With the recent debate of what the definition of a “game” is, I thought I would write this post up. Video games are not movies. VIdeo games are not books. Video games are video games. But at the same time, I find it valuable to learn from other media to empower the medium that you are woking on.
Many game developers, including myself, get angry when studios, especially triple-A, try to develop video games with this hollywood-esque movie format (i.e. quick time events, lengthy cutscenes). Instead of playing a game and experiencing a story through the gameplay, we are subjected to play a game, watch a video for about 10-15 minutes, than go back to playing. This pattern pretty much goes throughout the entirety of the game. This is a very common format in video games these days, and I feel as if we’ve hit a wall in this regard. We need to learn and experiment with new ways to represent the stories and experiences in video games.
Video games are going through an identity crisis. We don’t know what we are, consequently sucking up all parts of different types of media into one cesspool. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if used wisely. There have been amazing games that have incorporated music videos, and animations quite nicely (go take a look at POP).
It’s organic in a way. We look at the past to try and improve the present. This viewpoint can be directly linked to video games. Game developers are looking at past media, and trying to improve upon it. If we can learn about what makes movies good, and what makes books good, maybe then we can learn what makes games good. For the game I’m currently developing, I’m looking at a certain movie opening (For the curious, the opening scene to the movie Enter the Void) that I’m trying to incorporate into my game. The difference is that instead of just copying the opening, making it into a video, and stick in as the intro of the game as a cut-scene, I’m trying to “gamify” it. In other words, make it video game-like, somehow. This is where the challenge comes, but a welcomed one.
Lots of developers. including myself, bash games for having too many elements from other media, especially movies. After some thought, I disagree. Instead of completely removing aspects of video games that aren’t games, let’s try to gamify other media!
Let’s take the movie Lion King. It’s a great children’s movie with some important themes that are good for children to be taught at a young age. If one was to go about and make a video game about Lion King (SNES!), and Instead of just using cut-scenes and cinematics, we should be looking at the important themes present in the movie, and try to make those themes into a game, somehow.
This all may seem a bit idealistic, but I do believe that we can learn from other media in a positive way. The problem is that it’s simply hard because of how new video games truly are. The reason I make games is because it’s the only medium where everything feels new, where there’s plenty of untapped potential. So with that pioneer spirit, let’s make some cool games in weird ways!