Wednesday, May 14, 2008


On one level, games can be a combination of media, they're "multi-media" entertainment.

Just like movies are a combination of a lot of different media, writers write a script, actors act out the parts, there's music and lighting and all the other audio and visual junk and direction and everything.

Games have all that same stuff, even acting, although its usually done by animators and "voice" actors.

But on top of everything that movies have, games are also interactive with their audience.

The player is handed some (if not all) of the director's powers, sometimes (if not always).

And even some of the writer's powers.

And games can even be a form of collaborative art, where the "audience" participates in the creation of the entertainment for themselves (and in multiplayer games, other audience members) and even feels a sense of ownership for whatever they get as a result (especially in persistent games where folks can do things like decorate their houses in UO).

That's really the only fundamental difference between games and movies to me, the passive versus interactive (and possibly collaborative) bits.

Because just about everything else is variable.

Like, for example, you can control the pacing of the entertainment, and sorta railroad and shove and rush people through an experience in order to heighten suspense, or you can let the players control their own pacing, so they take their time and explore an area at their own speed and screw around and wreck stuff, and you can even mix and match and bounce back and forth between the two styles of pacing, y'know, its not like it always has to be one way or the other, or that it would good to have it always be one way or the other.

And there are games that are very cinematic, like Max Payne and the Thief games.

But on one level, the only difference between movies and games is that interactive part, versus the passive entertainment of movies.

And so really that's the most important feature for game dudes to study, because you really can just steal everything else from the movies and comic books and the music world and stuff.

The fact that Ebert won't "waste his time" playing Doom 3 is just a pacing issue, a problem with the handling of the director's powers, when you really get down to it, 'cause Ebert has been known to sit there and watch junk that's a lot crappier than Doom 3 ahaha.

And its not just that you handed Ebert control of the pacing, 'cause you didn't just do that, you also forced him to work the camera, and you made him solve stupid jumping puzzles, and you killed him, and you made him reload the game or you made him search for "health packs" for ten minutes and all this other shit.

So some of the responsibility for the pacing failure is still on your end, y'know?

Even though you think you handed him all the director's powers, you didn't really, there's another level of direction on top of that that isn't found in passive entertainment.

There's an art to guiding the player through the game while he's in control of the camera and the pacing to maximize his entertainment value, and you can screw that up.

That's "player pathing."

Anyways, when hollywood comes along and starts making movies out of games, I don't see that as some kinda acknowledgement of the "coming of age" of games as an entertainment medium (I'm totally with KingMob, by the way).

The guys who write the stories for games are the same guys that write comic books and movie scripts and everything else.

Same thing with the art guys that work on games, the guys that give it a distinct "look" or whatever, they're the same guys that would've been making cartoons and pixar shit and comic books and doing fashion design and architecture and whatever.

And the musicians, same thing, and the sound effects, most of which are stolen from movies anyways, gawd, every time I hear that same "mrrarr" bear noise from EQ or WoW or LotRO (or whichever game it was that burned that into my skull) in a movie now I cringe ahaha.

The thing that is holding games back from totally kicking the shit out of hollywood is that they aren't advanced enough on the interactive bits, the game design stuff, the directing and editing stuff.

Those are the arts that haven't been mastered yet.

And even though Max Payne and Thief and Vampire Bloodlines (and even WoW) did wickedly good jobs with that junk on a single player level (haha WoW) and really moved things forward a lot, we haven't even BEGUN to do the multiple-audience member stuff good, there's a whole 'nother layer of tricks that need to be developed for that to move it out of the PvP "ceremonial combat" stone-age of Theatre and all the Punch-n-Judy stuff where kids mash their action figures together and shit ahaha.

All the other junk is fine (even if a lot of it is a little too Anime for my tastes ahaha), its just that "putting all the pieces together" game design slash direction and editing part that's holding it back.

I don't wanna say its messed-up, 'cause it isn't really messed-up, its just a bunch of arts and tricks that aren't hardly developed at all yet.

And that probably has a lot to do with the way development time works and how costly and slow it is for folks to learn from their mistakes and evolve, where the passive entertainment media is relatively easy to create (so there's a lot more people doing it) and that allows it to evolve a lot faster.

And it also has to do with the self-perpetuating way that games are usually targeted at kids and people who have a lot of time to waste.

And because of all that, we aren't anywhere near being able to do really hilariously cool punk rock arthouse shit or anything that I'd call "mature."

There won't really be any "niche" things in the MMO universe like Clockwork Orange or Gladiator or Aliens for a LONG TIME, even the most extreme games ain't anything like the most extreme movies, and MMOs are way the fuck back there making monster fighting games fun for people who don't actually like monsters and fighting and stuff heh.

We actually seem happy to be accepted by mainstream media like a bunch of self-hating wussbags, y'know, "oh thank you for letting us belong!" ahaha.

As if we weren't the Latest and Most Advanced Version of the Borg on a mission to assimilate all the other artforms (and sciences) and incorporate them into our framework.

Interactive media has the potential to have a way more powerful impact on its audience than passive entertainment.

I mean, really well done passive entertainment actually attempts to approach that sorta power by creating the illusion of an interactive experience, right?

This whole deal where some dudes with a movie-making operation raid comic books and games for talent to make movies out of, if you zoom down to what it is that they're actually raiding for, isn't any different than the way they'll raid regular books and everything else.

And it isn't any different from the way that games have been raiding movies and comic books and everything else for inspiration and shit to flat-out steal and copy over all the years either.

The fact that the guys who make games stole so much of their shit from movies should be reason enough for the guys who make movies to like 'em 'cause they both end up stealing and making the exact same kinda shit heh.

Dude, Aliens Vs. Predator was one of the most BAD ASS games of all times, I mean, c'mon, seriously, that's a game that's made out of two movie franchises and a bunch of comic books ahaha.

And I really dunno how you can read anything into that that says anything about the guys that make games or the people who play 'em, as if they were different from the people who make and watch movies and read and write books and make and listen to music or something, that just doesn't make any goddam sense to me at all.

I'm more worried about losing my Cool Guy License in the Court of You Might Be Mainstream heh.

Dude, we'll never be able to get all the kickass punk rock chicks that can steal t-shirts for us and shit if that happens ahaha.

What's next, wearing beige sweaters and sandals and eating healthy and buying swedish furniture and listening to Easy Listening Music, right?

Fuck that, man.

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