252: Better Than Film

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AMEN TO THAT, great points you made there... I posted similar ideas on another website about this debate, at the end of the day, It all comes to these statements and questions...
It´s true that we gamers (age 25 and up) are possibly the only ones that know the in and outs on how video games are created, so gamers (and of course some game developers) are the only ones that can determine if video games are or aren´t art. What´s really disturbing (and your radio example fits perfectly) is that video games may never reach the ¨worldwide¨ art ¨tag¨ if bad games are the rule, I mean, It´s happening, even big japanese companies are giving away their franchises to less capable studios, why?, money, what else, on those early days of gaming, they were free creators, sales weren´t a BIG deal, of course that they cared, but It wasn´t the prime goal, they just made games, who cared about focus groups and shit, they just made (or at least tried to make) good games... what I´m trying to say is that nowadays, they all got greedy, if it don´t sell, It´s bad, nobody takes risks, of course there are some cases when these games are indeed good and they indeed sell well too, Bayonetta (maybe not, but...), Final fantasy 13, new super mario bros wii, dragon quest 09, MGS peace walker, Vanquished (possibly), Metroid other M (possibly), SSF4, Last guardian (possibly), etc...

back in the day, they got less resources, budgets were shorter and making games was harder... and they made great games!!!, nowadays, 3D is cheaper, easier and they have more money and more manpower... and 75 per cent of the games out there are trash!?, what´s happening here?... I don´t know, you said that videogames had to evolve, mature, but what exactly should be that grow?, It has to do with narrative?, plot?, mature themes?, sex themes?, philosophy?, psychology?...

anyway, I know what you are trying to say about cinema flaws back on those early days, but, citizen kane is still a masterpiece, plot, photography, direction, montage, etc, It´s perfect, is solid, is flawless... and hitchcock is still a god, kurosawa, leone, Eisenstein, Hugues, Ford, fellini, Buñuel, etc, their movies are still ¨flawless¨ , and nowadays, is hard to find directors that can top those true gods of film making!

Vortigar:

bolastristes:
the only gaming counterpart of citizen kane I can think of, is none other than SUPER MARIO BROS!

You were a bit shouty about it but I think there's a core of truth there. Only I will go one step further than you and simply say it. Super Mario Brothers is gaming's Citizen Kane.

Here was an industry that was cool but didn't know where to go, what to do. And along came an expression in that industry that showed what could still be done and revitalized the entire thing. Kane did it, Mario did it.

There's a massive difference in the development of various mediums and that has everything to do with the age in which the medium comes to rise. Movies came out of the twenties (or thereabouts), games are a product of the eighties. More importantly, with the rise of the internet the global consciousness and knowledge of consumers is expanded greatly. You need only take a cursory look at those lauded films of yore and you'll see loads of obvious, glaring flaws in the way a movie was scripted, shot, whatever, people back then didn't know better. Now, in the information age we do. (I watched Citizen Kane a couple of months back and you really have to read up on why this movie was so special at the time otherwise its just a very dated movie.)

We gamers know the ins and outs on how games are created, how gameplay elements function. Movies could get away with a lot of stuff because the audience didn't know better, these days they simply can't pull those tricks anymore. Games on the other hand were almost never able to pull those tricks. They had to mature way faster or be left in the dust.

Personally I feel the judgement has already been made. Games are a medium of the comic book variety. There's a load of flashy stuff that's utterly enjoyable but not really understood by a lot of people. And among that there's still a greatness that anyone can discover if only they would give it a chance.

This is not the final verdict however. Movies have been around for 80 years, comics for 60, games for a little over 30, who knows where it will be after it becomes as old as music, which is hitting its 2500th birthday or something this year. And speaking of that age-old one, what horrible noise is coming out of your radio today? Is that the sign of a mature medium?

