Cinema + Video Games: The New Generation?

I was intrigued by our introduction to video games and machinima last week, primarily because while I played my fair share of Nintendo as a youth, I haven’t been a gamer in any form since.  I suppose just from what you see on TV and on the internet, you can tell how far video games have come.  I had never heard of machinima before, though, so I was especially fascinated by that intersection of game design and film.

The last presentation we had on Friday dealt with a game that had a heavy narrative, cinematic component; it was pointed out that this element took up more time than gameplay.  It raised a few questions for me.  First, is this the future of video games, and are we to enjoy video games as more of a cinematic experience vs. an interactive one?  Is this a new generation of interactivity, sort of like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series, where the narrative is pretty much fixed yet you still feel as if you are  “in control” and “contributing” to the final outcome?  Are we moving away from the shoot-’em-ups to something more… intelligent?  Or are all these hour long movies within video games just masturbatory pleasure for designers, ways to force you in the presence of their mad skillz because they Pixar wasn’t interested?  I’m curious to see it from the point of view of a gamer: do you actually enjoy this part of the game or is it boring and unnecessary? Wouldn’t you rather be playing than watching, or do you select these games in particular because of the watching experience?

Machinima is a whole different page entirely and I think it’s great.  Moving the characters around is one thing (i.e. the clip we saw in class mimicking the movie), but I am more interested in the redubs and the inventive editing that a lot of the examples online emply.  Looking forward to seeing more – this is all foreign territory to me and more interesting than I initially thought.



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One Response to “Cinema + Video Games: The New Generation?”

  1. camouflageculture Says:

    You ask some very good questions here, especially of the “hardcore gamers.”

    Pointing out that a “new” more blurry medium is emerging out of the intersection of cinema and video games is dead on. What we will probably end up seeing are cinegames where you can “tune” the interactivity at all levels from the action (taking the reins from the director at whatever point you desire in the climax fight from Spiderman 6) to the dialogue (there are already games that respond to voice commands uttered into headsets).

    This will also depend heavily on how much the *economics* of video games continue to emulate the economics of cinema. Right now the video game industry is driven by the pursuit of “blockbusters” and sequel-driven formulas… just like hollywood. All of the free-to-cheap downloadable content available on the 3 consoles’ online services offer a glimpse into a future of “indie” or “garage” game production but i think we all know which direction things will head.

    We need a serious studio to commit to “shorter” games that are heavier on “art” and more focused on story, locale and interaction. Current top-tier games are just sketches of what is possible.

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