Jul
12
2009
Posted by Ben at 20:13
This week God Mode On takes a goosey at how much of a crossover there is between games and films, and whether we should even be comparing


When gamers want to stress the artistic value of games they often compare them to film. Of course there's an inherent folly (that makes me sound like a twat) to this that we're all well aware of. Games aren't movies, plain and simple. The narrative is constructed in a different way, they're far longer, and they have to be fun.

Well we can argue that last point some other time, but for now lets use the example of David Lynch. I like David Lynch, I find his films fascinating, but I'll happily admit that some of them are incredibly hard to watch. If you translate that to a game, there aren't too many great games that are hard to play through. On a shallower level you could probably point to something like Megaman 9, but that'll offend fans, maybe Gran Turismo or Forza, but again there are people who would argue their depth makes them fun. They aren't hard to play in the same way Eraserhead is hard to watch, they're just hard.

There's another way that games and films differ, a less obvious way, and that's what their devotees value about them. Granted most people 'like' films, but I'm not talking about the people who'll watch Saw when it's on telly, I'm talking about the people who'll track down some obscure Romanian horror from the 1950's.

I'm not sure what to call these types of people, they're musos with an ocular fixation, and as such 'film buffs' seems a little weak. I don't want to call them anything derogatory either, as I'm right on their border. As such the 'Cinemati' (with the capital naturally) is going to have to do.

These Cinemati value films with heart, something that tugs a little, even something they can empathise with. A Farrely brothers comedy isn't really their thing, and their favourite Jim Carrey film is either 'Eternal Sunshine...' of 'The Cable Guy'. They'll watch animations where nothing happens for the sheer wonder of it, and the brief and subtle glance between the two protagonists that speaks all you need to know about their love (5 Centimetres per Second - great film).

If you take the equivalent person who plays games, the elitist type who will perhaps sigh at the sales charts and tut at peoples purchases, what do they champion? You probably know where I'm going with this, but lets go through it anyway shall we?

These 'hardcore' gamers (their name, not mine) beat their drums for the likes of Killzone and Gears of War. They nail their colours to the HD consoles and anything that comes out on anything else is shit. Unless they want it then it's wasted on whatever format isn't doing it justice. Silent Hill Shattered Memories is an example of this, the new Ju-On game too, not to mention Madworld.

They close themselves off to experiences seemingly out of spite, and fear they might like something they 'shouldn't'.

To labour my point, here's a quote I found:
"But the ppl tht made the wii are smart. They made sports games anD "healthy-fit" games for one reason:

to attract non-gamers.

the attention of nintendo on non-gamers as is gamers is a pretty uneven (horrible) ratio so the Makers did somethin tht no one else would:

design the console with a moving sensor.

This, along side with designing the "healthy-fit games", assured all non-gamers, including gamers (gamers atrracted to SSBB, anyway) to have build intrest into buying it."

Granted this person is clearly an idiot, but if he was half as hardcore as he thinks he is then he'd be playing more that Smash Bros. on his Wii.

I am being a little disingenuous I'll admit. Not all 'Hardcore' gamers think like that, and not all the high valued games are boom fests. In fact games like Ico and shadow of the Colossus (made by the same developers admittedly), maybe Killer 7, Pixel Junk Eden, Flower, Rez, Braid etc, all those games are counter to my point.

Can I ask though, what's the best war film you've seen? Schindler's List? Platoon? Full Metal Jacket? Barefoot Gen? Now what's the best war game you've played?

Love story? Tale of loss? Tale of hope? Exploration of rage? Revenge?

The values that make films great aren't the same as those for games. Yes I'd love to have more character exploration in games, deeper stories, and even deal with more serious subjects. In the grand scheme of things that would be a good thing for gaming AS A WHOLE, but that isn't what makes games great, especially when you start to look at individual titles.

We seem to have forgotten that in our protestations of the merits of videogames. We forget that we should be singing the praises of games that are fun, that that alone makes them worthy. The 'art' can, will, and has come, but lets not forget what our medium does better than all the others.
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