AMEN TO THAT, great points you made there... I posted similar ideas on another website about this debate, at the end of the day, It all comes to these statements and questions...
It´s true that we gamers (age 25 and up) are possibly the only ones that know the in and outs on how video games are created, so gamers (and of course some game developers) are the only ones that can determine if video games are or aren´t art. What´s really disturbing (and your radio example fits perfectly) is that video games may never reach the ¨worldwide¨ art ¨tag¨ if bad games are the rule, I mean, It´s happening, even big japanese companies are giving away their franchises to less capable studios, why?, money, what else, on those early days of gaming, they were free creators, sales weren´t a BIG deal, of course that they cared, but It wasn´t the prime goal, they just made games, who cared about focus groups and shit, they just made (or at least tried to make) good games... what I´m trying to say is that nowadays, they all got greedy, if it don´t sell, It´s bad, nobody takes risks, of course there are some cases when these games are indeed good and they indeed sell well too, Bayonetta (maybe not, but...), Final fantasy 13, new super mario bros wii, dragon quest 09, MGS peace walker, Vanquished (possibly), Metroid other M (possibly), SSF4, Last guardian (possibly), etc...

back in the day, they got less resources, budgets were shorter and making games was harder... and they made great games!!!, nowadays, 3D is cheaper, easier and they have more money and more manpower... and 75 per cent of the games out there are trash!?, what´s happening here?... I don´t know, you said that videogames had to evolve, mature, but what exactly should be that grow?, It has to do with narrative?, plot?, mature themes?, sex themes?, philosophy?, psychology?...

anyway, I know what you are trying to say about cinema flaws back on those early days, but, citizen kane is still a masterpiece, plot, photography, direction, montage, etc, It´s perfect, is solid, is flawless... and hitchcock is still a god, kurosawa, leone, Eisenstein, Hugues, Ford, fellini, Buñuel, etc, their movies are still ¨flawless¨ , and nowadays, is hard to find directors that can top those true gods of film making!

...

All artistic mediums will cater to the masses, and try to sell; books, film, games...everything. This dosen't set games aside, it just means that when something that takes risks comes out, it's be that much more special.

I already view games as art, and I wouldn't expect someone of Eberts generation to understand that, with his narrow opinions shaped on the past, typical of oldz. I'm also confident that in time, they will be accepted as such, as the eberts die out, and progressive generations accept them more and more.

Also, like films, there is a huge scope of products, from space marines to heavy rain, and while games shouldn't really be compared to films in an artistic sense, there's nothing wrong with innovations like Heavy Rain heading in a more cinematic direction. Popcorn action flicks and "Seven"(Marines and Heavy Rain), all have their place within the medium...

The future's bright!

mrpenguinismyhomeboy:
I think that games need to realize exactly what they are. They are games. And say what you want, but I don't personally think many people realize that.

Sorry to not respond to your whole post. I like a lot of what you say, but I can't agree or disagree because of this point here.

This is as much a debate as "what is art?", which, to me, is a creation that generates an emotion (it's broad and it allows a LOT of things to be considered art, even though your pretentious Ivory Tower crap heads will want to disqualify a lot of what can fall under that general definition).

So, what is "a game"?

Well, to me, a game is interactive before it is even a game. As such, there are possibilities for an interactive narrative as well as, well, FarmVille, Boom Blox, etc.

Some people want games to be all about the gameplay since, well, that's what makes it a game. But that's only because the word "game" is used since there was nothing better to call it when it was created. I like PLAYING games, certainly. They are fun, and gameplay is definitely a part of that.

However, that aspect of the medium has reached an adulthood that is perfectly fine. We're good with that. Enough people play games as time wasters and minor bits of fun without requiring a higher brain function or investment, be it temporal, emotional or fiscal.

Yet by being interactive games have the capability of being so much more than "just a game". By merely playing the game you get an emotional investment, so at the moment Aeris dies or the nuke goes off and you're playing a character's final living moments, it is much more gut-wrenching than if it were on screen.

Being able to manipulate emotions like this can get people to really think. Film does this all the time. Only with games, their very interactive nature allows you to focus it in a different way. Films can SHOW you a story. Games can GIVE you an experience, even if that experience is your vision fading as you gaze upon a mushroom cloud in the distance.

