Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Movies from Video Games

Reading an article in the latest Gameinformer magazine about the poor record of movies that derive from games, my reaction was "that's not surprising." Games aren't a good storytelling medium, which makes a successful movie less likely to derive from a game. In essence you have to make up the story for the movie because there isn't much of one in the game--the game is more a setting than a story. Video gamers, when they say a game has a really good story, are comparing to other games, not to novels or even movies (stories in novels tend to be better than stories in film, I think--there's more "time" to develop the story). Games put the player "in" the story (ideally, though often not in practice), while movies have the viewer passively consume the story. Comics, on the other hand, ARE a storytelling medium, somewhere between novels and movies. The reader has more work to do in a comic than the viewer does in a movie, but less work to do than in a novel. While we're finally getting some excellent movies deriving from comics--it's taken a *long* time--we're much less likely to get very good movies deriving from video games.

Which hasn't stopped Hasbro from greenlighting tentpole movies for Monopoly (Ridley Scott?!) and Battleship, among others. But those are non-video games that don't pretend to tell much of a story, so I think everyone will accept that the studio has made up a story to fit the brand's vague setting. For video game movies there are the fanboys who want the movie to be "just like the game", and that's not going to work well owing to differences in the media. No movie can possibly be "just like Battleship", so "no problemo."

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