Games are really popular, way more than how they were 20 years ago. Of course this isn’t a big surprise, games have chiseled a spot into the mainstream, are a Multi-Million Dollar Industry and are largely household knowledge with titles like Call of Duty and FIFA.
Hollywood seems to love it. but it seems like they’re not getting the right ideas. From what I’ve seen, and from what a lot of critics say, A Good Game Movie hasn’t been made yet.
Tomb Raider is the latest block-buster film to hit theaters with an obvious Video-Game premise. Lara Croft has become a bit of an Icon in the scene, with her character demonstrating great charisma and traits of Post-Feminism, but the movie appears to have blundered at an enjoyment level.
For my article, I’ll be using examples from Rotten Tomatoes as it provides a plain for Critics and Audience Members to collaborate.
The audience consensus appears to be quite average – a typical action movie with a more Modern approach stylistically, compared to its 2001 original.
What’s interesting is that the margin between the Tomatometer and the Audience Score is quite far, so maybe at an enjoyment level people had fun watching it, but at a critical level it blundered.
So the movie wasn’t bad, but Game-to-Movie wise, we haven’t come across something truly shining yet. So I’ll bend the question a little.
Is it unreasonable for us to expect something amazing from a Game Movie?
I’ve got three points I want to make about Game-Movies that Overlap and ring true with every example I can think of.
The first point is that Games are Interactive.
The reason Video-Games separate themselves from all other forms of media is because they are interactive and the user can actively play a role within the space they are presented with.
Nothing new here, but if you were to take Assassins Creed II, strip away its collectibles, Side-Quests, Sequences, Progression Systems, Customization and Controls, you’d be left with the visual narrative – I just described a movie, but more than that, I described an Interactive Experience that’s not Interactive.
You know what, they did this.
The second point I want to push is that Games have a Fairly High Buy-In & Time Commitment
To be fair I loved the Warcraft Movie, but I’m also a Blizzard tragic.
Again, nothing new here, but consider you’re not a Gamer, you’re fairly distanced from the scene, and you see Warcraft – the movie above. You’re going into that movie without any idea of the games Lore, history of the franchise, its massive player-base (which gives reason to its massive Audience Rating), the game mechanics, the tricks, or the costs of getting into any of these points.
Let’s be real, it’s pricey to get into gaming. Modern Consoles are in the hundreds, and there’s not many popular games that will run on low-spec computers and phones, Fortnite being an obvious exception.
It’s time consuming too. To understand any of those points above you’d either need a Super Laid-Back job or some serious free time during your High School days.
Those points above lead me to what I consider to be the strongest point. The Narrative isn’t Important in Gaming.
The major Game-Movie releases of the past 20 years have had a massive Narrative-Story emphasis on their direction that completely removes the source material from the defining concepts.
No matter what approach you take when talking about Gaming, you need to consider the central point that they require user input – and that’s really what is important.
Consider this. John Carmack, one of the original creators of Id’s Doom, arguably the most important game to be made in the past 30 years, said this.
“Story in a video-game is like story in a Porn Movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important”.
(In Master’s of Doom by David Kushner)
Two years later, this was released.
Image via Rotten Tomatoes
In wrapping up….
I’ll never say never. I really would love a good Video-Game movie to be made, but I can’t see it happening unless the elements that make a Video-Game so enjoyable are addressed in the film.
Ready Player One gives me some hope, but it seems to be tethered to a horde of cameos and references.
Beyond this kind of thing, I’m not sure any Game-Movie would be more than a cliche reference fest with predictable plot elements and archs.
I’d love to be wrong, and I’d love to be proven wrong.