So while I have no problem with iPhone games, Facebook Apps or gameplay being important, I feel that we are only going at half capacity without taking that interactivity and applying it to a narrative as well. Does that mean EVERY game should have a good story? God no. Why would I want Tetris to have a story? But if you are going to bother making a game with cut-scenes and/or dialog, well you could at least go to the trouble to make sure it's good. This is where I feel the games industry is at an awkward stage. While another piece in The Escapist this week bitched about it, I feel comfortable saying the games industry is an awkward adolescent. It WANTS to be an adult, but it keeps doing stupid shit that gets in its own way.

Look in my opinion comparing the gaming industry with the movie industry is like trying to compare a pizza with spaghetti, yeah they're both Italian but they are completely different forms of food! The closest thing to an interactive experience a movie has ever gotten was going 3D. People seem to disregard the fact that games are interactive and movies are not! Look the quality of a movie is based on the story, acting, and cinematography (that includes directing) come together to form a cohesive experience, whereas games are based on these while simultaneously suffering the "How's your interface?" critique. Yes sure games can act like movies all they want but they will always require some type of input to still be considered a game! I may also point out that movies NEVER underwent this much scrutiny when they first appeared on the scene.

Yes, you can say they follow the same story-telling routine movies do but that can be said of movies and books as well. In the future when gaming have superseded movies of the prime form of entertainment, a new form will suffer the same "But can it be as artistic as a videogame?" comparison.

Two issues, one the definition of "games" and two the role of "new" in games.

In addressing the issue of "new". It's true that media hypes what's new and interesting and tries to promote that it's the best. Media does this to sell us things. As everyone knows, just because the media represents something one way doesn't make it true. If you look at any community that centers around gamers you will instantly be able to recognize a fixation not on the new, but on the old. Nostalgia is a powerful force in games. It single handily sells retro-games. A celebration of the old is what makes the Virtual Console work. Gamers reference new games in memory a lot but they also all know a laundry list of classics. Media may focus on what new because its more interesting but many sites, like the Escapist, have articles about trends, ideas, and history as well. The umpteen million top 10 lists of games should indicate gamers own knowledge of their history. There may be a lack of unifying exploration and evolution of history, but its there. Maybe we need to utilize it more, I'll give the article that.

Secondly: Games are designed around a clear structure that usually involves a winner and a loser. Often times they are designed to be fun, but Game theory emphases the importance of only the "winner" and "loser" part and the strategy involved. Games as they stand today follow the model, but what is stated here sounds much more diverse then that and seem to branch out of simple games and into interactive media. There is a wealth of concepts that have not even been thought of yet that can make up interactive media, but they stand outside the limit of games, which are one type of interactive media. We need to branch out to these new frontiers but that involves a complete abandonment of games altogether, that involves thinking outside a simple model of strategy and winners to a media that has different goals altogether.

I think video games should stop looking toward movies to emulate i think it would be better if they tried to focus on books. I think that would suit the structure well especially with the open world games there could be so much potential in adapting books into games. But so far i have not found anything like that.

Gaming is not going to come into it's own as art by simply being a poseur of other art forms that are accepted. It has to be something unto itself.

People talk about "Heavy Rain" like it's something special, but most of the people who talk about it are totally ignorant when it comes to the "interactive movie" genere. We've been here before, interactive movies were a big thing right when CD Roms were replacing the 3.5" floppy disk. What's more many of those movies were done by using real people on top of everything else.... they generally blew chips, which is why it died. Someone like Mr. Ebert is probably aware of this, more so than people who bring things like "Heavy Rain" out to try and make a point, since it's not like it's something new and innovative to champion gaming.

What's more, when you look at the diversity of books and movies you have to understand that there is a differance between time, price, and intent. I mean it's one thing to spend a couple of hours on a tearjerker about some pregnant single mother who comes to a bad end, spending maybe $10 tops. It's another to spend $60 for the same basic experience, and honestly in trying to convey that your losing out on what makes gaming great: interactivity and control. But then again when your selling "This really blows chips" as the appeal of the work, who the heck really wants to interact with something like that?

Oh, sure, there are plenty of things that can be done besides Space Marines... we're already seeing that. However outside of fantasy, science fiction, and horror I don't think gaming is really going to succeed. As a medium it can, and should, focus on what it's good at.

