An industry for itself, created by itself… trying to be someone else

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By PillsburyDeeBoy

In recent memory, games like Grand Theft Auto and Halo have assisted console gaming by becoming front and center in the public’s eye and shaking up entertainment as a whole. Halo was accused of stealing Ben Stiller’s thunder, and, likewise, there were fears that Iron Man may under perform due to Grand Theft Auto’s imposing presence. Grand Theft Auto IV to date has had a sell‐through of 8.5 million units, with 11 million units being shipped to retailers and an estimated 15 million units to be sold by this year’s end.

Video gaming, evidently, is a pretty big deal in and of itself (and somewhat recession proof, too). So why then, I ask, does the industry feel like it needs to validate its existence by cross-pollinating (polluting?) with other mediums?
Admittedly, no small fault of that is the (relative) infancy of the industry, coupled with video games like Metal Gear both borrowing heavily from Film and (often times criticized) for trying to hard to be like a Film – an interactive one at that, yet a Film no less. Yet that can’t be it though.

What we see with video gaming is nothing new. In fact, the now omnipotent Film industry suffered the same fait in its formative years. Often accused of being artistically primitive when compared to traditional theatre (immature may be the better term, actually), movies were caught in the rut of trying too hard to be like a “recorded theatrical” (it did not help that some of them were exactly that) or attempted to follow the guidelines set out by traditional novel‐based literature. Yet Film carved out a name for itself by being just that – Film. A movie. Not a novel with auditory narrations and live actors. Not a recorded theatrical play. A movie, a medium that borrowed heavily from others but was desperate to be its own thing as well.

I propose video games should do the same. Yet, how does an industry, so caught up in the mentality of intellectual property maximization (milking it ‘til the cow tips, stumbles and falls, if I’m asked) such that anything that is remotely successful would be considered for conversion to Film? Super Mario Bros The Movie?

That’s still a bad dream I’m trying to wake up from. Too many bedfellows, I guess. The truth is…I don’t know how the industry can escape. What did Portal do that made it the short-lived cult hit (and internet meme creator) it was? How has Braid, in all its pretentiousness, made people (well, everybody but Lazy) feel the way they did after completing it? Furthermore, if you rethink the aforementioned examples,
they worked because of the medium, and (although I’m convinced somebody is going to try) aren’t supposed to be movies.

You know whose fault it is, though? It is your fault, dear gamer! Yeah, it’s your entire fault! You know why? ‘Cause you thought it was okay to go watch that awful Jean-Claude Van Damme Street Fighter Llick. Because somehow, you convinced yourself that the Resident Evil movies were good. They aren’t. Can the industry get on with being itself? It’s time Bobby Kotick and John Ricciotello realized that Universal needs them more than they need Universal. The numbers speak for themselves.

Last Updated: August 29, 2008

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