Video Game Films – Revisited

Hollywood continues attempting to bring the active experience of playing video games to the passive environment of your local lounge or local cinema…and continues to fail.

The first mistake is trying to recreate the experience of playing a game. Agency cannot be adapted into film and therefore film makers should give up trying to emulate it.  Roger Ebert had this to say about the sequence in the film Doom where the camera switches to the perspective of Karl Urbans Character, emulating a first person shooter.

 The movie has been “inspired by” the famous video game. No, I haven’t played it, and I never will, but I know how it feels not to play it, because I’ve seen the movie. Doom is like some kid came over and is using your computer and won’t let you play. – Doom: first person shooter sequence.

Secondly, films tend to follow the three act structure, usually adhering to the Joseph Campbell’s concept of the ‘Hero’s Journey’ and simply put, games do not. Naturally there are exceptions to the rule, one such exception is Zelda: Ocarina of Time but that is another story for another time. See next week’s blog, ‘Zelda: The Perfect Game for Film’. Most games tend to sacrifice structure and story for control, so once control is taken away in the process of becoming a film we as the audience are usually left with an uneven narrative which misses all dramatic points of Freytag’s Pyramid.

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Thirdly there are reasons pertaining to the logistics of the current film industry which also contribute to the poor quality of video game movies. The generation that grew up playing video games is still relatively young and therefore yet to produce a whole lot of seasoned film makers with adequate experience under their belt. Furthermore the current generation of seasoned film makers has little respect for the medium of video games much like how the generation before them had little respect for comic books. This theory explains the poor quality of superhero movies and television shows that were originally produced by people who had little understanding of the medium and of the reason for its popularity. Instead of collaborating with the creators or fans of the comics, film makers attempted to interpret the popularity from their uneducated perspective and failed. It was not until film makers who grew up reading comics had enough footing in the industry to be given the opportunity to attempt a superhero adaptation that the genre began to succeed.


Contrary to live action, animated film adaptation of their video game counter parts have tended to fear better critically. The zany, stylized aesthetics of animated films seem to suit the over eccentric and unrealistic stories of video games. Spirited Away is one such example of a video game adaptation that borders on the line of a success. Furthermore, especially with games aimed at the younger market such as Mario, the methods and apperanc3e of animation at least allows the films to remain visually faithful to the games. Of course in the case of the film Mario they decided to use live action for some god awful reason. In my opinion,  Mario + Pixar +Disney  = Hit!!


What do you think the best Video Game Film would be?


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