Truthfully though, even if you disagree with the above, I think the first step for gaming to go anywhere other than where it is now, is to get the same protections as other mediums. Right now gaming is held back by censorship, and companies that bow to pressure over them going too far. If you make a movie or book that has a tragic scene in which a pregnant woman is kicked in the stomach, killing the baby and then her, that's more or less fine in any context. Try and do that in a game and well... almost guaranteed it's going to be censored out of the game. I choose this example because there was a "Vault Boy" drawing omitted from one of the previous "Fallout" games that was about kicking pregnant women. It's a nasty thing, but the point is that gaming can't even consider going as far as books and movies if it doesn't even have that level of freedom.

Notice that a good number of the most long lasting movies that are viewed as having had an impact or being seen as art, are ones that pushed all kinds of envelopes and weathered attacks, perhaps even going through periods where they were banned outright. Gaming generally doesn't do that. Also consider that as guys like Quentin Torantino point out, a lot of times it's the excessive "schlock" movies that wind up having the most profound impact and step furthest outside of the box. Irregardless of what you think of him, he's very successful/famous, and not shy about his inspiration and pointing out (sometimes disturbingly) where the movies he lionizes truely stand compared to more conventional classics.

To put things into perspective, as many people have probably heard of "Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill!" (though think of it as obscure) as have heard of "Gone With The Wind", "Casablanca" or "Citizen Kane".

... So the future of games is nothing but half-assed rehashing from the big "studios" while the independent works become so predictable and stagnate (as they really only have the big studios to compare themselves to) that "indie" becomes its own genre?

While games that are actually good go almost completely unnoticed because they aren't accessible enough for people who've come to view "accessibility" (does not mean what you think it means) as required? Which will cause the formation of a single massive awarding body designed to give notice to works that are truly great, but will come under fire from the average person, who views "shit fucking blows up" as superior to whatever wins "best game" that year?

Boy, I can't wait for EA's RomCom '21.

In order for gaming to be taken seriously as it's own format, or even an art form, it needs to stop licking the boot of hollywood and go back to blazing it's own path through history. It also needs to stop self-referencing for the sake of self-reference (braid) and attempt themes and concepts that haven't been tried before. But this can't happen for a few decades, as massive corporations currently have the entire industry by the neck, and view it as nothing but a method of turning 2 dollars into 3.

Why do we feel the need to justify our chosen form of entertainment? More importantly, why do we feel like we should put film on a pedestal as the pinnacle of art and what we feel games need to be like in order to be legitimized?

I ask because, yes, Citizen Kane is a classic film but the same medium also gave us Divine eating real poodle feces and the Roger Ebert (since he is the one who started this whole mess) penned Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. For every culturally signifigant movie in history there are 1,000 movies that are embarrassing to even say you have heard of.

Sorry, but I just find it impossible to put film on a pedestal when their track record of worthwhile endeavors gets worse and worse everyday.

Casual Shinji:
Comparing Heavy Rain to Citizen Kane is really pushing it, I'm afraid. And saying that Heavy Rain was a milestone in gaming? Uh, no! Don't get me wrong, I liked the game, but there was as much wrong with it as there was right.

This might be beating a dead horse, but if you want innovation in games look at Shadow of The Colossus: Riding your horse actually felt like riding a horse instead of, say, driving a car as it does in other games with horse riding gameplay. Interacting with skyscraper-tall beings that were beautifully animated, but most of all, it told a story through gameplay instead of cutscenes. Sure, there were cutscenes, but only at the beginning and the end of the game and their only purpose was to set up the game and to conclude the game. The actual emotion of bonding with your horse and coming to the grim realization of your actions, was achieved through gameplay. And that is something I have yet to see in another game, except maybe Ico.

I really liked the big blockbuster games of the last few years like Gears of War 2, Uncharted 2 and Mass Effect 2, but they seem to feel more like movie experiences rather then videogames. In the end, I want the bulk of my games to feel like videogames and not like movies.

That's your opinion and you're entitled to have it, but mine is that SotC was incredibly boring and dull.

