Movies vs. Gaming

Almost each meeting, each panel discussion, each chat over a coffee with friends from the motion picture industry comes to a point where someone calls for more involvement of us filmmakers in the games industry. “The gaming industry is such a big market.”  worried faces call out. “We must not miss this train before it’s leaving.” (eyes wide open) “They need stories and we know how to tell them.” – A convinced nodding follows.

Do they really need our stories? And do movie-stories even count or make up for what you can experience when gaming?

I’m personally not looking for thrill in the cinema. I want to feel something. Joy, fear, laughter, soothing, anger, relief, pain, sadness, happiness, sweetness and light. This is what makes me go to cinema. Oh, did I mention I’m not a gamer?

Some touching and emotional cross-media forms suggest that some artist do explore – coming from the film world – interactive forms. and some I’m loving! The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam  IDFA is running a DocLab to bring forward digital documentary story telling already since 2007. In IDFA’s  DocLab events people from Tate Modern to International Film Funding Boards work on and discuss about something new. Something about to start. But what? And is it not already there?
Last year, I loved most from the DocLabs competition program The Wilderness Downtown  by Chris Milk. It’s not there to play, it’s more made to use, look at, shape a bit and be touched by a light breeze. It’s a completely new form of dealing with reality now and memory than, and: I loved it. You can try it here. It takes less than 5 minutes and will take you back home as well as ahead of time.

My kids did hop already in alpha-stage on the Minecraft train. Minecraft is a thing – not sure if you can call it game at all – with no story,  no given rules, no explanation provided by the seller, no goal, no amazing visuals and: you got to pay for it as well! It’s been bought by almost 8 million people as by today. – “They need stories and we know how to tell them.” – Right, yeah. Here you go with your stories! The users were it, that made Minecraft a great place, a community with unlimited possibilities. You can play alone or with others, you can set your own rules from “kill each other” to “let’s start a great civilisation“. People can re-enact The Hunger Games, build real-estate and film it, make music videos inside the Minecraft world, paint Minecraft Bloc-Art (yes, even flying one), listen to music, meet, watch their own (and self-made)  TV on Youtube, write, build their own maps and – yep! – sell it online, fight or raise cattle, burn or grow food, chat and act. They want life, not stories. This life than contains the stories.

Believe it or not – 46 million clicks / half a million likes…

But do I wanna do Minecraft? Nope. I understand the fascination, but prefer my very lovely, very own real life.

The idea to connect life with virtual reality is also behind the  Lexis Numerique / Orange development Alt-Minds. Out since 5th of November and thus for three days already, it’s still with less than 100 Trailer views on Youtube and less than five Google-Plus shares on the Alt-Minds homepage. The take-off might be slower than the makers probably expected. Hyped as “most awaited augmented reality game” Alt-Minds tells the story of five young scientists from Alvinson-Foundation. They disappear in the Ukraine. No traces, only an amateur video-tape that shows a kidnapping. The investigators call the international Internet community for help. The game is running in English, German, French and Spanish, the first week is free, you get later down the track “real” text messages and “real” phone calls from characters of the game. Most likely one/several of the players will be a character of the story as well.

Hm…Sigh. – It would be a lot of fun creating and shooting Alt-Minds I reckon. Inventing all the hints, clues and traps, throwing out nets and thinking ahead. But running after determined traces – weeeeell… Not for me. I always found it more exciting to be the one laying out a paper chase rather the one running after it. – But perhaps it’s for you? This is the trailer:

 

3 thoughts on “Movies vs. Gaming

  1. Hey Sanne,
    It actually depends what kind of game – Minecraft (or Tetris…) doesn’t have a story to tell, but a lot of AAA do. Look at game series like Assassin’s Creed or Resident Evil. Between the action there are cinematics with FMV, often with a combined length of an hour or longer. Dramatic scenes, romance… everything you have in action movies by great directors. The people in charge now earned their merits in the 90s and 00s, when those movie sequences weren’t existing or not that important. They know gameplay, but not necessarily how to direct or even what a good movie is, because they know movies only as consumers – but thanks to motion capturing and growing expectations by the players they kind of have to do the job. Some outsource stuff, some do it themselves. And some even think they became directors – and shoot movies for promo purposes. Look at Keiji Inafune’s “Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun”. Brilliant game designer, mediocre writer, horrible director.
    Long story short – the movie industry could boost the quality of the game industry a lot and quite a few people are already active in both industries. Prime example being Michael Giacchino who started writing scores for video games and won an Oscar for Up. He transitioned one way – and others, like directors, writers and especially cinematographers could be great success stories in the games industry…

    • Heya Florian,
      and thank you for your comment!
      I would totally enjoy to work for the gaming industry as well as see better cinematics between the action-gaming parts.
      It’s just that I see quite a lot of gaming users who seem to not care to much. – Being the mum of two game crazy teens, hosting plenty of their friends and being curious more than anything, I do get to see quite a lot of different games, different genres, and different video bits inside games.
      Perhaps I’m more aiming at users, asking to lift their heads from the controls and think about the quality they’re looking at?!
      I completely agree – from my point of view – that directors, writers and especially cinematographers could be great success stories in the games industry…
      …last not least I would enjoy it a lot.
      I’m praying for an audience that cares.
      And I hope God understands German.

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