Unity Results in Calamity

August 23rd, 2009 -


What draws people to games? What draws people into any sort of entertainment? Mainly, they want to escape their life. They want to be somewhere that is different and more enjoyable. Be the media a book, television, game, etc… they are all used to escape into an alternate reality. So why do people regard one better over another, and why do cross overs turn out badly? Do they actually turn out to be bad?

More >

Books contain a story that unfolds in one’s mind. The characters, setting, emotions, and dialog are all pre-determined. Everyone that buys the book gets the same story. Yet how it is interpreted changes so drastically from person to person. That is because there is so much room for imagination – peoples’ minds work independently of one another and thus can’t read the same book and get the same exact images. A movie works slightly differently. Everyone that sees it gets the same story, but the visual imagery is pre-determined along with the story. Other than any parts that they leave out, the need for imagination is obsolete. The most rewarding parts of movies though are the fact that it’s moving. Yes, a book is alive, always present… but in a movie the motion is seen. A good description involves a cross over between the two. Books that are geared towards kids and based off of movies often times include pictures from the movie (be it live action or animated). Younger audiences often want to look at the pictures opposed to reading. And with the right minds behind the creativity, movies can be absolutely stunning. On the flip side, movies based off of books are often times criticized. This is mainly because having read the book beforehand you get a lot more detail that needs to be cut from the movie for length purposes along with an artistic license that changes whole parts of the story. People have it in their mind how it is supposed to be, and more times than not it falls short. So where do games come in?

Games have a bit of both in them. It has that draw of a book that makes you a part of it, whereas the movie offers the visuals for the game. As with the other two media, there are multiple genres that appeal to different audiences. There are text heavy, story driven games (lean towards books) as well as pure action (action movies, obviously) ones, with a whole lot in between. To be honest I’ve never given a book based on a game a chance, so I’m not sure how they compare. However, I imagine that after playing the game all the imagery would stay the same while reading, thus tainting the creativity that a book is supposed to illicit. I can say that on a movie adaptation standpoint, game movies tend to suck. Why? Perhaps because having played the game you have a connection to it, a connection you lose when you are alienated from the characters by a film strip that you have no control of… or maybe it’s because the game’s story wasn’t good enough for the movie to be good. On the other side of the spectrum are movie games. People often times wish they were a part of a movie, so a game would (in theory) be a great way to make that possible. That was the original intent of video games: to make the player feel like they were playing a movie/story. With technology, graphically speaking, it’s gotten just about on par with movies. And in rare cases, the game is better than the movie (Wolverine has a better story than the movie, and portrays Wolverine much better than a PG-13 movie can). But more times than not, games that are adapted from movies are a joke. Not one that makes you laugh, but a bad one that even after being explained, you wish you had the time spent on it back. But why is that?

Well, from a retail standpoint: movie games sell. Not because they are good, but because parents and children may be familiar with it. I played the Wall-E demo, and I can say I’d never buy it. I watched the movie and it’s in my top 10 movies of all time. But kids that loved it would nag their parents, or their parents would think they’d like the game because they liked the movie. So why aren’t these games made better? Polished more? Well, there’s the fact that most games are rushed to make it for a simultaneous release with the movie, but there are other factors to think about. You see a movie and love certain parts of it, but how can a 2 hour movie be translated into a 6 to 10 hour (average games these days that aren’t RPGs) time frame? Well, that question is paired with how can you condense a 6 to 10 hour game into two hours… How do you decide what to expand upon or condense? Wolverine was done nicely because the violence was greatly expanded upon, along with the story being a bit more fleshed out. Final Fantasy Advent Children had the second half of the movie being one action scene to the next… FF: ACC added more story and made more sense in terms of what was happening and why, although this is kind of unnecessary for the series as a whole. Not to say I don’t love it, I own both the DVD and Blu Ray, but I own them for sentimental reasons. I think they did a good job in terms of it on a video game base, whereas my Dad didn’t care for it when I showed him it (the DVD version). He said he felt like he came into the middle of a story line and it made no sense. Which is understandable, and is possibly why video game nerds hate video game movies. The movies usually stray from what “gamers” love about the game because directors try to fuse the movie and game crowd. They want to appease both, but more times than not fail miserably…

Basically, cross overs can never please everyone because once it is made for a particular medium, it is more or less meant to be that way. There are exceptions to the rule: some people choose to love it just because they want to love it, and some are genuinely well done. However, the fusion of entertainment media often results in disaster, which means lost time and money. Would you dive into an empty pool from the diving board because you didn’t look to see if there was water? More than likely not, so before picking something up/seeing something that you may have liked in another world of entertainment, go online and research it. It’ll save you time and money, and for that you’ll be grateful.

No comments yet

Name (required)