As a father, the end of Heavy Rain had me choking up. I've never shed a tear before playing a videogame, and it rarely happens to me with movies, but being so connected to what was happening on screen slayed me. All I could think about was my daughter while I was trying to keep Shaun alive.

I will play a game that involves being a pregnant mother when interesting mechanics for such a thing can be made interesting besides merely choices and quicktime events.

Until then I think I'll continue to play polished games in genres that already exist.

ccesarano:

mrpenguinismyhomeboy:
I think that games need to realize exactly what they are. They are games. And say what you want, but I don't personally think many people realize that.

Sorry to not respond to your whole post. I like a lot of what you say, but I can't agree or disagree because of this point here.

This is as much a debate as "what is art?", which, to me, is a creation that generates an emotion (it's broad and it allows a LOT of things to be considered art, even though your pretentious Ivory Tower crap heads will want to disqualify a lot of what can fall under that general definition).

So, what is "a game"?

Well, to me, a game is interactive before it is even a game. As such, there are possibilities for an interactive narrative as well as, well, FarmVille, Boom Blox, etc.

Some people want games to be all about the gameplay since, well, that's what makes it a game. But that's only because the word "game" is used since there was nothing better to call it when it was created. I like PLAYING games, certainly. They are fun, and gameplay is definitely a part of that.

However, that aspect of the medium has reached an adulthood that is perfectly fine. We're good with that. Enough people play games as time wasters and minor bits of fun without requiring a higher brain function or investment, be it temporal, emotional or fiscal.

Yet by being interactive games have the capability of being so much more than "just a game". By merely playing the game you get an emotional investment, so at the moment Aeris dies or the nuke goes off and you're playing a character's final living moments, it is much more gut-wrenching than if it were on screen.

Being able to manipulate emotions like this can get people to really think. Film does this all the time. Only with games, their very interactive nature allows you to focus it in a different way. Films can SHOW you a story. Games can GIVE you an experience, even if that experience is your vision fading as you gaze upon a mushroom cloud in the distance.

So while I have no problem with iPhone games, Facebook Apps or gameplay being important, I feel that we are only going at half capacity without taking that interactivity and applying it to a narrative as well. Does that mean EVERY game should have a good story? God no. Why would I want Tetris to have a story? But if you are going to bother making a game with cut-scenes and/or dialog, well you could at least go to the trouble to make sure it's good. This is where I feel the games industry is at an awkward stage. While another piece in The Escapist this week bitched about it, I feel comfortable saying the games industry is an awkward adolescent. It WANTS to be an adult, but it keeps doing stupid shit that gets in its own way.

Well said. I really didn't define what a game was, because like you said, it is essentially a what is art debate. But I think your right. The one unique element in games is control, and really, the ability to influence the world. And like you say, realizing that ability is key to the development of game design philosophy.

A good game needs to make the player feel like they are a direct influence on the world around them. This can be done by actually allowing the player to manipulate the story (Mass effect and stuff) or through the illusion of open-ended-ness (Half life 2). I personally think that as games become more abstract, linear games will become less in number, and games like mass effect, or alternatively "god games" (a term I have decided to coin for games that give the player absolute control of the world, or near absolute) will become more popular. Right now, what we have are "playground games" (essentially sandbox games), which give the player an alive world to run around in. But eventually, I think games will allow the player to define the world for themselves, allowing for a unique and more personal experience.

But that is just what I think. I don't actually think I can predict where this industry will go, but I think I have some unique ideas on where it could go. After all the games industry is run by people, and people are very weird sometimes...

Articles like this, and the theory behind them in general, are almost impossible to define or discuss. Everyone has a different opinion about what a Citizen Kane should be. Even pure lovechildren of the gaming industry like Heavy Rain, Fable, and Spore were all supposed to be the big next step in the gaming evolutionary cycle. The formermost was a good experience, the middle never quite caught up to the developer's ambition, and the lattermost had its heart in the right place but little else.

