Cinematic games

1UP.com has published an article called “Cinemascope: Designers and the movies they love”. It starts with:

“More and more, developers say they want players of their games to feel as if they were really playing a movie. For better or worse, “interactive movies” are the way things are headed. We decided to ask developers at the forefront of cinematic games which movies they liked best, who their favorite directors were, and what they’ve learned from all this.”

It is not clear to me whether the people who wrote this know what they are talking about. The current trend, as I see it, is for movies to have similar production values and methods as movies, but few developers still talk about making “interactive movies”. This idea died about, what, six years ago? Around the time when the big Hollywood studios realized they didn’t get interactivity, and sold the game studios to the big toy companies, who later sold them to the big French companies, and so on.

The article goes on to list the answers of various developers, and then desperately tries to suggest plausible connections between Gabe Newell’s love of Kiki’s Delivery Service (“you won’t find any headcrabs here”) and Half-Life, or between Fumito Ueda’s favorite, Mauvais Sang (a French thriller) and the excellent Ico. They finally give up when Takayuki Kawagoe, the designer of Jet Set Radio, lists Some Kind of Wonderful, a John Hughes 80s teen film, as one of his favorites, and don’t even try to link the work of Warren Spector with one of the many movies he mentions: The Searchers.

Comments 2

  1. Mark wrote:

    It gives me pause that at this late date anyone is still talking about ‘interactive movies’. How far back does one misbegotten article like that take us? How many more young minds do we now need to scrub clean?

    Movies are a set of techniques that get us to care emotionally about something imaginary. We certainly need to reach for the same goal in interactive works, but copying the methodology of movies is a guaranteed loser – as it has been since the idea was first touted in the Cenozoic Era.

    Posted 03 Nov 2003 at 21:46
  2. Jurie wrote:

    I think we have now entered a new era where games can look a lot like movies, but remain games. Examples would be Max Payne 2 or Half-Life 2. The Getaway would be an example of a game that, allegedly, took the movie influence too far.

    EA has spent a large amount of money and effort to increase their synergy with Hollywood. They want to have Hollywood production values in their games, and I think for a company like them, that’s in a leadership position and wants to stay there by developing AAA products, this makes total sense.

    The risk is that we will get more voices like the one in this article that confuse movies and games.

    Posted 03 Nov 2003 at 21:59