Friday, April 15, 2016

Late Shift and Interactive Cinema

Remember Doom? No, not the video game, but the Dwayne Johnson-starring 2005 film directed by cinematographer-turned-hack Andrzej Bartkowiak? There’s no particular reason why you would recall that entry in the ignominious history of cinematic adaptations of video games, but you might remember the debate it sparked. When Roger Ebert stated that video games cannot be art he invited a furious response from gamers who insisted that he was dismissing a medium he knew nothing about. Five years later, when Ebert returned to the subject in response to a TED talk given by game producer Kellee Santiago, he wrote:

“One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite an immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them.”

There’s probably no real answer to this question, art is where you find it, but the debate continues and the lines continue to blur. With video games employing more sophisticated and ambitious storytelling techniques and increasingly cinematic visuals, games such as the acclaimed 2013 release The Last of Us are now hailed for their emotional content as much as their gameplay virtues. But if video games are becoming more like movies, what happens when things go the other way? If a movie takes on the virtues of a game, does it no longer fit Ebert’s definition of art?

Read the rest of my article at Mostly Film