When people ask me for an artsy game, I immediate spew some stock answer like Okami, Shadow of the Colossus, or Flower. If I ever sat down and really thought about it, it'd be unfair to leave out so many games simply because they're kind of action-y. For every time I've argued the artistic merit of Braid, I feel I should have also mentioned Super Metroid. A game which has a whole three or so text boxes, but one whose story is still communicated without words. We grow to understand Ridley, Samus, Metroids, Mother Brain, the whole nine yards, all of this without text. It's a grand tale of aliens and science, just without the Final Fantasy dialogue chains attached. It's subtle, well-spoken (for how little it speaks), and a lot of fun despite that. It really is something so achieved at its medium that it doesn't need to make an overt effort to be amazing.

Instead of cowering in fear of the visceral nightmare beasts that games like Dead Space or Resident Evil provided me, I was more afraid for what Eternal Darkness was about to do to me. The sanity meter was the scariest monster I've ever encountered. It took normal game mechanics like saving and turned it into the most counter-productive process ever. I recoiled in horror more from a healing spell that detonated my character than anything the Nemesis could do to me in Resident Evil. I started second guessing whether or not to reload, for fear of blowing off my own arm than any fear of not having ammo for the little horrors that decided to visit in the flesh rather than in my mind. I was almost afraid to turn the console off at the end of the day, fearing that the game would keep going on the television, content to break my mind of any conventions of logic. I didn't fear what I knew would be around the corner, I was hellishly afraid of what wasn't. To this day, I'm still paranoid about doing anything on that game. I think what scares me most is how little the game had to try to do it. Even literary classics like Mary Shelly's Frankenstein can't quite scare me enough to not turn the page. Eternal Darkness did it reflexively, and almost laughed at my hesitation.

These games exist out there, all worth the comparisons of artistic integrity from one title to the next. Mechanics and narratives poised daintily on a tightrope, yet some games walk the line wonderfully without enough worth to it. Uncharted 2 is practically an airlifted unwritten script from Indiana Jones and the Jade Sphere, but it doesn't make it less of a game for the practice. No less than Plants Versus Zombies, which couldn't exist outside of a game. Yet both are worth some praise for their contribution to art. Maybe nothing so amazing as the Mona Lisa, or as mind bending as Escher, but still worth enough to comment. Even in the art world, games like Echochrome and distinct levels in Psychonauts fill the aesthetic niche that art-seekers so crave.

So maybe we don't yet have some deep, thought provoking, Citizen Kane-esque creature yet. Motion pictures were possible in the 1880's, and it took nearly 60 years to get to Citizen Kane's release in '41. To put that in perspective, Pong was released in '72. We have twenty more years before we can say that games took longer to achieve Kane than film. I imagine that's longer than the full life of some of the users reading this post. There's no point in rushing art, we've got time.

I don't think we should all rush off to make games something they aren't. Games that try to hard to be movies get common complaints of ceaseless cutscene, games that make no effort at all are called "casual" and get thrown out reflexively. People are being unfair because games aren't pleasing everyone, all the time. Personally, I'd sit down with a copy of Mass Effect before I'd sit down to watch Citizen Kane. Maybe it's less likely that Mass Effect will ever be hung up in a museum, displayed for all the art world to laud over, but that doesn't make Mass Effect any less an art at what it does.

Maybe we're all a little too hung-up on what art has to or should not be. Music can be art, films can be art, who's to say games haven't already gotten there, just that none of us noticed?

Superb article. Thank you.

As an interesting point there have been games (usually part of a long running series) that have attempted to allude to bring on a range of emotions. A good example would be (as abit of a shocker I know) Ace combat 5: Squadron leader/Unsung war depending on where in the world you are.

Let that sink in for a moment, an air combat game series where the back story is usually of someone effected by the actions of the protagonist (you, who is never officially named or seen in the games, just given a callsign) but in Ac5 the story is of the squadron you play as part of. This also leads to an interesting focus on your squads characters. As such you have 7 different people you fly with over the course of the game each character is laid out as a rounded person each with their own eccentricities and distinct mannerisms. From Nagasea(Edge, who's CG figure is taken from ridge race 5) is a quiet shy character on the ground but a fiercely loyal and impassioned flyer to Davenport (Chopper) Who is an avid collector of music records as well as something of a hot head but not the most capable flier.

