marcus Dean4 months ago
Recently, The Last Last of Us Part II won Game of the Year, while, last June, a few weeks before the official release, journalists and critics praised it highly. On Metacritic, critics score is high: 93/100.
However, the user review is way less eulogistic: only 5.7/10, with almost as many negative critics than positive ones: about 35 000, against about 36 000. (As a comparison, there are no negative critics among the critics’ reviews.). It is also worth noting that, on both sides, there are relatively few mixed critics: around 4 000 for users and 8 for critics.
The Last of Us II is, then, a very polarizing and cleaving game. But why is that?
Critics and players almost unanimously praised the graphics and the technical aspects of the game. The divide seems to lies with the narrative and the storytelling of the game. To some, this new opus made bold choices, cleverly subverted expectations, and carried powerful messages. To others, it utterly betrayed the first game and is filled with character inconsistencies and clumsy shortcuts.
How can we, then, explain the gap between those two antagonistic standpoints?
(To do so, one may examine the different plot tricks, gaming devices, or filming effects the game uses, more or less subtly, and the emotional and psychological reactions it is supposed to have on the audience. Plus, as one of the bones of contention is Abby’s character and her narrative arc, empathy is one of the meta-themes of the game: what kind of empathy characters in the game may or may not build towards each other, but, more prominently, what type of empathy a player may or may not develop towards such and such character. Indeed, at least three different kinds of empathies may be at play in the game: emotional empathy, cognitive empathy, and rational empathy or compassion. The kind of empathy one may develop, or, on the contrary, loose, towards such or such character can influence their appreciation regarding the game.)
I'm a huge fan of TLoU. The second game was honestly more fun/difficult for me to play, based on the gameplay functions, amped up horror, and graphics. Although, the narrative was a massive disappointment. I think one of the main topics to discuss, would be that the audience never really wanted to get to know Abby. She was barely connected to the first game, and she quickly kills Joel. Why give a random antagonist any attention at all? The fans fell in love with Ellie and Joel's relationship. Making the new game about Abby and Ellie took away from everything that made the game special in the first place. – RaeganSmith4 months ago
I think an interesting thing to separate here would be critics VS online communities because every review I've read has been wholly positive. And also, any friend I've spoken to has been the same. All the complaints seem to come from people benefitting from anonymity. – Marcus Dean4 months ago
With the launch of the PlayStation 5 also came that of Demon’s Souls, the remake of the 2009 PlayStation 3 original to be precise. Reviews have generally praised Bluepoint Games’ attempts at revamping the graphical assets to show off the PlayStation 5’s increased horsepower. But some critics also pointed out that in the process of updating the art design, Bluepoint also sacrificed a bit of the original’s feel and atmosphere, the increased detail depriving the art of the lack of clarity that lent the original its eerie tension.
In light of these observations, it’d be fitting to have an article that takes a closer look at video game remakes/remasters, particularly the tug-of-war between updating assets that may not hold up well to scrutiny on more modern displays and preserving as much of the source material’s original atmosphere as feasible. Other examples of game re-releases that attracted scrutiny for their reinterpretations of the original art design, such as the Silent Hill HD Collection and BioShock: The Collection, can be mentioned and explored.
The potential article’s main line of inquiry could be the following: Why is there an appeal in preserving a game’s ambiguous details—particularly those stemming from technical limitations on original hardware—in the face of visual touch-ups for remasters/remakes? In the case of games with eerie ambiances, for example, could such an appeal lie in wishing to preserve the uncanny valley and fear of the unknown (e.g. unclear details on characters and environments that heighten the fear of the unknown and make players fill in the blanks with their imagination)?
This is a great point! I also would mention The Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes, which were from the ground up remakes of classic games. Bluepoint also made the Shadow of Colossus remake as well, which is another game worth discussing! – Sean Gadus7 months ago
Also, you want to make the difference between a remaster and remake clear. A remaster often refers to a game given new polish or update visuals for a port (example is Bioshock Collection or Ico/Shadow PS3 collection). Full on remakes are usually more like RE2, FF7, and Demon's Souls for PS5. – Sean Gadus7 months ago
A good point on this could be Oddworld. The developers sought to remaster Exodus after the success of New n' Tasty but then ended up making a quasi-reboot/remake rather than remastering the original game. – Marcus Dean4 months ago
I think it would be interesting to see why we play video games on an intellectual level. What do the mechanics of the gameplay influence in the player’s surroundings and what influence does the setting of the game have on the story that may teach the player through the immersion process games tend to have? Sure, video games are fun, but what more do they have to teach us?
I recommend looking up Game Theory on Youtube to see what is out there on this topic, though I’m coming at this topic from a more philosophical nature versus a scientific one.