This culminates into the death of chopper. In most games there would be someway to save that character but in Ac5 he is going to die. In the process of his planes deaththrows there's a calmness of the acceptance. There is no struggle to survive, just the knowledge that when a plane hits something it leaves a mark and as a final valient effort crashes where it'll the least harm. This in it's in unusual in the stillness of it, then of course your other 2 teammates do cry out when the impact is seen and fight twice as hard as before.
this is where things really pull at the heart strings, over the radio there is no clichéd vows of revenge. There is no uncontrolled sobbing rendering them useless there is however muted grunts through clenched teeth. You can almost hear the tears rolling down the cheeks of your team mates for the death of a good friend. they still have a job to do and do they must.

It's a wonderful part of the game and draws you into the story and for once it's not full of the usual heavy handed war is bad message behind alot of japanese games nor does it have the overblown lets blow shit up that seems all pervasive in alot of the big budget american games.

Then again there has been countless other games that crossed over into having the potential to be movies or even games that have become movies only to have the real depth of either missing.( Max pain the movie I'm looking at you) On that note Max pain 2 is pretty much pulp film noir all the way through (apart from the large body count) and the feeling of Max pain being such a lost character seeps into everything he does.

In truth, emotions in games are difficult things to get right. Everybody's different and different things effect different people in different ways. So long as such experiments in games are aloud to flourish and what works taken on board as well as to look at what didn't and why it didn't.

One thing that I would state though that helps alot to pull on the emotions is to allow the players protagonist (hell why not go for an antagonist once in a while in a game as well?) to be given a name but remain an empty shell to let the player inhabit, rather than having everything mapped out and the player simply expected to take the backstory onboard and behave like a character that they aren't to behave. Yes sometimes its necessary, but why not let the opening levels of the game forge the gamer into the character the developers want naturally rather than have it forced upon them?

Anyways rant over, transmission out

Casual Shinji:
Comparing Heavy Rain to Citizen Kane is really pushing it, I'm afraid. And saying that Heavy Rain was a milestone in gaming? Uh, no! Don't get me wrong, I liked the game, but there was as much wrong with it as there was right.

This might be beating a dead horse, but if you want innovation in games look at Shadow of The Colossus: Riding your horse actually felt like riding a horse instead of, say, driving a car as it does in other games with horse riding gameplay. Interacting with skyscraper-tall beings that were beautifully animated, but most of all, it told a story through gameplay instead of cutscenes. Sure, there were cutscenes, but only at the beginning and the end of the game and their only purpose was to set up the game and to conclude the game. The actual emotion of bonding with your horse and coming to the grim realization of your actions, was achieved through gameplay. And that is something I have yet to see in another game, except maybe Ico.

I really liked the big blockbuster games of the last few years like Gears of War 2, Uncharted 2 and Mass Effect 2, but they seem to feel more like movie experiences rather then videogames. In the end, I want the bulk of my games to feel like videogames and not like movies.

I absolutely agree with Casual: I think most of the critics in favor or against games as art end up quoting games that look like film. All art genres stand on their own, you don't consider a film a work of art for the same reasons that you would consider a sculpture or a ballet piece a work of art.

You can definitely use Shadow of the Colossus as a starting point: Find out what made that game make people who played it feel the way they did, and you will find a measuring stick of what makes a video game a work of art!

I reject the idea that film is closest to video games. It breaks down given even slight consideration. Games are far too diverse for that; the issue gets conflated with story telling. In that regard I'd lean toward novels, which have the length to be discursive, even meander.

The very question though begs many questions: what type of video games are we talking about? Flight sims? Rogue? Juggling stats in an RPG?

Ask someone who has scored both movies and games. The work is totally different.

Some games are trying to be interactive films. Heavy Rain is the modern exemplar; if that was the goal, as a movie it'd be B-quality at best. Hackneyed, derivative, darn full of itself. Games trying to BE movies have so far been awful-to-okay.

Better are games giving a GAME experience while also giving the feel of doing a movie. Call of Duty comes to mind, though even there it's copying. If I get told at another demo "this is filmic" or "like [insert x movie]" I'll punch a developer.

Games have their own pacing and controls. They're perfectly capable of telling stories--differently--and hopefully not retelling the stories of the movies their makers just saw or loved as kids, or what looked "cool" on film? How many times have you seen a game use the idiotic swinging camera of a Brian De Palma film just 'cause it COULD? A million times.

To switch things around: Alien was a great movie because its alien was new. Weird, scary, out of someone else's nightmare but just close enough to our own. The movie is a laugh now to kids because they've seen endless movies and games ripping off something so idiosyncratic. People complain about the space marines, but how odd is it to see that strangest of critter in decades direct to video movies and thousands of games? Yes, it was a scary-as-hell Freudian nightmare, but it's long been a copy & paste bad guy. Nazibuginfectinghomoscare, get out the shotguns boys, there's a lot of 'em coming your way!

Make a game with gameplay first. If you don't have a story to tell that isn't your frustrated unsold knockoff movie script, screw off. I deeply believe games can tell great stories but they rarely do them while trying to be movies and they never do them as tenth generation copies of nerd fan service cliches.

Sorry for the long rambling post; the movie closest to game bit gets my back up. Games can (and not all should be) tell great stories but they ain't movies. [glares at Final Fantasy 7]

[edit]To Bola

While I agree about Super Mario being (arguably) game's Citizen, you're still falling into the fallacy of the "it was all good back when" (there's an ancient SF joke: the Golden Age of Science Fiction is thirteen) and also, Citizen--which is truly a great movie--was at the time and still considered so not only for story telling but because of its crazy "how the heck!" technical virtuosity. The tracking shot over the rooftops still amazes movie makers. Doing it sans CGI would be no small feat even with steadicams. It's comparable in that way to the newestsexiest graphics engine.

Rashomon (also gorgeously shot, technically) is where I'd go for game makers looking for film influence. Bit of a cliche, but its story telling make a lot more sense for games. I found the story of Fahrenheit second rate from the start and are-they-kidding? by the end, but those opening bits switching viewpoints were amazing. The control mechanics, not so much, but nothing's perfect.

I don't mean only Rashomon's viewpoint switching. It opens so many doors for video games: unreliable narrator without cutscenes (though that cutscene in SS2 I'll never, ever forget; when those walls shot up is the only time a game has scared [as opposed to startled] me) is only one. I found Shadow of the Colossus a bit of a snore but admired the heck out of it. Horse felt like a horse. Open world with no trash to level on. Bosses which at some point you say, okay, why exactly am I killing this thing minding its own business? A real ethical question done entirely by videogame mechanics. That's special. (I killed 'em all. But I paused a few times and thought about it before hitting their massive damage spots.)

I think ill first quote Jeff Gerstmann on this, Mass Effect 2 is the most important game of 2010 and its repercussions will be felt for a long time to come. Which clumsy dating parts aside is largely true.

But it's largely ignored because it's science fiction and some stilted dialogue. Buy Guess what China Mieville a fantasy luminary compared to Kafka is also one of the better current authors in a literary manner also. Philip K. Dick was also a Sci FI author but important for his ideas and critiques of his American Era. Finally Richard Morgan writes books with over the top sex and violence but also challenges the reader, In the Steel Remains his main hero is the super macho rich noble type who is also a dig at mainstream fantasy due to the fact he is gay.

I find the suggestion that a story with violence ,and Sci Fi tropes, in it cannot be relevant in a grown up medium to be more a damming indictment of blind humanisms affect on the media than anything else. Like armchair physicists who critique sociology and psychology as being soft sciences. Or indeed sociologists who ignore the potential of physical causes engendering some human behaviour. Violence extreme or mild, justified or unjustified, is as much a part of humanity as peace.

Also you cant ignore games like infamous and Red Dead Redemtion, both are better than film not because of story but of gameplay actually feeding into story rather than being sepearate from. The slow missions at the end of Red Dead before the Hammer fall. The reactivity of the world in which most fights can result in great human casualty or virtually none.

In closing it is foolish to discount videogames as similar to books, in that like books they can be incredibly niche, have wide mass appeal, be about anything, and tend to include the boring bits that films montage over. Games can be everything from sports to stories and we should embrace their all encompassing nature in moving forward.

Just less sequels would be nice!

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