I think you could focus upon games where there is emotionally-invested storylines involved, such as The Last of Us or Red Dead Redemption, which make gamers think about their own morality. – Ryan Errington6 years ago
It's been suggested that essentially, the consistent popularity of video games is due to the artificial sense of accomplishment they offer. That's more of a scientific idea, but it might be interesting to explore how video games invite that sense of accomplishment on a story level. – Mariana6 years ago
To add to what Mariana said, I also think it ties in to the idea of faux freedom but covertly reliquishing control. Many people play to relax, and it is relaxing because even though you have this open map, you are not having to make the big decisions that real life asks you to - you get limited choices (3 answers to a question, 4 endings to the game, it's all been decided by someone else.) And there is no real consquence to your choices - you can reboot if you need to. It is like being a kid - it's all a game!
I don't know if there is a real theory out there for this, but that is my theory. – Francesca Turauskis6 years ago
Video games can also make the player feel more confident. I know that when I beat a challenging boss or complete a level, I feel good about myself, though I don't know if that confidence translates into the real world. – S.A. Takacs6 years ago
On the point of morality and emotionally-invested storylines as mentioned above, their also all the Telltale games that not only let you choose your actions but the way in which you converse with the characters as well. Those games make people reconsider their actions on a second play through. – Tyler McPherson6 years ago
You should read "Reality is Broken" by Jane McGonigal. She may be a good source to draw from as you research and write. – AnnieVos6 years ago
I will only play for the most part RPG games that A) have a good gameplay system and don't require me having to avoid being seen, and B) RPG games that have a beginning, middle, and end, in essence, a good story. This is probably why I tend to only play Square Enix video games. – Travis Kane6 years ago
In addition to well-paced risk/reward systems, another compelling issue is player involvement. Video games allow the "audience" to participate in the story (usually) as the main protagonist in a way that passively watching television or movies does not allow. In a world where fan involvement is increasingly an aspect of entertainment, this is a powerful but often overlooked motivator. – Monique6 years ago
This would be a good topic, that have been many studies conducted asking this very question (usually game developers doing it to see how they can hook players). – bbazemo26 years ago
There seem to be two converging questions here: what makes us approach video games (concepts of escapism, etc); and what makes us 'stay' in the game (more towards your question of game setting, learning from games, etc.). These things are related but if you wrote about this I think you could use a different approach for each topic, or at least make clear that there is a difference between between them. – Landon6 months ago
Video games are defined based on their platform, which include arcade games, console games, and PC games. More recently, the industry has expanded onto mobile gaming through smartphones and tablet computers, virtual and augmented reality systems, and remote cloud gaming. Video games are classified into a wide range of genres based on their type of gameplay and purpose. – uphonic5 months ago
Great topic! A focus on the positive points of why video games are essential and how it could impact one's life/emotions will be interesting to read. – GabiBellairs3 months ago
Using both popular examples (e.g. Grand Theft Auto series, Elder Scrolls Series, Minecraft, Skate, Assassin’s Creed, etc.) and less popular titles, analyze how games give players the freedom to do as many things as possible with a main mission line looming in the back. Which games limit features that can only be unlocked by progressing far enough in the main story? Do some games unlock all features before the main mission is even completed? Games like Skyrim and Spider-Man (2018) can randomly generate enemy encounters for the player. Is this implemented to give the illusion that there is another world outside the main story? That the player can comfortably abandon the main story since the rest of the game’s "world" keeps on going?
We can all name more than one game franchise that’s essentially a recycling of sorts. A lot of R&D goes into improving features and adding new ones, but they still "feel" the same once gameplay begins. Why does this happen? Are such games not receiving enough hard work? Or is it just us feeling that way while the truth is different?
I think it often has to do with cost management. If Ubisoft makes an Engine for Assassin's Creed, it is cost effective to reuse the Engine on multiple games rather than start from scratch each time. – Sean Gadus8 months ago
The Sims 4 cops a lot of flack for this very reason. Could be an interesting game to explore in such an article. – Samantha Leersen8 months ago
@J.D.: I have a few games in mind. Source engine based ones, Unity based ones, Pokemon, COD, Sims, NFS, Elder Scrolls primarily. And yes, the amp is coming because the symbol isn't allowed to be formatted into here, but won't be a problem in the article. @RedFlame: I will definitely specify more than a few franchises so readers have a clear idea of what exactly we're talking about. And valid point - perhaps, I'll tackle both types of recycling separately. Makes sense to let people learn there's not just one kind of recycling that goes into games. – Abhimanyu Shekhar8 months ago
I think this article can do very very well if you also throw in some numbers in terms of development cost and creating new IPs in general. It wasn't touched on extensively, but I remember when watching the documentary on developing God of War (2018), they briefly mentioned how tough it was starting a new IP in general with new mechanics. If you have numbers or at least quotes of reputable people in the industry talking about the numbers then this article can go far. – Daniel Ibarra8 months ago
I think this could be an interesting thing to do a comparison with. Recycling in gaming vs. recycling in other media (Literature, film, Music).
– Bct4177 months ago